The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature - Vol. 2

The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature - Vol. 2

The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature - Vol. 2

The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature - Vol. 2

Excerpt

Until recently, modern Western Christian teachings on law, politics, and society have been lost on much of the modern academy. To be sure, the valuable contributions of a few modern Christian lights, such as Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King Jr., have long been closely studied. And, to be sure, medieval and early modern Christian influences on the later Western legal tradition have been recognized. But the prevailing view of most scholars has been that, for good or ill, the historical contributions of Christianity to our understanding of law, politics, and society have been gradually eclipsed in the modern period. Outside of specialist discussions of natural law and church-state relations, it has been widely assumed, modern Christianity has had little constructive or original to say.

The premise of this volume and its companion is that modern Christianity did have a great deal to say about law, politics, and society, and that its teachings can still have a salutary influence today, in the West and well beyond. To be sure, many quarters of modern Christianity did become theologically anemic, ethically compromised, and jurisprudentially barren. But in each generation, we submit, strong schools of Christian legal, political, and social teaching remained, each grounded in a rich and nuanced Christian theology, particularly a theology of human nature or, more technically, a theological anthropology. Most of the best such teaching emerged outside of the legal profession—in seminaries and church councils, among philosophers and ethicists, on soapboxes and in prison cells, in intellectual isolation if not outright exile. But by word, by deed, and by declaration, modern Christians addressed the cardinal issues of law, politics, and society drawing on a rich theology of human nature.

These two volumes sample these teachings and map their insights for the most pressing issues of our day. Such issues include topics that are familiar to scholars of law, politics, and society whatever their persuasion:

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