The Relationship between Sphere Sovereignty and Subsidiarity

Global Perspectives on Subsidiarity, edited by Michelle Evans and Augusto Zimmermann (Springer, 2014)

Posted: 9 Jan 2018  

Lael Daniel Weinberger

University of Chicago, Division of Social Sciences, Department of History

Date Written: January 1, 2014

Abstract

Sphere sovereignty is a social theory based on theological principles. Its starting point is the absolute sovereignty of God. From this principle, sphere sovereignty denies that any single human institution can claim absolute sovereignty. As a result, sphere sovereignty principles support an institutionally pluralistic society, where all kinds of power and authority are divided among various “spheres.” First propounded by Reformed theologians in the Netherlands, sphere sovereignty initially focused on the limitation of state power so as to preserve the independence of various social “spheres,” especially the church, from the state. While sphere sovereignty is rightly opposed to improper consolidation of state power, it does affirm the place of civil government in the social order. The model of society affirmed by sphere sovereignty has certain resonances with the Catholic social teachings on subsidiarity. Some have argued that sphere sovereignty is fundamentally different from its Catholic counterpart. But it is more helpful to see sphere sovereignty and subsidiarity as complimentary, each recognizing a distinct aspect of social relationships within healthy and well-functioning society.

Keywords: Sphere sovereignty, subsidiarity, Reformed theology, Catholic social thought, legal theory

Suggested Citation

Weinberger, Lael Daniel, The Relationship between Sphere Sovereignty and Subsidiarity (January 1, 2014). Global Perspectives on Subsidiarity, edited by Michelle Evans and Augusto Zimmermann (Springer, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3096888

Lael Daniel Weinberger (Contact Author)

University of Chicago, Division of Social Sciences, Department of History ( email )

Chicago, IL
United States

HOME PAGE: http://about.me/laelweinberger

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
58
PlumX