liberty, human rights, & the Gospel

“This understanding of the equal and inalienable value of people has steadily made its way into people’s thinking wherever Christianity has spread, so much so that every ethical theory by Western philosophers, however much they differ from each other, assumes and is based upon the absolute value of every human being.  Since this teaching of Jesus took hold in Western civilization, our legal systems, our understanding of human rights, the slow and gradual rise of democracy, and the emancipation of women and slaves–all rest on and are inspired by such simple parables as that of a Lost Sheep, a Lost Coin, a Lost Son, because they teach us that every person must be taken with ultimate seriousness.  These stories encapsulate the core of the gospel:  each and every person so matters to God that God the Son became a human being to seek us.  Nothing can give us the value and worth that underlies our civilization’s conviction concerning human rights, which is spreading to the rest of the world today–nothing except the love of God.  To reject God, to ignore God, or to neglect God is at the same time to reject, to ignore, or to neglect our irreplaceable value.”  Diogenes Allen, Theology for a Troubled Believer, xxii