A Society of Mutual Aid: Natural Law and Subsidiarity in Early Modern Reformed Perspective
Law and Religion: The Legal Teachings of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, ed. Jordan J. Ballor, Wim Decock, Michael Germann, and Laurent Waelkens (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) (Forthcoming)
13 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2012 Last revised: 20 Nov 2013
Date Written: May 8, 2012
The burden of this essay is to show that not merely one but indeed two ideas usually associated with Roman Catholicism have some foundations in the Reformed theological orbit of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The first of these is natural law, considered to be characteristic of Roman Catholic ethical reflection, and which after a much-needed period of reexamination is receiving its due rehabilitation in the circles of Reformed, and more broadly Protestant, theology. The second of these is the idea or principle of subsidiarity, which again receives its classic modern formulation in the context of Roman Catholic social teaching. The purpose of this study is to show in both cases that there are important and largely neglected early modern Reformed backgrounds to these doctrines, and indeed, in the course of this argument to explore in preliminary fashion the way in which natural law and subsidiarity are linked theologically.
Keywords: subsidiarity, natural law, Reformation, politics, theology
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