Natural Law: a re-think

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Natural law shorn of revealed law and the need for religious faith is Pelagianism, a fifth century heresy which held that the natural law is known to us and that we are able to live good lives without God’s grace. Milton was a Pelagian, and so were Locke and Kant. It’s also the heresy of our time, amongst liberals in particular. The political differences that divide us are often theological, not philosophical, as Eric Nelson pointed out in The Theology of Liberalism (2019), and the dividing line is between the Pelagian and Augustinian traditions. Pelagianism was condemned by St. Augustine because, if we could earn our way into Heaven, what was the need for the cross? So Pelagianism was wrong, and Augustine thought it followed that God’s grace is indeterminate. We don’t buy our way into Heaven by our good works, and we can’t even perform a morally good act without an infusion of grace, which He awards to some and denies to others. And when He decides to grant someone His grace, that person is powerless to resist it.

- F.H. Buckley, Why I Am Not a Natural Lawyer