Should Justice or Agape Love Be the Organizing Principle of Civil Law?

Featuring Robert F. Cochran Jr and David VanDrunen as expert speakers and Thomas Berg as moderator.

Date & Time:

Friday, September 19, 2014
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM


Free and open to the public. Lunch is complimentary, but reservations are required.


Room 235

University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis campus

Justice vs. Love.  It's an intra-Christian debate about the proper framework for thinking about the purpose of law.  The answer has potential implications for the full range of things that law does, including criminal punishment, immigration, social welfare, and zoning.

Does separating justice and agape love undercut the role law can have in promoting human flourishing, risk privatizing Christian ethics, and eliminate any distinctive contribution Christian ethics might make to political thought?

Does making agape love the measure of justice risk conflating the church's gospel proclamation with the secular state's role of ordering civil affairs, and thus improperly expand the latter's power?

Join the Murphy Institute when expert speakers Robert F. Cochran Jr. and David VanDrunen wrestle with these questions and more during the first Hot Topics: Cool Talk program of the 2014-2015 academic year. Thomas Berg will be our moderator.

Free and open to the public. 1.0 Ethics CLE credit available.  


Robert F. Cochran, Jr. (J.D., University of Virginia) is Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law at Pepperdine University; founder and director of the Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics; and founder of Pepperdine's Union Rescue Mission Legal Clinic. His numerous works include Faith and Law: How Religious Traditions from Calvinism to Islam View American Law (NYU Press, 2008); Law and Community (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003, with Robert M. Ackerman; and Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought (Yale University Press, 2001), with Michael McConnell and Angela Carmella. 

David VanDrunen(Ph.D., Loyola University Chicago; J.D., Northwestern University) is Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Westminster Seminary California. A minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and an attorney, his books include Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought (Eerdmans, 2010), and Bioethics and the Christian Life: A Guide to Making Difficult Decisions (Crossway, 2009). 

Thomas Berg (B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, an M.A. in philosophy and politics from Oxford University, and both an M.A. in religious studies and a J.D. from the University of Chicago) is the James L. Obestar Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of St. Thomas School of Law where he teaches constitional law.

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