1st Edition

Christianity, Ethics and the Law The Concept of Love in Christian Legal Thought

Edited By Zachary R. Calo, Joshua Neoh, A. Keith Thompson Copyright 2023
    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book examines how Christian love can inform legal thought. The work introduces love as a way to advance the emergent conversation between constructive theology and jurisprudence that will also inform conversations in philosophy and political theory.

    Love is the central category for Christian ethical understanding. Yet, the growing field of law and religion, and relatedly law and theology, rarely addresses how love can shape our understanding of law. This reflects, in part, a common assumption that law and love stand in necessary tension. Love applies to the private and the personal. Law, by contrast, applies to the public and the political, realms governed by power. It is thus a mistake to envisage love as having anything but a negative relationship to law. This conclusion continues to govern Christian understandings of the meaning and vocation of law. The animating idea of this volume is that the concept of love can and should inform Christian legal thought. The project approaches this task from the perspective of both historical and constructive theology. Various contributions examine how such thinkers as Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin utilised love in their legal thought. These essays highlight often neglected aspects of the Christian tradition. Other contributions examine Christian love in light of contemporary legal topics including civility, forgiveness, and secularism. Love, the book proposes, not only matters for law but can transform the terms on which Christians understand and engage it.

    The book will be of interest to academics and researchers working in the areas of legal theory; law and religion; law and philosophy; legal history; theology and religious studies; and political theory.

    Foreword – John Witte Jr.

    Introduction – Zachary R. Calo, Joshua Neoh and A. Keith Thompson

    Part I: Law and Love in Augustine, Calvin, and Luther

    1. Constance Lee, John Calvin and the Law of Love.

    2. Zachary R. Calo, "To Heal the Wounds of Sinners": Law and Love, Judgment and Forgiveness.

    3. Renée Köhler-Ryan, Why Secularism is No Option for a Christian Citizen: Augustine’s Analysis of Love in the City.

    4. Augusto Zimmerman, Why Lutheranism is No Option for a Meaningful Jurisprudence of Love.

    Part II: Law, Love and Political Theology

    5. Joshua Neoh, Law and Love in Monasticism.

    6. Alex Deagon, The Law of Love as Principles of Civility: Secular Translation or Religious Contribution?

    7. Benjamin B. Saunders, The Loving Sword: The Implications of Divine Simplicity for Law and Love.

    8. Stefanus Hendrianto, Aquinas on Love, Law and Happiness: The Interconnection between Divine Law, Human Law, and Rational Love.

    Part III: The Ethics of Law and Love

    9. Jonathan Crowe, From Alterity to Proximity: Emmanuel Levinas on the Natural Law of Love.

    10. Donlu Thayer, "Proving Contraries": Joseph Smith on Law and Love.

    11. A. Keith Thompson, Christ's Higher Law? A Shift from Coercion, to Contract and then Covenant?

    12. Patrick Brennan, The Forgiveness of Love in Charity: Getting Conversationally Opened Up.


    Zachary R. Calo is Professor of Law at Hamad bin Khalifa University, Qatar. He is also Professor of Law (Adj.) at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Visiting Professor at The Open University (UK), Visiting Professor at Tashkent State University of Law (Uzbekistan), and Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University, Qatar, as well as Research Scholar in Law and Religion at Valparaiso University and Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University.

    Joshua Neoh is Associate Professor of Law at the Australian National University (ANU), Australia.

    A. Keith Thompson is Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA), Australia.

    ‘This impressive volume probes several hard dialectics that have occupied Christianity from its biblical beginnings… The authors reflect both the hard-nosed realism of seasoned lawyers with the faith-based imagination of sincere believers. The authors toe no party line, herd no sacred cows, and trade in no naïve nostalgia… St. Paul, Martin Luther, and other titans take several hits… This is rigorous law and theology scholarship of a rare and refined sort.’

    John Witte, Jr., Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University