Law and Religion: The Challenges of Christian Jurisprudence

St. Thomas Law Review, Vol. 2, pp. 439-452, 2005

Emory Legal Studies Research Paper

14 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2007 Last revised: 17 Apr 2020


This article is both an apologia and agenda for the interdisciplinary study of law and religion, especially the Christian religion. Briefly tracing the rise of the contemporary interdisciplinary legal studies movement against the backdrop of legal positivism, the article argues that legal studies must take full account of the religious sources and dimensions of law. Law and religion are two great interlocking systems of values and belief with their own sources and structures of normativity and authority, their own methods and measures of enforcement and amendment, and their own rituals and habits of conceptualization and celebration of values. Yet, they share many elements, many concepts, and many methods. They balance each other by counterpoising justice and mercy, rule and equity, orthodoxy and liberty, discipline and love. Though Christian jurists, theologians, and ethicists have made monumental contributions to this burgeoning field of law and religion study, this article addresses several challenges that lie before them in this new century, including the need to look to neglected traditions and times and to engender a more ecumenical and concrete Christian jurisprudence.

Keywords: jurisprudence, law, religion, christianity, positivism

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, Law and Religion: The Challenges of Christian Jurisprudence. St. Thomas Law Review, Vol. 2, pp. 439-452, 2005, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN:

John Witte (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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Atlanta, GA 30322
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