“Christian Traditions, Culture, and Law”: An Update and A Few Reflections

“Christian Traditions, Culture, and Law”: An Update and A Few Reflections

Essay By: Robert F. Cochran, Jr.

47 PEPP. L. REV. 563 (2020)

Using Richard Niebuhr’s description of Christian approaches to culture, this Article examines the way Christians approach law, focusing on developments over the last 20 years. During that time, synthesists have continued to develop natural law, seeking an understanding of law based on shared human goods and reason, an approach that can generate a common approach among people of all faiths and no faith. Conversionists, including those on both the political left and right, argue for changes in law that will reflect Christian understandings of the good. Separatists (including many former conversionists) argue that American culture and law have become so corrupt, materialistic, and hedonistic that Christians should withdraw from public life and focus on developing faithful communities that might be a witness to the world. Dualists argue that though influence in the world requires compromise, Christians should seek positions of leadership and do what they can for the common good. Culturalists have come to reflect the surrounding culture rather than witness to it. During this time, some cultural and political leaders have sought to push Christians from models that seek to influence culture (synthesist and conversionist) into models that do not (separatist, dualist, and culturalist).

Download the Full Article