This Thing Called Freedom

There is no point in time when man did not long for freedom. Freedom was an idea sought by the Israelites while they were being held captive by the Egyptians. More recently, King George sought to withhold freedom from those over whom he ruled. There was no such thing as freedom for individuals to worship as they chose. Instead, the people had to kowtow to the very wishes of the tyrannical monarch. Freedom was nothing more than a waning thought in the night. That thought though would soon become a plan of action.

Freedom is not as simple as it may seem, yet the concept is extremely simple. Freedom is nothing more than the lack of influence from external entities. The Jews sought to be relieved of the autocratic influence of the Egyptians. Those under the aristocratically charged ideology of King George sought to be rid of the chains binding them to the whims of the dictatorial leader. This is why both groups of people left lands of oppression in favor of lands wherein they were able to worship God without the influence of the ruling class.

Freedom would come at a cost. Those leaving King George’s charge would soon find themselves in battles with the kingdom they once called home. Blood would be shed so that the founders of the United States of America would have the liberty to worship God without the influence of a tyrannical leader. And, the battles for freedom would go on. There would be the world wars, The Korean War, the Civil War, and other wars were fought to secure the freedoms of a people.

As we remember those fallen to protect our freedom it becomes increasingly difficult to overlook the One who died for the freedom of all people. John 8:36 has the words, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  The freedom made possible by the Son is not the freedom to worship, while that freedom is enveloped in the freedom created by the Son. Nor is the freedom specific to the freedom of speech guaranteed in the United States Constitution. Instead, the freedom put for by the Son is freedom from sin. This means that those who choose to follow Christ walk in salvation. Salvation, theologically speaking, is deliverance from the power of sin.

If one is to be delivered from the power of sin, sin has no more influence over him. Deliverance from the power of sin means the one delivered no longer has to walk under the diabolical influence of the evil slave master, sin. It is much like the deliverance the Israelites experienced as well as the experience of those who fought to free a new nation from the oppressive hand of a dictatorial monarch. Freedom has a cost and that cost is the blood of those standing for freedom.

From the founding of the United States of America, many have raised the Star Spangled Banner as a sign of freedom. The colors are significant. The white is shown for the purity of a new country. The blue stands for the loyalty of those who fought and were to fight for the country. The red is for the bloodshed by those standing for the freedom the Star Spangled Banner represents. The price of freedom is far from cheap. Yet, the price must be paid. It is interesting that those paying the price for the freedom do not get to enjoy the very thing for which they laid their lives. Freedom, the one thing that is far from free.

The Son of God, Immanuel, also raised a banner. The Banner raised by the Son was a bloodstained banner. It is stained with His blood. The color of this banner is insignificant because the banner cannot be seen because it is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ. When properly applied the blood of Jesus washes away sin. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. Without the shedding of blood, there is no freedom from sin. Christ, the Son of God, did more than all those who died for this country. Yes, we honor those who served and gave their lives for the sake of freedom. Still, we must not forget to honor the One who removed His robe of glory and died a sinner’s death so that we could be free from sin.

This thing called freedom cost many their lives. It is not cheap nor is it free. This thing called freedom means we can worship God without the oppressive hand of the Government. This thing called freedom caused the Son of God to wrap himself in the body of humanity so that man would be free from the impact of sin. This thing called freedom would be nonexistent without the shedding of blood. So, as we honor those who gave their lives for this country let us not forget the One who gave all for all.

Peering into Academia

Academia: Through the Eyes of a Preacher

Now, it is true that most of my writings are not designed to be academic in nature. However, that does not mean that I have veered from what has caused me to grow and understand more concerning the things of God. In my recent book Academia: Through the Eyes of a Preacher I examine a number of academic disciplines associated with Christianity. Those disciplines range from history to evangelism; from discipleship to missions and everything in between.

With that, please peer into the book and see what you can glean. The below is an additional portion of the essay “The Nicene Creed: The Trouble that Caused It.” Please remember this work is copyright protected and and all rights remain reserved. Now, let’s peer into academia again.

Despite the company Athanasius found himself in there was also grave opposition to his stand against heretical teachings. Saint Hilary of Poitiers was born in 315 with an uncertain Christian heritage.[1] Even though Hilary was appointed Bishop of Poitiers and eventually made a saint questions concerning his Christianity are brought to question in that he was seen as a pagan.[2] No matter the issue of Hilary’s Christianity his writings clearly show that he did not recognize Jesus as being coeternal with the Father rather clearly states that Jesus is a creation of God. In this vein Hilary states “He is not eternal or co-eternal, nor was He uncreated at the same time with the Father…”[3]

The calling of the synod included more than discussions on the substance of Jesus. Little is said in respect to the Holy Spirit even in the Nicene Creed but there was argument against His divinity which was part of the controversy at large. The problem was even though the Holy Spirit was associated with the Godhead there was considerable uncertainty as to His nature. The matter of His nature brought to the center of the argument supposed that He was a mere person and the Arians saw Him as being subordinate to the Son who was counted as being subordinate to the Father.[4] The confusion was so great that Basil expressed “Of the wise men among ourselves, some have conceived of him [the Holy Spirit] as an activity, some as a creature, some as God…”[5] With this lack of understanding as to who the Holy Spirit was it obviously brings into question not only His substance but also His divinity and authority.

This instability in respect to the Holy Spirit becomes more compelling when His divinity is purposely stripped away. Some Homoiousians (those subscribing like or same substance to Jesus) refused to afford the Holy Spirit His rightful place in the Godhead.[6] This denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit was part of the heretical teachings of Arianism.[7] The Deity of the Holy Spirit was also denied by Macedonius who declared that the Holy Spirit was nothing more than a “minister and a servant”.[8]

Now, to put this segment into context you will have to read the entire essay. Not to worry, there are other studies that will catch the attention of all scholars. For instance, “The World of Islam,” “Diverse Gifts,” and “Looking at the Evidence” are three of the essays included in this work. You will also find an exhaustive bibliography to aid in research. So, go ahead, get you a copy and put on your seat belts. There will be surprising academic twist and turns as you learn academia through the eyes of a preacher.

[1] The Catholic University of Puerto Rico, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1954)V

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 102

[4] Richard E. Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight Over Christ’s Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999), 205

[5] Ibid., pg 206

[6] Everett Ferguson, Church History: From Christ to Pre-Reformation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 207

[7] Ioannis Karmiris, “The Second Ecumenical Council” in The Ecumenical Review 33 (July 1981):244-248

[8] Earle, E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), 129

Freely Speaking

From the time I heard of the incident outside Dallas, Texas I became a bit more incensed concerning the attacks on freedom of speech in this nation. Freedom of speech is a thing I freely use not only for political reasons but also as I speak concerning the things of God. I have said many times that I will not relent to the overtures of those that seek to silence opposing thoughts and I will not cease to stand now.  The 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees that we can speak freely without consequence from the government. If adherents of Islam take issue with the pictorial contest in Garland then perhaps they should move to a land wherein free speech is reserved only for those in power.

In these United States the right to free speech is unabridged. Despite that there are some that seek to silence those with whom they disagree. Consider, for instance, the “Fairness Doctrine.” With some, dissenters to certain view points are nothing less than bigots or suffer with some sort of newly discovered phobia. The problem is that the Constitution does not limit speech; instead it limits the government from controlling speech – especially religious and political speech.

With that let me say clearly that I have had my fill of Islamist coming to this country in an attempt to change it. We welcome all, including Muslims, with open arms in this country. Yes, it is true that Christians would love to see the adherents to Islam, as well as others, come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord and Saviour. However, if individuals choose not Christ Christians do not seek to chop off the heads of those who will not follow. Lovers of Christ seek only to love dissenters to Christianity with the hopes of someday winning them. No, there is no desire to chop off the heads of non-believers from the Christian world. There is no desire to force acceptance of Christ by way of forced contrition.

With that I will freely speak because, first and foremost, I have been provided that freedom, not because of the Constitution, rather because of the freedom that rests in the Word of God. I am tired of those that attach Christianity and its tenants, yet I do not seek to destroy those who disagree with me. I believe, not just by reason of head knowledge, that the Word of God brings with it deliverance. That deliverance means that I do not have to succumb to things that pull from the truth. Additionally, as a Christian I have the choice (freedom) to live as I desire. Yet my desire is to please my Father. I rest in the comfort of the gifts of the Spirit and have no problem employing them in my life. How can I deny so great a salvation?

Some would dare say the recent events in Baltimore and Ferguson had much to do with free speech. Somehow it seems to me that free speech has little to do with vandalism. I am not certain what free speech has to do with theft. I fail to see how one can speak freely with the intent of disobeying laws that are intended to protect the rights of all. Well, dare I freely speak and say that those committing these crimes were not exercising their constitutional rights. They were not standing for justice wherein injustice had raised its head. Instead they took advantage of a situation and allowed the thug nature of criminal acts to spring forth. Yes, it has become politically incorrect to call thugs thugs as now it is racist. Well, if it walks like a thug, acts like a thug and sounds like a thug then it must be a thug: if I can say so.

The thing about freedom is that it impacts all that embrace it. Interestingly, it also impacts those that oppose it. Freedom is not limited to those that purposely walk in it. Instead, freedom reaches to all; even those that seek its destruction. With this I will continue to freely speak. I will continue to cry loud and spare not the truth of the Gospel. I would that all come and embrace the freedom of the Gospel whilst they lay down the vitriol that pulls from freedom. If there is to be destruction let us tear at the old man so as to be renewed in the Spirit of Love. If there is to be theft let there be stealing away to Jesus. If we must succumb to anything it might be best if we succumb to the freedom of the Word of God.