Chapter

The Christian Argument

Arvind Sharma

in Are Human Rights Western?

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195679489
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081714 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195679489.003.0024
The Christian Argument

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This chapter develops a Christian argument for the claim that human rights are Western by gathering some hints from human rights discourse. These various hints attribute to Christianity some developments considered vital for the emergence of the concept of human rights. The following examples help to illustrate the point: (1) Some scholars see in the provision for universal salvation in Christianity the seed idea of human rights, as against a salvation whose basis lay in a tribal or ethnic identity. (2) Christians could argue that as ‘all men are equal in the sight of God’, accordingly egalitarianism constitutes the essence of Christianity. (3) The concept of human rights is really a doctrine about the rights of individual human beings, and some scholars have argued that such a concept of ‘individuality’ may well be rooted in the Christian concept of the self. Two interesting points emerge from this discussion: (1) that the concept of rights can be connected with Christianity both when it is derived from an orientation of freedom or an orientation of responsibility, and (2) that these derivations can be located in relation to the debate which ‘focuses on the tension between the classical liberal concept of the individual rights of freedom on the one hand and social human rights on the other. the claim, that human rights are Western because they are Christian, is so ambiguous and cuts in so many directions that it can only be fleetingly entertained.

Keywords: human rights; Western idea; Christianity; universal salvation; egalitarianism; salvation; tribal or ethnic identity; individuality; orientation of freedom; orientation of responsibility

Chapter.  1585 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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