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Natural Law and Evangelical Political Thought

Edited by Jesse Covington; Bryan T. McGraw and Micah Watson - Contributions by Vincent Bacote; J. Budziszewski; J. Daryl Charles; Jesse Couenhoven; Paul R. DeHart; Robert P. George; David VanDrunen and Matthew Wright

Natural law has long been a cornerstone of Christian political thought, providing moral norms that ground law in a shareable account of human goods and obligations. Despite this history, twentieth and twenty-first-century evangelicals have proved quite reticent to embrace natural law, casting it as a relic of scholastic Roman Catholicism that underestimates the import of scripture and the division between Christians and non-Christians. As recent critics have noted, this reluctance has posed significant problems for the coherence and completeness of evangelical political reflections. Responding to evangelically-minded thinkers’ increasing calls for a re-engagement with natural law, this volume explores the problems and prospects attending evangelical rapprochement with natural law. Many of the chapters are optimistic about an evangelical re-appropriation of natural law, but note ways in which evangelical commitments might lend distinctive shape to this engagement. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 304Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-0-7391-7322-0 • Hardback • November 2012 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-0-7391-7323-7 • eBook • November 2012 • $99.99 • (£70.00)
Jesse Covington is assistant professor of political science at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA.

Bryan McGraw is an assistant professor of politics and international relations at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL.

Micah Watson is director of the Center for Politics & Religion and assistant professor of political science at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.
Part I: Understanding Evangelical Discomfort with Natural Law
Chapter 1: Burying the Wrong Corpse: Evangelicals and Natural Law
J. Daryl Charles, Bryan College
Chapter 2: Karl Barth’s Eschatological (rejection of) Natural Law
Jesse Couenhoven, Villanova University
Chapter 3: The Doctrine of Creation and the Possibilities of an Evangelical Natural Law
Bryan McGraw, Wheaton College
Part II: Evangelicalism and Natural Law: Continuing Questions
Chapter 4: Natural Law and Mosaic Law in the Theology of Paul: Their Relationship and Its Implications
David VanDrunen, Westminster Seminary California
Chapter 5: Natural Law, God, and Human Dignity Robert George, Princeton University
Chapter 6: Reason and Will in Natural Law
Paul DeHart, Texas State University—San Marcos
Chapter 7: Natural Law: Friend of Common Grace?
Vincent Bacote, Wheaton College
Part III: An Evangelical Natural Law Tradition? Charting a Path Forward
Chapter 8: The Grammar of Virtue: St. Augustine and the Natural Law
Jesse Covington, Westmont College
Chapter 9: C.S. Lewis as Natural Law Evangelist: Evangelical Political Thought and the People in the Pew
Micah Watson, Union University
Chapter 10: The Natural Law and the Church as ‘Counter-Polis’
Matthew D. Wright, Biola University
Chapter 11: More Than a Passing Fancy? The Evangelical Engagement with Natural Law
J. Budziszewski, University of Texas, Austin
In this excellent, scholarly volume, thoughtful essays by J.D. Charles, R. George, and others examine the reticence of most modern evangelicals to the claims of natural law theory.
Religious Studies Review

An important contribution to the literature on evangelical political thought. The authors tackle a critical topic with interesting and diverse arguments, analyses, and insights. Highly recommended.
David L. Weeks, Azusa Pacific University

This volume offers both substantial reflection on the concept of natural law in particular and encouraging signs of serious evangelical thought in general. Because of the volume's high level of careful engagement, the book deserves a wide readership from political theorists as well as at least some political activists.
Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame

Professors Covington, McGraw, and Watson have assembled a fine collection of essays that analyzes the ways in which evangelical theologians can and should engage natural law’s intellectual pedigree and contemporary relevance. Three strengths of the book are (1) its insightful critiques of voluntarism; (2) its articulation of natural law’s amenability to a common language for public reasoning and discourse; and (3) its helpful appraisal of natural law’s Achilles tendon, that is, its susceptibility to being co-opted by the status quo.
Journal of Markets & Morality