Christianity’s Contributions: Justice served (Part 1)

Another aspect of Christianity’s contributions to society is in the realm of law and justice.   Not only did the Bible provide the Gospel of salvation, but it had a legal framework for the Israelites to use.  Christians would use these concepts in their legal systems for other nations as well.

Natural law is the idea that people know right and wrong through reason.  Paul says that Gentiles who don’t have the 10 Commandments do them naturally or instinctively, since the law is written on their hearts (Romans 2:14-15).  For instance, a Gentile culture may not have the book of Exodus in their library, but they know that killing and stealing is wrong.

Yet having the Bible provides written laws of conduct that people in society can follow.  Since God is the author of the Bible, to follow His moral absolutes gives everyone knowledge of right and wrong.  And to have an absolute leads to the rule of law, not the rule of men.  Something isn’t right or wrong because a king said so; it is right or wrong since God said so.  And that means even the king must follow the law.  This led to the notion that no one was above the law.  In order to convict someone of breaking the law, 2 or 3 witnesses would be needed for establishing guilt (Deuteronomy 19:15)

Later in history, the Christian influence on law is seen in various documents and political thinkers.  The Magna Carta (1215) shows Christian ties.  Some concepts are that justice can’t be denied or sold, there can be no imprisonment without trial, and property can’t be taken without payment.  Years later, John Locke (1632-1704) would write that natural rights are given by nature, not government, and the government exists to uphold those natural rights.  Conversely, tyranny violates people’s natural rights.

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