It is for Freedom that Christ has Set You Free
I made a pledge when I began this blog to remain steadfastly apartisan, meaning I would endeavour, to the best of my ability, to favor neither Democrats nor Republicans in my post. I chose my wording carefully, because I did not see a way to remain wholly apolitical. These days, both matters of faith and higher education are highly politicized, and to avoid them when they naturally arise would be irresponsible. Christ was very political in His ministry, but He skewered all parties in His delivery of the truth of the Gospel. I will confess readily that I do not in any way have Christ’s perfect objectivity in the matter, so I know my true perspectives peek out from time to time.
I offer this explanation because from time to time David Theroux of the Independent Institute asks me to cover work of the institute here. If I feel it meets the above criteria, I say yes and do it. If not, then I don’t. Over Spring Break he emailed me about a short video by I.I. Research Fellow Anthony Gregory.
It is a great piece to share because it illustrates two Biblical principles—the difference between power and freedom, and that regardless of the political bent of people and the motivations behind them, there are things that we can agree on that transcend the usual labels.
If power is defined as the ability to do something, and freedom is the ability to do as one chooses, then they seem to be nearly synonymous. However, when someone exercises their power to restrict others’ freedom (whether appropriately or not), the difference quickly appears.
The power of the Gospel of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, which we celebrate next week, is that through His sacrifice, Christ bought again for us the freedom we had at the beginning of our species—the freedom to choose to live under God’s kingship or not. In our pre-redeemed condition, we had no choice as we were chained to the tyranny of our selfish desires and the condemnation it produces. Christ broke those chains, and makes the offer to follow Him or turn back to the chains.
Either way, we are following a pre-laid path. The same is true in this country. Before the American Revolution, we were subjects of the British king. Upon being released from that servitude, we created a new government , to whose laws we subjected ourselves. The difference was in principle that we had a larger say in the laws made, but regardless of the type of government, laws are made and must be followed to have an orderly society. Thus, we see that in our faith and in our politics, power and freedom are dance partners, and our lives are shaped by their motion.
As the dance progresses, each of us are attracted to different aspects of each partner as they move through the issues of our lives, and we align ourselves with others based in general on our levels of agreement on the dance’s progress. Order versus anarchy, personal success versus social justice, and so on. We like simple moves that can be easily categorized, proclaimed, defended or attacked. But the dance is far from simple, and sometimes this means people who normally disagree find remarkable common ground.
This is the heart of Christian unity, and used to be the spirit of political compromise. We recognized the complexity of the dance, and realized that most people wanted basically the same thing—to have the dance continue smoothly for as many people as possible. The disagreement usually dealt with the way to make that happen and who was to be most inconvenienced this time.
This ideal seems harder and harder to find these days as folks seem to harden on their label identity rather than on the underlying principles, which is what makes Rand Paul’s filibuster and the battle lines drawn over it somewhat unique, as it crosscut these labels to reveal the motivations behind people’s positions. May this be a trickle that becomes a flood.
The money quote is at the end where Gregory ties both points up in a single sentence, “But at least now we see that the real issues involved are not left and right, the issue is power versus liberty.”