Radical Christian legal theory, part 3: Bearing witness through law

Evangelicals love to talk about the “culture wars,” usually with some mixture of zeal and disdain. I wish we could dispense with the term. It frames our moral agenda all wrong. Christians aren’t called to be at war with their culture. We’re called to be witnesses to the Kingdom of God – in our worship, words, and deeds.

I don’t doubt that bearing witness sometimes feels like war. Jesus promised, after all, that we would have trouble in the world. But rather than fight back, He urged us to “be encouraged” because He has already won the battle – “conquered the world,” as He put it – through His death and resurrection. As evangelicals, we need to focus less on fighting a war with our culture, and more (much more) on following the way of the cross.

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The InterVarsity problem: maintaining fidelity, breaking fellowship

I just finished up a presentation to a group of ministries on “Strengthening Religious Identity,” identifying legal strategies for ministries to maintain their Christian witness while carrying out their missions. It’s a topic particularly salient for faith-based organizations who hold to orthodox Christian views on sexual ethics and sexual identity and who dissent from the ascendant cultural ideology around these issues.

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Radical Christian legal theory, Part 2: Justice for the poor

Thinking about law through a Christian lens means focusing on the poor. “[The Lord] has sent me to preach good news to the poor,” Jesus declares in Luke’s Gospel:

to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

(Luke 4:18-19) These words not only launched Jesus’s ministry. They defined his mission. The poor, the oppressed, the stranger, and the outcast – the “least of these” (Matt. 25:40) – were closest to Jesus’s heart precisely because they were at the margins of society.

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Radical Christian legal theory, Part 1: Law, Gospel, and foolishness

It’s not often one can say a law review article affected them profoundly. But for me, that’s true of Christian Legal Theory” by the late Harvard scholar William Stuntz.

This post is the first in a series on Stuntz’s article. My goal: to illuminate Stuntz’s ideas for a broader audience, to shed some light on the question that Stuntz poses in his opening sentence: “Why should anyone think about law in Christian terms?

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