Western Christians have often expressed ambivalence about the language, assumptions, and practical outworking of ‘human rights’ and the extent to which it threatens to be a rival creed: God-centred ethics replaced by well-meaning but shakily-grounded humanism.
Emerging after the horrors of World War II in the form of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights1, the modern human rights movement has been characterised by the law professor John Witte Jr as an attempt to find a world faith to fill a spiritual void – ‘to harvest from the traditions of Christianity and the Enlightenment the rudimentary elements of a new faith and a new law that would unite a badly broken world order’.2 Read more
‘Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’’ 1 Kings 21:19a, New International Version
For decades, many Christians in the West have been eagerly turning to their Bibles hoping to make sense of events in the Middle East. But overlooked in favour of the prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel are many scriptures which challenge a theology of unconditional support for modern day Israel. Read more
Heavy emphasis on personal spirituality can often mean missing out on the powerful way the Bible speaks about the nature of political power in human society. The Israelite exodus from slavery in Egypt has inspired oppressed people throughout history, and numerous tropes of the story have been adopted by liberation theologies. But although the Sunday school story starts with Moses in the bulrushes, the first chapter of Exodus is a fantastic resource for understanding the nature of power, evil, and divinely-ordained resistance.
Exodus starts where Genesis left off, with the death of Joseph. An old era has passed away, and there is now a “new king” (v8) on the throne. Like all new rulers, elected or otherwise, this one is keen to assert his power and consolidate his position. What is more, the new king is ignorant of the nation’s history, and its debt to one particular Israelite. Read more