Journal Article

Divine Immanence: The Evangelical Foundations of Modern Anglo-American Approaches to International Law

John D. Haskell

in Chinese Journal of International Law

Volume 11, issue 3, pages 429-467
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 1540-1650
Published online September 2012 | e-ISSN: 1746-9937 | DOI:
Divine Immanence: The Evangelical Foundations of Modern Anglo-American Approaches to International Law

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In this article, I hypothesize that against mainstream secularization accounts concerning the 19th-century development of modern international law, especially within the Anglo-American experience, the discipline was significantly influenced by liberal Protestantism. My argument is that a liberal Protestant cultural elite, to which the first generation of international jurists belonged, drew inspiration from the theological doctrine of divine immanence to solidify their socio-political authority against a diverse series of internal and external threats. In an attempt to demonstrate the evangelical foundations of modern international law and the importance played by Anglo-American legal scholars within the tradition, the article is organized into three sections. First, I examine traditional 19th-century narratives of international law, particularly in relation to Christianity. Second, I trace out how the doctrine of divine immanence was formulated in Liberal Protestant theology and how this influenced international legal scholarship within the period in relation to doctrines of the nation-state. Third, I examine how divine immanence shaped three anxieties shared by liberal Protestant theologians and international jurists, including former colonized people and institutions, Roman Catholic beliefs and immigrant populations, and the nascent industrial working-class and radical political ideologies. The article concludes with some brief reflections on the implications of this study and potential directions for future research in the field of religion and international legal history.

Journal Article.  18821 words. 

Subjects: International Law

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