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The Influence of Kant on Christian Theology: A Debate About Human Dignity and Christian Personalism

Derek S. Jeffreys


In recent writings, Robert Kraynak indicts modern liberalism, arguing that it is incompatible with the Christian faith. The modern language of human rights, he believes, undermines Christian virtues, producing a dangerous individualism. Kraynak suggests that constitutional monarchy comports best with Christianity but recognizes that it is unlikely to reappear on the historical scene anytime soon. He advises us, therefore, to embrace democracy on prudential grounds, tempering it by firmly distinguishing between spiritual and temporal realms. Many scholars today raise challenges to democracy and question whether we ought to use human-rights language. I disagree with some of Kraynaks prudential judgments about these two issues, but they do not surprise me. What disturbs me is how he uses Kantianism to caricature and undermine personalism. In this article, I argue that what he says about personalism is historically and philosophically simplistic.

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