The First Grace

Russell Hittinger, The First Grace: Rediscovering the Natural Law in a Post-Christian World (2003).

Hittinger takes a broad approach to natural law theory, providing applications across a broad spectrum of legal and non-legal concerns, with a view to reclaiming the natural law rooted, fundamentally, in theological truth. Hittinger discusses the decline of natural law theory and the decline of civil society. In doing so, he addresses the American founding, assisted suicide, judicial activism, religious liberty, and natural rights (the length of this book is 283 pages, plus notes and index).

Professor Budziszewski praises its usefulness across the theological spectrum: “The contribution of The First Grace to Catholic moral theology should be plain, but it should be read at the other end of the churchyard as well. For some time, evangelicals have been seeking high and low for the materials of a public philosophy. Although they find the idea of natural law attractive, the only sort of natural law theory that Scripture-sensitive Protestants could embrace would the sort that Hittinger champions—one that acknowledges its rootedness in the providence of God.”
J. Budziszewski, Prima Gratia (Book Review), First Things, April 2003, at 61-62.

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