A New Concordance on Discordant Canons: Harold Berman on Law and Religion
John Witte Jr.
Emory University School of Law
The Integrative Jurisprudence of Harold J. Berman, Howard O. Hunter, ed., p. 523-560, Westview Press, 1993
Harold J. Berman is a leader in the fields of law and religion, and shows that they are connected. Berman draws on a rich tradition, but his work is more than mere synthesis. He has several cardinal convictions, and draws on pedagogical, jurisprudential, and theological sources.
Berman seeks integration of education, linking legal education back with humanitarian studies. Therefore, Berman also critiques positivist concepts that separate law and religion. Law is more than a set of rules, and religion is more than a set of doctrines. Every society needs both, and they must exist in dialectic harmony. Berman also believes in a theology of reconciliation, which requires integration of knowledge. Thus, Berman advocates the end of dualism, and calls for it to be replaced with synthesis, thereby creating a new common law for all humanity.
Berman sees the study of law and religion as a jurist first. He posits three themes: 1. Law has a religious dimension; 2. Religion has a legal dimension; 3. These fields crossover and cross-fertilize one another. Law has an inner sanctity and spirit that is essential, and legitimate laws must have an inner morality. Religion, on the other hand, has an inner structure of legality, which gives it order and social form. These two fields have a dialectic interaction and interdependence that draw on one another and are professionally related.
Throughout his career, Berman challenged legal conventions, and challenged theologians to develop a comprehensive theology of law. He argued that the world faces a pending crisis, and that a global common law and common faith must be created through the unity of law and religion to solve this crisis.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: Harold J. Berman, synthesis, integration, dialectic harmony, jurist, law, religionAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: June 10, 2011
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo1 in 0.719 seconds