2018 Scholars' Symposium


"The Good of Uncertainty: Richard Hooker's Contribution to the Theory and Practice of Law"

Featuring W. Bradford Littlejohn, President, the Davenant Institute, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Theory, Patrick Henry College

A perennial temptation of the legal profession is also a perennial temptation of Christians: to think of uncertainty and indeterminacy as a problem to be resolved through the perfect system of rules and sets of institutions (on the one hand, civil laws and courts; on the other, divine laws and the Church). For some Christians today, the revival of natural law theory has been eagerly greeted as an opportunity to drive back the cloud of uncertainty and moral relativism that has engulfed out political institutions. While this is not entirely off the mark, inasmuch as natural law does provide an antidote to full-fledged moral relativism, it should not be embraced as a cure for uncertainty, which is a necessary feature of human life and of political life above all. Richard Hooker offers a Christian natural law theory that grapples with the uncertainty and indeterminacy of political life, providing some principles of order and rationality but accepting the provisionality of human judgments. Moreover, he offers us a way of thinking of such uncertainty as not merely an inexpungible evil, but a positive good inasmuch as it enables us to cultivate virtue and moral agency.

Dr. Littlejohn will address the symposium over lunch and facilitate a generous discussion following. Lunch and the symposium are open to all. The cost is $50.

Brad Littlejohn is president of The Davenant Institute and visiting assistant professor of political theory at Patrick Henry College. Brad’s research interests include Christian political theology and ethics—particularly in areas of law and economics—and historical theology, with a focus on Reformation studies and the thought of English reformer Richard Hooker. Brad received his B.A. and M.A. from New Saint Andrews College and his M.Th. (Theological Ethics) and Ph.D. (Theology and Ethics) from New College, University of Edinborough.

The Scholars’ Symposium is made possible by the generosity of Handong International Law School.