176 Law & Just. - Christian L. Rev. 59 (2016)
Catholic and Protestant Approaches to Law: Some Initial Thoughts

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   CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT
   APPROACHES TO LAW: SOME
            INITIAL THOUGHTS

                  JOHN DUDDINGTON


Introduction
Whether 2017 is actually the 500th anniversary of the start of the
Protestant Reformation is something which will be, and has been,
debated over the years. What is, however, clear is that next year will be
recognised as such and there will be a good deal of thinking on the
precise consequences of this split in Christendom.
The extent to which Catholic and Protestant approaches to law have
diverged is, of course, one that is very much within the scope of this
journal, given that our raison d'etre is the Christian influence on law.
Moreover, if we feel that the thinking of Christianity has a contribution
to make to current legal thinking then this topic is of crucial importance
It is intended to hold a conference on this in 2017 of which the details
will be in the next issue and meanwhile the following thoughts are
offered to prompt thinking and, I hope, contributions to the journal on
this topic.
What is clear to me, having seen so many contributions on these topics
to this journal in my time as editor, is how much oversimplification
there is. Catholics are for natural law, Protestants are not. Protestants,
rather than Catholics, first promoted the idea of human rights. An
objective notion of conscience is found only in Catholic thought. This
all sounds rather like the current EU referendum debate! There is in fact
something in all of these statements but one needs to dig deeper. Let us
take this further for a while and set the scene by looking briefly at the
relationship between church and state.
The relationship between Church and State

Catholics are sometimes accustomed to thinking that, in contrast to the
Catholic position, in Protestant thought there is in some cases a
subordination of the Church to the State and also, possibly based on
Luther's 'two swords' doctrine a separation of the two realms with the

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