A Christian Looks At Law -- By: Michael D. Dean

Journal: Maranatha Baptist Theological Journal
Volume: MBTJ 04:1 (Spring 2014)
Article: A Christian Looks At Law
Author: Michael D. Dean

A Christian Looks At Law

Michael D. Dean, LLC1

The various disciplines of theology, psychology, economics, jurisprudence, and so on, have been compartmentalized because modern thinkers have generally jettisoned the historic theological or philosophical assumptions of most western cultures. At a minimum, those cultures at least nominally acceded to a superintending personality (or personalities) and thus concluded personality’s attendant characteristics of coherence and purposefulness.

Because I retain similar assumptions, I see fundamental commonalities in all human actions, regardless of the disciplines in which they are grouped and studied. From those presuppositions derive both what law is and what it ought to be. From them also derives the only defensible union of law as will and law as order, those two components of the age-old conundrum, freedom and form.

Will And Freedom

I propose first to identify what a Platonist might call “essences” of law. This requires identifying first what law has in common with all other human enterprises and, second, what all linguistic usages of the term “law” have in common.

Regarding the first “essence” of law, positivism emphasized law as “will.” That conception is a specialized (and tunnel-visioned) application of the theory of psychological hedonism – that “[m]an acts so as to avoid

pain and obtain pleasure.”2 The psychological term “action” includes not only conscious, deliberate choices, but also includes instinctive actions and reactions as well as responses to needs or drives endemic to human physiology or human “nature.”3

This broad definition allows the premise that human action is a function of self-regarding benefit as the actor perceives it, whatever the “self” or “perception” may be. What an actor values as beneficial to himself is a matter of individual perception, making value entirely subjective from an individual perspective. In that sense, therefore, everyone is “self-ish,” without the usual pejorative connotation. The altruist pursues what is “pleasing” to him no less than does the miser. (Most attribute a positive moral valence to the altruist’s pleasures, and a negative valence to the miser’s.)

Paradoxically, humans often place the greatest value on what is nonexistent and what is least likely ever to exist. A “better tomorrow” does not objectively exist for one who seeks it, nor does freedom exist for one who risks his li...

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