Has Letter to Romans been studied at secular law schools?

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Tim | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Aug 19 2019 12:35 AM

Hi,

I heard in one of sermons I listened to online, that Romans was studied at secular law schools to show how brilliant Pauls' argumentation is. I was tring to find any proof or source but couldnt. Maybe someone heard that before.

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 1:24 AM

Tim:

I heard in one of sermons I listened to online, that Romans was studied at secular law schools to show how brilliant Pauls' argumentation is. I was tring to find any proof or source but couldnt. Maybe someone heard that before.

I searched for Romans NEAR "law school" and found a quote in the Bookstore (i.e. in books I don't own). It was in Leland Ryken's Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible and said: "Until recently, Romans was studied in American law schools in order to teach students the art of presenting an argument". I'd consider Ryken to be a fairly reliable source.

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NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 1:44 AM

Mark Barnes:

Tim:

I heard in one of sermons I listened to online, that Romans was studied at secular law schools to show how brilliant Pauls' argumentation is. I was tring to find any proof or source but couldnt. Maybe someone heard that before.

I searched for Romans NEAR "law school" and found a quote in the Bookstore (i.e. in books I don't own). It was in Leland Ryken's Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible and said: "Until recently, Romans was studied in American law schools in order to teach students the art of presenting an argument". I'd consider Ryken to be a fairly reliable source.

Hm. It could be one of those urban myths, though. I find another hit, very much like this, in a book I own (no footnote or any other discussion): 

[Francis] Schaeffer pointed out that, until recently, Romans was studied in American law schools in order to teach students the art of presenting an argument.

Udo W. Middelmann, “Introduction,” in The Finished Work of Christ: The Truth of Romans 1-8 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), viii.

It could well be that Ryken is quoting Meddelmann (or Schaeffer) with or without attribution. Interestingly, in Schaeffer's books there is no search hit, and none in the remainder of "The Finished Work" either.

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Lew Worthington | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 5:08 AM

In addition, such a statement is so poorly defined (How recent? Which schools? Harvard in the last 300 years, perhaps?) that it is likely to be true since ancient rhetoric has been studied with whatever classical writings people had available.

I will add that Elijah's logic in his confrontation with the prophets of Baal was studied by a class I took  at a secular university in the "History and Philosophy of Science" department.

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GaoLu | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 5:52 AM

Dr. Jack L. Arnold in his Introduction To Romans mentions a similar un-credited statement:

"Law schools have been known to require their students to memorize Romans because of its masterful logic. Never has there been a book like Romans — it is profound in doctrine but extremely practical."

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 6:14 AM

I would never use a statement like these without citations to back them up... and citations which aren't cited themselves don't count! 

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John LeBlanc | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 7:34 AM

I graduated from law school almost 30 years ago, and have been practicing since. Romans was never mentioned once in law school (nor the Bible, for that matter). A couple of years ago I heard someone at a professional conference quote Proverbs, and was surprised (but pleased).

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Hapax Legomena | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 7:58 AM

I too graduated from law school almost thirty years ago and have practiced ever since (as a litigator) and the only place I have heard the letter to the Romans read or discussed has been in church, a Bible study class, or when I spent some time studying at a Seminary.

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Rick Carmickle | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 10:25 AM

Absolutely not. I too am an attorney and graduate of a secular law school and 30 years in practice.

But my point is that there is a lot of "knowledge" and "quotes" that are attributed to the distant past which have no basis in fact. Then they show up as quotes in preaching commentaries and sermons.

As my favorite lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, once said, "Don't believe everything you hear on the internet."

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 10:29 AM

Rick Carmickle:
As my favorite lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, once said, "Don't believe everything you hear on the internet."

Actually, that wasn't Lincoln. He was much too early for that. It was Churchill. Smile

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 1:42 PM

I have found several sources for people trying to verify the original statement ... none have succeeded.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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JRS | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 6:56 PM

Isn't interesting how soft the accountability was for all things written or spoken prior to the internet?  Casual or unintentional plagiarism, assertions without proofs, quotes without citations, urban/theological/ecclesiastical myths, etc. - all were far more readily accepted without challenge prior to today's fact-checker-in-the-pew racing to Google, Wikipedia, or Snopes.

But, regardless of whether "truth" originates from the pulpit, the pen, the pew, or the web, we are always left with Pilate's quandary, "What is truth?" 

Epistemology is everything.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 8:55 PM

JRS:
Isn't interesting how soft the accountability was for all things written or spoken prior to the internet?  Casual or unintentional plagiarism, assertions without proofs, quotes without citations, urban/theological/ecclesiastical myths, etc. - all were far more readily accepted without challenge

Not if you had my professors ... class of 68

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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JRS | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 19 2019 10:20 PM

MJ. Smith:

JRS:
Isn't interesting how soft the accountability was for all things written or spoken prior to the internet?  Casual or unintentional plagiarism, assertions without proofs, quotes without citations, urban/theological/ecclesiastical myths, etc. - all were far more readily accepted without challenge

Not if you had my professors ... class of 68

Just speaking in broad generalities.  I fully acknowledge your point w/r to academia (or at least one would hope so).  Class of '78 - but only because four years of Navy came first.  Then class of '87 for the ThM - but only because through hard work, grit, and determination was able to squeeze a four year curriculum into nine.   Wink

How blessed is the one whom Thou dost choose, and bring near to Thee(Psa 65:4a)

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DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 20 2019 12:09 AM

As Newbie Mick has pointed out Middlemann writing the introduction to Schaeffer’s book attributes this statement to Schaefer.

Ryken in his book attributes the statement to Middlemann rather than Schaeffer. 

Assuming Middlemann knows whether he said it or not, we’d habe to go with Ryken getting his attribution of the quote wrong and Schaeffer being the more likely source out of the two. The issue is we don’t know when Schaeffer allegedly said this but could say if there is any truth to it, it would had to have occurring in a time period before Schaefer made the statement so looking at Law Schools in recent times may be the wrong time period to be looking for evidence of it happening if it did at all.

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Kiyah | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 20 2019 9:18 PM

JT (alabama24):

Rick Carmickle:
As my favorite lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, once said, "Don't believe everything you hear on the internet."

Actually, that wasn't Lincoln. He was much too early for that. It was Churchill. Smile

Pretty sure it was Martin Luther King, Jr. lol

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Thomas Myers | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Aug 21 2019 12:19 PM

I may be wrong, but I thought I remember reading that Charles Finney was a lawler and was reading from the Old Testament and or Romans before he was a believer.  

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J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 24 2019 8:59 AM

GaoLu:

Dr. Jack L. Arnold in his Introduction To Romans mentions a similar un-credited statement:

"Law schools have been known to require their students to memorize Romans because of its masterful logic. Never has there been a book like Romans — it is profound in doctrine but extremely practical."

I find this reasoning a bit odd. I'm not a lawyer and, hence, I'm not familiar with norms of courtroom logic, but I am familiar with argument and logic in general and while I wouldn't question Paul's arguments or conclusions--and Paul does use some arguments which could be formalized (e.g. a fortiori in Romans 5 comes to mind off the top of my head)--I don't think it would be considered a masterful presentation of logic by contemporary analytic standards. That's not to say that Paul's logic or reasoning, for the purposes he is trying to accomplish, is deficient. It just isn't even aimed at doing such a thing and so it would be misguided to expect it to meet the criteria of a "game" Paul isn't trying to play, so to speak.

We've probably all heard it said that "The Bible isn't a systematic theology textbook" or "Theology textbook" the point being made here is valid. The same applies to logic or rhetoric textbook. The Bible provides us all of the material we need for a theology textbook. It provides some material we can make use of for a textbook in rhetoric or logic. 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 24 2019 3:54 PM

There is not very much written by Justice Antonin Scalia that has gone largely unnoticed. But thanks to Adam White (and this fine article of his), I recently read this obscure 1987 essay by the late Justice: “Teaching About the Law” in the Christian Legal Society Quarterly. As we are just over a month away from the beginning of the law school year, it is a propitious moment to share its ideas.The principal question Scalia addresses is this: what ought a law professor who was so inclined teach law students about the Christian attitude toward the secular law? But the answers Scalia offers are of interest because of what they say to, and how they challenge, both the prevailing progressive and libertarian pedagogical frameworks that respectively structure much of law teaching.

Scalia’s first answer is that Christians have a moral obligation to obey the secular law. Drawing from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Scalia writes that “the first and most important Christian truth to be taught about the law” is that “those knaves and fools whom we voted against, and who succeeded in hoodwinking a majority of the electorate, will enact and promulgate laws and directives which, unless they contravene moral precepts, divine law enjoins us to obey.”

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Michael S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 25 2019 4:47 AM

Lew Worthington:
I will add that Elijah's logic in his confrontation with the prophets of Baal was studied by a class I took  at a secular university in the "History and Philosophy of Science" department.

For posterity's sake, best cite which school, class, year, and professor.

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