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The Justice Paradox with guest David Skeel

December 9, 2013 @ 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Hosted by the Center for Faith & Work and the Chesterton House, A Center for Christian Studies at Cornell.

Join guest David Skeel as he aims to deal with the failure of all human systems of justice while exploring a Christian understanding of justice. REGISTER HERE (Tickets $10)

Guest Speaker Bio: David Skeel is the Caryl Louise Boies Visiting Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  He is author of The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and its (Unintended) Consequences (Wiley, 2011); Icarus in the Boardroom: The Fundamental Flaws in Corporate America and Where They Came From (Oxford, 2005); Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton, 2001); and numerous articles on bankruptcy, corporate law, Christianity and law, law and literature, gambling, and other topics.  He has just completed the manuscript of his fourth book, tentatively entitled A True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Beautiful and Painful World.  His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, Books & Culture, and elsewhere.  He is an elder at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.


Every system of thought gives rise to ideas about justice and the kind of legal code that can foster a just social order.  As different as they are, these legal codes have one very odd thing in common: their advocates insist they will ensure a just social order, yet the legal codes always fail.  Whether it is the Mosaic law, the Napoleonic Code or the Soviet Union, legal codes are rolled out with great optimism about their capacity to ensure justice, but they never succeed.  This is the justice paradox.

Unlike any other religion or system of thought, Christianity rests on a story whose hero is murdered by legal process.  In the narrative of his arrest, trial and execution, Jesus encounters two of the finest legal systems the world has ever known, the Old Testament legal system and Roman law.  Both fail.  A clearer picture of the limits of law’s capacity would be hard to imagine.

Christians do not believe that we should take no interest in justice.  Quite to the contrary, the Christian teaching that each of us is made in the image of God inspired William Wilberforce’s campaign to end England’s slave trade and served as the foundation for the modern movement for international human rights.  But Christianity explains why the belief that we can be saved by the right legal system is both persistent and deeply mistaken…

Doors open 7:00PM for light hors d’oeuvres.
Program beings 7:30PM.



December 9, 2013 7:30 PM
December 9, 2013 9:00 PM
Event Category:


W83 Ministry Center, Room 406
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