Does being Christian rob you of your freedom?

freedomRecently good friend of mine asked me this question, I could not resist but post it onto my blog together with my attempt to answer this in the way that can be both honest and friendly. And I have to say that if I should use the Bible to answer this question (Which I feel is important as it is Christianities foundation) I may not please everyone but at least you will note that it’s not my own invention but rather foundational teaching of the Christianity.

Question: The problem I have with religions is that I feel like it’s a set of beliefs predetermined by other people which I must mold myself into believing.  I find it restrictive to believe something and ignore other possibilities.  Why do I think this?

I have raised this same question with one of my other friends and have asked him, how he would answer this complex question. This is how he suggested we should look at this problem.

talking from the legislative (Legal) point of view, legislation’s that exist in one country are subject to everyone’s responsibility and democratic duty if they are to enjoy the benefits of that social structure. In other words we have no choice but to accept and obey the law of the land.

I really liked this answer but I was also hopeful that I could build on this further. So to expand on the answer firstly let me spell it out “we have limited freedom” that is inevitable and honest answer, as Bob Dylan put’s it “you got to serve somebody, it may be the Lord (Jesus Christ) or it may be the Devil, but you gonna have to serve somebody. “

However does this mean that this will circumvent us from doing thigns that we want to do?

So the problem then is this, “Are Biblical instructions man maid or God inspired and does the modern church add to it’s original teachings?” I would like to use the Bible itself to point to the teachings that come from the good book itself.

Why do we have guidance and instructions and moral position of the Holy Scriptures

2Ti 3:16 – 17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  17  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Should we be adding or expanding to the Word of God?

Before you point out that the quote below is aimed at the book of revelation and not meant for the rest of the Bible, let me point out that there is no separation in the early church (1st century just after the resurrection of Jesus) by separating books of the Bible into more acceptable or less dependable books.

In fact we find great cohesion and consistency of the theological teachings despite the fact that Bible is written by about 40 different people and spanning over 1500 to 2000 years of Human history. Written in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and  Greek) and by the people from different social and geographical backgrounds.

Rev 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;  19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

So the Points that Bible is making is that we should treated differently to any other book and that we should take heed of it’s teachings as it’s Gods own intervention into human history, to both reveal his existence, outline why we find ourselves where we are and God’s plan for our salvation. So let me just recap here on why we have Bible today.

  • God reveled himself trough his word
  • God inspired his word so even though people wrote it they had inspiration and guidance from God himself trough the Holy Spirit
  • We understand God’s view of our sinful nature and the fall of humanity
  • We understand God’s plan of salvation and call to us to both hear and be changed

Second part of this question is this: Is it man made additions that stop us from doing what we want and therefore restricting our freedom? (My expansion on the original question).

This is a very good and insightful observation, trough out human history we see this happening, with Jewish nation i.e. we see attempts to clarify the law of Moses trough the Talmud which has two components Mishnah compiled around 200 AD as Jewish oral law and Gemara 500 AD.

Mishnah

Compilation of legal opinions and debates, recording brief opinions of the rabbis debating a subject; or recording only an unattributed ruling, apparently representing a consensus view.

Gemara

In the three centuries following the redaction of the Mishnah, rabbis throughout Israel and Babylonia analyzed, debated and discussed that work. (גמרא). Gemara means “completion”

This is most certainly noticeable in Catholic church where tradition and extra biblical writings make Catechesis.

Catechesis: Catholic teaching presented in an organic and systematic way, with proportionate emphasis on each subject. Catechesis prepares the student for Catholic spiritual life on earth, which in turn will prepare him for eternal life in heaven. Same idea exists in other Christian traditions including Orthodox and other offshoots of Biblical Christianity.

What did Jesus say?

John 10:10  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

Jesus is clear, his introduction to human history is not limiting our potential it’s liberating, its not depriving its enhancing. In fact he goes much further, he explains that not only does he bring freedom and fulfilling life but that without him only option available to us is slavery and death.

So in short let me conclude, do we need church traditions, I would answer this as unequivocal No, but if the question is changed to “do we need the Bible?” the answer would change to definitely Yes as it help us  both understand the the life and equip us to live it to the max.

It is inevitable that we would want to question and resist change especially when the change is of such magnitude that has power to change our life forever. Jesus tells us that this is a spiritual battle and that our sinful nature is always moving away from him as our sin is condemning us and our sinful nature is preventing us from accepting this. To truly discover this we need God’s own intervention and liberation and for that we need to seek his help.

Bible tells us of God’s love it’s our response to this that will determine where we stand when we talk about the freedom.

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Lastly let me include few quotes that may shed some lite to why we tend to resist this invitation to be free.

Humanism or atheism is a wonderful philosophy of life as long as you are big, strong, and between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. But watch out if you are in a lifeboat and there are others who are younger, bigger, or smarter. William Murray

God exist whether or not men may choose to believe in Him. The reason why many people do not believe in God is not so much that it is intellectually impossible to believe in God, but because belief in God forces that thoughtful person to face the fact that he is accountable to such a God. Robert A. Laidlaw

Nobody talks so constantly about God as those who insist that there is no God. Heywood Broun

What comes into our minds when we think about God, is the most important thing about us. A.W. Tozer

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