Christian Calling and the Legal Profession
By Michael P. Schutt
290 pp, pbk, £14.82
This is a superb book. Michael Schutt has put Christian lawyers in his debt. This is a must-read book for all Christian lawyers and perhaps more importantly for their pastors.
He shows that a Christian lawyer, contrary to popular opinion, is not an oxymoron.
The book is in three main parts: the lost lawyer; integrity; and integrity in practice. In the first Schutt exposes the jettosoning of the law's moorings in the Christian faith to be replaced by a form of instrumentalism . No longer is law transcendent but it has become a social construct that knows nothing of its religious roots and presuppositions. He also shows how the church's neglect of the concept of vocation has served to secularise law.
This first section is an excellent overview of secularisation in general and how it applies to law and lawyers in particular. The result has been an emphasis on personal piety to the exclusion of transformational aspects of faith: 'Personal piety alone is insufficient to the task of bringing one's law practice under the headship of Christ' (p. 82).
Part two looks at ways of becoming more integrated and whole in the approach to faith and law. It focuses on the lawyer. It provides tools and insights for combatting the influence of dualism. He rightly places an emphasis on community and accountability. We cannot be lone disciples. It is good to read of the importance of 'spiritual disciplines' in the context of a transformational approach. We need to be who God wants us to be so that we can do what God wants us to do (p. 175). As the church restores and recaptures vocational thinking then it really can become the place where 'lawyers can learn how to love God as lawyers' (p. 129). Discipleship and worldview can embrace.
The final part looks at the law in practice - here he draws upon the work of Scott Pryor who develops a 'paradigm for integrated thinking', a biblical-theological integration in the law. This provides a good foundation in which to develop a Christian perspective on the role of lawyer as advocate and as consellor, which Schutt does here. In an appendix he examines: the doctrine of the atonement as it relates to theories of punishment; biblical perspectives on contract consideration in the common law; and the Sermon on the Mount as it illuminates the criminal law. These provide excellent models of law-faith integration.
At the end of each chapter are excellent questions that promote self-reflection and would be ideal for group debate and discussion.
Schutt draws upon a wide range of resources including Kuyper, Richard Foster, Newbigin, William Blackstone and natural law. I'm more agnostic about natural law than Schutt, but much of what he says about natural law isn't much different to the common grace perspective.
The book also provides a model for other professions - not only lawyers will benefit from this book, but anyone involved in a vocation (and that includes us all!). It will provide much food for thought and a much needed challenge to integrate faith and career; it will certainly help bridge the sacred-secualr and private-public divide that has stunted much of Christian discipleship.
I originally started to read this book on my kindle - it was so good I had to get a hard copy so that I could lend it out. If I was a law maker I would create a new law to make this compulsory reading for all lawyers. If you are a pastor with a lawyer in the congregation, I humbly suggest that, this should be mandatory reading.
Part I. The Lost Lawyer
1. The Lost Lawyer
2. The American Law School Experience
3. Vocation and the Local Church
4. Thinking about Lawyering
Part II. Integrity
6. Unity and the Integrated Lawyer
7. Community and Trinitarian Lawyering
8. Truth and the Integrated Lawyer
9. Integrity in Practice: Spiritual Disciplines
Part III. Integrity in Practice
10. Professional Identity, Integrity and Modernity
11. Lawyers' Vices--Lawyers' Virtues
12. Law and Truth
Author and Subject Index