The Christian belief of Paul Scholten: its origins

DPSP Annual Abstract only
Online ISSN: eISSN 2667-2790
Full article can be expected: 2021

Article Info

Category: research
Research Question: Religion and Law
Full article can be expected: 2021
Abstract only


Paul Scholten saw his Christian belief as the basis on which his views on justice were founded.
Many of his writings bear witness of this conviction (General Method 1931; Law and Justice 1932 etc.).
Common opinion holds that Scholten’s way to Christianity took many years and that he only became a convinced Christian towards the first world war (as expresses by his sons Gerbert and Ynso in WPNR 106 of 1975).
In the article I will argue that Scholten was a Christian from childhood and remained so, while the contents of his Christian belief developed over time.
Three facts endorse my view:
- His grandmother Maria Elisabeth Ledeboer-Adriani shared her orthodox protestant piety with Paul up to his 15th year (also acknowledged by Gerbert Scholten in his WPNR article)
- Paul followed during his Gymnasium years, from 1889 to 1892, the ‘School voor Godsdienstonderwijs’ of the ‘Vrije Gemeente’, run by theologian P. Hugenholtz. In December 1892 he there received his Diploma with honours (‘cum laude’). The ‘Vrije Gemeente’ was one of the most liberal protestant denominations of the time – not belonging to the Dutch Reformed Church -. It seems to have been Paul’s own choice to follow its course for four years.
- Immediately after finalising his law studies Paul devoted much attention to his belief. According to notes he took in a personal memorandum, he first (1901) expressed his affinity to Roman Catholicism and later (1905) compared Christianity with Marxism and Spinozism, concluding that he ‘still was a Christian’.
There is no doubt that he started to express his conviction in articles related to law from 1915 onwards, but this fact does not indicate a conversion to Christianity but much more an intensification of the belief he held from his youth.

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