If I’d ‘a’ knowed what a trouble . . .

At the end of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck states, “and so there ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d ‘a’ knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t ‘a’ tackled it, and ain’t going to no more.”  That quote has been running through my head quite a bit lately because, thankfully, I just completed my first book, Logia of Business Organizations Law for Paralegals.

There were plenty of times that I felt like Huck Finn and thought maybe I shouldn’t ‘a’ tackled it.  But, now that it is all done and the first copies have shipped to MBS Textbook Exchange, Liberty University Online’s bookseller, I must admit that, overall, I really enjoyed the process.  It is always helpful to reduce our ideas to writing, and, unlike Huck Finn, I do intend to write more books.

This first book is written for students in the Liberty University Online Paralegal Program taking the course on business organizations law, and I doubt that it would be of much interest to anyone not enrolled in the course!  It is meant to accompany the textbook for the course, entitled Business Organizations for Paralegals by Cheeseman and Reed.   The book is self-published through Logia Press, LLC.  It contains eight chapters, and each chapter begins with an edited case or law review article which is then followed by notes and questions.

Here is a sample from the notes and questions following the case in chapter one:

            1. Reasoning from Generals to Particulars.  The issue of the relationship of generals to particulars has plagued philosophers for millennia.  It is at least as old as Plato and Aristotle.  In fact, the famous painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael called the School of Athens is meant to capture this debate.  Plato in the fresco is pointing up in reference to the general principles (or forms as Plato understood them) being the most important thing while Aristotle is portrayed with his hand down indicating that reality actually resides most ultimately in the various particulars.

Despite the many attempts throughout the years by philosophers holding various worldviews, it is only within a Christian worldview that this issue can be satisfactorily resolved.  In fact, only within a Christian worldview do we have any reason to believe that there would be any relationship between the generals and particulars at all.[1]

In a naturalistic evolutionary worldview, where everything is simply governed by time and chance operating upon matter (and chaos is therefore king,) why would one expect there to be any relationship between generals and particulars?  Why would one expect to see order?  Why would one have reason to believe that what has happened in the past is in any way indicative of what will happen in the future?

Indeed, many non-Christian thinkers have come to this conclusion.  Generally, they have decided to live as if what they believe is not true and assume that there is a reason to expect order in the world.  They have generally sought a connection between generals and particulars, even though their worldviews tell them there should be none.

In the Christian worldview, we have every reason to believe that generals and particulars relate because a sovereign and loving Lord created the universe and sustains it still.  See Colossians 1:17 and Hebrews 1:3 (Christ is even now “upholding all things by the word of his power”).  Therefore, the order in the universe comes from the Creator.  We should expect to be able to discover this order and guiding principles within this order (generals or universals) and then be able to rationally apply these generals to various situations (particulars.)

Let’s take an example from the Scriptures.  In answer a question posed to Him, Jesus said, in Matthew 22:37-40, that:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

It is important to note that Jesus does not stop with the statement of the two greatest commandments (presumably therefore the two greatest general principles,) but He goes on to assert that on these two commandments all of the rest of Scripture hangs.

Thus, upon hearing that “love God” is the greatest commandment, one might ask, “how do I love God?”  Without Jesus’ second assertion, this might be very difficult to answer.  But, applying Jesus’ words, it becomes much easier to answer.  Why?  Because the Bible gives us not only general principles but more particular applications of those principles as well.  Accordingly, as we look into the Bible to find how we should love God, we find that one way to love Him is to have no other God’s before Him.  Another way is to make no graven images or idols.  In addition, one loves God by not using His name in vain.  God is also loved when we honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy.  See Exodus 20:1-8; Deuteronomy 6:5 and 5:6-12.

You have probably already noticed that the above list contains the first four of the Ten Commandments, which are often referred to as the first table of the law.  We can do the same thing with the last six of the Ten Commandments, or the second table of the law.

How do I love my neighbor as myself?  One way is to honor my father and mother.  Other ways include not committing murder, adultery, or theft.  Also, if I want to love my neighbor, I should not bear false witness against him nor covet anything that God has entrusted to him.  See Leviticus 19:18; Exodus 20:9-17; and Deuteronomy 5:13-21.

As you can see, we are moving from broad general principles (i.e., love God) to more specific application of those principles (i.e., don’t commit adultery.)  And, of course, we need not stop there.  There are increasing levels of specificity contained within the Scriptures.  For instance, one might inquire as to the meaning of “do not commit adultery.”  Is that limited to sexual intercourse with someone to whom one is not married only?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus answers this question in the negative.  He asserts that the actual general rule is much broader than that.  He states that “do not commit adultery” includes also not lusting after a woman in your heart.  Thus, we might state this chain of moving from generality to increasing particularity in this way: one of the ways in which one should love his neighbor is by exercising and demonstrating sexual purity.  Sexual purity includes not committing the physical act of adultery, but it also goes much further, even to the point of including the specific command that he should not even lust after his neighbor’s wife.[2]

Reasoning from generality to specificity, as we have been doing above, is a biblical way of thinking, and it only makes sense in a Christian worldview where order can be expected in the world.  As noted earlier, because God is the Creator and Sustainer of the world, we can expect to find order and relationship in the world.  Thus, reasoning from generality to particularity is possible.

The issue of the discerning of generals or universals and their relationship and application to particulars is foundational to the practice of law.  In the Western legal tradition, much of the work of law consists of identifying general rules and principles and applying those generals to various specific situations.

Virtually every area of law contains general rules that are applied to specific cases by judges and juries.[3]  To help illustrate this, let’s consider a general rule from the law of agency, which was at issue in Cargill.

[1] Or, for that matter, between the particulars themselves.  The particulars could just be random, unconnected, chaotic events.  In fact, it would be fair to ask, from an evolutionary point of view, why one would expect to see any order or meaning in the world at all.

[2] Note that by not lusting after other women, a man is also loving his wife (or future wife, as the case may be.)  Obviously, the reverse could be stated from the female perspective and it would be equally valid.

[3] Does this also apply to legislatures such as the United States Congress?  Unfortunately, we do not often think of it in quite this way, but we should.  Congress should be attempting to pass specific pieces of legislation (particulars) that are in accord with the principles upon which God has built the world.  For example, in earlier eras, if a bill was proposed in Congress, the proponent of the bill might expect to be asked where he found support for such an idea in the Bible.  Regrettably, such a discussion is unimaginable today.