Taught by Dr. Bradford Littlejohn, this course will run from January 10th to March 19th 2022. The syllabus is available here.
We currently seem surrounded by intractable arguments in public life over conflicting rights. At one end of the spectrum, so-called conservatives can be found loudly asserting their God-given rights against any perceived government overreach. At the other, so-called liberals can be found insisting on their right to self-identify however they please, to be shielded from contrary opinions, and to retreat to a “safe space” when it all becomes too much. In the post WW2 West, language of “human rights” has become our dominant (if not only) way of thinking about ethics – and not without cause. The twentieth century is full of lessons of what happens when human rights are ignored.
Yet a shift from traditional moral language of “natural law” to modern language of “human rights” has raised red flags among Christian ethicists. Is “rights” language intrinsically subjectivist and individualist? Or is it deeply woven into Christianity?
Through close reading of primary texts, this course will engage key Christian political theorists from the Reformation to the American Founding, tracking this shift and considering its relevance to Christian public witness today.
Dr. Bradford Littlejohn (Ph.D, University of Edinburgh) is a scholar and writer in the fields of political theology, Christian ethics, and Reformation history. He is the author of several books, including The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology (Eerdmans, 2017).
Online only, runs 10 weeks, meeting 2 hr./wk. via Zoom. Students will also have the option to participate in class discussion on the Davenant Common Room Discord server. Register to reserve your spot and schedule will be set after a poll of participating students; if the class time does not fit your schedule, you will be eligible for a full refund.
This is a graduate-level course. Although a BA is not a necessary pre-requisite for this course, students should come prepared to do graduate-level work.