Natural Law and the Human Telos
Humanity was created to have dominion over God’s creation in order to guide its progress and help it develop according to God’s plan for it (Gen. 1:26, Wright 74). In the wake of the Fall, Christ is restoring the world to fulfill its original created intent (Romans 8:22, Tuininga 85, 87). While that restoration is a future eschatological hope (1 Cor. 15:50-53), Christ shows His kingship in the present age through his lordship over the Church (Col. 1:15-20, Tuininga 88-89). All human beings are created with the purpose of guiding creation to God’s created intent. Christians, under the lordship of Christ, have a special obligation to live out of this identity restored in them through Christ (Wright 98).
Because God’s purpose for the world is embedded in the created order, humans are able to use their God-given reason to discern His plan and live in accord with His intent for the natural world (Aquinas 11). God’s Natural Law orders all of life towards human flourishing and blessedness (Psalm 19:1-3, Aquinas 13). The Natural Law is not merely the possession of Christians, but all humans have an understanding of it (Romans 2:14, Aquinas 18). Human laws, then, must be in accord with Natural Law and, if so, are capable of encouraging human flourishing in this present age (19). Understanding the created purpose of humanity reveals the shared resources all have in the Natural Law, applied through God-given reason, to provide a society conducive to human flourishing, even in a pluralistic age.
Aquinas, Thomas. On Law, Morality, and Politics. Second Edition. Edited by William P. Baumgarth and Richard J. Regan. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2002.
Tuininga, Matthew J. “’The Kingdom of Christ is Spiritual’: John Calvin’s Concept of the Restoration of the World.” For the Healing of the Nations: Essays on Creation, Redemption, and Neo-Calvinism. Edited by Peter Escalante and W. Bradford Littlejohn. Moscow: Davenant: 2014.
Wright, N.T. After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. New York: HarperOne, 2010.