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Can a Good Christian Be a Good Lawyer?

Can a Good Christian Be a Good Lawyer?

Homilies, Witnesses, and Reflections

Edited by Thomas E. Baker and Timothy W. Floyd

Law professors Thomas E. Baker and Timothy W. Floyd asked some of their legal colleagues to respond to this provocative question: “Can a good Christian be a good lawyer?” Here are twenty-one highly personal narratives that answer the question of how each writer tries, sometimes but not always successfully, to be both a good Christian and a good lawyer.

How does a lawyer called to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ reconcile his or her faith with the secular calling to the legal profession? The editors did not set out to provide some kind of final resolution or unified consensus. Instead, they have compiled a remarkable collection of reflections by lawyers, judges, and academics who represent many different branches of Christianity.

The reader is likely to find many role models to emulate and the inspiration to continue to fight the good fight in these accounts grounded in legal and Christian thought. Reading about these real-life ethical dilemmas, conflicting loyalties, and personal difficulties offers the reassurance that others have shared their ongoing struggle to rhyme their career with their faith.

ISBN: 978-0-268-00826-0
224 pages
Publication Year: 1997

Thomas E. Baker is Alvin R. Allison Professor at Texas Tech University School of Law, Lubbock, Texas.

Timothy W. Floyd is Professor of Law at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.

“Thomas Baker and Timothy Floyd, with this charming and inspiring book, have found a way to cut through the “separation” of church and state, of law and morality, of faith and knowledge. They have done so in a very simple and direct way. On reading these essays, we remain painfully aware of the divisions of Christians themselves, but we also realize how much they have in common, of how much their lives of faith penetrate through to make them not merely lawyers, but yes, ‘good’ lawyers, and how much the law, ‘good’ law, incites them to deepen their own faith. No lawyer will want to missit. And those who sometimes despair at the legal field, will find here an encouraging account of good and faithful men and women in the law.” — Homiletic and Pastoral Review

“Arguing that ‘the practice of law for too many lawyers presents either a Faustian bargain or a Godfather’s offer,’ the editors present an alternative by way of meditations, case histories, and exhortations on the integration of one’s family and legal practice. While the primary intended audience is clearly lawyers, the lessons taught, experiences shared, and questions raised offer much insight to all those seeking to make their occupation a bona fide calling of the Lord.” — Books & Culture

“[A]n admirable effort at answering a hard question. Ultimately, the essayists reach the same conclusion as the editors: Yes, a good Christian can be a good lawyer, but only with two indispensable aids—divine grace and the good example of others. Even the lawyer with an ordinary practice can be a practitioner of holiness. The many lawyers whose practices are relatively ordinary may take comfort in this conclusion and in the reminder from William Bentley Ball that usually lawyers serve God best by accepting the place where they are.” — Crisis

“Truly a guide for the perplexed Christian jurist. Professors Baker and Floyd have provided us with instructive and inspiring stories of personal struggles to live the faith in all areas of life.” —Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University

“The title of this most insightful collection, Can a Good Christian be a Good Lawyer?, does not imply that bad Christians cannot be good lawyers. Nor does it imply that bad lawyers might not be good Christians. Whatever our prejudice or theory, the fact is that good Christians are good lawyers. Without denying the honest humility required of all good Christians, both as to their profession and as to the condition of their souls, we have here an account of how representative Christians look at their vocations before the law in which they are actually engaged. In itself, the law is a worthy way of life, one that Christian virtues can enhance and illuminate. Professors Baker and Floyd have provided a very useful and indeed inspiring text that implicitly avoids any a priori prejudices about Christianity, the law, and their relationship.” —James V. Schall, S.J., Department of Government, Georgetown University

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Can a Good Christian Be a Good Lawyer?

Homilies, Witnesses, and Reflections


Edited by Thomas E. Baker and Timothy W. Floyd

 Can a Good Christian Be a Good Lawyer?: Homilies, Witnesses, and Reflections
Paper Edition

Law professors Thomas E. Baker and Timothy W. Floyd asked some of their legal colleagues to respond to this provocative question: “Can a good Christian be a good lawyer?” Here are twenty-one highly personal narratives that answer the question of how each writer tries, sometimes but not always successfully, to be both a good Christian and a good lawyer.

How does a lawyer called to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ reconcile his or her faith with the secular calling to the legal profession? The editors did not set out to provide some kind of final resolution or unified consensus. Instead, they have compiled a remarkable collection of reflections by lawyers, judges, and academics who represent many different branches of Christianity.

The reader is likely to find many role models to emulate and the inspiration to continue to fight the good fight in these accounts grounded in legal and Christian thought. Reading about these real-life ethical dilemmas, conflicting loyalties, and personal difficulties offers the reassurance that others have shared their ongoing struggle to rhyme their career with their faith.

ISBN: 978-0-268-00826-0

224 pages

“Thomas Baker and Timothy Floyd, with this charming and inspiring book, have found a way to cut through the “separation” of church and state, of law and morality, of faith and knowledge. They have done so in a very simple and direct way. On reading these essays, we remain painfully aware of the divisions of Christians themselves, but we also realize how much they have in common, of how much their lives of faith penetrate through to make them not merely lawyers, but yes, ‘good’ lawyers, and how much the law, ‘good’ law, incites them to deepen their own faith. No lawyer will want to missit. And those who sometimes despair at the legal field, will find here an encouraging account of good and faithful men and women in the law.” — Homiletic and Pastoral Review

“Arguing that ‘the practice of law for too many lawyers presents either a Faustian bargain or a Godfather’s offer,’ the editors present an alternative by way of meditations, case histories, and exhortations on the integration of one’s family and legal practice. While the primary intended audience is clearly lawyers, the lessons taught, experiences shared, and questions raised offer much insight to all those seeking to make their occupation a bona fide calling of the Lord.” — Books & Culture

“[A]n admirable effort at answering a hard question. Ultimately, the essayists reach the same conclusion as the editors: Yes, a good Christian can be a good lawyer, but only with two indispensable aids—divine grace and the good example of others. Even the lawyer with an ordinary practice can be a practitioner of holiness. The many lawyers whose practices are relatively ordinary may take comfort in this conclusion and in the reminder from William Bentley Ball that usually lawyers serve God best by accepting the place where they are.” — Crisis

“Truly a guide for the perplexed Christian jurist. Professors Baker and Floyd have provided us with instructive and inspiring stories of personal struggles to live the faith in all areas of life.” —Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University

“The title of this most insightful collection, Can a Good Christian be a Good Lawyer?, does not imply that bad Christians cannot be good lawyers. Nor does it imply that bad lawyers might not be good Christians. Whatever our prejudice or theory, the fact is that good Christians are good lawyers. Without denying the honest humility required of all good Christians, both as to their profession and as to the condition of their souls, we have here an account of how representative Christians look at their vocations before the law in which they are actually engaged. In itself, the law is a worthy way of life, one that Christian virtues can enhance and illuminate. Professors Baker and Floyd have provided a very useful and indeed inspiring text that implicitly avoids any a priori prejudices about Christianity, the law, and their relationship.” —James V. Schall, S.J., Department of Government, Georgetown University

Notre Dame Studies in Law and Contemporary Issues