Law without liberty is slavery.
Liberty without law is anarchy.
Liberty with law is Christianity!
Words mean things. What is “Christianity”?
C̵HRISTIAN´ITY, n. …
The religion of christians; or the system of doctrines and precepts taught by Christ, and recorded by the evangelists and apostles.
Whilst politicians are disputing about monarchies, aristocracies, and republics, christianity is alike applicable, useful and friendly to them all. [Paley]
[Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary] (emphasis is mine)
Thus – “Liberty with law is, ‘the system of doctrines and precepts taught by Christ, and recorded by the evangelists and apostles.’”
“Christianity” is not found in the Bible – However: “Christian” appears twice –
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, ‘Almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian’. [Acts 26:28]
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf. [1 Peter 4:16]
In both Biblical references, “Christian” is associated with the choice to be governed by the teachings of Christ.
NOTE – The only alternatives to being governed by the teachings of Christ are slavery (external rule by another man), or anarchy (internal rule by your own will and appetite). In either case you will be ruled by a tyrant!
In my last column, “The third leg”, I opined that whereas the Colonial American church was aflame with the concept of liberty under God, today’s American churches are ignorant, even hostile, to Biblical principles of government.
Christ taught us to love God (vertical) and love our neighbor (horizontal) as the whole essence of Biblical law. [Matthew 22:37-39] Liberty rests upon family-, church-, and civil-government (direction, regulation, control, restraint) as taught by Christ.
HOWEVER – “Liberty” is NOT “license”. That is why Colonial churches taught “Liberty under God”. It was not lawless freedom to run wild. Human nature is ever at war with what is right! The American war for Independence was won by people who honored chrstian principles. Later the French Revolution, also focused upon individual liberty, neglected the limits of Christian principles. It ended in a blood bath.
I yearn to see America’s churches alive with a message that includes Christian liberty. Their ignorance and apathy toward creeping socialism in their homes, churches and government is producing sheep that are governed by wolves!
Some will object that the church must focus upon “salvation” (turning from rebellion, to conformity with God’s law of liberty). “Loving God and loving neighbors” is more than a heavenly insurance policy!
Will teaching “liberty under God” be well received by individuals? Yes indeed. Will it be welcomed by civil authority? Not at all. Civil and Church authority nailed Christ to a cross! England did her best to compel American submission. Today’s news shouts about the same conflict.
What about “Liberty under God” added to the Christian missionary message overseas? I suspect it would resonate and perhaps overturn many tyrants. On the other hand —
“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf.” [1 Peter 4:16]
— Is Christian liberty worth the price? It was to Peter!