Human Rights and Modern Western Faith: An Orthodox Christian Assessment

Journal of Religious Ethics 26 (2):241-247 (1998)
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Abstract

Against the view that commitment to human rights necessarily follows from Christianity, the author asserts that human rights thinking is alien to Eastern Orthodoxy. Two features of Orthodox theology-its Christology and its understanding of redemption-provide a platform for a critique of the weaknesses and dangers of contemporary human rights doctrine. The author concedes that the modern theories of human rights have been inspired by Christianity. He adds that a strongly dyophysitic accent in Western Christianity, however, has contributed to the Western political emphasis on autonomy and rights and that this reflects a flawed understanding of the relation of nature and grace. Furthermore, he maintains that in the absence of redemptive conversion, claims to human rights can become mere swords of vengeance.

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