Edward Feaser, "Natural law or supernatural law?" (Edward Feser, September 26, 2013), begins his article with some common sense observations:
When you blur a real distinction between any two things A and B, you invariably tend, at least implicitly, to deny the existence of either A or B. For instance, there is, demonstrably, a real distinction between mind and matter. To blur this distinction, as materialists do, is implicitly to deny the existence of mind. Reductionist materialism is, as I have argued in several places (such as here), really just eliminative materialism in disguise. There is also a clear moral distinction between taking the life of an innocent person and taking the life of a guilty person. To blur this distinction, as many opponents of capital punishment do, is to blur the distinction between innocence and guilt. That is why opposition to capital punishment tends to go hand in hand with suspicion of the very idea of punishment as such.[Hat tip to C.B.]
... A real distinction that is all too often blurred in theology is that between the natural and the supernatural -- between the limited relationship with God that is our natural end and the gratuitous, supernatural gift of the beatific vision; between the knowledge of God’s existence and nature that is available to philosophical reason, and that which is given only in revelation; and between the natural law and supernatural virtue. One way to blur this distinction is to collapse the supernatural into the natural -- for example, to reduce God to a symbol, and Christian charity to a mere political program for social justice. This, as Karl Barth famously put it, is not to speak of God at all but merely to speak of man in a loud voice, a kind of virtual atheism.
But another way to blur the distinction is to go in the other direction, absorbing the natural into the supernatural -- a tendency to be found in Catholic Nouvelle Théologie writers like Henri de Lubac and, it seems, in David Bentley Hart. Where morality is concerned, the tendency is, as we’ve seen recently with Hart, to denude the notion of natural law of significant content, so that it is only through the lens of revelation that one can clearly see what the natural law requires and only via grace that one can to any extent obey it. (I do not say that this is exactly what Hart himself thinks – though it seems to me he did not make it clear exactly what he thinks – but only that this is the direction in which his recent remarks about natural law tend.)
But a law that cannot be known from the nature of things, but only via special divine revelation, is not the natural law. Read more >>