This is the final installment in this series on the First Principles. The First Principles are the starting points for where we need to understand epistemologically and in some cases metaphysically about reality.
This principles is equally important to everything that has been presented up to this point. Before moving to defining the First Principle of Law, allow me to say that our political system has been tried and found wanting over the last several years. How so?
This is because there has been ideological tectonic shifts when it comes to truth and morals. That said a culture’s laws and legislations show a reflection of what it believes on the matters of important issues. So if a culture has bad laws, then that is a product of bad politics. If we have bad politics then it is safe to conclude that there are bad or faulty ethical foundations at the level of decision making. And then finally if we have bad ethics, these must stem from a faulty moral framework.
Working it the other way, bad morals produces bad ethics. Bad ethics begets bad politics. Bad politics, especially at the legislative level produces bad laws. Where do bad morals come from? A faulty worldview. And this is where the first principle of law comes in.
WHAT IS THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF LAW?
Classical natural law is based upon the universal and inherent understanding that certain behaviors are immoral and, therefore, ought to be illegal. If this is true, it only makes sense that natural law is a necessary prerequisite for positive law. In this sense, natural law provides the basis for a standard of morality. This standard, or moral law, can be thought of as a first principle of jurisprudence upon which all law ought to be based and upon which true civilization depends.
The classical understanding of “natural law, then, is the human participation in eternal law by way of reason. In brief, natural law is the ‘natural light of reason, by which we discern what is right and what is wrong.’ . . . All rational creatures share in natural law. It is the law written on the hearts of every human being (Romans 2:15) . Therefore it can be said that human reason is the basis for natural law, only insofar as it participates in the Eternal Reason.”
Hence, human nature was endowed with certain God-given qualities which gave humans intrinsic value is based upon the eternal nature and moral character of God. As the apostle Paul said, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the [Mosaic] law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the [Mosaic] law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, the consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them” (Romans 2:14-15).
* The concept of “Thinking 12:2 comes from the statement in Romans 12:2 which says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Rob is a blogger, professor, writer, and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to articulate what and why they believe to a confused culture in a “brave new world.”