The Ten Commandments, Freedom, and the Roots of Western Jurisprudence




Boston University
Questrom School of Business (Executive Dining Rooms, 4nd Floor), Boston, MA, 02215

Coram Deo, “Before God,” refers to the longer phrase, “How Shall We Then Live Before God?” a concern of post-Reformation theologians of many confessions, seeking paths to personal, ecclesial, civic, and social order in the years since 1517. It can be extended to the concerns of many who seek to live lives of faith.

Keynote Address: John Witte, Jr., Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law, McDonald Distinguished Professor of Religion, and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University

Response: Linda C. McClain, Professor of Law, Paul M. Siskind Research Scholar, Professor in the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, Boston University College of Arts & Sciences

Additional Talks on the Topics of:

  • “Martin Luther on the Ten Commandments: Against the Antinomians” – Christopher B. Brown, PhD; Associate Professor of Church History, Boston University School of Theology
  • “Ecclesiastical Law and the Regulation of Daily Life in the Backwaters of Spanish Empire: The 1645 Provincial Synod of San Juan Puerto Rico” – Rady Roldán-Figueroa, Th.D., Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Associate Professor of the History of Christianity, Boston University School of Theology
  • “The Idea of a Holy Day in Society” – Rodney Petersen, PhD, Executive Director, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries; Executive Director, The Lord’s Day Alliance of the U.S.; Visiting Researcher, Center for Global Christianity and Mission, Boston University School of Theology
  • “Priorities: Exploring Justice” – Rev. Anne Robertson, Executive Director, Massachusetts Bible Society
  • Jewish and Muslim responses to be announced!


  • Refo500: Coram Deo Program
  • Boston University School of Theology
  • Lord’s Day Alliance of the U.S.
  • Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM)

Some questions that may be entertained:

  • Are the commandments relevant for a covenant people or for all humanity? Are they of historical or perennial significance?
  • What is their significance across religious traditions?
  • How do different Christian confessions approach the commandments?
  • Are they an expression of (divine) positive law or of natural law?
  • What is their relationship to human positive law?
  • What is their historical role in Western culture?
  • Do they serve to order human life, condemn human sin, guide penitential reflection? All of these? In what relationship?
  • How do the commandments relate duty to God and to the neighbor?
  • How do they relate individual and communal responsibility?
  • How do they relate responsibility and freedom?
  • Are they a means to relationship with God? An obstacle to relationship? The result of relationship?


For registration go here.




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