Voices Protesting and Affirming: Engaging the Culture of Law
34 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2011
Date Written: January 1, 2004
Pursing Walter Brueggemann’s metaphor of religious witness as testimony, and H. Richard Niebuhr’ typology to identify distinct motifs in the engagement of religious cultures their secular counterparts, with the law, the authors argues that Protestants, with all who engage the culture of law, participate in lawmaking out of both memory and hope, reciting the past and telling their story anew, with necessarily diverse voices that give lifeblood to the law. Niebuhr’s motif of Christ transforming culture finds its parallel in the legal impulse toward revolution and radical reform. Niebuhr’s “Christ in culture” motif finds its parallel in the preserving legal impulses such as legislative and bureaucratic action. The witness of Christ against culture in the withdrawal from legal institutions can be seen in the response characterized by conscientious objection and the protest against them in the response characterized by civil disobedience. The witness of Protestant “dualists” is reflected in the religious impulse toward critical advocacy of and engagement in the law.
Keywords: Protestant, culture of law, Niebuhr, Christianity, conversionalists, synthesists, dualists, Yoder
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