Faithful Presence and Theological Jurisprudence: A Response to James Davison Hunter

Document Type


Publication Date



This paper considers how James Hunter’s arguments, presented both in his address and his book To Change the World, might inform the development of a constructive religious legal theory based in the particular resources of Christian theology. In speaking of religious legal theory, I mean something quite different than a theory of law and religion. For some time, the academic conversation about law and religion has centered around issues concerning church-state relations and, more broadly, the place of religion within the liberal political order. Yet, the regnant methodological concerns that have shaped this discourse reflect the boundedness of law to a modern secular imaginary. This being the case, pulling theology into deeper conversation with legal thought will require freeing law from its lingering state of captivity. Hunter’s work is particularly useful in this ground-clearing task because it offers a dense critique of the sociological assumptions that have shaped legal modernity. While his concern is not with religious legal theory as such, Hunter’s normative account of Christian being in the world, captured most fully in the idea of faithful presence, contains important resources for developing a model of Christian engagement with law.

Calo.pdf (106 kB)
Publisher's PDF