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The Christian Dimension of the Origin of Constitutionalism

St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Richard Hooker and John Locke



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The Christian Dimension of the Origin of Constitutionalism by Wenting Liu
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This dissertation, "The Christian Dimension of the Origin of Constitutionalism: St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Richard Hooker and John Locke" by Wenting, Liu, 刘雯婷, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any way. We have altered the formatting in order to facilitate the ease of printing and reading of the dissertation. All rights not granted by the above license are retained by the author. Abstract:  In 2011, many countries experienced great travail in the process of constituting a new order. Of different religious backgrounds, these countries have been seeking to establish a constitutional order to assure greater liberty and higher estimation of human rights. However, the idea of constitutionalism is a legal concept that has its origins in Christianity. For states of non-Christian backgrounds to embrace constitutionalism, more than simple transplantation is needed. This research looks at the Christian legal tradition that incubated the idea of constitutionalism. It aims to provide a timely reference for the non-Christian countries to communicate with their local legal traditions when constructing the constitutional order during this current period of political change. The research demonstrates an incubation process in which Christianity has played a major part in generating constitutionalism. It traces the constitutional thinking of St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Richard Hooker and John Locke, and presents how their legal thoughts were intertwined together with the Christian faith. The research shows the interlocking relationships among the four thinkers, with each of them establishing their constitutional ideas on those of the one before him. St. Augustine formed the embryo of the process. He introduced the idea of two cities, which established a concept of higher justice above all human authorities. He also redefined the concept of people in order to explain the relations among God, people and the state. Thomas Aquinas applied the higher justice concept to medieval order and developed a mixed constitutional polity supported by bible verses. He defined law with rationality, which is God's command. Richard Hooker amended Aquinas' general theory of law and grounded the popular sovereignty on reasonable men exercising their consent. John Locke finally rendered the sovereignty to independent individuals; thence, individual human rights must be guarded against any interventions from public authority. The protection of individuals is the paramount value that identifies constitutionalism. Therefore, the author argues that Christianity is one of the major dimensions that enabled the birth of constitutionalism. DOI: 10.5353/th_b4786977 Subjects: Constitutional law - Religious aspects - Christianity
Release date NZ
January 26th, 2017
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Country of Publication
United States
colour illustrations
Open Dissertation Press
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