Why La Sierra Needs a Law School

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I think time is ripe for Adventists to start law schools, and I think La Sierra is probably the best place for it. I’ve heard through the grapevine that La Sierra has been interested in it, but I don’t know for sure if they are. My perception is that La Sierra’s location, strong business school, dynamic emphasis on social justice issues, and institutional strength make it an ideal candidate among Adventist colleges and universities to start a law school.

But one might ask - why?

I say, Adventists need to have a law school - a good one - because of our sanctuary message and religious liberty convictions. Just as the message of health and wholeness has led the church to establish medical schools - first in Battle Creek/Chicago, and now in Loma Linda and Montemorelos, Mexico - the sanctuary message and its pregnant meaning for us today ought to awaken Adventists to the possibilities that law schools have for advancing the historic Adventist commitment to the sanctuary and religious liberty.

At the heart of the sanctuary message, we find the ideals of peace, justice, reconciliation, dispute resolution, and search for the truth. Investigative judgment is about acquitting and restoring the innocent. I think Adventists, if we’re truly serious about the sanctuary message, ought to operate law schools, legal aid centers, dispute resolution programs, and peace societies as much as we do in the health arena.

At the heart of our religious liberty teaching lies the cherished values of freedom, respect and upholding of minority rights. Adventists ought to cultivate that by instilling these values through legal training and advocacy programs that champion the right to worship freely and express one’s convictions without hindrance.

Some may argue that the fields of law, government, and public policy is so tainted and worldly that Adventists should not be so directly engage in them. And these concerns are legitimate. But I think the same concerns exist in many other areas, especially in healthcare. In fact, law and medicine, especially in the U.S., are very similar in that both "industries" are mired in great systemic problems, yet both are so needed and both, through deeply flawed means, still accomplish restoration to a great measure.

There is really no reason for Adventists to shy away from law, public policy and social advocacy. In fact, as I’ve said above, our fundamental theological concerns compel us to be engaged leaders in these fields. Toward that end, a law school is necessary. Perhaps at La Sierra, perhaps not. Wherever it may be, I hope it happens soon - as a powerful testimony to and of Christ the Advocate and Intercessor.

After all, isn’t the remnant a group of "commandment"-keeping, "testimony"-bearing messengers to the world who proclaim that the hour of God’s "judgment" has come?

Originally posted on Progressive Adventism.

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Sat, 05/10/2014 | San Diego Adventist Forum
Monique Vincent, PhD candidate, University of Chicago

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