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PHC Professor Addresses International Conference in Beijing

October 23rd, 2009

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, a new artist friend in China, and an original painting entitled "The Servant"

If not for the Beijing connections supplied by PHC colleague Dr. David Aikman and his wife, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery probably would not have found himself enjoying the uncommon delights of a Christian artists’ colony in the city’s suburbs during a mid-September visit to China. A friend of a friend drove him the forty kilometers through winding streets and terrible traffic to what resembled an industrial complex—buildings tumbled together and outfitted with studio space, where artists live and work together.

“I managed to purchase and bring back an original oil painting, Zhang Xueyan’s ‘The Servant,’ which all of us, as believers, need to be,” says Dr. Montgomery.

Dr. Montgomery, Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought at Patrick Henry College, traveled to Beijing to co-chair a session of the World Congress of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR). This bi-yearly conference convened in Krakow, Poland in 2007. In both 2007 and 2009, Dr. Montgomery delivered papers arguing from both legal theory and theology that —in his words— “freewill must be maintained as a genuine reality, or punishment becomes arbitrary at best and monstrous at worst.”

“Retribution—not utilitarian pragmatism—must be the foundation of all penal theory,” he continues. Or in other words, give offenders what they deserve based on true justice stemming from a higher law, rather than simply dealing with them according to what society thinks it needs.
Equity, known in theology as grace, may intervene,” he adds, “but it must be built on a legal foundation, just as Christ’s loving sacrifice of himself for us fulfilled, but did not destroy, the divine law.”

These subtle conceptual legal principles were detailed within this year’s paper by Dr. Montgomery, entitled “Some Remarks on Punishment and Freewill in Legal Theory & Classical Christian Theology.” The IVR will publish this thesis in a separate book together with last year’s paper and those of his co-chair, Dr. Friedrich Toepel of Bonn, Germany, and philosopher Angus Menuge of Concordia University, Wisconsin. It will add to Dr. Montgomery’s already impressive list of more than fifty books published in four languages on the issues of human rights and biblical apologetics.

The World Congress typically welcomes around 300 legal scholars from all over the globe. Founded by German and Italian jurisprudents, it particularly attracts, says Dr. Montgomery, “those with continental civil-law, more than Anglo-American common-law, backgrounds.” This year, Germany and Brazil sent especially robust delegations.

“The main value of the Congresses is the interchange of ideas in the realm of the philosophy of law,” Dr. Montgomery explains. “They provide a great opportunity for the (rare) biblical Christian to show the superiority of a revelational approach to law and justice, over against secular opinions.”

One of contemporary Christianity’s leading apologetics experts, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery lives in France and England and spends each fall semester teaching the core course in apologetics at PHC, as well as an upper level course treating Philosophy of Law and Human Rights.