Some words Jesus said…
When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him. …If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (taken from John 8:28-29, 31-32)
This week many Americans, including many American Christians, will be talking about freedom. Except the freedom that will be spoken is a freedom located in the American nation, promised by the words of the American Constitution, secured and defended by American military power. In many ways, I think this freedom can be likened to the freedom that an escaped prisoner experiences while on the run from prison. The prisoner may believe he is free but should he ever stop
fighting running, the prisoner will be caught and returned to freedom. Was this prisoner really ever truly free?
Scripture speaks of freedom too. It speaks of freedom in Christ. That is, rather than locating freedom in any earthly nation or king, it locates freedom exclusively in Christ. If you read the passages in the New Testament which speak of this freedom, you will notice that not once is this freedom adjectively qualified as “spiritual freedom” or “ultimate freedom” like I hear so many American Christians speak so that they can presumably live with two different sources of freedom: Christ and America.
Scripture simply claims that we have freedom in Christ. That seems to be an exclusive claim, especially since it is linked with the truth (as observed in the passage quoted above). Just as with the scriptural claim regarding truth, the scriptural claim of freedom in Christ seems to be a claim against any other claim or promise of freedom…since it is only the truth which sets us free. Thus this exclusive claim of freedom does not submit to the dualistic (or pluralistic) notion that there is one freedom found in Christ and another freedom found in any government with her rulers and military.
So here is my quandary. Most Christians, including myself, reject any and all dualistic or pluralistic claims of truth. We believe that truth found in Christ alone. But considering how Jesus, according to the Gospel of John, links truth and freedom together, why do most of us feel free to accept a dualistic concept of freedom but strongly reject any dualistic notion of truth?
I am not writing this to be critical or condemning here of patriotism. The question I am raising is a question I deeply wrestle with. It seems as though that every time we, as Christians locate even a fraction of our freedom in anyone other than Christ, that we are giving away part of the gospel faith. I might be way off but if I am, I would love to hear some coherent explanation for how we, as Christians, can accept a dualistic/pluralistic notion of freedom when we generally agree that there should not be any similar compromise regarding truth.
Thanks for hearing me out and thinking through this issue with me.