Thursday, August 31, 2006
In Books & Culture, Penn law prof David Skeel reviews The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics and Human Nature (a volume to which MoJ-er Patrick Brennan contributed) and notes the growing interest in exploring the intersection of Christianity and law:
From the early 20th century until the 1940s, evangelical Christians disengaged from American public life. Law schools were hostile territory, generally to be avoided. As a result, the few evangelical legal scholars tended to operate under cover, assiduously separating their faith and their scholarly life. By the 1970s, Presbyterian minister and apologist Francis Schaeffer and other evangelical leaders, building on the efforts of predecessors such as Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga, had begun asking why there weren't more Christian lawyers, doctors, and businessmen. The evangelical re-engagement that followed has spread to academic circles, but more slowly than to business and the professions. Even now, it is an unusual law school that has more than one or two scholars who identify themselves as Christians, and whose faith explicitly informs their scholarship.
The publication of The Teachings of Modern Christianity, and the major Pew Charitable Trust funding that launched the project, signifies the major change underway. With the visible influence of Catholic intellectuals and evangelical leaders on the current White House, there suddenly is a deep interest in perspectives on religion, politics, and law. Legal scholars are not oblivious to these developments, as reflected in the increasing numbers of law review articles with "Christianity" in the title. Much of the new scholarship, too much perhaps, emphasizes philosophy and philosophical theology at the expense of other methodologies. The bias is understandable. For a generation chastened by Mark Noll's brilliant indictment, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, it's hard to resist the assumption that philosophy must be the truest and highest scholarly end.
Read the whole thing here.