Part 4: Scripture and Rebellion, Scripture on Liberty
By Leonard O. Goenaga
On liberty, passages continue throughout the canon present freedom as fundamental to being human. As early as the creation account in Genesis 1-2, man is created free with the ability to choose. Grudem calls such freedom to choose “one of the highest manifestations of excellence in the human beings that God has created, and it is one of the ways in which mankind is more like God than any of the animals or plants that God has made.”1 Who else of God’s creation has the moral ramifications and creative abilities of free humans? Animals, as driven by instinct, surely lack a display of the range of freedom attainable by man. Humans are consistently called to follow Christ, to accept his teachings, and to respond to God’s commands.2 This liberty is foundational to the imago dei, leading Grudem to conclude, “Liberty is an essential component of our humanity. Any government that significantly denies people’s liberty exerts a terribly dehumanizing influence on its people.”3
In contrast to the positive treatment of liberty in Scripture, slavery and oppression are always portrayed negatively.4 In the 10 commandments, God reminds the Israelites of his role in bringing them “out of the house of slavery” (Ex. 20:2). In various accounts listing judgments, the loss of freedom is described as a punishment (Dt. 28:28-29, 33; Judg. 2:16-23). On the Jubilee event, individuals were set free every fifty years from slavery. Given the positive treatment of liberty, and the negative portrayal of oppression and slavery, Scripture seemingly supports the connection between commending liberty and achieving the common good.
1 Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, 91.
2 Such examples of the freedom of individual choice viewed positively include: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,” (Dt. 30:19); “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh. 24:15); and “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Mt. 11:28).
3 Ibid. 92.
4 Ibid. 91-92
The Moral Liberal Research Writer, Leonard O. Goenaga, is a Baptist Associate Pastor (assigned to the Youth) at Glory of God Christian Fellowship, Raleigh, North Carolina; a Mentor (Computer Lab/Technology) at the Wake Forest Boys & Girls Club; a husband (to Katrina); and rugby coach. He holds a B.A. in Political Science (with a specific concentration in Political Theory, Social Contract, and Constitutionalism), a second B.A. in Religious Studies (with a concentration in World Religions and Early Christianity), a Master of Divinity in Christian Ethics, and an A.A. in Entrepreneurship. He has begun Ph.D with a concentration likely centered on an analysis of Locke’s Social Contract, H.L.A. Hart’s Legal System, American Constitutionalism, and Baptist Ecclesiology of Covenant. Visit his website at Leonardooh.com