Human Rights And Christian Faith -- By: Thomas P. Schirrmacher

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 03:2 (Nov 2002)
Article: Human Rights And Christian Faith
Author: Thomas P. Schirrmacher


Human Rights And Christian Faith1

Thomas P. Schirrmacher, Th.D., Ph.D., D.D.

Chair in Systematic Theology and
President, Martin Bucer Seminary
Bonn (Germany)2

Man as Creation and Image of God.

On December 10, 1948, the Soviet Union signed the General Declaration of Human Rights passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The declaration states that all human beings possess the same dignity (Article 1) and forbids all discrimination due to race, color, sex, language, religion or political conviction (Article 2). Because all men have the right to life and liberty (Article 3), both slavery (Article 4) and torture (Article 5) are prohibited. All are equal before the law and may be condemned only according to established law, only after being heard in a court of law (Articles 7-11). All are free to emigrate and to choose their place of residence (Article 13), and to request asylum in other countries (Article 14). Every human being is free to choose his spouse, and the family, as the “natural and basic unit in society’, must be protected by the State and by society (Articles 16+26). The Declaration also demands the right of private property (Article 17), the right to liberty of conscience and religion, which includes the individual’s right to change his faith (Article 18), the right of opinion and information (Article 19), the right to congregate and to form associations (Article 20), the right to vote (Article 21). Everyone has the right to security in social matters (Articles 22+25+28), to labor with just remuneration (Article 23) and to education (Article 26).

Closely related to the idea of human rights is the claim that all people have the same right to be treated as persons - whatever race, religion, sex, political persuasion or social or economic status they may be. What is the basis of human equality, if not the fact that all were equally created by God? Thus, a Christian argument for human rights must begin with the biblical account of Creation, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:26-27). The fact that Man was created in the image of God plays a major roll in the relationships of human beings to each other. Genesis 9:16, for example, requires murder to be punished, for it injures the image of God. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be she...

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