This article is an invited response to James Davison Hunter’s much-discussed book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2010). Hunter, a sociologist at UVA and a believing Protestant, claims that law’s capacity to contribute to social change is “mostly illusory” and that Christians, therefore, should practice “faithful presence” in the public square rather than seek to influence law directly. My response is that it is, in fact, law’s stunning ability to alter and limit available choices that makes it an object of deservedly fierce contest. The wild protest over the recent enactment of a “Christianized” constitution in Hungary is illustrative. Hunter worries that law is too much just about power. I agree with Hunter’s argument that for law to represent more than power, it must be linked to a realm that is not reducible to politics. Hunter indefensibly downplays, however, the role of the natural law and of the Church in establishing such an apolitical realm. Hunter’s thesis provides an opportunity to reconsider the modern orthodoxy according to which the ideal is for the state to be “separate” from the Church. The conscience of a free people is not all the spiritual authority there is – and more is needed.
This paper is a preliminary investigation of what Christian theology might teach us about the nature of...Read more
The Regulation of Extremist Speech in the Era of Mass Digital Communications: Is Brandenburg Tolerance Obsolete in the Terrorist Era?
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Marriage in California: Is the Federal Lawsuit Against Proposition 8 About Applying the Fourteenth Amendment or Preserving Federalism?
A dramatic saga unfolded as a state supreme court's controversial decision on the civil definition of marriage...Read more
This piece introduces the Pepperdine Law Review symposium issue for Volume 40, publishing articles derived from the...Read more
The following essay pays tribute to Sandy Levinson’s thoughts on constitutional compromises by paying tribute to the...Read more