Spiritual Liberty is Causative to
Religious and Civil Liberty
By James B. Rose, President
American Christian History Institute
The Christian history of America testifies that no enduring religious or civil liberty would exist if there were no Christ or Christianity!
This remarkable link between Christianity and religious and civil liberty is understood when one contrasts the history of liberty from man’s creation to the time when Christ Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected with the history of liberty from the time of Christ to the present. Remember, history, by definition, is the study of men and events in the order they happen with their causes and effects. America’s Christian history confirms that spiritual liberty is causative and gives rise to, or results in, greater and greater expressions of religious and civil liberty.
Consider this question: Was there more or less individual liberty before Christ Jesus came? History reveals that there was less liberty for the individual before Jesus came into the world and more individual liberty after He came. Before Jesus, the exercise of liberty was the privilege of a few individuals (if they were pharaohs, kings, caesars, princes, lords, etc.,) but, most men were in religious and civil bondage. Jesus brought the gift of salvation from bondage to sin and death, and this spiritual liberty was manifested by the eventual giving of more religious and civil liberty to the individual.
Reflect upon this: When Christ Jesus came, He gave individual, internal, spiritual liberty to every one who accepted Christ by grace through faith. The gift of individual salvation is the gift of spiritual liberty. (Eph. 2:8-9). When one is redeemed from bondage to internal sin and spiritual death, he is given spiritual liberty. The same principle of liberty is identified in the Scriptures:
“. . . the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:32, 36
Also consider Romans 6:22, II Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 5:1, James 1:25
Christ’s free man, throughout all ages, has desired, striven for, and often died for religious freedom. Christianity purposes to work positively to effect laws for the lawless and liberty for the righteous under the Law.
Consider what God did through John Wycliff, in 1382, and, then, William Tyndale, in 1525, to enable these men to make the Bible available to the individual in English. After the English Bible was printed and promulgated, did the individual enjoy more or less liberty? Surely, thoughtful men discern there was more, not less, liberty for the individual. And, when the Bible was brought to America by the Pilgrims in 1620, and, then, the Puritans in 1630, did individuals enjoy more or less liberty? Indeed, liberty abounded even more than before! And, when the constitution of the United States of America was finally ratified in 1789, the local church enjoyed the greatest expression of individual liberty the world had ever witnessed!
Since the time the Bible was published in English and made available to the individual, there have been greater and greater and greater expressions of liberty first spiritual liberty and, then, its correlative, religious liberty protected by laws limiting the power of men in civil government. “The liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” gave rise to liberty of conscience where men resolved “to obey God rather than men.” Conscientious Christians, led to worship together, also covenanted together religiously and civilly to enjoy religious liberty the liberty to worship God as God gave them light. But, there could be no religious liberty without civil liberty where laws not only condemned and punished lawlessness, but protected the free exercise of religion by limiting the power of kings and legislators.
America’s Christian history, therefore, confirms that “the perfect law of liberty” the Word of God has affected society and civil government by inspiring and guiding men to protect liberty by law.
“To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoy. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism. . . .” (Dr. Jedidiah Morse, “Election Sermon of 1799”, as quoted by Verna M. Hall, in her Preface to The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America: Christian Self-Government, p. v.)
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