Tuesday, April 10, 2007


A challenge to Christian Scholarship

As someone who engages in Christian legal scholarship, I found it interesting to read David Skeel's working paper entitled "The Unbearable Lightness of Christian Legal Scholarship," available for download at SSRN.

The following is from Skeel's abstract of the paper:

When the ascendency of a new movement leaves a visible mark on American law, its footprints ordinarily can be traced through the pages of America's law reviews. But the influence of evangelicals and other theologically conservative Christians has been quite different. Surveying the law review literature in 1976, the year Newsweek proclaimed as the year of the evangelical, one would not find a single scholarly legal article outlining a Christian perspective on law or any particular legal issue. Even in the 1980s and 1990s, the literature remained remarkably thin. By the 1990s, distinctively Christian scholarship had finally begun to emerge in a few areas. But even today, the scope of Christian legal scholarship is shockingly narrow for such a nationally influential movement.

He makes some good points, and I think his challenge is correct: We need to find a way to have a Christian perspective connect to the broader academy.

I think what makes Christian scholarship so difficult is that all of the sciences have made a strong, united effort to distance themselves from all religious belief or thought--that the two must be mutually exclusive. The only venue left for Christian scholarship in the secular world is the humanities.
AZPD-- Yeah, but what this article is talking about IS the humanities. I really think we need to better engage larger issues in the academy. For example, when I go through the literature on ethics, there is almost NO Christian scholarship in that area. Of course, I can do something about that, too, when I have a little time...
This was discussed on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" Monday night on MSNBC. Copy-and-paste the URL below, and click on the video link for "Same school, same scandal?"

I saw that!!! I watch that show every day and he was talking about Pat Robertson's law school, which I had never heard of.

I like MSNBC and CNBC. I remember when CNBC first came on the air and there was this show with like Mary Matalin and someone else.. she said that there were so many shows with women on CNBC that the call letters actually stand for "Chicks. nothing but Chicks."

I do not have a lot of time to watch TV but I always TIVO Keith Olbermann.

There is truth to what you say - that the sciences distance themselves from religion and vice versa. A dear colleague, and friend, Dr. Francis Collins, head of the NIH's genome project, came out with a book last fall about how he - as a scientist - believes in Christ. It's called: The language of God... Part of his effort was to address the view that the two cannot coexist in the same person, but he does a great job of refuting that.

Prof... I imagine you are referring to the literature of legal ethics, rather than medical ethics. Loyola in Chicago offers a masters in medical ethics that is based on Christian scholarship.

TT - I've seen your career highlights in the W&M alumni magazine. Congrats on all you've done - and on seeing the world in such a fun way! I was a Theta Delt groupie... and I'm glad you weren't in the keg float photo!! I think IPLG denies being in the car too - perhaps the only one in it is Osler!!

Tyd - How can you know so much about so many things that pop up on this blog?! It's pretty amazing! I hope Spencer and Donut are playing nicely today!

Red, thanks for your props. Os wasn't in that particular pic; it was taken in the fall of his freshman year & he hadn't yet pledged.

All of this college stuff is making me wish I could make a HC again... I haven't been to one since 1989 (and this coming fall I'll be in Austria). I was back in the 'burg last year, though, for a recital and master class.
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