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The still small voice of Magna Carta in Christian law today

Doe, Christopher Norman ORCID: 2015. The still small voice of Magna Carta in Christian law today. Griffith-Jones, Robin and Hill, Mark, eds. Magna Carta, Religion and the Rule of Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 229-247. (10.1017/CBO9781316178164.014)

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The principles in Magna Carta 1215, about due process, lawful judgment by equals, ‘justice, according to law’ and the distinction between ‘just’ and ‘lawful’, all resonate in modern secular constitutional theory and practice about the meaning and importance of the rule of law. People today broadly agree on the value of the rule of law for liberal democracy; but they disagree about its meaning. Three ideas dominate. The first is the formal concept: the rule of law simply requires obedience to law – by government and by citizens –whatever its moral quality. The second is the procedural concept: the rule of law requires law-making to satisfy various minimal moral procedural standards – a legal system does not honour the rule of law if the law itself is not capable of obedience. The third idea is the substantive concept: the rule of law requires that the law itself is just in its respect for human rights; a society whose laws violate principles of justice and humanity does not fulfil the rule of law. So: secular constitutional theory and practice offer a spectrum of rule of law ideas: from ‘power technique’ to ‘political ideal’. What follows explores whether these ideas surface in the internal systems of governance of Christian churches. It examines churches from ten traditions worldwide: Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican; Lutheran and Methodist; Reformed, Presbyterian, Congregational, United and Baptist. The expression ‘the rule of law’ is not commonly used by these traditions in their systems of church governance. But they do have equivalents to all three concepts of the rule of law as they appear in secular constitutional theory and practice.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
Schools: Centre for Law and Religion (CLR)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
K Law > K Law (General)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781107100190
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 09:32

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