Original Research

Kingdom, covenant, and human rights

Koos Vorster
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 51, No 2 | a2257 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v51i2.2257 | © 2017 Koos Vorster | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 March 2017 | Published: 19 July 2017

About the author(s)

Koos Vorster, Unit for Reformational Studies, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


This research revisits the idea of a Christian perspective on human rights. Departing from a hermeneutics of trust, this article considers the concept of human rights from the perspective of revelation history. Revelation history departs from the consent of the parts of Scripture, irrespective of differences in dating, original languages, canonical differentiation, cultural, social and historical contexts. Scripture offers a theological unity consisting of various topics which are developed continuing and purposeful throughout the biblical revelation. Two of the major topics in Scripture as they are revealed by a revelation historical survey are the concepts kingdom of God and the covenant of God with God’s people. In this article these two concepts will be used as a foundation for a Christian theory of human rights both as legal human rights and moral human rights. The central theoretical argument of this investigation is that both the concepts kingdom and covenant are essentially about justice and relationships – the justice of the kingdom and the relation between God and humankind, the relation between people and the relation between humans and creation. These relations are the essence of the rights people have, vis-à-vis the authority of the day and other people. These rights, which deal with the orderly maintenance of relationships, can be formalised in legal human rights and should be nurtured and protected by the civil authorities. Christians and churches as moral agents in society have the calling to promote the idea of human rights in constitutional democracies.


Kingdom; Covenant; Human Rights


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Crossref Citations

1. The church as a moral agent: In dialogue with Bram van de Beek
J. M. Vorster
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 74  issue: 4  year: 2018  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v74i4.4809