Monday, September 29, 2008

What is Christian Liberty?

I am reading a wonderful book right now, more on that in another post, about an Evangelical Protestant discovering Sacred Tradition. In this book, he is explaining the beliefs that we Protestants hold dear, but are not necessarily founded in Scripture Alone. For example, the cannon of scripture, our view of polygamy, and the Trinity. Throughout his journey of discovering Sacred Tradition, he is continually citing against what some would refer to as Christian Liberty. So, I am now asking the question - What is Christian Liberty? Does such a thing really exist?

Are we really free as Christians? Do we have options and choices on what we are to believe and whether or not we should stand up for justice? Are we really free to have an opinion on grave matters such as sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, poverty, environment, or war? If we are true followers of Christ, do we have Christian Liberty?

I don't think that we have Christian Liberty. We are called to be slaves to God, purchased with a price (Rev 5:9). There are no options. We are either going to choose to be loyal to Him and His way, or we are going to choose to be loyal to something else(Matt 6:24); Money, Sex, Self...?

What are your thoughts on Christian Liberty? Are we free to think, do, and believe how we want, or are we really slaves for Christ? Are there areas that you feel are considered a Christian Liberty? How do you distinguish between the areas of Christian Liberty and Christian Duty?


Belteshazzar Mouse said...

"Freedom is not the ability to do what you want, but the will to do what you can."

I don't know who said it, but it rings true with me. That's my answer.

Belteshazzar Mouse said...

"Christ set us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be fastened again to the yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

I turned to this passage today while looking for another passage. In my New Jerusalem Bible, which I highly recommend, this passage is labeled "Christian liberty". Paul is talking about freedom from sin and freedom from the law. He is speaking directly to the "uncircumcised" about not being bound by the covenant of Abraham. James, at the council of Jerusalem, later says they are not bound by Abraham's covenant, they are bound by the covenant of Noah (Acts 15).

If I understand the question, let me suggest Galatians 2:11, Acts 15 and the rest of Galatians. Then read Romans 6. Paul's acts are acts of Christian duty, which comes directly from this Christian Liberty. Pray. Study. Act. (repeat) Paul prays, studies and acts to call out the problem. Peter and James do the same. The Holy Spirit ultimately will guide the Church.

I like Cardinal Newman's view on this and his ideas of the economy of truth. Truth is revealed to us as we need it and can understand it. That means individually and as a community. Christian Liberty (freedom from sin) and Christian Duty (slaves to Christ) means we must constantly challenge ourselves, our ideas and beliefs, and everyone else's.

Pray (rely first on the Spirit - this involves _listening_)
Study (rely on others to understand what the Spirit is saying, using intellect and reason)
Act (do something about what is learned)
Repeat (continue to be on guard - the Spirit may have more truth to reveal)

Now read Luke 11:37-12:12 to know when it is necessary to look at options and choices. Focus first on what is missing with the Pharisees and lawyers. Is the motivation is law or the intent of law - Love?

See my previous post. Freedom is a lot of work.

bible boy said...

It is our duty to be free. We are free from the works of the law. We fulfill the righteousness of the law through faith. For example, the bible commands us not to lie. 1 John 2:22 tells us a liar is one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Therefore, through faith, we are not liars by not denying Jesus is the Christ. Paul used the example of the circumcision. He told us circumcision is not that outward in the flesh, the natural. He told us circumcision is of the heart by the spirit through faith in Jesus. We are circumcised through faith, not liars through faith. We keep all the commandments based on the spiritual meaning through faith. For Romans seven tells us the law is spiritual. Jude tells us many corrupt themselves by natural understanding. The commandments cannot be followed based on natural meaning and understanding. The bible is spiritual, words of spirit and life. We must seek the hidden wisdom of God, the spiritual truth comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

We fulfill the righteousness of the law through faith, walking after the spiritual meaning, not in the flesh by the natural meaning and our own works of the flesh.

To understand the spiritual meaning of the bible, check out this bible study website.