Where I would disagree, however, with Orthodox critics of natural law is the tendency to assume—as does Fr George in his essay—that natural law is (1) derived from empirical, scientific observation alone and that (2) the tendency to assume that the use of reason is somehow opposed or harmful to the life of faith.
Yes, certainly, there are those who have advanced an understanding of natural law that is divorced from Christian faith. And yes, some who have done so are themselves Christians. But I think the Orthodox rejection of natural law is (as I alluded to above) a rejection of a particular understanding of natural law that admittedly has deviated from the biblical and patristic tradition. Again, as so often seems to be the case, it is easy to reject a position if I compare my best to your worst. This I think is what has been done with Orthodox critics of natural law.
Pope John Paul II encyclical, Veritatis Splendor (Latin for "The Splendor of Truth"), offers Orthodox critics a biblically and philosophically sound defense of natural law and its relationship to conscience that would serve as a better touchstone for Orthodox critics of natural law. For example, in his reflection on Matthew 19:17 ("If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments"), John Paul writes:
In my next post, I will try and fill in a bit of what I think is the biblical and evangelical character of Christian understanding of natural law.
Until then, your comments, questions and criticisms are not only welcome, they are actively sought.
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