Christianity has a complex relationship to law. It does not prescribe rules of conduct in the way its sister faiths, Judaism and Islam, do. There is no Christian law of inheritance, for example. Yet Christians have reflected on the idea of law, and on Christianity’s role in informing civil law, for centuries. And those reflections have influenced the development of Western law in ways that are undeniable, even in our secular age.
It’s entirely appropriate, therefore, for American law schools to offer courses in Christian Legal Thought. The problem is the lack of good materials–until now. Patrick Brennan (Villanova) and William Brewbaker (Alabama) have just written a new casebook, Christian Legal Thought: Materials and Cases, for use in law school classes. It looks great. Here’s the publisher’s description:
This text examines law and legal institutions through the broad lens of Christian thought, both Catholic and Protestant. The book addresses methodological issues in Christian legal scholarship (What makes legal thought “Christian”?); the relevance of Christian theological doctrines—such as creation, the Christian conception of the human person, the kingdom of God, and the natural and divine laws—for reflection on law; the significance of historical context for Christian legal thought; Christian reflection on important jurisprudential issues and concepts, such as equality, justice, rights, and the rule of law; and Christian perspectives on various legal subjects, such as contracts, torts, and property. The point of the book is less to prescribe what a Christian legal theory should entail in the way of outcomes than to use the Christian faith as a lens through which to understand, and reflect critically upon, law and legal institutions.
Congratulations to Patrick and Bill! Can’t wait to get my copy.