McDonald Lectures Bring Renowned Christian Scholars to CSLR March 26, 2014

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The Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) at Emory University joins the McDonald Agape Foundation in presenting a five-year spring lecture series featuring world-renowned Christian scholars on law and religion. Made possible by a generous grant from the Foundation, the inaugural McDonald Distinguished Scholar Lectures on Christian Scholarship will be held March 26, 2014 and explore human rights in light of the imperatives of Scripture, tradition, and experience. These Lectures are timed to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of several monumental human rights documents—the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in America, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, and Social, Cultural, and Economic Rights, as well as the Second Vatican Council’s declarations on human rights and religious freedom.

Keynote lectures will be delivered by two giants in the field of Christian scholarship, and each a McDonald Distinguished Professor—Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University and Nigel Biggar of the University of Oxford. Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics Emeritus at Duke Divinity School with a joint appointment at the Duke University School of Law, will examine the ways in which the idea of inalienable individual rights may be in tension with Christian theological commitments.

Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, Director, McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life, and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford University, will analyze and evaluate the different conceptions of rights held by the early Christian just war tradition and show how rights discourse might be able to do better justice to the moral claims of the social or common good. Robert M. Franklin, president emeritus of Morehouse College and Senior Fellow of CSLR will join them in conversation, drawing from his deep expertise on the Black Church’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in America. 

Other distinguished lectures will be given by Jean Porter, John A. O’Brien Professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Notre Dame, and McDonald Senior Fellow in Christian Jurisprudence, who will lecture on Thomas Aquinas’ conception of natural rights, developed within the context of an overall theory of nature; F. Russell Hittinger, William K. Warren Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Tulsa, and McDonald Senior Fellow in Christian Jurisprudence, who will lecture on the profound significance of the Second Vatican Council for the cultivation of human rights; and Helen M. Alvaré, Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law and Consultor on Women with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and Advisor, Committee for Pro-Life Activities (USCCB) who will explore competing claims of religious freedom, women's rights, and the freedom of sexual expression.

John Witte, Jr., director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion and Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, will serve as moderator and commentator. He is also an McDonald Family Foundation Distinguished Professor. “This distinguished lecture series brings together prominent religious and legal thinkers who will be presenting cutting-edge Christian scholarship on fundamental questions of law, politics, and society,” says Witte. “We are honored to join in this new partnership with our friends at the McDonald Agape Foundation and to foster serious public conversation about the challenges that Christianity and human rights pose to each other.”

“In today’s hyper-intensive world of instant communications and heavy secular and immoral pressures across society, the role of Distinguished Scholars for Christ in our most prestigious universities is vital,” says Ambassador Alonzo L. McDonald, Chairman of the McDonald Agape Foundation. “This extraordinary calling for Christian scholarship across academia and a deeper understanding of law and morality as foundation blocks of civilization demand our constant attention and continual reinforcement. Our great hope is that this lecture series will contribute significantly to advance this Christ-centered cause.”

Event details: Wednesday, March 26, 2014, Emory University School of Law, Tull Auditorium, 12:00 – 5:30 p.m. with reception to follow. For more information, click here.


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