Natural Law, Common Ground, and the Problem of Postmodern Epistemology
Natural serves as a bridge between Christian and non-Christian morality. In civil society, religious and nonreligious people conform to the same ethical standard in order to be governable. A revival in natural-law thinking, therefore must be a highest priority for the Christian Community as we content in, rather than abdicate, the public square.
Why do I describe this statement as provocative? Two reasons: First, while Roman Catholics have traditionally embraced natural law theology, Protestants have been far more suspicious about certain elements of it with some even outright denying its viability for ethics (i.e., Karl Barth). Second, great skepticism exists among an increasingly Postmodern society that questions not only the existence of natural law, but even the most fundamental structures of reasoning by which, if it were real, it could be accessed.
Therefore, if Charles is correct in his claim that a revival in natural-law thinking “must take place” to build a bridge, then at least two things have to be addressed if there is to be a hope of actually building that bridge. First, Catholic and Protestant Christians must identify points of common ground to serve as a basic foundation upon which they can agree and constructively move forward. Second, Christians in general must demonstrate why and how natural law theory is vitally necessary for personal and public life in an increasingly Postmodern era. My intention in this paper is to offer some thoughts on each.