It may seem a little strange to say it this way, given the fact that Christianity has been dealing with the subject for 2000 years, but lately the global legal academy has begun to show interest in Christian jurisprudence. Marc has written a couple of posts about the phenomenon, and our latest Legal Spirits podcast discusses it as well–specifically, what Marc has taken to calling the “Australian School.” Here is a new, interesting-looking collection of essays on Christian jurisprudence from Routledge, Christianity, Ethics, and the Law: The Concept of Love in Christian Legal Thought, edited by Zachary Calo (Hamad bin Khalifa University, Qatar), Joshua Neoh (Australian National University), and A. Keith Thompson (University of Notre Dame, Australia). The Australian School seems very much in evidence. The essays focus on how the central Christian virtue of love can influence law and legal philosophy:

This book examines how Christian love can inform legal thought. The work introduces love as a way to advance the emergent conversation between constructive theology and jurisprudence that will also inform conversations in philosophy and political theory.

Love is the central category for Christian ethical understanding. Yet, the growing field of law and religion, and relatedly law and theology, rarely addresses how love can shape our understanding of law. This reflects, in part, a common assumption that law and love stand in necessary tension. Love applies to the private and the personal. Law, by contrast, applies to the public and the political, realms governed by power. It is thus a mistake to envisage love as having anything but a negative relationship to law. This conclusion continues to govern Christian understandings of the meaning and vocation of law. The animating idea of this volume is that the concept of love can and should inform Christian legal thought. The project approaches this task from the perspective of both historical and constructive theology. Various contributions examine how such thinkers as Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin utilised love in their legal thought. These essays highlight often neglected aspects of the Christian tradition. Other contributions examine Christian love in light of contemporary legal topics including civility, forgiveness, and secularism. Love, the book proposes, not only matters for law but can transform the terms on which Christians understand and engage it.

The book will be of interest to academics and researchers working in the areas of legal theory; law and religion; law and philosophy; legal history; theology and religious studies; and political theory.

2 thoughts on “Law Like Love?

  1. Nothing profound to add but I am reminded of something relevant from St Augustine aboutt the connection of law (as in doing what is just) and love (or charity) :

    “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” – Saint Augustine

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