Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 May 2006
VARIETIES OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT ON JUSTICE
The cultures in which Christianity flourished prior to the missionary expansion of recent centuries were deeply influenced by Christian notions, and in their turn shaped and perhaps sometimes distorted the expression of the Christian faith. It should not then be surprising if we discover that distinctively Christian ideas about justice which Christians, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, would wish to support and affirm have been deeply implanted in many modern cultures. The boundary between the religious and the secular in such matters is not always clear-cut or easy to discern. Themes like the human equality that the American Declaration of Independence thought 'self-evident' were not accepted as at all obviously true in a very different cultural environment such as that of traditional India. Indeed, in the course of time ideas and values absorbed from religious sources can become the almost unquestioned assumptions of later generations, commonly believed to be axiomatic, or the conclusion of a purely rational argument.