Fundamental Values

Fundamental values from a Protestant perspective

Rapid structural and social changes are unsettling society and politics. Common ground seems to be eroding. Faced with these challenges, many people are once again looking to the church in anticipation. Here they hope to find forces and institutions that foster community. The church offers value orientation and advocates value-oriented praxis in all areas of society.

What are fundamental values?

Fundamental values are insights and standards of action that are shared by a community and whose acceptance is assumed. Thus, they lay the foundation for a trusting and friendly coexistence. From a Christian perspective, ‘fundamental values’ inquire into the Christian contribution to a social consensus on values. Only those who are open to what is different can develop new perspectives on what is one’s own. Such values do not aim first and foremost at what is ‘Christian’. Based on the ‘Christian tradition’, they draw up a framework that does not exclude, but includes.

The Protestant Church in Switzerland has identified the following ten fundamental values from a Protestant perspective:

  • Participation

    … ignores the mandate of the majority!

    Or does it not?

    No, instead the dictate of the majority has its limits where it affects the personal and liberty rights of the individual. Participation means the ability and opportunity to look after one’s own interests and have others take them into account. In the form of human rights, it cannot be questioned or restricted by any democratic majority decision.

  • Empowerment

    … trains people to disobey!

    Or does it not?

    Yes, insofar as disobedience and resistance are directed against structures that exclude, discriminate against and deprive persons, certain groups (women, persons with disabilities, homosexuals, religious minorities) or ethnic groups of their rights. Our principles of human dignity and humanity owe much to the historical struggles for liberation of such minorities and oppressed groups.

  • Freedom

    … means doing and not doing what I want!

    Or does it not?

    With the qualification: as long as one’s own actions and omissions do not restrict the freedom of others to do or not do something. As paradoxical as it sounds, there is freedom for everyone only if individual freedom is limited in a meaningful way. In other words, ‘Freedom is always the freedom of those who think differently’ (Rosa Luxemburg).

  • Peace

    … is a question of security and prevention!

    Or is it not?

    On the contrary: peace cannot be achieved through security measures alone, nor should it be confused with security or the absence of war, violence and threats. Peace is described in the Bible as daring to turn toward one’s neighbor not because he seems trustworthy to me, but so that I can be trustworthy to him.

  • Community

    … always functions through dissociation!

    Or does it not?

    Correct, because cohesion in solidarity occurs when a group of people is closer to each other than to others in terms of certain characteristics, ideas, experiences or goals. Families form the core of social communities, without their members being completely limited to this form of community.

  • Justice

    … is only a question of perspective!

    Or is it not?

    Exactly – but which? The discussion on justice inquires into perspectives that take into account everyone involved when assessing decisions and actions. A person’s action is just when it does not infringe on the interests and intentions of any other person.

  • Sustainability

    relieves the next generation of their responsibilities at our expense!

    Or does it not?

    A contradiction, but one that draws attention to an important point. In order for future generations to be able to assume responsibility, they must have the opportunities available to us for us to assume responsibility. Only those who can choose between alternative courses of action can be held responsible for their decisions.

  • Solidarity

    … stifles the responsibility of the individual!

    Or does it not?

    On the contrary, solidarity creates the conditions that enable people to take on responsibility for themselves. Solidarity in a welfare state means the responsibility and care that the members of a community or society assume for each another.

  • Responsibility

    … is shifted onto others – consistently and everywhere!

    Or is it not?

    Only apparently, since people are not always free to choose their responsibility. Instead, their responsibility often makes them into the persons they are. Parents do not choose responsibility for their children, but vice versa: because they have children, they are parents and are therefore responsible for their children.

  • Reconciliation

    … is Christian daydreaming!

    Or is it not?

    No, because God has reconciled the world with himself in Jesus Christ, and because people live in the hope of conciliatory and reconciled relationships, despite and in the midst of real discord. Reconciliation at the political level means mutually recognizing and granting each and every person their due.