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Anthology of Critical Thomist Juris Vol II

Anthology of Critical Thomist Juris Vol II

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Published by Anthony Fejfar

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Published by: Anthony Fejfar on Dec 31, 2008
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The Bible and Natural Law


Anthony J. Fejfar

© Copyright 2006 by Anthony J. Fejfar

Some think that the Bible has nothing to do with Natural Law. In

fact the idea of Natural Law is that knowledge is available to the human

mind through the use of natural reason, rather than Divine Revelation.

Nevertheless, perhaps there is some nuggets to be mined from scripture

which support Natural Law. Such is the focus of this Chapter.

Both Plato and Aristotle were ancient Greek philosophers, writing in

Greece many years before the Christian New Testament texts were written.

Plato and Aristotle both argued that the human being is essentially

constituted by three levels of manifestation, essentially body-senses; soul-

mind; spirit-intellect. This is consistent with both developmental

psychology’s idea of stages, as well as Ken Wilber’s idea of transpersonal

stages of consciousness.

Interestingly, St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians seems to


have utilized a similar idea:

May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy,
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body be preserved
blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians Ch. 5 v. 23, New American Bible (emphasis added).

It is thus appparent, that St. Paul was exposed to Greek

philosophical Natural Law thinking, as well as approving of the same. Thus

it is Biblical and Christian to understand that there are in fact three (or more)

levels of consciousness for a human being: spirit soul body. As

noted above, Plato and Aristoltle both wrote about the three levels of spirit,

soul, and body.

There is a Natural Law Ethic which accompanies the foregoing

formulation. All other things being equal, spiritual-intellectual-wisdom

values are to be preferred over values of soul-mind-moral-political, and

values of the soul-mind are in turn to be valued over values of the body-

senses, such as fancy food or clothes, or sexual excess.

Additionally, I have argued that Critical Thomist Natural Law

Ethical principles, such as reciprocity, utility, proportionality, and equity,

also exist and operate. Do these Natural Law Ethical principles also find

support in the Bible? I think so.


Reciprocity is the principle that one should treat another as one

would wish to be treated in similar circumstances. This Natural Law

principle finds support in the teaching of Jesus Christ that one should treat

others as one would like to be treated. This is the Golden Rule.

Additionally, Utility is also a Natural Law Ethical principle.

Utility is defined in a broad sense as the “maximization of Value.” For

example, all other things being equal, pleasure is to be preferred over pain,

satisfaction over disappointment. In the Bible this is confirmed in the Song

of Songs, the Psalms, and Proverbs, where love, compassion, and even

pleasure is to be preferred over hate, spite, and vindictiveness.

Another Natural Law Ethical Principle is Proportionality.

Proportionality is first found as a Ethical Principle in Aristotle, although

Aristotle rejected perfect proportionality which is the basis for equality.

Proportionality is found in the Biblical Old Testament injunction that justice

requires that damage should be compensated proportionately as “an eye for

and eye, and a tooth for a tooth....”

Finally, a Natural Law Ethical principle is Equity. Equity, first

found in Aristotle, requires that Equity make an equitable exception from a

general rule based upon need. In the Bible, Equity is supported by the story

of the Wedding Feast at Cana of Galilee in the Christian Gospel. In the


story Mary, Mother of Jesus, equitably intervenes to have Jesus make an

exception from the proportional rule of “no miracles at this time,” so that

there would be wine for the wedding celebration.

In conclusion, although Natural Law is not strictly speaking based

upon Divine Revelation, the Bible clearly supports some Natural Law

Ethical principles, and Natural Law metaphysical “levels of consciousness.”


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