Deeply entrenched ideas die hard, and this includes bad ideas, even (perhaps especially) bad ideas in Christian history. Examples abound, but one of the most prominent is the gradual shift from the cosmic soteriology (Jesus died and rose to redeem all creation) of the Bible to the individualized soteriology (Jesus died to save sinners) of the late patristic (early post-apostolic) church. In this way, it appropriated aspects of the Gnostic heresy that it formally condemned.
The Reformation recovered the biblical doctrine of grace alone in salvation, but it did not fully return to the Bible’s cosmic soteriology. It basically substituted accent on justification by faith alone for preoccupation with the sacraments as the means of salvation, but both sacraments and justification were interpreted in a highly individualized way.
Jeffery J. Ventrella, J.D., Ph.D. is Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs & Training for the Alliance Defending Freedom and CCL’s Distinguished Fellow of Law and Culture.
Since the philosophical complexion of the Court has changed since the confirmation of the three Trump appointees, is the Court likely to take up cases it otherwise wouldn’t? How will this changed philosophical complexion alter the direction of the Court?
The Court accepts only a fraction of the cases for which review is sought. Many factors contribute to the Court’s decision to review a matter, aside from the Court’s philosophical make up: what’s the Court’s current work load, does the matter provide a suitable “vehicle” for addressing an issue, are the lower courts split as to the particular issue, is the issue of significant national and constitutional interest, et al. How particular justices interpret the Constitution or an implicated statute, that is, their judicial philosophy, says nothing regarding these factors.
Moreover, it takes four votes to grant review, yet often for prudential reasons, justices interested in granting review will not vote to do so unless they believe they would garner a fifth vote on the matter — in other words, if the appeal would only reinforce what the four think is “bad law,” then granting review is counterproductive. That said, the individual justices’ philosophical make-up can “nudge” the Court to examine fresh areas like religious liberty and life and these areas or interest are often signaled in the certain justices’ dissenting or concurring opinions. One example of this is in the COVID-19 church shutdown cases. The Supreme Court had repeatedly denied review in cases until new justices were confirmed to the Court.
The Dobbs case (Mississippi) has the potential to overturn Roe v Wade. What are the chances of that happening?
While there are no crystal balls for predicting what will happen and overruling a prior decision is a high bar given the power of precedent, in this case, the acknowledged lack of any constitutional justification from both Left and Right legal scholars should boost the chances of overrulingRoe, and the oral argument contained several encouraging interactions with the justices that align with overruling Roe. Here, the Court should prefer “right” to “decided.”
From a conservative Christian standpoint, what is the state of mainstream legal training in the U. S.?
Legal education today is a trade school imparting some basic analytic and practical skills, but it is also often an indoctrination device that precludes serious thought and discussion about the bigger “why” questions concerning law’s nature, the constitution’s underlying worldview, text, structure, and history, and its object, the human person and his flourishing. Until we get “human” right, we will never get “human rights” right.
The jurisprudence or theory of law underpinning legal education is latent, but powerful and flows not from a fidelity to the democratically enacted text of statutes or our Constitution nor an objective moral tradition like natural law or related concepts, but from legal positivism, legal realism, critical legal studies, and critical race theory. Rarely, are these driving forces acknowledged, let alone examined, and instead, they are merely assumed.
In fact, non-Christian scholar, Roger Cramton, decades ago called legal education in America a “religion,” this “religion” has only gotten more radical and bold since Cramton penned this article in 1978.
What are some of the cases ADF is arguing and what are some of your recent victories?
303 Creative – The Supreme Court recently granted review in 303 Creative, an important case that will determine whether a state under the guise of nondiscrimination laws can force creative professionals to speak contrary to their sincerely held religious convictions. The free speech rights of all people who wish to run their businesses in line with their faith are implicated.
Bethel Ministries v. Salmon:On December 10, the district court granted summary judgment in Bethel’s favor, ruling that Maryland violated the school’s free speech rights when it revoked the school’s eligibility to participate in a voucher program based on its religious beliefs.
I asked David to prognosticate the likely effects of the Russia-Ukraine war, and particularly the Western sanctions, on Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. His response is below. David is CCL’s Senior Fellow of Economics and Finance; Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of The Bahnsen Group, a wealth management firm based in Newport Beach, California; and has been named as one of Forbes Top 250 Advisors, Financial Times’ Top 300 Advisors in America, and Barron’s America’s Top 1200 Advisors.
For Russia, the economic consequences will be devastating. No amount of exports to China or imports from China will make up for their lost output of goods, and China cannot sell them anywhere near what they have been cut off from buying from the rest of the world. It is highly unlikely China will remain interested in getting paid in collapsed rubles for what Russia does buy from them, either. The trade consequences to Russia (in her role as a buyer and seller) are devastating. But most importantly, Russia’s access to her foreign reserves through the cutoff of central bank transactions puts Russia on a life line before she, well, goes broke. $640 billion of excess reserves essentially became $190 billion of excess reserves the second the central bank was cut off. This is a severe but not immediately fatal act that will play out in the weeks and months to come.
For Ukraine the consequences are obvious – significant uncertainty, reliance on foreign aid, erosion of imports and tourism, and massive wealth destruction out of the violence and destruction of war.
And for the United States, the only substantive implication in the short term is the exacerbation of supply/demand imbalance in global oil leading to higher commodity price inflation (the same can be said of several agricultural imports like wheat). This is not a reference to a new event but rather an acceleration of an already-in-motion event. It may very well turn into the catalyst that reforms beltway thinking about American oil and gas. Longer term, it is fair to wonder if some foreign countries may worry about the U.S. doing to their foreign reserves what we have done to China, and other countries becoming afraid of leaving foreign exchange reserves in dollars. But that is a ways off, and a likely needed trade-off to our geopolitical strategy, here.