Law and Religion – Reclaimed!
by Gerald R. Thompson
CHRISTIAN LEGAL FOLLIES
Where are all the Christian lawyers?
Ever since the time of Jesus, and probably before, lawyers and theologians have been wrestling with questions of law and religion, morality and legality, and authority and submission. Like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the lawyers and theologians of today are in cahoots to subvert law, pervert religion, legislate morality, excuse illegality, usurp authority and shove submission down our throats. Jesus rightly condemned both groups (Luke 11:37-53), and I’m not aware that anything has changed.
So now please allow me to take to task the members of my own profession, and I promise to do the same for the clergy afterwards.
I. CHRISTIAN LEGAL ASSOCIATIONS
There is certainly nothing wrong with Christian lawyers getting together and forming associations for mutual benefit. There aren’t that many of them, to begin with. Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States each have a leading association of Christian lawyers, and to the extent other smaller associations exist, they keep a pretty low profile and are hard to find. [I’m talking about lawyer associations as such, not legal advocacy groups.] These leading associations share some key attributes that I now wish to comment on.
A Capitulation to Religion
The first shared characteristic is that associations of Christian lawyers exist primarily for a religious purpose, not a legal purpose. That is, these groups exist for purposes of religious fellowship by people who just happen to share a common vocational interest.
This is manifest in the activity most commonly engaged in at the local level: periodic fellowship groups which often meet over a meal, where the members engage in prayer, Bible study and corporate worship. At the regional or national level, seminars are sponsored in which spiritual development is the primary focus. At the national level, where literature is developed, personal discipleship is the paramount focus of association publications.
An annual national conference is typically characterized by reports of the progress made by various ministries of the organization, a new set of seminars and publications, and a promotion of the organization with a call to get more involved. But perhaps the most striking characteristic of an annual conference is that it is essentially a three day church service. Special speakers are brought in, who are most often religious ministers (with an occasional prominent lawyer thrown in), as well as religious worship leaders, to lead the throng of lawyers in religious ceremonies.
But most telling is the way these prominent associations of Christian lawyers see themselves and their mission. What is a Christian lawyer? We are told that a Christian lawyer is someone who faithfully follows Jesus or at least bears “witness of Jesus.” The ultimate goal of a Christian lawyer is to extend the Great Commission into the legal workplace, we are told. In short, these associations view the legal profession as religious ministry and a Christian lawyer as an evangelist.
Is there anything wrong with this? Note that in the definition of a Christian lawyer there is no mention of law. One could just as easily say a Christian physician is someone who faithfully follows Jesus, or that a Christian artist is someone who faithfully follows Jesus. Wouldn’t you expect a Christian physician to have some identifying characteristic as a physician? A Christian artist to have some peculiar characteristic as an artist? What is it about being a faithful follower of Jesus that doesn’t apply to every Christian in every occupation? What makes a Christian lawyer different from a Christian athlete if it doesn’t have anything to do with law?
We have a situation where God is a God of law and government, the Bible has a major theme of law and government, and the primary component of God’s will is his law. Yet, the one group of people in the whole world whose daily business is law and government, and who claim to follow God and study his word, do not see themselves in terms of, and do not associate themselves for the purpose of, law and government. This isn’t just sad – it is pitiful.
If David, ancient King of Israel and the author of Psalms 19 and 119 (two of the most law oriented Psalms), were invited to speak at a gathering of Christian lawyers, he would more likely be asked to describe the joy he experienced while dancing in the spirit, than to speak about law or government.
Christian lawyers have an identity crisis. To be engaged in the service of law and government isn’t sufficient in itself, it has to be coupled with religious ministry to be worthwhile. Christian lawyers have bought into the lie that God wants everyone to be a religious minister, so they spend their lives trying to become something they are not, and something God does not want them to be. That isn’t just pitiful – it is deplorable.
Each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. 1 Cor. 7:17 (also see 1 Cor. 7:18-24). For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Rom. 11:29. Is God concerned only with religious callings, and not vocational callings? If you were called to be a lawyer, then be a lawyer – a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15.
Integration of Faith and Practice
Christian lawyers talk a good game when it comes to integrating faith and practice. But for the most part, it is just talk. The one defining characteristic of Christian lawyers worldwide is that among all the occupations and professions, lawyers have the most bifurcated view of religion and what it is they do to make a living. In other words, lawyers have a religious life, and a professional life, and ne’er the twain shall meet.
Even if Christian lawyer associations attempt to bridge this gap between faith and practice, there is a problem. Instead of viewing faith broadly, as in a biblical belief system about the nature of law and the substance of God’s laws, faith is viewed narrowly, as in redemptive theology. So the integration which occurs is limited to finding practical means for injecting redemptive theology into legal practice, in other words, ignoring law.
This is typically manifested in three types of programs sponsored by Christian legal associations. First (these are not in any particular order), legal aid, or legal assistance for the poor and needy. This is borne out of a sense of Christian duty to be charitable, and is commonly expressed in terms of helping the poor, the widow, the orphan and the alien.
Second, there is a common emphasis on biblical conflict reconciliation, a form of alternative dispute resolution (i.e., resolving disputes between Christians outside of the judicial system). Third, there is participation (whether directly by representing parties or indirectly by filing amicus briefs) in litigation involving religious freedom issues and abortion.
Again, certainly, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of these programs or activities. Each of them is worthwhile. However, that does not excuse the obvious short-comings each has. Legal aid is fine and appropriate, but what ultimate benefit is achieved if the representation of the poor and needy by Christian lawyers is no different (in terms of the substance of legal arguments used) from the representation which would be afforded by a non-Christian legal aid service? The only difference is that perhaps the Christian lawyers may represent Christian clients that other legal aid services reject – which reduces the effect of the legal aid to people with religious causes.
As for biblical conflict reconciliation, sometimes called peacekeeping, the emphasis is on reconciliation, not justice. In other words, the emphasis in peacekeeping is to bring the parties to the point where they can forgive each other and reconcile relationally. This is accomplished by the “tribunal” engaging in prayer, meeting with the parties, and having the parties go through a time of self-examination. When this occurs, the parties are hopefully able to mutually resolve their dispute.
On occasion, a tribunal will engage in actual arbitration of a dispute, but this usually only follows an attempt at reconciliation which fails. When arbitration does occur, there are no guidelines provided by the sponsoring organization as to what any applicable principles of God’s law (or lonang) might be. The panel usually acts on the basis of statute and case law, and any consideration of biblical principles is sua sponte and ad hoc in every case. In other words, there is no development of a biblical jurisprudence which results from the process. It is flying by the seat of their pants.
It is common for Christian legal organizations and peacekeeping ministries to quote Micah 6:8: What does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. But, what is justice? No one knows. No one cares. The only consideration is, get the parties to have the right heart attitude, and justice will take care of itself. There is no connection ever made between justice and an objective legal order, much less lonang.
God forbid that a litigant should ever actually desire to obtain real justice. Justice as in a resolution which applies and conforms to the legal principles of lonang.
The civil courts don’t provide real justice because they no longer abide by lonang. Our society has converted to a cynical view of justice which is defined by process, not legal correctness. In other words, in civil society justice is merely whatever those responsible for its administration decide. As long as you go through the correct process (we are told), you get justice. The idea that judges and courts might be wrong or in violation of law is no longer a viable concept. (This is the logical consequence of accepting judicial opinions as law.)
Isn’t it ironic that in Christian circles the result is the same. As long as you go through the process of reconciliation, we are told, you get justice. Never mind what the law of God says. As long as the result is administered by Christians, whatever they decide is just. Just like society at large, the Christian legal community has substituted a legal process for conformity with lonang. And this is supposed to be a good thing?
As for the participation of Christian lawyers in litigation (directly or indirectly), I will examine that in section II below.
The Task Left Undone
The task left unfelt, undone, and deemed unimportant in every association of Christian lawyers of which I am aware, is the development and promulgation of a biblical view of law. I’m not saying every association of lawyers, or even every association of Christian lawyers, must necessarily rally around the cause of lonang jurisprudence. But shouldn’t some organization of Christian lawyers somewhere be doing this task? If there is only one national association of Christian lawyers in a country like the United States and it does not see this task as worthy of serious pursuit, what does it say about Christian lawyers?
Consider the Great Commission as an analogy. By its terms, the worldwide Church is directed to “make disciples of all nations.” I don’t think for a moment this means that every single church congregation, or even every single denomination, must send evangelists to every single nation on earth. Churches, like any other form of enterprise, can specialize, as it were, and minister to those people and nations to whom God has given them the opportunity to disciple. The division of labor principle applies to churches as much as businesses, and so long as some segment of the worldwide church is sending people to every nation, the Great Commission is being fulfilled.
But suppose that there were no churches anywhere sending missionaries to Africa. Every church could say, legitimately, that God was not leading them to minister there, and they each felt called to minister elsewhere. Is God going to sit back and say to himself, “Well, at least my people are in substantial compliance with my instructions, so it is OK”? However, to stay closer to the analogy, suppose there was only one church in all of the United States, and it refused to send any missionaries to Africa. If the Church refuses to reach Africa with the gospel, who does it expect to do the job?
If the Christian lawyers won’t investigate, debate and advocate a biblical view of law, who will? Dentists? Bankers? Carpenters?
Lawyers are likely to default to two groups who they think should/could/would develop a biblical jurisprudence. The first is the clergy. This is the group who already doesn’t acknowledge that God is a God of law and government, who think the whole Bible is about Jesus and redemptive theology, and have little appreciation of God’s law as the primary expression of his will. How many seminaries can anyone name which teach God’s law from a legal perspective? And what incentive is there for clergy to develop a biblical jurisprudence on their own (in their spare time)? I rest my case.
The second default group is law school professors, because that is supposedly what they do. I’ll talk about that issue in section III below.
The end result of which is this: no association of Christian lawyers is engaged in the development and promulgation of a biblical view of law. No association of Christian lawyers is engaged in working out principles of God’s justice for resolving disputes. No association of Christian lawyers sees itself as existing for any reason other than a religious one. Is this the best Christian lawyers can do?
II. CHRISTIAN LEGAL ADVOCACY
Who Are We Kidding?
There are perhaps a half-dozen or so national Christian legal advocacy groups in the United States. They each act independently, but in reality it is a pretty small network of people where everybody knows everyone else. Funding provided by major religious ministries is funneled through a single organization and distributed to the others, several of the organizations are run by past or present members of the same Christian legal association, and their key personnel meet periodically to co-sponsor conferences, seminars, and debates, etc. At least four of these groups are also located in the same state, Virginia.
As a consequence, there is a remarkable similarity between the organizations in the way they litigate cases in a macrocosm. All these groups tend to focus primarily on religious causes, or at least causes which can be argued based on a religious belief, objection or exemption. For that reason, all the groups tend to litigate federal constitutional claims, with a focus on First Amendment religious issues. The range of additional issues litigated doesn’t extend much beyond abortion and parental rights with respect to home schooling.
Christian legal advocacy organizations, and the ministries which support them, like to think of themselves as doing battle with the ACLU. This is most evident when you look at their fundraising letters. But it is wishful thinking. The ACLU has a strategy, it has home field advantage in the judicial system, and its lawyers know exactly who they are and what their mission is – to change the law. Comparatively speaking, Christian lawyers don’t have a clue.
First, the range of issues and types of cases litigated is far too narrow. Of course, that’s what happens when you get funded by religious ministries, you only represent religious clients, and you hire religious fundraisers to do your legal fundraising. It all stems from thinking of a Christian lawyer as a person who needs to be in a religious ministry to validate his professional calling. As a consequence, Christian lawyers have become beholden to the interests of organized religion instead of becoming servants of the laws of God.
Until Christian lawyers see that they have put themselves in a box they don’t need to be in, they will remain in the box. And they will miss all the other things God would have them litigate, starting with non-constitutional issues, and challenging the continual expansion of government powers at every level. But then, the lawyers would actually have to believe that God has an opinion about such matters which has been revealed to man – and Christian lawyers don’t believe that, for the most part.
Instead, many Christian lawyers hold the mistaken belief that by securing religious freedom, all the other freedoms we enjoy will be automatically preserved. In other words, only religious liberty requires active preservation – all the other liberties will just passively fall into place once religious liberty is secured. Certainly, religious liberty and economic liberty tend to go hand in hand in a nation (they either both flourish, or both suffer). But that doesn’t make religion the key. Rather, it is the legal worldview a nation embraces which determines the whole matter. And this is where Christian lawyers have fallen down on the job.
It is like a defensive wall which has been breached. Christian litigators like to think of themselves as repairers of the breach, but instead of building from the bottom up to the top, they want to start in the middle and stay there. The bottom area, which represents fundamental principles (such as the definition of law) is deemed unimportant, so it remains unrepaired. The middle layer is religious freedom, which is where they want to work. The top layer is all of the dominion related liberties (economic freedoms), which are assumed to fill in themselves, once the religious layer is secured.
Of course, the reality is that nothing is automatic, so the top layer never gets filled in. Without the bottom layer, the middle portion is unsupported. So the whole repair effort collapses under its own weight, and everyone looks around wondering why they aren’t being more successful. If all else fails, blame the devil or the ACLU. As long as you can get people to continue funding a rebuilding of the middle layer by itself, who cares? After all, success isn’t measured by what is accomplished – success is measured by how long you can keep employed at doing the one thing you like doing most.
Second, the overall strategy employed in religious litigation is primarily defensive, when it should be offensive. No war is ever won by a purely defensive strategy, because defense never actually conquers the enemy. To conquer the enemy, you have to employ an offensive strategy. An offensive strategy means that you get to pick what issues are contested, what forums the battle is fought in, and you make the enemy redeploy its resources in line with where you want to go.
Instead of fighting the latest decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, Christian lawyers need to go back and reclaim ground that was lost long ago. Instead of fighting the latest incarnation of Roe v. Wade, we need to attack Cooper v. Aaron. Cooper v. Aaron is the decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared that its opinions were the supreme law of the land, in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Instead of citing Everson v. Board of Education as precedent for interpreting the Establishment Clause, Christian lawyers could attack the imaginary figment of the incorporation doctrine, which construes the words, “Congress shall make no law” to mean, “No state shall pass any law.” Instead of conceding ground to the forces of lawlessness, Christian lawyers could repudiate the views of Cardozo, Holmes, and Austin. In short, Christian lawyers could focus their attention on fundamental principles, instead of hot-button issues. However, don’t look for that anytime soon, because . . .
Third, too much ground is conceded to the modern legal worldview. Christian lawyers are chickens. They are afraid to say something in court that the judge might laugh at. They are afraid to use an argument that would be perceived as outmoded. They are afraid to challenge the “doctrine” of judicial supremacy because it might be perceived as a challenge to the judge’s authority, so they are always under the thumb of the judiciary. They are afraid when they should be bold.
We could use a few good lawyers who are willing to be wrongfully held in contempt because they are unwilling to compromise true principles of law. Think of the civil rights movement and the sexual revolution in the U.S. a few decades ago. Those movements would have gone nowhere, except for the willingness of committed people to go to jail for a cause, and to shake up the system. Is it too much to ask for Christian lawyers to have that same level of commitment today? Apparently, it is.
Time For A New Game Plan
If Christian lawyers were actually serious about fighting the ACLU, they would have to do what the ACLU did:
- 1) stop playing the game by the opponent’s rules. Stop conceding all the legal arguments that have only been around for 60 years. Stop arguing only the latest case opinions. Assert the eternal legal principles of lonang.
- 2) don’t expect to win the war from the top down. Stop being enamored with the U.S. Supreme Court and constitutional law. Start litigating something other than first amendment issues, and be more willing to litigate in state courts under state constitutions, which are a gold mine for reserved inalienable rights.
- 3) lay out a litigation strategy for long-term gains rather than short-term wins. It took the ACLU decades to turn things their way. Where is the long-term Christian legal strategy? Why is everyone satisfied to sing praise songs while making bricks in the mudpits of Egypt?
- 4) be willing to lose cases for the right reasons, and unwilling to win cases for the wrong reasons. If you never make the lonang argument in the first place, your losses are irrelevant and your wins don’t achieve any long-term benefit apart from fundraising.
However, maybe it is too much to ask for people to jump into the fire right away. So let’s start with something basic and simple. Here are three legal principles which are embraced by no Christian legal advocacy group today, but if they were, it would change our world:
- 1. Legal rights cannot be balanced. This is a broad principle, but the most significant aspect for constitutional litigation is this: the compelling state interest test is a fraud. Stop promoting it. Stop pushing legislation like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which substitutes a man-made contrivance (the compelling state interest test) for true freedom under the laws of nature and nature’s God. Laws consistent with lonang never conflict with each other and there is no need to balance true legal rights.
- 2. Judicial opinions are not law, but only evidence of law. The compelling state interest test, the Lemon test, one man one vote, the Miranda rules, and the infamous Roe v. Wade trimester test – these are all artificial contrivances made out of whole cloth by a non-lawmaking body. Only legislatures make laws – judges make orders. Orders are not rules. The separation of powers actually means something. Stop treating it like an historical anachronism.
- 3. Religion is defined objectively, not subjectively. Enough with this subjective “religion is whatever it means to me” crap. Religion is the duty owed to our Creator (Virginia Bill of Rights) and that duty can be objectively defined. Christian litigators have it backwards – they think religion cannot be defined legally, but a church can be, when it is religion which can be defined, and a church which cannot. Every Christian is the Church incarnate. Once you allow the government to define what a church is, all of us individual Christians and Christian families just lost our equal rights.
Let me spell it out so you all know what I am saying. The current state of affairs is such that the Christian lawyers, who claim to protect religious freedom, are: a) willing to balance my God-given rights away in the face of man-made government interests; b) willing to operate under the fiction that judges can make laws – legislation without representation; and c) willing to confine religious liberty to organized interests and deny that liberty to private citizens in their individual capacities.
Why are we willing that this state of affairs should continue?
Of course, this is just a beginning. Christian lawyers could go much further, to repudiate the incorporation doctrine (i.e., the idea that the federal Bill of Rights applies to the states), for example, and a host of other issues too numerous to mention.
“But,” I hear you say, “these are all just questions of interpretation.” Right you are. However, remember this: the interpretational hermeneutic (methodology) used to understand the Bible is the same one used to interpret and understand the Constitution or any statute, and vice versa. Or, at least that is the way it should be.
A “loose” interpretation of the Bible goes hand in hand with a “liberal” interpretation of the Constitution, and a strict constructionist for constitutional purposes is likely to be more literal in interpreting the Bible. Which should give us some pause. If Christian lawyers are willing to accept and advocate legislating by judges, man-made tests over God-given rights, and religious exemptions for some but not all Christians, how well are they likely to handle scriptural truths? It’s scary all right.
III. CHRISTIAN LEGAL EDUCATION
A Sad State of Affairs
Everybody seems to think Christian legal education is where it’s all happening. Students are being trained to think biblically. We are raising up a new generation of people who will transform culture. We’re going to take back law and government for the glory of God. Oh, really?
Let’s consider reality. There have been at least a half dozen efforts to start an ostensibly Christian law school in the United States in the last 30 years. A couple of those efforts, after much hoopla, never got off the ground. One school moved across the country. To my knowledge there are only three law schools that actively promote themselves as being a Christian law school. There are many others with various church affiliations, but for the most part, these others emphasize service, ethics, responsibility, pro bono legal services, etc. but not a Christian legal education per se.
Of the three purported Christian law schools, there is a familiar theme. Two were started by evangelistic religious ministries, where redemptive theology is viewed as the defining tenet of the university of which each law school is a part. The third was started specifically as an adjunct to a school of religious apologetics, and for the specific purpose of using law as a tool of religious advocacy. Talk about a low view of law – all three law schools capitulate to redemptive theology.
All three law schools are administered by people of good intentions and solid religious backgrounds who have no concept of a biblical view of law. I’m referring to the full-time administrators and people who make up the governing boards of each university. They simply don’t know what they don’t know (about law), and what they do know (about religion) is irrelevant. So while they go around maintaining religious purity in the ranks, they systematically weed out anyone with a truly biblical view of law.
That is why two of the three law schools ejected most of their lonang inclined faculty members in the early 1990’s. That is why the third school has the nerve to be called by the name of liberty, but imposes the most draconian form of tyranny over its members in the name of religious purity, thereby bringing shame on the concept of Christian liberty. There are a few brave souls who, as faculty members at these schools, try to bring a lonang perspective into the classroom, but they are fighting an uphill battle against their own administrations. The history of Christian law schools in America is not one of attack from the outside, but of persecution from the inside.
If you think Christian law schools are taking back law and government for the glory of God, then where is the scholarship? Oh sure, you’ll get some nice law review articles written every once in a while. But where are the alternative (lonang-based) textbooks? Where are the extensive reexaminations of each law school subject to bring them captive to the obedience of Christ? Where is the revised law school curricula? Why isn’t a biblical view of law filtering over to the legal advocacy organizations with which the law schools are affiliated?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because lonang friendly people are systematically ignored and marginalized. The parent organizations don’t want to bring their theology into conformity with lonang. School administrators wouldn’t know a biblical view of law from a hole in the ground. Legal advocacy organizations don’t want to admit they have been making faulty legal arguments for decades. So faculty members have little incentive to strike out on their own and develop a lonang perspective of their own field. It is liable to get them fired. It wouldn’t be the first time.
The Only Thing That Counts
If you are going to attempt to build a Christian law school, there are essentially four levels at which this can be done.
First, there is the law plus religion approach. This is commonly manifested by the law school being affiliated with a religious ministry. Along with the affiliation come religious trappings: a religious statement of faith for faculty, and the provision of periodic chapel services for students and faculty. The school may allow people to pray in class, or read from the Bible. Sometimes church attendance by students and faculty is strongly encouraged or required. Occasionally, the school may require law students, in addition to legal studies, to be educated in religious studies.
The result of this approach, however, is always the same. The lawyer is viewed as a lay evangelist to the unsaved and a trained counselor to the flock. In other words, the lawyer is seen as a minister of redemption law. This type of integration of law and religion, if it can be called that, is the single most identifiable characteristic of all Christian law schools today.
Second, there is the law plus evidentiary defense approach. This approach posits that a lawyer should, in addition to legal studies, be trained in defending the existence of God, the validity of the Bible, and the gospel of personal salvation. The result of this approach is that law, particularly the legal rules of evidence, is a tool for verifying religious arguments. Law is viewed as a means to a religious end. Essentially, the lawyer is seen as a religious apologist. The study of law is not valued in itself.
Though not as commonly employed as the first approach, the result is similar. Law is not viewed as worthy in its own right, but has value only as a means to a religious end. It isn’t so much an integration of religion and law, as a capitulation of law to religion. There is no acknowledgment that God is a god of law and government – in essence, it denies who God is.
A third approach might be called God’s revelation of law practice. The thought here is that a lawyer should conform the relational aspects of legal practice to the model of Christ as the prototypical mediator and counselor, i.e., Jesus as the prototypical lawyer. The result of this approach is generally a focus on ethical and moral considerations, conciliation and mediation services, and legal aid. Essentially, the lawyer is seen as a charitable services provider, that is, a do-gooder.
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with doing good works. But there is nothing about being a lawyer that lends itself to doing good works more or less than any other profession or occupation. More to the point, there is nothing particularly Christian about doing good works, either. Pro bono services are a staple of most state bar associations and large law firms, and legal aid clinics are common. If you represent clients like a heathen but you do it for free, what is Christian about that?
Fourth, there is God’s revelation of substantive law. This approach posits that human laws are subject to a natural and revealed pre-defined objective legal order which is not transient or relative as to person or place. The principles of this legal order can be discovered and developed into a full-fledged legal system, from general principles to many fine details. This is the seamless web of law, where instead of promoting conflicting rights, the pieces fit together and work harmoniously with each other to produce justice, order and liberty.
The result of this approach is that lawyers educated in lonang will acquire an understanding of law, justice and liberty that others lack. Not only will such lawyers be religious, charitable and a fountain of good works, they will advocate principles of true justice, and not be content to refer to justice as merely whatever a government official decides it to be. Such lawyers will be advocates of the laws of nature and nature’s God – the true principles of right and wrong behavior.
In other words, in the eyes of the world, including the religious world, the lonang lawyer will be seen as a troublemaker. Quite frankly, we need more troublemakers for God. We already have enough peacemakers for the devil, many of whom are Christian lawyers.
Apart from God’s revelation of substantive law (principles of lonang), a Christian law school only reinforces the bifurcation for which Christian lawyers are notorious. The law student and soon-to-be lawyer may be an adherent and a servant of the gospel, but he will think about law like everyone else, that is, he will think about law like a heathen. Religion, apologetics and good works are insufficient to form the foundation for a Christian law school, or to define what it means to be a Christian lawyer.
The Christian lawyer and his pastor will view his profession as being ruled by the gospel because of the good works he does (evangelism, pro bono service, and religious rights advocacy), but in reality it will be his profession which rules over the gospel. Why? Because it will be his view of law which never bows the knee to the sovereignty of God. And the irony is, this is exactly the result that existing “Christian” law schools, the organized church, evangelical ministries, and Christian legal associations all work tirelessly to produce. Sometimes, success can be a terrible thing.
Where are all the Christian lawyers? They are practicing law from the world’s point of view, fellowshipping and doing free work for their church, and reading their Bibles for religious truths. All the while they ignore God’s view of law, government and rights. And the really committed Christian lawyers are dropping out of law altogether to devote themselves to religious ministry. Can you say, “escapist”?
I look forward to the day when God will raise up some men and women who are willing to be a servant of the laws of God, and unwilling to be in bondage either to man’s laws or the religious institutions of men. Who needs more Christian lawyers like the ones we have now?