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Important Long-Overdue Book on Natural Law is Coming Soon

October 29th, 2010
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Concordia Publishing House now has a Web page dedicated to the forthcoming book, Concordia Publishing House now has a Web page dedicated to the forthcoming book, Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal (January, 2011) on its Web site. As you may be aware, Lutherans have not discussed natural law in a serious way (that’s my biased opinion) since, oh, perhaps the early twentieth century. This new book containing 15 chapters written by 16 Lutheran theologians, teachers, and pastors presents a spectrum of views about natural law theory in the Lutheran tradition. Anyway, here are the contributors:

Rev. Robert C. Baker (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Carl E. Braaten (ELCA)

Mr. Matthew E. Cochran (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III (LCMS)

Mr. Jacob Corzine (LCMS)

Dr. Adam S. Francisco (LCMS)

Rev. Gifford A. Grobien (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Korey D. Maas (LCMS)

Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson (ELS)

Dr. Thomas D. Pearson (ELCA)

Rev. Prof. John T. Pless (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Carl E. Rockrohr (LCMS)

Rev. Dr. Armin Wenz (SELK)

Rev. Dr. J. Larry Yoder, STS (NALC)

Prof. Marianne Howard Yoder (NALC)

Rev. Prof. Roland Ziegler (LCMS)

Why don’t you preorder a copy of this important book today? Here’s more information:

Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal presents engaging essays from contemporary Lutheran scholars, teachers, and pastors, each offering a fresh reappraisal of natural law within the context of historic Lutheran teaching and practice. Thought-provoking questions following each essay will help readers apply key Bible texts associated with natural law to their daily lives.
Why the Natural Law Is Necessary
“No contemporary thinker is interested in a wooden repristination of the natural law that is tied necessarily to the particular metaphysical foundations in the Thomistic–Aristotelian synthesis. The history of natural law shows a wide variety of interpretations and applications. But they all have some elements in common. They all oppose cultural relativism, the notion that laws are mere moral conventions that vary among societies, with no transcendent ontological claim to being universally valid and binding. To the contrary; those who hold to the natural law believe that for a law to be just, it must conform to the structure of reality itself and not depend on the oscillating opinions and preferences of human beings. The law must be the same for all human beings and at all times, so that if murder is morally wrong in America, it is equally so in Asia and Africa. If torture is to be condemned as evil in Jerusalem, it must be equally so in London and Tehran. The United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights formulates rules with respect to freedom and equality that are binding on all nations and peoples, not because of any majority vote, but because of an inherent correspondence between reason and nature. That is what is meant by saying that the Law is “written on the hearts” (Romans 2:25) of all human beings.” — Dr. Carl Braaten
What Others Are Saying
Natural law was a common idea among the Reformers and their heirs. There has been some fledgling reconsideration of this heritage in recent years in my own Reformed tradition, and it is very encouraging to see similar discussions taking place among Lutherans. Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal helpfully wrestles with natural law from various historical and theological angles and also explores its relevance for several important social and ecclesiastical controversies of the present day. These essays on natural law—some enthusiastic, some cautious, others skeptical—are a wonderful contribution to the literature and should help to stimulate important conversations about this perennial issue for years to come.
David VanDrunen Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics Westminster Seminary California

As a Catholic, I found it fascinating to read these fine essays and “listen in” on a conversation about natural law conducted by an outstanding group of Lutheran scholars. The authors consider such topics as whether there really is a natural human capacity to identify and affirm valid moral norms, and whether belief in a moral law accessible to unaided reason is compatible with an acknowledgment of the devastating impact of sin on the human intellect as well as the human will. Lutherans will benefit from reading these essays, but so will everybody else.

Robert P. George McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Princeton University

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Categories: CPH Resources
  1. October 29th, 2010 at 10:26 | #1

    Good news.

    It’s a little disappointing, though, that, apart from Dr. Wenz, no Lutheran theologians from outside the USA are included. They do exist. Really.

    • October 29th, 2010 at 11:19 | #2

      Tapani, if you have the names of Lutheran theologians who can write well in English and who have a good command of, and interest in, the issue of natural law, please let me know. They are actually rather hard to find, anywhere, hence the need for this volume.

  2. October 29th, 2010 at 11:15 | #3

    @Tapani Simojoki
    Rev. Simojoki, don’t forget Professor Ziegler! :)

  3. Jim
    October 29th, 2010 at 14:26 | #4

    Ordered. I’m looking forward to it.

    (By the bye, is this really the type of book that needs “Thought-provoking questions following each essay [to] help readers apply key Bible texts associated with natural law to their daily lives”?)

  4. Joanne
    October 29th, 2010 at 15:01 | #5

    I was hoping to see a WELS associated name on here. But, I was glad to see the SELK, and then the ELS of course.

  5. Richard
    October 29th, 2010 at 15:49 | #6

    For what it’s worth, Dr. Van Drunen, listed above, also has several fine books on natural law, “Living in God’s Two Kingdoms,” and “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.” Natural law is making a come-back, thank God.

  6. October 29th, 2010 at 16:27 | #7

    Dear Rev. Simojoki,

    In addition to those appearing in this important volume, several international Lutheran scholars were contacted about writing for Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal. Sadly, some of those contacted ultimately were unable to participate due to salutary and God-pleasing reasons, which I will not elaborate here. Please rest assured that, having lived in Europe for a number of years, I am especially sensitive to your concern.

    I do hope that you will enjoy this important volume!

    Sincerely yours in Christ,
    Rev. Robert C. Baker
    Senior Editor, Adult Bible Studies
    General Editor, Natural Law: A Lutheran Reappraisal

  7. October 30th, 2010 at 10:43 | #8

    Pastor Baker,

    My sincere thanks for your reply. I withdraw my comment. I should say that it’s disappointing that it wasn’t possible for more European scholars to participate.

    I apologise for being too hasty to criticise.

    In Christ,
    Tapani Simojoki

  8. October 31st, 2010 at 13:07 | #9

    Dear Rev. Simojoki,
    While I did not take offense and like you, was disappointed, let us both rejoice in the riches of God’s forgiveness in Christ! Perhaps there should be second volume!
    God’s blessings,

  9. armin wenz
    November 1st, 2010 at 15:01 | #10

    how about publishing such a volume in Europe, maybe as a compilation of essays in Germanic and Finno-Ugric languages, with translations from this CPH volume (if they give their permission) and additional essays by scholars from Scandinavia and other places? That would be a treat!
    Maybe the next NELA-Conference can take the initiative, here.

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