In Pursuit of the Free Society

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “ If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn.8:34-36).

For the vast majority of people in human history, the Biblical concept of freedom is a radical and frightening idea. It’s true of course, that if you asked anyone in the Western world today, “Do you want to be free?” almost everyone would reply, “Of course.” But the Western concept of freedom, while it can be traced to the Bible, has moved a long way from the Bible’s teaching.

Why is this?

People have been running from God, along with the implications of a godly society, for many hundreds of years. And because they have been running from God personally, their ideas about religion, law, education, politics and other important social matters, have reflected this. Like the people in the parable that Jesus told, they have said about Him, “We do not want this man to rule over us” (Luke 19:14), and so every aspect of their belief and lifestyle cries out in rebellion against God.

Because of this sinful rebellion, nothing is excepted. Man is a complete creature, so he insists on his version of a totality. He knows that Biblical religion affects everything, so in his heart he tries to conjure up and find alternatives to Biblical religion, in every practical sphere. Like Adam and Eve in the garden after they fell, he looks desperately for substitutes to cover his nakedness. He has to find something-anything!

A better world does require better men! The question is, how to get better men, how to produce them? … Revolution or regeneration. If men deny the possibility of regeneration then their only logical option is revolution. Since 1660, and the birth of the Enlightenment, the logic of humanism has moved the world steadily and more deeply into revolution. Every continent is now in the grips of a faith which demands the coercive remaking of men.[1]

At the end of the day, freedom is a theological concept, with its roots in Biblical doctrine. But the departure of men from God means the denial of Biblical doctrine, so they have to come up with substitutes which inevitably mean the repudiation of the Biblical concept of freedom.

This is why atheism and oppression are inextricably linked. The French Revolution was the first example in the modern era of what happens when an atheistic government decides to practice what it really believes. And that was just the beginning.

Lenin was critical of the French Revolution because he said, they didn’t kill enough people. He was consistent. He and Stalin seemed to make every effort to ensure the “wrongs” of their French predecessors were righted. After all, one wouldn’t want to make that same mistake, would one? Hitler, Mao and Poll Pot followed suit. They were consistent atheists.

No society is static. Every society is either moving towards the goal of the promised land of scripture, or moving away from it, and each one has innumerable practical implications. It moves away from it when the leaven of the kingdom of God is not at work; when Christians have lost moral influence in the community.

The real problem of the free society is that without Christ and His Word, people don’t want freedom. Like the crowd in Jesus’ day, they prefer Barabbas to Christ, and this has consequences in every sphere.

One stark example of this occurred in England in 1660. After the death of Oliver Cromwell, Charles II was returned to England to be crowned. Recriminations quickly took place, particularly against those who had seen his father Charles I tried and executed. One of those who suffered was John Cooke, who was arrested. From gaol before being executed, his comment was telling.

We are not traitors or murderers or fanatics but true Christians and good commonwealthmen, fixed and constant in the principles of sanctity, truth, justice and mercy, which the parliament and army declared and engaged for, and to that noble principle of preferring the universality before particularity. We fought for the public good and would have enfranchised the people and secured the welfare of the whole groaning creation, if the nation had not more delighted in servitude than freedom.[2]

This is why the influence of Christians is so important in the life of any nation of the world. When the world rejects the Ten Commandments, and the logical implications of Biblical freedom, it quickly finds a substitute. Below is one popular version, prevalent in the West:

The Ten Fundamentals of Modern Statism                        

(The following list first appeared in the April 1985 issue of the Chalcedon Report written by Rousas J. Rushdoony.)                                                                                                                     1. The first duty of every state is to protect the state, not the people.                                              

2. Other states are occasional enemies; the people are the continual enemies.                              

3. The purpose of taxation is confiscation, control, the redistribution of wealth, control, the support of the civil government, and control.                                                                            

 4. All steps to increase state power must be done in the name of The People, but the people are to be used and stripped of freedom in the process.                           

5. Freedom is dangerous; controls are good.                                                                                 

6. Freedom must be redefined; it is a right to be morally loose and irresponsible, but Christian morality is social slavery.                                                                                                                     

7. Children are the property of the state.                                                                                          

8. The two great sources of evil are the church and the family.                                                        

9. The only world is the world; there is no God, no heaven, nor hell.                                         

10. Anything the state operates or does is good, in any and all spheres: education, war, peace, spending, and so on. What is “public” or statist is good; what is “private” is bad.

This is an awful list, more or less accurate in relation to every nation of the West today.

Conclusion:

How can all this be reversed?

Only by the faithful application of scripture to all of life, by Christians. We are the ones who must take our marching orders seriously, so that we can inherit the promises of God for this life.

Where do we begin?

At the beginning. In the family, and the church. The reformation of these two fundamental institutions will lead to us having authority to speak to the State. But, as usual, it has to be a case of first things first.

It’s time to act as the true servants of God, in order that we can see in the land the freedom that God has truly promised us.

              If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

 

 

[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.1048-1049.

[2] Quoted in Geoffrey Robertson, “The Tyrannical Brief,” 2005, introduction.