The Christian Theistic Philosophy Of Law And Jurisprudence -- By: W. Stanford Reid

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 06:1 (Nov 1943)
Article: The Christian Theistic Philosophy Of Law And Jurisprudence
Author: W. Stanford Reid


The Christian Theistic Philosophy Of Law And Jurisprudence

W. Stanford Reid

ONE of the major questions which the world faces to-day is that of the nature of law. While men have usually realized that law is one of the great means of social control, by which and under which they must live, if they would live at all, yet there lies before us to-day as there has not done for over a hundred years, the problem of the origin and validity of law. Is law simply the expression of the will of an omnicompetent dictator? Is it the expression of the will of an omnicompetent people? Or, is it ultimately the expression of the will of an omnicompetent God?

To the first question Nazis and Fascists answer yes. To the second many of our humanistic democrats will give an affirmative answer. Yet in doing so they ultimately support human dictatorship for they make man the only source of law. Germany’s history since 1920 is a good instance of the consequences of the humanistic view. To Christians, however, law can have no meaning apart from the will of the sovereign God; and in these days of doubt and lawlessness it behooves them to set forth this view. Theirs is the only view which will really cut the ground from under the humanism which is driving even democratic nations into the totalitarian camp.

In the following pages an attempt will be made to outline, rather briefly, the Christian theistic philosophy of law. Although by no means as fully as possible an endeavour will be made to fulfill Cardozo’s definition when he said: “A philosophy of law will tell us how law comes into being, how it grows and whither it tends, genesis and development, and end or function, these things, if no others will be dealt with in its pages”.1

The Source and Origin of the Law

Although Christian theism teaches that God is the source of all reality, it does not hold the Hegelian view that the world is “a development of those principles or determinations which form the content of the divine mind”.2 Rather, accepting the doctrine of the tri-unity of God, it insists that God and the world are absolutely different. God finds His complete expression in the interrelations of the Trinity, so that He is independent of temporal reality and history. These latter, being created by Him solely for His own glory, are upheld and preserved by none other than His sovereign power.3

In creating reality, God established certain independent but externally related spheres, each of which possesses its own laws. He made the spheres of number, space, phy...

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