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Law at the Backbone: The Christian Legal Ecumenism of Norman Doe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 April 2022

John Witte Jr*
Affiliation:
Woodruff University Professor; McDonald Distinguished Professor; and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University

Abstract

Welsh jurist and Anglican theologian Norman Doe has pioneered the modern study of comparative ‘Christian law’, analysing the wide variety of internal religious legal systems governing Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches worldwide. For Doe, religious law is the backbone of Christian ecclesiology and ecumenism. Despite the deep theological differences that have long divided Christian churches and denominations, he argues, every church – whether an individual congregation or a global denomination – uses law to balance its spiritual and structural dimensions and to keep it straight and strong, especially in times of crisis. This makes church law a fundamental but under-utilised instrument of Christian identity and denominationalism, but also unity and collaboration on many matters of public and private spiritual life, both clerical and lay. Doe has developed this thesis in a series of impressive scholarly projects and books – first on Anglican law, then comparative Anglican-Catholic canon law, then all Christian laws and other Abrahamic laws, and their interaction with secular legal systems. This article offers an appreciative analysis of the development of Professor Doe's scholarship, and situates his work within the broader global field of law and religion studies.

Type
Articles
Copyright
© Ecclesiastical Law Society, 2022

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Footnotes

*

Parts of this article first appeared as the foreword to N Doe (ed), Juridical Ecumenism (London, 2020) and as a chapter titled ‘Norman Doe, Master Comparativist in the Field of Law and Religion’, in F Cranmer, M Hill, R Sandberg and C Kenny (eds), The Confluence of Law and Religion: Interdisciplinary Reflections on the Work of Norman Doe (Cambridge, 2016), pp 247–261. See further J Witte Jr, Faith, Freedom, and Family: New Essays on Law and Religion (Tübingen, 2021), pp 247–262.

References

1 See, for example, Doe, N and Sandberg, R (eds), Law and Religion: New Horizons (Leuven, 2010)Google Scholar; Doe, N and Puza, R (eds), Religion and Law in Dialogue: Covenantal and Non-Covenantal Cooperation Between Religion and State in Europe (Leuven, 2006)Google Scholar; Doe, N (ed), The Portrayal of Religion in Europe: The Media and the Arts (Leuven, 2004)Google Scholar; Doe, N and Kotiranta, M (eds), Religion and Criminal Law (Leuven, 2013)Google Scholar.

2 N Doe, Christian Law: Contemporary Principles (Cambridge, 2013), pp 1–10, 384–387 and dust jacket.

3 N Doe, Fundamental Authority in Late Medieval English Law (Cambridge, 1990).

4 See N Doe and R Sandberg (eds), Law and Religion, 4 vols (London, 2017); N Doe and R Sandberg (eds), Law and Religion: New Horizons (Leuven, 2010); R Sandberg, N Doe, B Kane and C Roberts (eds), Research Handbook on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Law and Religion (Cheltenham, 2019).

5 N Doe (ed), Christianity and Natural Law (Cambridge, 2017).

6 N Doe and M Kotiranta (eds), Religion and Criminal Law (Leuven, 2013); M Hill, R Helmholz, N Doe and J Witte Jr (eds), Christianity and Criminal Law (London, 2020).

7 See N Doe, Law and Religion in Europe (Oxford, 2011); M Hill, R Sandberg and N Doe, Religion and Law in the United Kingdom (Alphen aan den Rijn, 2011); Norman Doe, ‘The State From the Perspectives of Religious Laws: A Global Approach with Particular Reference to Christianity’, in S. Balzs (ed), Religious Understandings of the State in Europe, Proceedings of the European Consortium for Church and State Research. (Trier, 2014), pp 261–300.

8 N Doe and R Sandberg (eds), Law and History: Critical Concepts in Law, 4 vols (Abingdon, 2017); N Doe, M Hill and R Ombres (eds), English Canon Law: Essays in Honour of Bishop Eric Kemp (Cardiff, 2000).

9 N Doe, ‘Richard Hooker: Priest and Jurist’, in M Hill and R Helmholz (eds), Great Christian Jurists in English History (Cambridge, 2017), pp 115–138.

10 N Doe and D Nikiforos, ‘William Beveridge (1637–1708)’ (2021) 23 Ecc LJ 82–99.

11 N Doe (ed), Essays in Canon Law: A Study of the Law of the Church in Wales (Cardiff, 1992);

12 See N Doe, The Law of the Church in Wales (Cardiff, 2002); N Doe (ed), A New History of the Church in Wales: Governance and Ministry, Theology and Society (Cambridge, 2020).

13 N Doe, Canon Law in the Anglican Communion: A Worldwide Perspective (Oxford, 1998); N Doe, The Legal Framework of the Church of England: A Critical Study in a Comparative Context (Oxford, 1996).

14 See N Doe, ‘Ecclesiastical Quasi-Legislation’, in N Doe, M Hill and R Ombres (eds), English Canon Law (Cardiff, 1998), pp 93–103.

15 See church-state models in N Doe, Law and Religion in Europe: A Comparative Introduction (Oxford, 2011); N Doe, ‘The Concordat Concept as Constitutional Convention in Church-State Relations in the United Kingdom’, in N Doe and R Puza (eds), Religion and Law in Dialogue (Oxford, 2006), pp 237–250.

16 M Hill, Ecclesiastical Law (4th edn) (Oxford, 2018).

17 N Doe (ed), Marriage in Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Law (Cardiff, 2009).

18 J Conn, N Doe and J Fox (eds), Initiation, Membership, and Authority in Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Law (Cardiff and Rome, 2005); N Doe (ed), The Formation and Ordination of Clergy in Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Law (Cardiff, 2009).

19 N Doe, The Legal Architecture of English Cathedrals (London, 2020).

20 The Anglican Communion Legal Advisers’ Network, The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion (London, 2008).

21 N Doe, An Anglican Covenant: Theological and Legal Considerations for a Global Debate (Norwich, 2008).

22 Which was subsequently agreed by 10 churches in the Communion but rejected by the Church of England and so put on hold.

23 Doe, An Anglican Covenant (note 21).

24 Ibid.

25 See N Doe, The Legal Framework (note 13).

26 See sources in notes 6 and 12–13 above.

27 N Doe, Christian Law (note 2). See also his first sketch of this project in N Doe, ‘Modern Church Law’, in J Witte Jr and F Alexander (eds), Christianity and Law: An Introduction (Cambridge, 2008), pp 271–291.

28 N Doe, Christian Law (note 2), p 384.

29 Ibid, p 388.

30 N Doe (ed), Church Laws and Ecumenism: A New Path for Christian Unity (London, 2020).

31 See R Griffith-Jones (ed), Islam and English Law: Rights, Responsibilities and the Place of Shari'a (Cambridge, 2013).

32 See sources and discussion in J Witte Jr, Church, State, and Family: Reconciling Traditional Teachings and Modern Liberties (Cambridge, 2019), pp 300–335; M Broyde, Sharia Tribunals, Rabbinical Courts, and Christian Panels: Religious Arbitration in America and the West (Oxford, 2017).

33 See, for example, G Douglas et al, ‘Religious Divorce in England and Wales: Religious Tribunals in Action’, in P Shah et al (eds), Family, Religion, and Law: Cultural Encounters in Europe (London, 2014), pp 195–208; R Sandberg et al, ‘Britain's Religious Tribunals: “Joint Governance” in Practice’ (2013) 33 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 263–291.

34 N Doe, Comparative Religious Law: Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Cambridge, 2018).

35 Ibid.

36 N Doe and R Sandberg, Law and Religion (note 4), pp 11–12.

37 N Doe, Law and Religion in Europe (note 7); see also N Doe and R Puza, Religion and Law in Dialogue; M Hill, N Doe and R Sandberg, Religion and Law in the United Kingdom (Alphen aan den Rijn, 2011).

38 N Doe, Law and Religion in Europe (note 7); see also N Doe and R Puza, Religion and Law in Dialogue; M Hill, N Doe and R Sandberg, Religion and Law in the United Kingdom (Alphen aan den Rijn, 2011). See updated overview of the work on the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice on the European Union in J Witte Jr, The Blessings of Liberty: Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the Western Legal Tradition (Cambridge, 2021), pp 227–303, and of the American courts in J Witte Jr, J Nichols and R Garnett, Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment (5th edn) (Oxford, 2022).

39 See sources in D Philpott and T Shah, Under Caesar's Sword: How Christians Respond to Persecution (Cambridge, 2019); Pew Forum, ‘Globally, Social Restrictions Related to Religion Decline in 2019, While Government Restrictions Remain at High Levels’ (30 September 2021), available at <https://www.pewforum.org/2021/09/30/globally-social-hostilities-related-to-religion-decline-in-2019-while-government-restrictions-remain-at-highest-levels/>, accessed 3 February 2022.

40 Romans 6:1.

41 Matthew 5:17–19.

42 Matthew 22:21.

43 P Reynolds, Great Christian Jurists and Legal Collections in the First Millennium (Cambridge, 2019).

44 Matthew 16:18–19.

45 R Helmholz, The Spirit of the Classical Canon Law, repr edn (Athens, GA, 2010).

46 Norman Doe has been a vital part of the series of new books on ‘Great Christian Jurists in World History’, commissioned by the Emory Center for the Study of Law and Religion with the cooperation of the Cardiff Centre for Law and Religion, and the Routledge Law and Religion Series which Doe edits, and the Cambridge Studies in Christianity and Law on whose editorial board Doe sits. The Series titles so far include: P Reynolds, Great Christian Jurists and Legal Collections in the First Millennium (note 43); M Hill and R Helmholz, Great Christian Jurists in English History (note 9); Domingo, R and Martínez-Torrón, J (eds), Great Christian Jurists in Spanish History (Cambridge, 2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Descamps, O and Domingo, R (eds), Great Christian Jurists in French History (Cambridge, 2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dreisbach, D and Hall, M (eds), Great Christian Jurists in American History (Cambridge, 2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Schmoeckel, M and Witte, J Jr (eds), Great Christian Jurists in German History (Tübingen, 2020)Google Scholar; Condorelli, O and Domingo, R (eds), Law and the Christian Tradition in Italy: The Legacy of the Great Jurists (London, 2020)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Modéer, K and Vogt, H (eds), Law and the Christian Tradition in Scandinavia: The Writings of Great Nordic Jurists (London, 2020)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Decock, W and Oosterhuis, J (eds), Great Christian Jurists in the Low Countries (Cambridge, 2021)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Valliere, P and Poole, R (eds), Law and the Christian Tradition in Modern Russia (London, 2021)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Mirow, M and Domingo, R (eds), Law and Christianity in Latin America: The Work of Great Jurists (London, 2021)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lindsay, G and Hudson, W (eds), Great Christian Jurists in Australian History (Alexandria, Australia, 2021)Google Scholar; de Bérier, F Longchamps and Domingo, R (eds), Law and Christianity in Poland: The Legacy of the Great Jurists (London, 2022)Google Scholar. See also the inaugural volumes for this series in Witte, J Jr and Alexander, F (eds), The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature, 3 vols, paperback edn (New York, 2007)Google Scholar.

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