Freedom for all, or just for us?

thFreedom of religion does not mean for Christians only. If we as Christians are going to stand for a free and open society where we are free to believe and act as our conscience dictates, we must also support that freedom for believers in all other religions and believers in no religion at all. History has sadly shown that Christians can impose their beliefs on people as much as anyone can. That’s why we are not looking to create a Christian society; we are looking to create a free society.

This is what is so brilliant about the great American experiment. America, from the start, has been all about freedom for all – “one nation … with liberty and justice for all” – not just for Christians. America is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Muslim nation, or a Buddhist nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Mormon nation; it is a free nation. Our soldiers have never died for Christianity, they have died for freedom for all religions and none.

If freedom is freedom, it must be freedom for all, not just for us.

This is the central message of Os Guinness’s new book, The Global Public Square. It’s a very timely message and one Christians in the western world desperately need to embrace and live out at all levels, especially in the marketplace. And here’s why: If we stand for the rights of all religions and none, we will be standing for a society where the Gospel of Welcome will be free to go forth in its most appealing and proper manner, without coercion. The gospel is an invitation to all; it must never be imposed on anyone.

Not that we don’t practice persuasion, but that we practice persuasion in an open environment where other people with other beliefs are also free to try and persuade us. If Christians are the only ones who get the microphone, no one will be able to fairly judge the truth.

In a Jesus People video from 1972, there is a clip filmed from the steps of Sproul Hall, University of California, Berkeley, where Hal Lindsay, Bill Counts and others are speaking to the crowd about Jesus Christ. (Note: This section is 17:24 minutes into the video.) The Christians gathered the crowd, the Christians brought the sound system, but they also gave over the microphone to anyone who wanted to say anything. An atheist spoke his mind, and a Satanist spoke his mind, and the Christians spoke theirs. In the process, they were able to agree with many things the atheist, and even the a Satanist, said, but also show how Jesus would probably agree with their objections as well. They were then able to set Jesus apart from all the bad things that have been done in His name. It was a free and open debate in the public square and the gospel was able to be clarified, and anyone who objected would have to have been impressed that the Christians also gave voice go other religions and points of view. That’s what we’re talking about.

The western world needs to see Christians standing for the freedom of all faiths – even atheists (for atheism is a faith too). There needs to be a softening of the heart of all believers in Christ to preach the gospel while being welcoming to all to investigate freely and openly the claims of Christ. Thank God we live in a country where we can do this, and thanks to all who serve and preserve this precious freedom today.

Click on the picture to hear last night’s very important interview with Os Guinness. Everyone should hear this!

os guinness

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6 Responses to Freedom for all, or just for us?

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    Like to 2nd this: “Thank God we live in a country where we can do this, and thanks to all who serve and preserve this precious freedom today.”

    Yet let me plz mention this is not entirely true & correct: “This is what is so brilliant about the great American experiment. America, from the start, has been all about freedom for all – “one nation … with liberty and justice for all” – not just for Christians.” Because it took way too long, in my opinion for this nation to get rid of slavery!

  2. Linda Jones says:

    John, I struggle with how Christians deal with gay marriage. This seems to be such a taboo with Christians. I believe that God can heal all brokenness but if Christians keep fighting against gay marrige it just pushes homosexuals farther away from God and the healing that He can bring. Your talk of freedom seems to touch on this, and I would like to hear your thoughts. I know this is a touchy subject and one you might not be prepared to open but I think the Gospel of Welcome needs to include homosexuals too.

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Excuse me Linda J. yet I need to comment of this: “…I think the Gospel of Welcome needs to include homosexuals too.” Add a very big yes and Amen to it – 4 I’ve yet found one verse that ‘says’ only those w/ certain sins does He forgive and allow into His family – plus I know how far my cousin that is gay has been driven out and a put big wedge between him and his Roman Catholic Church and it’s jus not right!

      He may no-longer admit to this, yet when his was younger I know how much being an alter-boy meant to him and them no-longer accepting him as cause much pain in his heart…
      PS i personally think/believe ‘us’ as Christians are missing out on him and his love… 😦

    • jwfisch says:

      Christ died for all (no exceptions).

  3. Interestingly, in Canada, it sometimes appears that the only ones who *don’t* have full rights to freedom of expression are Christians. Unless one speaks the politically correct line, one is dismissed as a hatemonger or (this is a good one) “on the wrong side of history” (you know: like Galileo, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ ….).

    (Mind you, as I’ve said before, Christians actually don’t have the right to freedom of speech: we give that up when we receive Christ and become His ambassadors. It’s like the old joke about the Model T Ford: you can have any color you want, so long as it’s black; speak whatever you want, so long as it’s the truth and spoken in love.)

    But Jesus told us to expect this, so we can’t kvetch. When we act as His ambassadors, we’re bound to be hated, so we just have to make sure the seeds we plant are good seeds and that they will take root in people’s lives.

  4. Side note: Read a science study and studies on human sexuality. The Bible knows nothing about it, and says nothing about it. Our interpretation of scripture is either misguided or the Bible is just an old book outdated just like my grandmas medical book that said masturbation (which in scripture is an abomination) will lead to madness.

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