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Understanding Human Dignity$
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Christopher McCrudden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265642

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.001.0001

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A Christian Theological Account of Human Worth

A Christian Theological Account of Human Worth

(p.275) 15 A Christian Theological Account of Human Worth
Understanding Human Dignity

David P. Gushee

British Academy

This chapter argues that biblical revelation served as the most important source, at least in European civilization, for the still critically important moral claim that each human life carries profound worth, and the related moral-legal demand that each human being’s dignity must be respected. In Christian theo-ethical terms, this means that the real issue is ‘the God-declared sacredness of each human life with correlated moral obligations’ rather than merely ‘human dignity’. The chapter enters into the biblical materials to present in their own distinctive ways central elements that gave birth to a sacredness-of-life norm and continue to fund that norm today. I reserve a few comments at the end of the chapter to discuss how and why ‘sacredness of human life’ became ‘human dignity’, and what was lost (and perhaps gained) when that transition occurred in the modern period.

Keywords:   sacredness of life, sanctity of life, human dignity, imago dei, biblical revelation, secularization

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