Christian Law Schools

It would seem that the government of British Columbia has approved of Trinity Western University’s request to house an accredited law school.

I think there is zero reason for to add religion to any form of education that is not training religious officers. All adding “Christian” or “Muslim” or even “atheist” to an education can do is bias it with some unnecessary and unquestionable principles. Educators should value free inquiry and critical thinking and not be limited by any other unquestionable doctrine.

All lawyers are officers of the court and this means that they must, like police and judges, accept the authority of the civil law, by which I mean the constitution of this country and the statutes and other legal rules. Yes, it is the role of the licensing authority of any jurisdiction to ensure lawyers understand and are accountable for this, but I think this should be reflected in the law school’s approach as well. However, Trinity Western University has the following “core value”

Obeying the Authority of Scripture

We believe the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men, and the Divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life. [emphasis added]

The Old Testament is not silent on the issue of “law”. It contains a great number of “laws” and it is unequivocal in telling its readers that these laws are the absolute divine authority. It contains laws requiring parents of disobedient children to stone them to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). It requires rape victims to be married to their rapists. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). It is one of the bloodiest, sexist books I have ever encountered.

It is one thing if the statement of core values said that the Bible was to be interpreted through the life and teachings of Jesus. But this school actually says the Old Testament its authority as well. Not a guideline, not a bit of literature to be interpreted in light of modern values and morality, but “without error” in its “original writings” (as if anyone knew what the originals actually said). And this is the divine and final authority. This certainly suggests to me that it is above the laws of men.

If these law students are taught statutory interpretation, they will learn that a text’s plain and ordinary meaning is to be preferred. They will learn that you interpret text based on the intentions of the author when he or she was writing, not based on the understanding of a deity or scholar hundreds of years later. They will learn that these texts meant exactly whet they say.

This does not appear to me to be a progressive Christian approach to religion or education. It appears fundamentalist, zealous and it worries me.

Yes, they have the right to teach in this way, and yes they have the right to train lawyers and yes, there may be no negative effect from any of this. But the fact that there is a right to something and that there may be no negative impact from it is not a reason to do it. I sincerely wish that all religious people would teach there religion and religious values separately from science, history and especially law. These subjects are complicated enough without having to teach them under the core value of the divine and final authority of a book that would have us burn witches and prohibits wearing mixed fabrics.


About Brian Green Adams

I am an atheist in Canada. I know something about law. "Brian Green Adams" is a pseudonym, taken from Brian Eno, Robert Green Ingersol, and Douglas Adams. Three of my favourite atheists. Not to mention The Life of Brian, Brian Green (physicist), Eno's "Another Green World", and Adam from Genesis in the Bible. The connection to Brian Adams is an unfortunate coincidence, though I was very fond of him when I was 12.
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