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

Sources of bioethics: Lex Naturae versus Sola Scriptura and Sola Gratia? A response to Vorster

Anné H. Verhoef
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 50, No 1 | a2109 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v50i1.2109 | © 2016 Anné H. Verhoef | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 February 2016 | Published: 22 September 2016

About the author(s)

Anné H. Verhoef, School for Philosophy, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


To argue that the concept of natural law can be regarded, with certain conditions, as a credible and useful tool in the Reformed paradigm, as Vorster did, may at first seems to be in conflict with the Reformation’s emphasis on sola scriptura and sola gratia. Vorster, however, argues very convincingly that the general revelation of God and creational gifts can be a source for bioethics within the reformed tradition. He does this by relying on Calvin and Bavinck’s appreciative theologies and in reaction to Barth and Welker’s critique to the notion of natural law. In this article I will further Vorster’s argument by identifying some critical points in his argument, analyse the critique on these points and broaden the discussion by incorporating an eschatological perspective and the anthropology of the Protestant philosopher, Paul Ricoeur. The aim is, as Vorster states in his conclusion, to provide Christian ethics with opportunities and means to formulate applicable and relevant moral codes that can be utilised in the bio- and eco-ethical debates of today.


Natural law; sola scriptura; sola gratia; Paul Ricoeur; JM Vorster


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