justice, law, peace, political theology, reconcile

Justice, Peace, and Jurisdictions

In the face of the incommensurability of these accounts of justice, it is constitutional law, and the American fixation on the rule of law, that protects the nation-state from degenerating into the violence into which Thomas Hobbes predicted a society without the Leviathan would collapse. In this light, it should not be surprising that Christians’ willingness to absent themselves from civil litigation structures–and in doing so deny that those structure are necessary to produce peace–is threatening to the society at large.

Christians acknowledge this good work of the law without feeling the necessity to participate in the project of the law or worrying about the threat they may pose to the rule of law. In this regard, the Anabaptist witness appropriately suggests that Christians are not against the law and will follow it in its structuring principles, yet, likewise, see that it is merely a way forward in the midst of irreconcilable differences. It provides a form of closure to disputes–a real good–but often cannot provide a shared narrative substantial enough to bring the parties back into communion. Americans obey the law only because it is backed with the force of the nation-state and its violence. God’s law, on the other hand, is obeyed because it is the law in which the church finds its life.

First Be Reconciled: Challenging Christians in the Courts, pg. 119-120.

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