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Human Rights Are Not “Common Sense” – They Are Christianity

04 Nov

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:8-9 (ESV)

There are ideas in our society that seem like common sense. When we hear these thoughts, most of us, Christian and non-Christian, think, “Well, of course.” For instance, consider the “dignity of the individual”: we ought to treat people well, regardless of their socioeconomic status or their skin color. Now, there are certainly racists in our culture, and we all can be rude to others at times, but still…for the most part, most people in our culture would affirm the dignity of the individual.

But where did that idea come from? Is it really common sense? Friedrich Nietzsche didn’t think so. In his book What’s So Great About Christianity, Dinesh D’souza writes,

“The life of the West, Nietzsche said, is based on Christianity. The values of the West are based on Christianity. Some of these values seems to have taken a life of their own, and this gives us the illusion that we can get rid of Christianity and keep the values. This, Nietzsche says, is an illusion. Our Western values are what Nietzsche terms “shadows of gods.” Remove the Christian foundation, and the values must go too.”

Tim Keller speaks to this idea in his message from James 2:

Aristotle …there’s a guy who is smarter than anybody in this room … smarter than you, smarter than me. Aristotle said when you look at some groups of people (this is Aristotle now), you can just tell they’re born to be slaves. That’s Aristotle. So you say, “Well, isn’t it common sense that we all believe that every human being is infinitely valuable and has dignity and rights? Nobody should be a slave. That’s common sense.” No, it’s not.

By the way, just go out into the city and go to the grocery store and run around town, or drive around town, do you come back saying, “Oh, it’s just so obvious that everybody is of infinite dignity and worth”? No. What Aristotle says is when you go out there, you just go around in life, there are all kinds of people you say, “Sheesh, you can’t trust those people. Oh my goodness, those people … what disasters!”

It is not common sense to say every single human being, no matter how weak, no matter how poor, no matter how old or young, no matter who they are, that they all have rights. Where did this idea come from? Brian Tierney, who was a professor of history at Cornell University, over the last 20 years, and others, have pretty much proven historically that the idea of human rights that is now dominant in Western civilization … It did not come out of other civilizations. Where did it come from?

It came, he says, from Christian jurists in the Middle Ages meditating and reflecting on what the Bible says are the implications of every human being in the image of God. They were thinking, “Well, what are the implications of that?” and they came up with the idea of universal human rights, and until they did, that idea was not common sense.

Today our society is pulling away from Christian moorings, and yet people think that they can keep the values that they like, justice and human dignity, etc., and yet discard the Bible.

How wrong they are.

For Thursday, November 5th: James 3

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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