A Lonang Alternative to the Religion of American Legal Education

I.     Jurisprudence Defined – What Are We Talking About?

    A.     Historic definition.
      1.     Jus => law; and prudentia => science; hence, the science of law.
      2.     Emphasis on discovery of pre-existing and objective legal rules.
      3.     God was presumed to have created this pre-existing legal order.
    B.     Primary issues, i.e., key questions any system of jurisprudence should answer:
      1.     What is law?
        a.     Historically, law was viewed as created rules of conduct which are fixed, uniform and universal.
        b.     Beginning in the mid-1800’s, legal scholars rejected the historic view and posited law as evolving rules of relative application.
        c.     Modern scholarship has, for the most part, abandoned all hope that any such thing as ‘true,’ ‘fixed,’ ‘objective’ or ‘absolute’ law, exists.
      2.     Where does law come from?
        a.     Historically, law was viewed as God’s will impressed upon the creation (the law of nature) and as revealed in the Bible (the law of nature’s God).
        b.     Modern scholars largely reject the historic view and posit that law is derived from human action alone, i.e., governmental actions.
        c.     Conventional wisdom holds that there are no actual legal limits on government actions, only political limits (i.e., what can we get away with?).
      3.     What are the true rules of law?
        a.     Historically, law was viewed as the precepts of God, and the actions of men consistent with God’s precepts.
        b.     The influence of utilitarianism led lawyers to believe that law can be molded to serve whatever goals are perceived as ‘best’ for people.
        c.     The modern view largely defines law as whatever the judges say it is.
    C.     The need for a principled reclamation of jurisprudence.
      1.     Today, jurisprudence is viewed as the philosophy of law, and is taught in a manner similar to a comparative study of religions, i.e., “Here’s what everybody thinks (or has thought), but none of it is really true.”
      2.     Modern jurisprudence has rejected both a Creator-imposed legal order and a written revelation of divine law which is binding on anyone today. Thus, law has become simply “what we think,” or even “what we want,” making it a tool to serve purely political goals.
      3.     What must be done is to resubmit the law of man to the law of God. See, 2 Cor. 10:5.

II.     The Place of Jurisprudence – Why Is This Important?

      Noah Webster: The study of jurisprudence, next to that of theology, is the most important and useful to men.
    A.     To determine right and wrong.
      1.     Right = lawful; Wrong = unlawful.
        a.     What is right is what is lawful, and what is wrong is what is unlawful. When we study lonang, it shows us what things are lawful and unlawful.
        b.     It is impossible to separate the task of determining what the law is from the task of determining right and wrong. Thus, the study of jurisprudence, like theology, carries with it a great moral imperative.
        c.     It is also the business of jurisprudence to inform and encourage people in the community at large to conform their behavior to objective standards of right and wrong.
      2.     This activity is not one of self-definition, i.e., to prescribe the rules of right and wrong on one’s own initiative. Rather, we are to discover pre-existing rules of law.
      3.     God’s law is both sufficiently ascertainable and comprehensive so as to be discoverable and applicable, when discovered, to every area of life.
        a.     Every area of life is subject to some aspect of governance under lonang.
        b.     It is both possible, and desirable, to discover and implement lonang in every area of life.
        c.     Such jurisprudential inquiry is the actual foundation of American law.
    B.     To determine jurisdictional boundaries.
      1.     It is not enough to know right from wrong according to the law. We must also determine who is authorized to enforce the law, if anyone. Usurpations of enforcement power (“jurisdiction”) are as important, if not more so, than substantive wrongs.
      2.     Not all violations of law are subject to human enforcement. Some areas of jurisdiction God has reserved for Himself – we call this morality.
      3.     Not all human enforcement powers are vested in civil government. The usurpation of individual, family and Church jurisdiction is a form of tyranny.
    C.     To determine areas of liberty.
      1.     Just because lonang governs every area of life, it does not mean every human action is prescribed to the last detail. Lonang is not legalistic in this sense.
        a.     Some matters have been left to us to govern in our individual discretion without divine superintendence, either directly or through other people.
        b.     Some matters God has left for governance in His own discretion, over which no one else may exercise enforcement power (i.e., morality).
        c.     Both of these kinds of matters are areas of liberty, in which we have freedom from governance by other people.
      2.     One of the key purposes of lonang is to bring liberty. See, Luke 4:18 and James 1:25.
      3.     Thus, a key function of jurisprudence is to declare what our liberties are, and to encourage their protection and security. This applies not only to religious liberty, but to all liberties.

III.     The Task of Jurisprudence – What Is Our Goal?

    A.     We have a mission, namely, to fully integrate a lonang view of law and the legal profession with our own beliefs, practices and lives:
      1.     Regarding law practice.
        a.     A lawyer should conform the relational aspects of legal practice to the lonang model of the prototypical mediator and counselor.
        b.     Law practice integration generally focuses on ethical and moral considerations, conciliation and ADR services, representing the disadvantaged, etc.
        c.     Essentially, the lawyer becomes a charitable services provider, but the profession has long recognized the public benefit of pro bono services. The profession has simply ill-defined them.
      2.     Regarding substantive law.
        a.     Human law is subject to a pre-ordained and pre-defined objective legal order which is not transient or relative as to person or place.
        b.     Substantive legal integration means that a lawyer acquires a sense of law, justice and liberty that others lack, and the lawyer becomes an advocate of the true principles of right and wrong behavior.
        c.     Essentially, the lawyer will be seen as a troublemaker.
      3.     The substantive law approach is neither more nor less valid than the law practice approach. However, three things distinguish it:
        a.     It goes to the heart of what it means to be a lawyer, i.e., one who is skilled in handling the law. See, 2 Tim. 2:15.
        b.     It is more in need of restoration in light of the onslaught against the historic basis for modern law.
        c.     It is the only approach which actually concerns itself with what lawyers believe about law (and what is taught in law schools).
    B.     Lonang Jurisprudence is on the cutting edge of the war of values.
      1.     Our task is to take every thought captive to lonang, and to rethink our legal perspective.
      2.     The onslaught of modernity is not so much to challenge a lawyer’s religious beliefs (because all religions can be deemed irrelevant to legal life), but to force a lawyer to conform his or her view of law to the prevailing view. This is commonly known as “thinking like a lawyer,” the admitted goal of every law school. In essence, every law school is a worldview retraining facility, and you don’t graduate unless you have been retrained.
      3.     What a bunch of suckers lawyers are. And each one thinks he is an independent thinker!
    C.     Why haven’t we accomplished this mission?
      1.     Fear – We’ve been afraid to embrace what the legal profession has rejected.
      2.     Uncertainty – We’ve been hesitant to hold firm convictions on matters which provoke wide disagreement. Can 99.44% of the legal profession be wrong? Yep.
      3.     Pride – We’ve been reluctant to admit when we are wrong, or have advocated positions consistent with the status quo, but contrary to lonang.

IV.     The Method of Jurisprudence – How To Reach The Goal?

    A.     Law, morality and values.
      1.     It is often said that “a society cannot legislate morality.”
        a.     This is true, if morality is taken to mean those areas of law which God has reserved exclusive enforcement authority for Himself (lonang view).
        b.     It is not true, if morality means any law which presupposes the existence of a Creator, or which seeks to conform to the Creator’s law (modern view).
        c.     A key area of conflict concerns the definition of terms – which definition of morality (or ‘law,’ ‘liberty,’ ‘right,’ etc.) is correct?
      2.     Yet, no law can be truly value neutral. This is because:
        a.     The purpose of every law is to prescribe behavior that is either lawful (right) or unlawful (wrong), and this inherently involves a value judgment.
        b.     There is an objective basis for evaluating the lawfulness of every legal rule. Every rule either does, or does not, conform to the objective legal order.
      3.     The objective legal order (our guide to true legal values) is determined by an examination of lonang, which we discover by using:
        a.     Science – An observation of the world for the purpose of discovering rules of behavior.
        b.     Revelation – An examination of written texts for the purpose of interpreting and understanding how those texts govern us.
        c.     Reason – An application of logic and critical thinking to discern, identify and express those rules of law which best conform to reality.
    B.     To rediscover the basis of law which was once commonly understood in America, but which has modernly been ignored or forgotten, we must examine:
      1.     The Bible.
      2.     The created order (historically understood as the law of nature).
      3.     Case opinions and legal treatises in which the author makes use of 1. or 2.
    C.     The Bible as Legal Authority.
      1.     The Bible is competent evidence of what God’s law is. This does not require the Bible to state legal rules in propositional form, nor that everything in the Bible must be construed as ‘law.’ Rather, legal rules may be discerned from covenantal provisions, case adjudications, historical narratives, etc.
      2.     The Bible may be interpreted consistent with the rules of legal interpretation (and legal rule formulation) used generally in the profession with other texts. The Bible is not to be interpreted according to a methodology which is unique to it, thereby tainting the validity of the legal reasoning derived.
      3.     There is a long, and documented, historical tradition employing the Bible in a legal fashion as described above.
      4.     Most importantly, the Bible is not merely religious.
        a.     Not all things in the Bible pertain to matters of redemption or salvation, e.g., the laws of marriage and divorce, taxation, etc.
        b.     Some covenant laws (such as with Adam and Noah) apply to all people, not just Jewish people or religious disciples of Jesus.
        c.     Many biblical laws merely mirror the law of nature, which applies to all people as the creatures of the Creator.

V.     The Motivation for Jurisprudential Inquiry – Why Should We Bother?

    A.     To learn about God’s creation and God’s law.
      1.     Law is a key part of God’s creation of the world.
      2.     A desire for Utopia is not our motivation:
        a.     A study of God’s law isn’t what we want law to be.
        b.     Rather, a study of God’s law is what the law really is, according to the Maker of all things.
      3.     A study of God’s law is to examine the “real world.” This is in contrast to jurisprudential schemes which deny God or ignore His laws, which systems of thought are artificial, and contrived.
    B.     To have a well ordered society.
      1.     Adherence to lonang principles produces the greatest amount of true liberty for any people.
      2.     Adherence to lonang principles secures the greatest amount of legal rights for any people.
      3.     Adherence to lonang principles achieves the greatest amount of real justice for any people.