Religion & Liberty Online

A ‘one-stop shop’ for natural law theory

Over at the University Bookman, W. Bradford Littlejohn reviews Niels Hemmingsen’s On the Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method, recently published by CLP Academic. Littlejohn describes this surprising sixteenth century treatise as “a concise one-stop shop summary of Aristotelian-Thomistic epistemology, philosophy of action, and natural law theory.” The work, written by a Danish Lutheran theologian, challenges the received historical narratives about Protestant and Roman Catholic ethics:

Thanks to the painstaking translation labors of Hillsdale classicist E. J. Hutchinson, Niels Hemmingsen has been retrieved from obscurity to speak afresh to the twenty-first century, and he is here to shatter all your paradigms. Defying the neat fashionable modern dichotomies of natural law ethics and virtue ethics, Catholic rationalism and Protestant voluntarism, and premodern vs. modern theories of natural law, Hemmingsen’s On the Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method might seem to be a unique synthesis, a historical curiosity. But perhaps the most remarkable feature of the book is how representative it is, as the top-notch introduction from Hutchinson and Korey D. Maas goes some way to demonstrating.

Read the whole review here.

To hear the translator, E. J. Hutchinson, discuss the importance of the work, check out the Acton Line podcast about the book. On the Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method is available for purchase here.


Andrew McGinnis

(Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is editorial director and a research fellow at the Acton Institute, where he also serves as the book reviews editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is co–general editor of the second series of CLP Academic’s Sources in Early Modern Economics, Ethics, and Law. He has written and lectured on topics in the fields of Reformed and Presbyterian theology, history, and social thought, and he is coeditor of Abraham Kuyper’s On the Church (Lexham Press, 2016), editor of Franciscus Junius’ The Mosaic Polity (CLP Academic, 2015), and author of The Son of God Beyond the Flesh (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014).