No 6 (2021)

Issue Description

At the turn of 2020 to 2021, amidst the covid-19 pandemic, the Faculty of Religious Studies and Philosophy at the University of Saint Joseph, Macau (SAR), organized a lecture series on the Natural Law. Three of the contributions of this issue are further developments of the lectures given. They engage with the theory of the Natural Law from a variety of perspectives, featuring interactions with New Testament exegesis, Islamic studies, and ecological awareness.

The article of Chin Hei, Andrew, Leong, “Does Rom 2:14 Refer to the Natural Law?,” investigates the association between Rom 2:14 and the theory of Natural Law. Rom 2:14 has been one of the “go-to” biblical references for those who would invoke biblical authority of the Natural Law. One of the most recent examples is the document published by the International Theological Commission, a consultative organ of the (then) Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican, in 2009, In Search of a Universal Ethic: A New Look at the Natural Law. After reviewing the different recent exegetical works and using them to analyze Rom 2:14, the article proposes a more nuanced view on the relationship between Rom 2:14 and the Natural Law.

On September 22, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address to the German parliament. In addition to the foundation of human rights, the role of politics, the pope’s speech touches upon issues like environmental protection as well as the Natural Law. In this speech, Benedict called for a listening heart, one that listens especially to nature. Four years later, Pope Francis promulgated his second encyclical, Laudato Si’. It is a call by the pope to humankind to acknowledge, understand, and tackle the ecological crisis. Taking the speech by Benedict as a starting point, Franz Gassner, in his article, “‘To Listen to the Language of Nature and to Act Accordingly’: Natural Law as Beacon guiding to Human Flourishing and Ecological Civilization,” contributes to this volume by making a valid attempt to invite the speech to enter into dialogue with the encyclical by Francis. 

In the article by Roberto Ceolin, “Natural Law and the Šarīʿah: The Enclave of Reason Between Islamic ʾuṣūl al-fiqh and Al-Ghazali’s maqāṣid al-šarīʿah,” he counters the popular conception that reason had only a limited role to play in the formation of the Shariah law in Islam. He proposes that during the development of the Islamic legal tradition, the awareness of the historical limitation of the revealed text has never been completely absent. In this paper, Ceolin demonstrates the use of rational thinking in Islamic jurisprudence by one of its legal devices, the maqāṣid al-šarīʿah.

This volume also includes an article by Eduardo Agüero, “Sanctification and the Gift of the Holy Spirit: A Semiotic Study of 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.” After a historical-critical study on the pericope, Agüero then focuses on the keywords in this pericope and studies them against their specifically Pauline background. Based on the result of this study, then Agüero moves to a diachronic and synchronic reading of the pericope, which produces insights on the nature and effect of sanctification in four different levels of relationships that a Christian finds him/herself in.


Andrew, Chin Hei Leong (Editor)

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