Wednesday, December 10, 2008

 

Will There be Lawyers in Heaven?

A few weeks ago, I was struck by a line in Abraham Kuyper's "Lectures on Calvinism" (1898), one of the great (and accessible!) modern Protestant works on politics and law. In a world without sin, Kuyper wrote, "every rule and ordinance and law would drop away, even as all control and assertion of the power of the magistrate would disappear." Heaven, he suggests, is no place for law or lawyers.

We lawyers come in for a lot of abuse, much of it justified, but I'm not so sure our work will disappear in heaven. The conclusion that law and thus lawyers will be unnecessary seems to assume that in heaven we will be all seeing and all knowing, and all complexity will simply disappear. I'm not sure where that assumption comes from; it doesn't seem especially consistent with the hints of heaven, with all its richness and diversity, that we get in the Bible. The absence of sin doesn't necessarily mean the absence of complexity, and where there is complexity law and lawyers seem to have a role to play. (Professor Skeel)

Can we think of examples of situations where people of good will would find lawyers useful? Here's one. Suppose two people are making an agreement about who will do which tasks before they meet again. A lawyer is useful for making sure they've covered all contingencies and that they really understand each other. "Contracts" are useful even if nobody expects a court to have to enforce them, just to clarify meaning, and ordinary people aren't all that good at making clear agreements.

Any other examples?

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