Birth of Christianity

Who are Christians? where do they come from? and what is their relation to biblical law and history?

Christians are people the Bible calls gentiles, who do not trace their ancestry to Abraham ‘the Hebrew’ (Genesis 14:13 and John 8:39).

In the 1st c. CE, Jews (who are Hebrews) expected a saviour or ‘Messiah’ to deliver them from Roman occupation. Christians believe Jesus of Nazareth is that Messiah. However, the Jews rejected him and Jesus was crucified by the Romans (or some say the Jews). Thus, the Jews are supposed to have rejected their Messiah, whom the gentiles accepted, and these became the Christians (Acts 13:46).

The Catholic/Protestant Divide

Prior to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th c. Christianity was mostly united under the Roman Catholic Church. However, in the post-Reformation era, the Church became divided into many sects, which adhere to different Bibles and codes, some of which may be said to have the character of law.

Martin Luther disappointed by his pilgrimage to Rome

A fun, animated history of the Reformation and the man who started it

Protestant Resources
Catholic Resources

Bible Study Tools

Canon Law

    The table below shows the sources of canon law. Much canon law is based on Roman law, both in form and content, and some of it is inspired from biblical law.

    Sources of canon law

    Fontes essendi

    (“sources of being”)

    • ‘Objective sources of law’
    • Sayings and actions of Jesus Christ and the Apostles
    • Pope or council/Church
    • Customs
    • Reason (natural law)
    Fontes cognoscendi (“sources of knowing”)
    • ‘Point to where law can be found’
    • Scripture
    • Decrees of popes and councils
    • Customs

    Justinian Code (527–565 CE)

    Papal Encyclicals

    General Resources

    Equity

    The rules (or ‘doctrines’) of equity, which are mostly inspired from Christian morality, evolved under both Catholic and Protestant regimes. A brief account of their evolution follows.

    Prior to the Judicature Reforms in the 1870’s, English common law was administered by the royal courts, which consisted of the Court of King’s Bench, the Court of Common Pleas and the Exchequer. Equity (aka conscientious law) was administered in the Court of Chancery by the Lord Chancellor, whose role was Keeper of the King’s Conscience (and otherwise similar to the role of the Minister of Justice in Canada today).

    The Judicature Reforms in the 1870s fused the Court of Chancery with the Court of King’s Bench. Although equity and common law remain distinct, they are now both administered by the Court of King’s Bench, i.e., regular judges at regular courts.

    Rules of equity include the following: