Perspektiven und Debatten in Ost und West
The Theological Hermeneutics of The Russian Orthodox Church’s Basic Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights
This chapter is written by a member of the working group that prepared the document entitled “The Russian Orthodox Church’s Basic Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights” and provides the general background of this document. The “Teaching” consists of two components: political and theological. The author focuses on the latter, for which he bore a responsibility in the group. He informs that the theological rationale of the document is anchored in the distinction between the dignity of human nature and a person’s dignified life. This serves as the fundament for another distinction crucial for the argumentation in the document: between freedom as the capacity of choice, and freedom as the liberation from sin for God’s love. The author argues that despite the political ambiguity of the document, its theological ground is rooted in the Christian tradition and is useful for substantiating the very idea of human rights.
The Russian Orthodox Church’s Basic Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights1 was adopted by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in June 2008. It is one of the key documents in the corpus of social doctrine of the Moscow Patriarchate, which started to develop with the so-called Bases of the Social Concept of 2000. The Bases touched on such issues as church, nation, state and politics; Christian ethics and secular law; property, labour and its fruits; war and peace; crime, punishment and correction; personhood, family and public morality; personal and...
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