Journal Article

Motifs in Modern German Protestant Theologies of Law

Bradley Shingleton

in Oxford Journal of Law and Religion

Volume 2, issue 2, pages 278-306
Published in print October 2013 | ISSN: 2047-0770
Published online June 2013 | e-ISSN: 2047-0789 | DOI:
Motifs in Modern German Protestant Theologies of Law

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This article provides an overview of a distinct tradition of theological reflection on positive law constituted by contemporary German Protestantism. Participants in that tradition have attempted to give an adequate account of law that avoids the perceived shortcomings of positivism and natural law theory. The article first gives a brief description of the historical context of post-war theologies of law in German Protestantism. The necessity of reconstructing German political life, including the judicial system, created an opportunity to re-examine the fundamental basis of law, and theologians and religiously concerned jurists participated in that effort. Subsequently, the theology of law moved beyond established theological positions and devoted increasing attention to other themes, such as the anthropological basis of human social behaviour and the social and political function of law. The article seeks to summarize this evolution in examining the theologies of law of three German Protestant theologians: Helmut Thielicke, Wolfhart Pannenberg and Wolfgang Huber, whose writings roughly span the post-war period. Since their writings on law have not appeared in English for the most part, the article is primarily concerned with presenting central motifs in their treatments of positive law as a means of introducing this tradition.

Journal Article.  13816 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Law

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