The Role of the Christian Legal Scholar: The Call for a Modern Saint Benedict
29 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2005 Last revised: 3 May 2012
Date Written: January 1, 2005
In his book, After Virtue, the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre issued a stinging indictment of modern society. In the famous last sentence of After Virtue, MacIntyre stated that [w]e, our society, are waiting . . . for another - doubtless very different - St. Benedict.
I want to propose that Christian law professors should see themselves and their role in accord with MacIntyre's call. In this Article I will try to explain why. First, I will review St. Benedict's life and argue that he created the institution, the form of community - Western monasticism - that preserved much of classical civilization and which was instrumental in synthesizing a new, Christian civilization. Second, I will discuss the state of American culture as diagnosed by MacIntyre.
I will then propose how Christian legal scholars should respond: what our role is in American society. I will argue that Christian law professors have three analytically distinct possible roles: building Christian law schools, rebuilding Christian law schools, and what I will label engaging in the debate. Scholars may assume different roles over their careers and aspects of more than one role concurrently.
Then I will briefly discuss how one can know what role(s) one should assume, as a Christian legal scholar. Lastly, I will return to St. Benedict and how his legacy of preserving and creating offers a model for Christian law professors fifteen hundred years later.
Keywords: MacIntyre, After Virtue, Christian, law school, Saint Benedict
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