Friday, July 26, 2013

A High Calling

[God] has "told [us] what is good" (Micah 6:8), in the Bible, in the person of his Son, and in the gift of conscience.  He has given us faculties to discern the divine order in the world.  Law is thus not merely a means of social control to be manipulated by those in power to achieve their ends.  Making, interpreting, and executing law consistent with divine ordering is a high calling, not a power-grab or arbitrary assertion.

-from "Evangelicals and Catholics Together on Law: The Lord of Heaven and Earth - a Joint Statement by Evangelical and Catholic Legal Scholars", just published and accessible to read through the Journal of Christian Thought, the Summer 2013 issue, and the Journal of Catholic Social Thought.

This part of the joint statement (and the whole of it) I find to be profoundly encouraging and moving.  Practicing law can become so wearisome and such an invitation to cynicism.  In the hands of Christians at least, the process is potentially transformed.  While we Christian lawyers are liable to lose sight of our calling, non-lawyer Christians seem to fail utterly to see it. 

The faith community has generally lost the idea of vocation except as it applies to religious-workers.  How many times did I hear, growing up a Southern Baptist, that this person or that is giving himself to "full-time Christian service", as he marches off to seminary or the mission field.  No minister I ever heard of ever recognized a young person going off to law school that way! 

At best, the church communities tend to view the lawyers among them as leadership resources for the congregation or denomination and sources of financial support, and, at worst, as Christians who are caught in terrible tension between the dark demands of the law and their Christian faith.  The question I have been asked over the years, when the subject of being a Christian lawyer comes up, is a variation of the theme "How can you be a lawyer and a Christian."  The answer is that God calls Christians into the profession, and he will not call us into something in which he will not also be absolutely involved.

(Speaking of vocation, I would suggest that the next project for a joint statement is Evangelicals and Catholics Together on Business: The Lord of the Marketplace.)

No comments: