Title page for ETD etd-09082005-115018

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Mohlaphuli, Tebele William
URN etd-09082005-115018
Document Title Human Rights from a Biblical perspective
Degree PhD (New Testament)
Department New Testament Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof P A Geyser
  • no key words available
Date 2005-03-10
Availability unrestricted
I did my utmost best to present what I consider to be the essence of human rights from the perspective of the Bible. In my view human rights are a modern discovery and re-defining of what had long been implied, acknowledged and taught in the Bible. The implied form and acknowledgement of human rights in the Bible need not be overshadowed and hidden away by many of Bible charactersí sinful nature and acts (as all Bible characters except Christ were also born with a fallen and sinful nature, which needed Godís redemption by faith). Instead, they need to be perceived in Godís divine intention, which has progressively been revealed in Godís interaction with the Israelites and other nations and culminated in both the personhood and exemplary saving acts of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23,24).

My opinion is that in the Bible human rights have been expressed in the context of both the Israelite religion and culture, whereas currently there is a need and tendency to express them in an inter-cultural approach, which is driven by the trend of globalization. While in modern times context human rights have been expressed as human rights, in the Bible context they had long been implied in and acknowledged and expressed as an integral part of every personís free will of choice imparted at manís creation.

In my view the Bible is authoritative because it is probably the only classic book that identifies every human being with our creator, God. It highlights the need for and possibility of a unique God-man relationship, which all people are worthy of to be identified with the only highest being such as God. The Bible serves as the source of information about the needed meaningful relationship that identifies people with their creator, God. It contains stories that inform us about various peopleís counter-active relationship with God. Its authority, in my opinion is further demonstrated by the way it shows the necessity and possibility of developing the creator-creature (i.e.God-man) relationship, which lifts up human beings to the status above all other creatures. The authority of the message of the Bible from its various stories needs to be understood and accepted in the light of Christís exemplary constructive attitude towards the Scriptures of his time. His un-conniving but constructively critical attitude towards the unacceptable cultural aspects before and during his time show us the exemplary attitude people must adopt towards all cultures and the Bible. My opinion is that Christ needs to be seen as a corrective measure against both Bible and non-Bible characters before his time. He also needs to be seen as the role model to all people of our times, so that we can meaningfully implement and promote human rights. Christ-like love and attitude towards other people need to underscore everything we do or say in order that we may meaningfully implement and promote human rights.

Human dignity, in my opinion, is one of the underlying factors, which has undisputedly long been acknowledged and promoted by the Bible. The identification of every person with the creator of the universe, God, implies the acknowledgement of human dignity in the highest dimension that cannot be surpassed by anything.

Human dignity in the light of manís identification with God puts God as the highest moral criterion worthy to be complied with by every person. Human dignity also implies that every person was created and is born with a free will of choice. With free will of choice goes the responsibility for every personal choice made by a human being at the age of accountability. In my opinion there is commonality between the need for every person to be accountable and God as every personís highest moral criterion worthy to comply with.

Current controversy on homosexuality is regarded by me as a situation that challenges us to agree to disagree as groups and individuals. None of us should judge another. None should compel the other to think and believe against personal choice. While there will always be disagreements, it is only practical outcomes of our choices and acts which help us have a much more objective judgement of them. The present general consensus on promiscuity as one of the contributing factors to the spread of HIV/AIDS is a good example. Here the ultimate concrete results serve to unite the previously divided opinions on the culpability of promiscuous life style, which according to human rights is blameless as a result of consensus of two individuals. In the words of Jesus (Matthew 13:24-30) undisputable judgement will finally be affirmed by God. My opinion is that Godís judgement will amaze all people. Godís ways and thoughts are higher than human beingsí ways and thoughts, (Isaiah 55:9). Therefore, his judgement will be unique. He will judge peopleís acts and thoughts in the light of seen and unseen motives behind them.

While every person has the freedom to choose what he or she wants to be, every person is accountable for the outcomes of his or her choice and actions. ĎEverything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account,í (Hebrews 4:13).

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