Affirming the rule of law
Acton Institute Powerblog

Affirming the rule of law

On this day, 790 years ago, the rule of law was affirmed in Britain. On June 15, 1215, King John of England signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede. Viewed as the basis of English common law, which greatly influenced the foundations of American society and government, the Magna Carta recognized a law greater than the will of the king. As Winston Churchill spoke of “a law which is above the King and which even he must not break,” Lord Acton too said similarly, “Socrates taught a law independent of the state and superior to it.”

The Magna Carta can be viewed, in Churchill’s words, as a “reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter,” which “is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it.”

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.