Original Research - Special Collection: New Testament and Bio-ethics

The general revelation of God and creational gifts as a source for bioethics

Jakobus M. Vorster
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 50, No 1 | a2083 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v50i1.2083 | © 2016 Jakobus M. Vorster | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 January 2016 | Published: 27 July 2016

About the author(s)

Jakobus M. Vorster, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


This article aims to provide a Christian-ethical foundation for the development of moral codes for bio- and ecoethics. The central theoretical argument of this contribution is that, due to the general revelation of God in nature, the Spirit of God bestows all humans with creational gifts. Seen as such the concept of natural law can be regarded, with certain conditions, as a credible and useful tool in the reformed paradigm. This article examines the concept of natural law as this idea is defined by Calvin and developed in the recent reformed tradition. Attention is paid to the criticism of Karl Barth and the view of Michael Welker and a way forward is proposed in view of the idea of God’s revelation in creation, the written Word and the incarnate Word of God, and the creational gifts bestowed by God upon all humans. The article concludes that natural knowledge, based on God’s revelation in creation as it is revealed by the natural sciences, provides Christian ethics with opportunities and the means to formulate applicable and relevant moral codes that can be utilised in a secular society. However, the ethical codes provided by natural sciences may not contradict the knowledge gained by God’s revelation in Scripture and the moral implications of God’s revelation in the Word that became flesh. Christian moral conduct can thus draw on creational gifts and biblical revelation but must in the end answer to the distinct values of Christ. The ethics flowing from the incarnate Word is the final yardstick for bio- and ecoethics and on this foundation Christian ethics can contribute to the current debates in the development of suitable bio- and ecoethical concepts.


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