The relationship between law and justice is a major question in the Bible, in Christian theology and in the philosophy of law. The books available here look at this issue from all different angles, considering law both at its best and its unjust worst, in order to help Christian lawyers more deeply understand both the law and their faith, and how they are inseparably connected.
Augustine posed two questions that go to the heart of the nature of law. Firstly, what is the difference between a kingdom and a band of robbers? Secondly, is an unjust law a law at all? These two questions force us to consider whether law is simply a means of social control, distinguished from a band of robbers only by its size, or whether law is a social institution justified by its orientation towards justice.
The End of Law applies Augustine’s questions to modern legal philosophy as well as offering a critical theory of natural law that draws on Augustine’s ideas. David McIlroy argues that such a critical natural law theory is realistic but not cynical about law’s relationship to justice and to violence, can diagnose ways in which law becomes deformed and pathological, and indicates that law is a necessary but insufficient instrument for the pursuit of justice. Positioning an examination of Augustine’s reflections on law in the context of his broader thought, McIlroy presents an alternative approach to natural law theory, drawing from critical theory, postmodern thought, and political theologies in conversation with Augustine. This book seeks to show how Augustine’s thinking about law, properly understood as theology, has continuing relevance to the questions raised by legal philosophies today.
This is a very timely book. A purely scientific approach to law has left us thinking for decades that it is the only possible approach, despite the dangers to which it has or might still lead us. A philosophical or, even, a theological approach to law shows that other analyses of law are still possible. It is the great merit of this book to offer one of these ways of thinking about law in our world today.
The End of Law is a commendably dissenting intervention into the debate about how to shore up the foundations of law at a time of deepening uncertainty about what law is for and whether it is anything more than the outcome of a power contest. It’s thus also a timely one, at a moment when a legitimate moral pluralism threatens to collapse into a dangerous cultural and political fragmentation that places democracy and the rule of law in serious jeopardy.
For some time, theistic Natural Law Theory has been dominated by the Thomism of the New Classical Natural Lawyers. In this book, David McIlroy develops an Augustinian, which is to say, more critically realist, reinterpretation of that tradition. Wide-ranging, erudite and accessible, this book provides refreshing and provocative new perspectives on the perennial questions of jurisprudence.
This erudite and elegant volume offers a novel natural law theory of justice, law, and authority that is firmly grounded in the enduring teachings of St. Augustine but deftly engaged with a wide range of contemporary jurists, philosophers, and theologians. This is a book that can be read in an evening or two, but savoured for many years. Highly recommended.
The Bible was not written as a handbook for lawyers, politicians and civil servants setting out a theology of human law. Its concern is with the dealings of God with human beings and of human beings with God.
What then does the Bible have to say about human laws and legal systems?
Looking back to the Old Testament creation narratives, to the Mosaic Law, the biblical model of kingship and the prophetic call to justice, David McIlroy presents a Christian perspective on the biblical view of law and justice. That perspective contrasts the claims and teachings of Christ as King with Caesar, a “King of the World”, and explores the relationship of law to the spiritual powers, including the Holy Spirit. The book then concludes with a reflection on the place of human laws in the light of the Last Judgment.
A Biblical View of Law and Justice seeks to wrestle with the biblical message of justice, giving Christian lawyers, civil servants and politicians a renewed vision and understanding of the potential of their work in the post-Christendom world.
This book will confirm the sense of vocation that those involved in law-making or administration should have and will help others to see that this is a necessary sphere of work for God’s people in God’s world.
There is a woeful dearth of books on law and justice as viewed from a Biblical perspective … For this reason alone, the present volume is to be welcomed. Its exemplary content confirms this view – in spades. This book is also different inasmuch as (unlike most other books of this genre) it expounds a wholly Christian perspective towards law and justice in the Bible. Indeed, there is constant reference to Biblical passages in the footnotes throughout the work itself. This is a remarkable achievement since many Christians appear – apart from the Ten Commandments – not to associate most of the Bible with either law or justice.
The triad of Scripture, justice and law has represented through the ages a persistent focus for lawyers, philosophers and theologians. In a society seeking to accommodate these within the additional context of human rights, this timely volume represents a valuable resource to guide and illuminate research and thought.
Will interest anyone concerned with the relationship between biblical teaching and contemporary legal issues. As Editor of Law and Justice – the Christian Law Review, I am delighted to commend David McIlroy’s book as a most valuable contribution to the debate on some of the most pressing issues which concern Christians today.
This book explores the neglected significance of the doctrine of the Trinity for the understanding of human law. Through interaction with the thought of Jürgen Moltmann, Oliver O’Donovan and Thomas Aquinas, it argues that human law is called to play a positive but limited role in maintaining ‘shallow justice’ and relative peace. Human law is overshadowed by the work of the Son, included in the purposes of the Father, and used as an instrument by the Holy Spirit. However, the Spirit works in those who are in Christ to effect ‘deep justice’, a work of sanctification which culminates in glorification – the experience of perfect, free, willing obedience in heaven. This book seeks to show how thinking about law in the light of the Trinity enables us to understand its role, its purpose and its limits.
David McIlroy’s eloquent and erudite discussions of such thinkers as Jürgen Moltmann, Oliver O’Donovan, and St Thomas Aquinas are alone worth the price of this book. More than simply engaging such figures, however, McIlroy thinks with them as he pushes toward an understanding of law adequate to biblical revelation as well as to the prudential decision-making of Christian lawmakers and lawyers. The result is a dazzling display of the theological task at its best.
Using a trio of Aquinas, Moltmann, and O’Donovan as his foils, David McIlroy argues for a trinitarian theology of human law, rooted in the created order of God the Father, accountable to the final judgement of God the Son, and inspired by the liberating impulses of the God the Spirit. This engaging text offers a provocative and innovative outline for a whole new way of thinking about the foundations and fundamentals of law and government. Jurists and theologians alike will find ample inspiration in these learned pages.
This book effectively does what it sets out to do, that is, to assess the significance of the doctrine of the Trinity in helping us to understand human law by means of an extended conversation with Jurgen Moltmann, Oliver O’Donovan and Thomas Aquinas. … there is no doubt that McIlroy has an assured knowledge not just of the key theological texts of Moltmann, O’Donovan and Aquinas that aid Christian reflection on the proper, divinely ordained role of human law, but also of classical theological and legal and theological works.
A tour de force that unpacks theology of law in relationship not only to the Christian doctrines of creation, fall, and providence, but also vis-à-vis the doctrines of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and Pentecost. Going beyond his interlocutors, McIlroy is at his most provocative, in my view, in proposing a pneumatological theology of law that sees the role of the Spirit both as “hidden” in the maintenance of what he calls “shallow justice” (the administration of human rule) and as a prerequisite to the achievement of “deep justice” (which emerges out of transformed hearts rather than through legislative enaction).
Good News for the Public Square is a call to Christians to love our neighbours biblically. Love demands that we should promote the good of the society around us as God intended and in a way which commends the gospel. This will also have the effect of protecting the church’s spread of the gospel for everyone’s eternal good.
Good government will be committed to the rule of law, based on what is true about society, promote what is good for society, and acknowledge its limits. In this way, it will be a blessing to all its subjects, regardless of their religion or belief.
In an arena where Christian activism can lack robust theological justification, it is great to see this clear and considered biblical outline for evangelical public theological engagement. Good News for the Public Square is a solid introduction to these important issues.
It is vitally important that Christians are involved in the public square but that involvement needs to be biblically faithful, theologically rigorous, Christ-centred, gospelhearted and a practical expression of our call to love God and neighbour. This resource provides a wonderful guide to those seeking to find common Christian ground in such characteristics of engagement with law and government. It needs to be widely read and integrated into our thinking and action as Christians.
This book does not seek to provide all the answers for Christians concerned about issues of public policy and law – indeed it recognises that Christians will differ on the conclusions to be reached. What it sets out to do is to provide a framework of common ground from which it should be possible to approach such issues in order to further some serious thinking, analysis and discussion. Realistic conclusions may then emerge with some consensus, which will demonstrate the love of God and of his people for the community, by identifying the common good which is achievable in a secular culture. This is a helpful and encouraging book which I commend to all those who practise in, and seek to work out God’s purposes in, the law in our pluralistic society.
The gospel, which is the power of God to salvation, saves real people. In this sense, the gospel is private. But, is the gospel only private? Should the faith be therefore privatised? Are there public implications for this powerful faith? Make no mistake: Jesus saves us from something for something. A purely privatised gospel fails to be the powerful gospel depicted scripturally. Read Good News for the Public Square and begin to explore how and why .
Access to justice is a fundamental corollary to the rule of law because without it the rule of law can be nothing more than just a concept, an ideal. If access to justice is absent, legal rights cannot be exercised and legal obligations cannot be enforced. Thus it is essential to a humane, just and civilized society. And it is at risk. Successive British governments have cut legal aid, increased court fees, and created a real danger that the individual citizens will find themselves unable to afford to seek to enforce their rights and the obligations of others.
This is an area where the Church should have a voice. There has been a perception in some circles that Christians have concentrated on the rights of members of our own Christian communities rather than upon the rights of others. This book argues that this balance needs to be reconsidered. The Church should take the lead in championing the need for all citizens to have effective access to the English legal system, both by seeking to influence the political agenda and by endeavouring to “fill in” the gaps that are becoming ever wider.”
This is a most interesting contribution from a Christian perspective on the issue of access to justice. It correctly asserts the right of the Church and faith communities to involve themselves in this debate which raises important ethical considerations.
This is an important essay worthy of time for reading and reflection Part 1 comprises a scholarly summary of the Biblical emphasis on the centrality of justice in God’s political economy and the importance not only of equality before the law but in access to justice and to advocacy. The importance of this in New Testament thought, often overlooked, is well demonstrated. Part 2 provides a compelling analysis of why we are where we are and the danger of taking justice in the UK for granted. Part 3 offers thoughts for a Christian response; this essay makes clear the need –perhaps Christian lawyers should tithe their time and talents too.
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