Author Topic: Where is the sabbath in the natural law?  (Read 392 times)

Offline Daniel

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Where is the sabbath in the natural law?
« on: January 03, 2019, 08:39:30 AM »
The Church claims that everybody is bound to follow all ten of the ten commandments because all ten are in the natural law.

What I want to know is, how can this be said of the third commandment?

1.) Without revelation, nobody really knows the manner in which God created the universe. And neither can anybody know that God rested on the seventh day.
2.) Without revelation, nobody really knows that each day begins at sunset (as opposed to sunrise or midnight or any other time for that matter).
3.) Without the Church's authority, nobody knows that the sabbath was transferred from Saturday to Sunday.
4.) Without the Church's authority, nobody knows that the liturgical Sunday lasts more than 24 hours, ending at midnight (rather than at sunset, as the days naturally do).

And even if all these things are somehow known, how exactly does any of this lead us to the conclusion that man is forbidden from doing servile works on the sabbath? What's the exact train of thought which allows the virtuous pagan to know that he's not allowed to do servile labor on Sunday?

Furthermore, what about dates of the non-Sunday holy days of obligation? I'd think that they are altogether unknowable without the Church.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 08:46:00 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline St. Columba

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Re: Where is the sabbath in the natural law?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2019, 06:48:54 PM »
Thanks Daniel.  Just curious, where does the Church teach that all of the 10 commandments are to be found in the natural law?

Thanks,

Peter
People don't have ideas...ideas have people.  - Jordan Peterson quoting Carl Jung
 

Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Where is the sabbath in the natural law?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2019, 11:17:37 PM »
The Church claims that everybody is bound to follow all ten of the ten commandments because all ten are in the natural law.

What I want to know is, how can this be said of the third commandment?

1.) Without revelation, nobody really knows the manner in which God created the universe. And neither can anybody know that God rested on the seventh day.
2.) Without revelation, nobody really knows that each day begins at sunset (as opposed to sunrise or midnight or any other time for that matter).
3.) Without the Church's authority, nobody knows that the sabbath was transferred from Saturday to Sunday.
4.) Without the Church's authority, nobody knows that the liturgical Sunday lasts more than 24 hours, ending at midnight (rather than at sunset, as the days naturally do).

And even if all these things are somehow known, how exactly does any of this lead us to the conclusion that man is forbidden from doing servile works on the sabbath? What's the exact train of thought which allows the virtuous pagan to know that he's not allowed to do servile labor on Sunday?

Furthermore, what about dates of the non-Sunday holy days of obligation? I'd think that they are altogether unknowable without the Church.

That the 10 commandments are in the natural law does not imply that all details that the Church clarifies or expands on are in the natural law. 

It's not in the natural law that there ARE 10 commandments.  But the 10 commandments are  IN A GENERAL WAY in the natural law, as much as they can be without knowing specifics.  Man should often spend time honoring God in a special way (the practice of religion), even if the Revelation of a specific day is not known.

It's in the natural law that if a man comes to know that a Church IS founded by God, he should obey the details that have been taught by that Church.  He should not fuss about whether all men ought to be able to know these details, but thank God that he does because he belongs to that Church.

Details are sometimes important but you are too obsessed with them and not seeing the big picture.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 11:42:43 PM by Non Nobis »
[Matthew 8:26]  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.

[Job  38:1-5]  Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: [2] Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? [3] Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
 

Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Where is the sabbath in the natural law?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2019, 11:40:15 PM »
Thanks Daniel.  Just curious, where does the Church teach that all of the 10 commandments are to be found in the natural law?

Thanks,

Peter

St. Irenaeus  says (in http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103415.htm)
Quote from: Fathers of the Church, St. Irenaeus
At first God deemed it sufficient to inscribe the natural law, or the Decalogue, upon the hearts of men...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church expands on this (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2.htm)

Quote from: CCC
The Decalogue and the natural law

2070 The Ten Commandments belong to God's revelation. At the same time they teach us the true humanity of man. They bring to light the essential duties, and therefore, indirectly, the fundamental rights inherent in the nature of the human person. The Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law:

    From the beginning, God had implanted in the heart of man the precepts of the natural law. Then he was content to remind him of them. This was the Decalogue.31

2071 The commandments of the Decalogue, although accessible to reason alone, have been revealed. To attain a complete and certain understanding of the requirements of the natural law, sinful humanity needed this revelation:

    A full explanation of the commandments of the Decalogue became necessary in the state of sin because the light of reason was obscured and the will had gone astray.32

We know God's commandments through the divine revelation proposed to us in the Church, and through the voice of moral conscience.

The obligation of the Decalogue

2072 Since they express man's fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart.
 
[Matthew 8:26]  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.

[Job  38:1-5]  Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: [2] Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? [3] Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
 
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Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Where is the sabbath in the natural law?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2019, 06:48:52 AM »
I wasn't aware of the Church ever declaring natural law theory essential to doctrine.

Is there a "natural law" article in one of the creeds which I've overlooked?
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Where is the sabbath in the natural law?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2019, 07:37:58 AM »
I wasn't aware of the Church ever declaring natural law theory essential to doctrine.

Is there a "natural law" article in one of the creeds which I've overlooked?
Ok, I take that back. Maybe the Church doesn't say anything about the natural law.

But that raises the question: how exactly do we differentiate what the Church is saying from what various Catholic theologians are saying? Clearly not all de fide doctrines are contained within the three creeds.
 

Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Where is the sabbath in the natural law?
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2019, 10:12:08 PM »
I wasn't aware of the Church ever declaring natural law theory essential to doctrine.

Is there a "natural law" article in one of the creeds which I've overlooked?

(Kreuzritter, it's not clear to me why you don't see natural law theory as essential.  Is it some PARTICULAR theory about natural law that is the problem, or thinking about  natural law in general? I'm assuming the latter in my answer. Sorry if I'm saying things that are already known to you. That may very well be true.)

The entirety of Catholic teaching is not contained explicitly in the creeds (as Daniel points out), even if it is contained implicitly. There is Catholic THINKING, that starts with Scripture and the creeds but doesn't end there (even although it is sometimes hard to pin down).

What St. Thomas and other saints and scholars have taught MATTERS. What Popes have taught MATTERS even more.  Look for "natural law" in papalencyclicals.net.

Here is just one quote from Humanae Vitae (if you don't like Paul VI you can search the encyclicals further):

Quote
No believer will wish to deny that the teaching authority of the Church is competent to interpret even the natural moral law. It is, in fact, indisputable, as our predecessors have many times declared,1 that Jesus Christ, when communicating to Peter and to the Apostles His divine authority and sending them to teach all nations His commandments,2 constituted them as guardians and authentic interpreters of all the moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the Gospel, but also of the natural law, which is also an expression of the will of God, the faithful fulfillment of which is equally necessary for salvation.3

And here is support from Scripture:

Quote from: Romans 2
[14] For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: [15] Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them,

The natural law is written on the hearts of men.  It is not sufficient, but it is fundamental. 

Finally, here's a quote from a source that is not impressive or tailored to you  (basically Catholicism for Dummies) but it may convey the fact that Natural Law is a essential part of Catholic teaching:


Catholicism and Natural Moral Law

A pillar of the Catholic set of laws is its understanding of natural moral law, which addresses laws that arenít written but nevertheless known by all men and women who have the use of reason. It uses basic common sense, prudence, and justice.

Moral law is natural because itís known by reason ó not written in stone or on paper, like the Commandments or the Bible. Itís moral because it applies only to moral acts ó actions of human beings that involve a free act of the will. (It doesnít apply to animals, because they donít have the use of reason.):

    Under natural moral law, Cain sinned when he murdered his brother Abel even though he committed the crime long before Moses received the written laws of the Ten Commandments. Because of the natural moral law, Cain knew it was wrong to commit murder before the Fifth Commandment ever came along.

    Because of the natural moral law, trials for war crimes can be conducted against anyone who commits genocide or mass murder regardless of the personís religion or lack of it. A Nazi couldnít have used the defense that he didnít recognize the authority of the Bible, because even the most evil of Nazis still had the use of reason, and reason is what discovers the natural moral law for each and every man and woman.

Just obeying orders or following the civil law wonít cut it either. An immoral act violates the natural moral law even if it conforms to the local civil law:

    Slavery was immoral and contrary to natural moral law even though the U.S. Supreme Court (1857) upheld it until it was overturned by the 14th Amendment (1868) after the Civil War.

    The Nuremburg Laws of Nazi Germany (1935) also violated the natural moral law, because they deprived Jews of their citizenship and paved the way for confiscation of personal property, deportation, incarceration, and doomed many to the concentration camps.

    The legalized racial segregation in South Africa from 1948 to 1991, known as apartheid, defied the natural moral law.

In all these cases, the civil law endorsed, tolerated, or promoted horrible injustices, precisely because the natural moral law was being violated. A government, a constitution, a law, or an amendment doesnít grant personhood. It comes from human nature made in the image and likeness of God. Jew and Christian, born and unborn; the natural moral law exists despite what political parties and civil authorities legislate to the contrary.


« Last Edit: January 17, 2019, 11:02:48 PM by Non Nobis »
[Matthew 8:26]  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.

[Job  38:1-5]  Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: [2] Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? [3] Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
 

Offline Kreuzritter

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Re: Where is the sabbath in the natural law?
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2019, 10:54:49 AM »
Quote
(Kreuzritter, it's not clear to me why you don't see natural law theory as essential.  Is it some PARTICULAR theory about natural law that is the problem, or thinking about  natural law in general? I'm assuming the latter in my answer. Sorry if I'm saying things that are already known to you. That may very well be true.)

Alright, I'll clarify this as I go along.

Quote
And here is support from Scripture:

Quote
Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: [15] Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them,

The natural law is written on the hearts of men.  It is not sufficient, but it is fundamental.

"Natural law" as a term has a long history and is inextricably bound up with the Stoic lex naturalis in which it, in its common sense, originates. What you've referenced here is not this; it's saying that men have the work of the moral law written in their hearts and, by their nature and as informed by their conscience, will thereby do things that have actually been commanded in this law. This is, firstly, distinct from saying that a "natural law" exists and, secondly, very, very different to how the mainstream Latin theology you reference formulates the how of it, namely, while St. Paul places the source of doing good within the human in his heart, which to the Hebrew is the center of the God-like spirit and its will and capacity to love, the latter theology insists that the "natural law" is the result of and discovered and adhered to by virtue of reason.

How the Bible's unambiguous statements upon the work of the law being written on the heart got turned into the natural law being found in the head is not a history of which I could give you the narrative, even though I could make an educated guess as to some of the culprits. But aren't these ideas worlds apart in their vital origin and approach to life?

Stating my own position here would perhaps be more instructive of my distaste for the Stoic ideas than just critiquing natural law theory:

The divine is the good, which though experienceable is beyond the grasp of reason and intellectual decomposition into a definable concept, but let us call its personal, visible expression divine love and characterise it, not in its substance but its function, by the giving of oneself for the sake of others. The human being, made in the divine image, has in himself this same capacity to love and, insofar as he embraces God's grace and shares in the life of the divine, he will live by it. Now, while I don't discount the practical indispensibility of reason in acting morally, that is to say, reason is a guide for one who loves in the sense that it allows him to foresee the effect of his actions and take the one whose result he desires, this is not the essential role played by reason in natural law theory.

As to what that is and what is lurking beneath this natural law concept of "good", you will have to forgive me in my explanation if need be, for I find I can't go about this without sounding to myself like I am making a caricature of something: at its original Stoic root, it is that reason established the world and made things to behave reasonably, their telos, as it were, and through reason we will discover what that telos is and, being it is reasonable to do so, if we are reasonable we will act to fulfill it. Of course, some deny the first but still, knowingly or unknowingly, cling to the rest, say in maintaining that the universe runs on laws of reason, or, though chalking up humanity to the accidents of a godless evolution, in blissful ignorance of a prejudice they inherited from the Stoics declare survival of the species to be a prime moral imperative that is somehow true and must be followed. Somehow this is supposed to work, for I've even had a professional Catholic apologist over here in the UK tell me that the "natural law" would hold and be discoverable even if there were no God, though I couldn't get him to explain how that is without his landing himself in a logical circle. His eventual rebuttal was cry nihilism and ask me how I proposed to go from an is to an ought, though that doesn't resolve the problem and I've never claimed that one can.

On the other hand, I will say that knowing God is good I can know that his purpose for me is good, but whether or not this purpose is discoverable by reason apart from revelation is a point of contention, at least in each particular case. It is hardly remarkable how often what is pronounced to be reasonable and the obvious purpose of a thing turns out to be what is the norm of the culture of the one saying it is so. Sexual acts, for example, have numerous functions, from reproduction, to bonding, to painkilling, and it doesn't at all just follow by reason that its function of reproduction is its primary intended purpose and thwarting it for the preference of other functions is evil; and on the other side, we have examples of monks thwarting the natural functions of their hormones to the detriment of their health with things like chasteberry in order to still temptations, but how would we know this is permissible by reason alone?

I do and seek to do what is good, hopefully, because of the Holy Spirit inside of me, not because I've discovered it's reasonable,  and if I have any intellectual reason to sway me toward obeying a revealed commandment when there is conflict between my desire and his, it is because I love God and would very much like to avoid Hell and attain Heaven. See, while I believe something like "Murder is absolutely evil" has a truth value, and I also believe that "If you want to attain Heaven, you should not do evil" can reasonably be assigned such a truth value, I do not believe that a bare imperative like "You should not do evil" has any such truth value, much less that this can be proved by reason. But no, this does not make me a consequentialist; consequentialism circularly holds that "good" and "evil" are functions of consequences, whereas I hold that both good and evil are objectively real essences of acts; what I'm saying is that though God exists, and I understand by "good" and "evil" objectively existing essences and statements about their predication of certain acts to be absolutely true or false, moral commandments are not true or false to be discovered by reason but are invariably obeyed or not due to a subjective disposition or judgment with a desired end in sight.
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Where is the sabbath in the natural law?
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2019, 07:35:34 AM »
Kreuzritter - Then I take it you are basically going with St. Augustine's psychology? Man's 'will' is not a choosing faculty, but is more or less synonymous with his 'desire'; humans with grace (charity?) always have only good and holy desires (a 'good will', as he puts it) and thus always make good choices whereas humans without grace only have selfish desires (an 'evil will') and thus only ever make evil choices?
« Last Edit: January 20, 2019, 07:38:33 AM by Daniel »