Simon Greenleaf University Strategic Planning Committee
Report of the Law School Subcommittee (1992)
A Vision for Legal Education
A. UNIVERSITY MISSION
The University is a Christian graduate school offering both traditional academic degree and certification programs in Law, Christian Apologetics, and International Human Rights. The University, through its faculty, staff and graduates, is dedicated to influencing public opinion towards a biblical perspective by preparing its graduates to practice public justice, service, and Christian love in the areas of law, education, public policy, business, communications, government, ministry, and many other occupations.
The University is to be a university in the full traditional meaning of the term, with all of its component parts committed to the Lordship of Christ, so that the true knowledge and understanding of all things may be generated and disseminated for the common good of students, faculty and the public at large. The University is committed to continually develop the cognitive, affective and moral faculties of both students and faculty to their highest potential for their mutual benefit and the benefit of the greater society in which they live and work. What makes the University different from secular schools is its commitment to teaching, discussing and doing scholarship from the perspective of a truly Christian world view that recognizes the primacy of Christ and the Scriptures in all areas of human endeavor.
The mission of the University is to engage in, and train others to engage in, a reasoned defense of the historic Christian faith which proclaims revealed transcendent truth and moral absolutes. This mission serves as the all-encompassing framework and integrating basis for the entire content and conduct of the University. In fulfilling its mission, considerable emphasis is placed upon the scholarly integration of biblical faith with all of the fields of learning. The members of the faculty are diverse in their backgrounds, professional attainments and personalities. Yet, they are unified by their commitment and desire to work out the practical interrelationships and interdependencies that Christian faith and practice should have upon the curriculum and the life-styles of those within the community of this University.
One of the distinctives of the University is its apologetic thrust. “Apologetics” is the scholarly and practical implementation of 1 Peter 3:15, to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” Accordingly, the apologetic task, broadly stated, is to defend the teachings of Christ and the truths of the Bible. With respect to the mission of the University, the apologetic task is to defend these teachings and truths to the extent they inform the academic disciplines of law, human rights, and theology.
The University’s apologetic thrust means that we apply the truth of God’s revelation to every endeavor, unmasking falsehood, and bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. In so doing, we unmask the lie that there is no source of universal values to which we can appeal to determine the justice of man’s laws. We may do well to consider the words of C.S. Lewis, one of the foremost apologists of this century:
One of the great difficulties is to keep before the audience’s mind the question of Truth. . . . One must keep pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.
The University has a unique niche among Christian educational institutions because the three degrees it offers are rare in that world. The University has the opportunity to develop a special learning environment where the students, faculty, and ideas of the three schools can intermingle to create new insights. There is a need for Christian attorneys and human rights specialists. In these times there is also a great need for the training of both amateur and professional apologists.
One of the recurrent errors in the history of thought in the West has been the radical compartmentalization of life and ideas. The exaltation of specialization has taken place at the expense of perspective, consistency and character. Just as the Christian liberal arts colleges have attempted to fight these errors in the field of learning they address, so School of Law has the opportunity to carry on this battle at the graduate level. It is this rejection of the notion that a discipline or system such as law can exist in isolation – without ethics, epistemology, history, or any justification – which cries out for the integration of law and theology, as well as the cross pollination of learning and ideas, between the schools of our University.
B. LAW SCHOOL MISSION
The specific mission of the School of Law is to glorify God by obeying His command to all of mankind set forth in Scripture “to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8), as well as the Great Commission to all followers of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to observe all that He commanded His disciples to observe.
The mission of the School of Law is accomplished by providing a traditional program of legal education in conformance with the requirements established by the State Bar of California, to prepare its graduates for the professional practice of law. Such preparation envisions that students will be trained to excel in the legal profession and legal scholarship so that they will not only serve the public well, but will also be agents for reformation in the legal profession and government. Students will also be given special insight into legal issues concerning human rights, especially those related to issues of religious freedom, and encouraged to see their profession from the wider perspective of international and comparative law.
The School of Law provides a thorough study of the moral foundations of our common law jurisprudence, tracing its roots to a belief in a divine Creator and the Judeo-Christian principles set forth in the Bible. Therefore, the School of Law grounds students in high ethical standards in the practice of law, trains them in conflict resolution, and encourages them to pursue “justice and the love of God.” (Luke 11:42). This moral foundation is also made available to law students at other schools, practicing lawyers, judges, legislators, government officials, educators and other interested persons.
An essential part of fulfilling the mission of the School of Law is training students to be able to articulate a sound Christian philosophy of law, to employ apologetic techniques to defend the revelation of God from which it is derived, and to equip the student to refute positivistic legal philosophies. Such training will also include a survey of the integration of theology and law in order to help the student understand how the Bible and various theological systems can inform and reform the content and practice of law.
This view of law is the one espoused from Bracton to Blackstone. It is also the view held by the statesmen lawyers of America’s founding period as evidenced by their reference to the “laws of nature and of nature’s God” as the source of the inalienable rights claimed in the opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.
The pursuit of legal knowledge and the preparation for the legal profession at the School of Law is governed by the promise of God that if a student abides in the words of Jesus Christ, he shall know the truth and the truth shall make him free. John 8:32. In reliance upon God’s promise that He will guide into all truth, no relevant teaching or opinion is excluded from consideration or debate, particularly the teachings of Jesus Christ. But, the search for truth in law or in the life of the student or the faculty member does not end with a survey and an assessment of different teachings and opinions. Rather, that search ends only when God confirms the truth in each person’s heart. This reliance upon God not only creates an atmosphere of moral discourse and true academic freedom, but also prepares the student for the practice of law through development of persuasive skills and legal strategies consistent with the student’s ethical commitments.
Additionally, the School of Law recognizes that the American legal system, including legal education, has moved in an ever accelerating fashion away from a legal foundation based upon an understanding that God is the source of law. The School of Law seeks to reverse this deterioration in the foundations of the American legal system. As accurately summarized by Law Professor John A. Eidsmoe in his doctoral field study, June 1985:
many leading thinkers contributed to the erosion of the American legal foundation, among them Rousseau . . . Comte . . . Darwin . . . Spencer, Langdell and others who applied evolutionary and positivistic thought to the legal system. As a result, the American legal system is floundering on a sea of evolutionary positivism which regards law as man-made and ever-changing rather than based upon any absolute and unchanging principles of the law of God. As a consequence, human rights are insecure, human responsibilities are downplayed, laws do not carry respect, and there is no check against tyranny since there is no longer any agreement upon or observance of the higher laws of God by which man’s laws are to be judged.
Finally, the School of Law nurtures and encourages students to receive eternal life through Jesus Christ, and then mature in that life by exercising the gifts of God and showing the fruits of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in their personal and professional lives.
C. UNIVERSITY INTEGRATION
The mission, purpose and objectives of the School of Law achieve, and are integrated with, the overall mission of the University. The principal way in which this is done is by the integration of theology with the study of law, as described in the preceding section on “Law School Mission.” Such integration utilizes a biblical Christian world view as the all-encompassing framework and basis for the entire content and conduct of the law program. There are other ways in which the School of Law integrates with the overall mission of the University as well.
The School of Law, through the Joint Degree Program, offers students an opportunity to take advantage of the University’s Master of Arts programs in Christian Apologetics or International Human Rights at no additional tuition charge (student fees excluded). Law students may take Master of Arts classes (up to 36 units of work) at no additional charge in any semester in which they are also taking full-time law classes. Alternatively, law students, upon successful completion of the law program, may complete either of the Master of Arts programs (up to 36 units of work) in the four consecutive academic years following graduation.
Within the context of cross-disciplinary studies, the School of Law informs the Master of Arts programs to the extent it trains students in document interpretation, legal history, the rules of evidence, dispute resolution methods, or techniques of oral advocacy, in order to assist those students who choose to pursue legal methods in addition to their theological studies. In turn, the Masters of Arts programs inform law students to the extent it trains them in theology, church history, comparative religion, biblical studies, or apologetics, in order to assist those students who choose to pursue such methods of integration in addition to their legal studies.
The School of Law also fits in with the apologetic thrust of the University by training its graduates to defend the biblical perspective of law, or the “Gospel of Law,” before the legal profession. Our law graduates will be interacting with other lawyers the remainder of their professional careers, so it makes sense to train them in a defense of God’s law, rather than blindly following man’s law. In this way, law graduates will inform the legal community of how to answer the questions, “What is law, where does it come from, and what are its true principles?” These are the great apologetic questions asked by the legal community today. Teaching students to defend the biblical answers to these questions is a unique opportunity for the School of Law.
D. OBJECTIVES AND GOALS
1. By 1997-98 to have at least 200 law students enrolled in the evening division.
2. During the period 1992-98 to graduate 100 law students.
3. By 1996-97 to have obtained final accreditation by the State Bar of California, consistent with the School of Law’s Statement of Mission.
4. By 1996-97 to have opened a day division of the School of Law prepared to enroll at least 25 new first year students per annum.
5. By 1996-97 to have fully developed lesson plans, supplemental materials, examinations and curricula integrating the study of law in the biblical truth in our mandatory subjects.
6. By 1994-95 to publish at least annually a scholarly review of law with a particular emphasis on a biblical perspective on current legal developments.
7. During the planning period to develop a full-time law faculty that includes at least four full-time professors including a full-time Dean, each teaching at least nine units per semester for at least nine months per year.
8. To develop and maintain library resources sufficient to support the mission of the School of Law.