Human Rights and Modern Western Faith: An Orthodox Christian Assessment

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