Christianity and Human Rights

Buchcover „Christentum und Menschenrechte“
© Mohr Siebeck Verlag

The relationship between Christianity and human rights is a point of contention. Competing claims are those of an exclusive Christian “authorship” concerning human rights on the one hand and references to the bitter resistance of leading representatives of Christianity against the early modern catalogues of human rights (vilified as spawn of individualism and rationalism) on the other. In his essay, Fabian Wittreck underlines the political implications of the question before starting to document that both approaches fall short if one takes into consideration the sources. The initial “official” antagonism shrouds the actual bearing of Christianity which may be described most accurately as facilitating the growth of human rights rather than acting as foundation for them. In comparison with other religions, namely the clear-cut separation of the ‘secular’ and ‘spiritual’ sphere enables Christianity to leave space for the development of the school of rational natural law. Furthermore, the biblical tradition comprises “mustard seeds” that may be utilized by present-day theologians to formulate a Christian doctrine of human rights (which promptly raises the question of human rights vis-à-vis the churches).

Reference: Wittreck, Fabian: Christentum und Menschenrechte. Schöpfungs- oder Lernprozeß?, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2013, 119 Seiten, ISBN 978-3-16-153071-5, 14,00 Euro.