Friday, April 13, 2012

The Benefits of Attending a Christian Law School

What are the benefits of attending a Christian Law School? Having worked for a Christian law school for more than 10 years, I have found that many believers are familiar with features of Christian education. They understand that the professors are Christians and that the subject matter is examined in light of the truth of Scripture. But what many do not seem to understand is how that actually benefits a student. I have sat across the table from countless Christians who see the Christian aspect of the school as nice but not important, as good intentioned but not really necessary. What causes this this kind of malaise? It is often a result of not thinking much about how God’s truth affects our thinking outside of our belief in Jesus, and how it impacts our lives.

With that in mind, it seems important to lay out the benefits of attending a Christian law school. Granted, a Christian law school may not be for everyone, but Christians who are considering law school should be aware of these, even if in the end they decide to attend elsewhere.

We live in a culture today where the public square has established its thinking based on secular and even atheistic presuppositions. This culture is so ubiquitous that even Christians begin to see it as the norm. Often, it is not until they take a public stand on a Christian issue that they find out just how foreign Christian truth is to this culture. When attending a secular school, a student will be swimming in a culture that is no different than the culture at large. The existence of truth will be questioned, moral standards will be relativized, and of course discussion about God will have no place in the discussion of law. In the end, they will claim that they teach this way because they approach law from a neutral and unbiased point of view. But is a school that says truth and morality are relative, and that all things should be taught from a secular point of view, because even if he does exist, God is not significant enough to bring into the discussion really neutral and unbiased?

At a Christian school that takes the Word of God seriously, you will study all the secular theories of jurisprudence that you would study at any law school, but you will also be provided with the Christian answers to the philosophical questions surrounding law. You will be shown how many of the post-modern, pragmatic, and positivist views of law all tend to crumble under their own weight. You will be in an environment where dialogue on the philosophical and theological underpinnings of the American legal system will be encouraged, not stifled. All of this will be necessary when you are an attorney if you attempt to take a stand for truth in this culture. You will not be able to get this type of training at a secular school.

Christian law schools also often have a higher focus on ethics and character. Most law schools, even secular schools, are required to teach professional responsibility and ethics, but these types of courses can often boil down to lowest common denominator requirements. The question often asked is, what do I need to do to remain in good standing with the bar, when the question should be, how do I model the character of Christ as an attorney. Modern culture abounds with the notion that your function (employment) is more significant than your character. You can be morally bankrupt in your personal life as long as you are good at what you do. This should never be the mindset of the Christian lawyer. We are to be people of character first, and attorneys second. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if you cannot be a person of character while being an attorney, choose to be a person of character without being an attorney.

In law school you will be placed under high amounts of pressure that will transform you into the legal professional you long to be. This is no different at Christian or secular schools. You will be transformed, but each school has a different end in mind as to what a legal professional should be. Will your new found abilities be modeled after a Christ-like pattern or a worldly one? While you are under this transformative pressure, you will not want to be at a place where you are asked to leave your faith at the door.

Also, Romans 1 teaches that when we exchange the Truth of God for a lie we become vain and futile in our thinking. This is no less true in law school. Most naturalistic and secular understandings of law find themselves standing on a foundation that is crumbling underneath them. They will fight for human rights but believe that humans have no inherent rights because rights are merely social constructs. They will argue that truth and morality are relative and that law should be pragmatic. Yet if truth is relative there can be no real truth about what pragmatically works, or what we should be working for. In the end, if we accept the secular presuppositions we will also find ourselves building on the sand rather than the rock that is God’s word.

Finally, like all law schools, Christian law schools will offer you practical training and internships in most areas of law, but they will also offer you opportunities in areas that you may not be able to find elsewhere. For example, the school where I work, students can intern and work on Constitutional Law and religious freedom cases while in school, an opportunity not available at many schools. There is also a strong focus on international human rights with possible internships helping the persecuted church around the world. These opportunities can often open up doors for employment for students that would not be available at a secular school.

So here are a summary of the benefits mentioned above.

1. You will better understand how to articulate Christian truths in the public arena.

2. You will be shown how most secular theories crumble under their own weight, which will be needed when taking a stand for the truth.

3. If done correctly, you will emerge with a stronger Christian character and a closer walk with God.

4. At a Christian law school you will be transformed into a professional who knows how to integrate your faith into your practice, and bring the light of Christ to this darkened world.

5. You will have a legal education that is not built upon shifting sands but built upon rock of God’s timeless truth

6. You will be able to get practical experience in areas not available at most schools, such as internships focused on religious freedom, and international human rights work focused on the persecuted church.

Though it is possible to emerge from a secular law school and still be a Godly attorney, it will only come by fighting against much of what is presupposed by the school, and by supplementing your studies with what will willingly be left out and possibly even ridiculed. As Christians we understand that there are times to be in the world fighting against its philosophies, but there are also times of training, like a soldier preparing for battle, where we should take time to grow in order to be more effective when it comes time to fulfill our calling.

God Bless,


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