Divine law is any body of law that is perceived as deriving from a transcendent source, such as the will of God or gods – in contrast to man-made law or to secular law. According to Angelos Chaniotis and Rudolph F. Peters, divine laws are typically perceived as superior to man-made laws, sometimes due to an assumption that their source has resources beyond human knowledge and human reason. Believers in divine laws might accord them greater authority than other laws, for example by assuming that divine law cannot be changed by human authorities.
According to Chaniotis, Divine laws are noted for their apparent inflexibility. The introduction of interpretation into divine law is a controversial issue, since believers place high significance on adhering to the law precisely. Opponents to the application of divine law typically deny that it is purely divine and point out human influences in the law. These opponents characterize such laws as belonging to a particular cultural tradition. Conversely, adherents of divine law are sometimes reluctant to adapt inflexible divine laws to cultural contexts.
Medieval Christianity assumed the existence of three kinds of laws: divine law, natural law, and man-made law. Theologians have substantially debated the scope of natural law, with the Enlightenment encouraging greater use of reason and expanding the scope of natural law and marginalizing divine law in a process of secularization.[additional citation(s) needed] Since the authority of divine law is rooted[colloquialism] in its source, the origins and transmission-history of divine law are important.[a]
In Thomas Aquinas's Treatise on Law, divine law comes only from revelation or scripture, hence biblical law, and is necessary for human salvation. According to Aquinas, divine law must not be confused with natural law. Divine law is mainly and mostly natural law, but it can also be positive law.