Christianity and the Global Rule of Law

21 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2019

See all articles by Neil Walker

Neil Walker

University of Edinburgh, School of Law

Date Written: November 20, 2019


Religion in general, and Christianity in particular, stands in a complex relationship to the global rule of law. An influential secular narrative assumes that today’s transnational legal order is entirely detached from religion. Yet an alternative account actively attuned to religious involvement in the history of law’s global ambition sees in Christianity a specific source and a deeply sedimented general foundation of a global rule of law, as well as a continuing influence upon its development. It identifies religious actors as key players in formulating a global rule of law. It specifies issues raised by religion around war, mission, intervention and assistance, toleration, and minority protection as important developmental drivers. And in some versions it views contemporary conditions as particularly conducive to an enhanced role for religious influence. This chapter examines the relationship between secular and religious narratives, and also important differences within each. It argues that rather than seeing these narratives as rival external accounts, we should view their mutual tensions and competing projections as internal to - and indelible stamps upon - a still precariously emergent form of law that claims a global jurisdiction.

Keywords: Law, Christianity, global, secularisation, rule of law

Suggested Citation

Walker, Neil, Christianity and the Global Rule of Law (November 20, 2019). Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2019/35. Available at SSRN: or

Neil Walker (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh, School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

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