Full Text for Dogmatics 4- Volume 12 - Is the left hand the same thing as what some people call the natural law? How does this fit with the Ten Commandments? (Video)

No. 12. >> Professor Biermann, you have said that the left hand realm is ruled by the law. Is this the same thing as what some people call the natural law? How does this fit with the Ten Commandments? >>DR. JOEL D. BIERMANN: Ah, at last, natural law. I would say yeah, it is kind of the natural law. But let's back up a little bit here. Probably the most important thing we need to do is make sure we get a good definition and understanding of the law. My experience is that a lot of Lutheran people are so ingrained in law Gospel, law Gospel, law Gospel that we start kind of pushing law Gospel into polarity and we obviously know the Gospel is good because that's where we want to be. We want to be in the Gospel. And the law becomes rather suspect or that's the nasty thing that makes me feel bad, that crushes me, that hurts me. And the goal is to get freed from the law and into the Gospel. So then the law always becomes rather suspect. And I think we make an error if we do that. When it comes to our standing before God, yeah, the law is going to always kill me. I'll never, ever measure up. And it just smashes me and crushes me and kills me. And the Gospel makes me alive. It's doing its second use very well. The second function of killing when it comes to that vertical relationship. But what about the horizontal? What about the core rum him business reality? What about the left hand realm? Remember, the law runs the show in the left hand. And not the Gospel. And if you try to drag the Gospel into the left hand, you invariably run into problems. So we let the law simply be the law. So what is the law anyway? Well, the Formula of Concord in Article VI -- you can look this up and find it in the Epitome. It's I think Paragraph 6. Does a really nice job of defining this. The confessor said: What is the law of God? Well here is the simple definition. The law of God is nothing more than the will of God for his creation. That's what the law is. It's the will of God for his creation. So the law is how God wants things to work. The law is how God wants to be. The law is simply how God designed things to function. So when was the law built in? Well, I would argue the law was built into the creation as it was created. It was there. Think about what we call the laws of nature. Gravity, aerodynamics, laws of physics. When did those come into being? Well, they came into being when God put the world together. When he created the planets, he built into it the laws of gravity and physics, arrow dynamics. All of these laws are simply built in. It's the way it is. They are just there. And so those laws guide and direct the function of the creation. The moral law works the same way. The moral law serves to guide and direct the functioning of God's creatures so they know how they should get along together. What's appropriate. What's not. Don't kill. Don't commit adultery. Don't steal. All these laws are simply built in. They honor the way we are supposed to work together. We honor life. We protect one another's lives. We honor personal property. We don't take what is not ours. All those kind of built-in laws are there to simply help us function together well. When you obey the law, things work well. You violate the law, things don't work well. It's just built in. If I decide: I don't like the law of gravity and I step off of a bridge. I don't like the law of gravity. I'm going to ignore the law of gravity. It doesn't matter. You'll still pay the price. Step off of a bridge, you will fall, whether you like the law or not. So same thing with the law of adultery. God says: Don't commit adultery. Someone says: I don't like that law. I'm going to run around, do what I want to do. I'm going to play around. Fine, you can violate the law. The law is still in place. And you will pay the price. You will suffer for your violation. It's just built in. Now, that built-inness of the law I would say is natural law. That's what I call natural law. It's simply the built-in structure of how things are supposed to be. And the Ten Commandments are not some kind of new edition or an alternate version. The Ten Commandments are nothing more than that natural law expressed and articulated clearly in succinct form. Because all the Ten Commandments are reflecting what God has built into the natural law. It's just there. This is important. Because this helps us realize that God didn't make the law up later on. So it's not like: Okay. I'm going to create Adam and Eve. Put them in the garden. And there are no rules. They just do what they want to do. That's not true. Did Adam have direction in the garden? Plenty. He was told to care for the garden. To be a steward. Had to name the animals. He and Eve were to be fruitful and multiply. They were to be raising a family. And he was supposed to make sure he didn't eat from a particular tree in the middle of the garden. But he was supposed to be tending the garden. Adam had things to do. He had law, or God's Word better, governing his behavior and his actions at that time in the garden. Now, when Adam falls, the laws are still there. But now those laws become very burdensome to him. So at Mt. Sinai when God delivers the Ten Commandments thousands of years later, he's not somehow making up new laws to make life miserable for people. He's simply rearticulating the laws that were built in from the beginning of creation. They are just there. So the natural law is that sort of fundamental, built-in rule of justice and of right and wrong that God has simply built into the creation. And we as human beings are aware of it. Saint Paul says this in Romans. The law is written on our hearts. We have a sense of what it is. We know what God has given us to do. And we're aware of it. And all people have this. Now, the natural law has limits. Because -- just because we all know it doesn't mean we all pay attention to it or we all listen to it or follow it. And people are very good and very creative at covering up the natural law and of twisting it and of even burying it so they don't have to pay attention to its demands. That happens plenty, as well. But the natural law is certainly there. And the natural law is in place even before the fall. And is a good thing. And has some usefulness as we think about it that way.