As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. - Abraham Lincoln
Freedom versus Liberty
As it is with so many facets of life, the issue on our conceptual
table has more nuances than for which we have words. Conversely, we have
many words that are used interchangeably that really originally or should be
used for different meanings. Thus, philosophically, I am going to make a distinction between
freedom and liberty, and assign salient aspects to one or the other.
The wise man seeks not pleasure, but
freedom from care and pain. - Aristotle
We can say that Freedom and Liberty may seem to overlap, but actually may
point in different directions as do up and down. Freedom focuses on being subject to evil and FROM evil results
that would reduce the sustenance and enhancement of life. Ideally, our
freedom from evil should be total and complete. Freedom relates to
eliminating fear, and Liberty enhances worship.
Liberty focuses on the latitude that we have to pursue fulfillment of the
sustenance and enhancement of life. It refers to the extent for which our actions and behavior are unrestrained. Liberty should be
naturally constrained only within our humane and ethical principles.
Thus, the government should
be more in the freedom business and less in the liberty business
BECAUSE freedom is the foundation of Liberty, and thus MORE important. Many things are
forbidden or restricted, such as crime, and some that are
allowed should be restricted, such as exorbitant interest rates,
revolving credit cards, banks involved in investing, etc.
There are two different facets that are needed. Freedom from
and liberty to
express and pursue life. Give me both.
As far as how Freedom and Liberty are treated in Christendom, we will use what
Rudolph Bultmann has to say as a foil:
"Genuine freedom is not
subjective arbitrariness. It is freedom in obedience. The freedom of
subjective arbitrariness is a delusion, for it delivers man up to his
drives, to do in any moment what lust and passion dictate. This hollow
freedom is in reality dependence on the lust and passion of the moment.
Genuine freedom is freedom from the motivation of the moment; it is freedom
which withstands the clamor and pressure of momentary motivations. It is
possible only when conduct is determined by a motive which transcends the
present moment, that is, by law. Freedom is obedience to a law of which the
validity is recognized and accepted, which man recognizes as the law of his
own being. This can only be a law which has its origin and reason in the
beyond. We may call it the law of spirit or, in Christian language, the law
[Commentary] Bultmann is talking like a typical Christian
legalist and fundamentalist, believing in both the "law of God" and the
Bible as the "word of God". He seems to be oblivious to the distinction
between Freedom and Liberty elucidated above. "Obedience" to the law is for
spiritual toddlers and morons. Real adults don't think in terms of obedience
to each other, but in terms of cooperation.
This idea of freedom, constituted by law, this free obedience or
obedient freedom was well known both to ancient Greek philosophy and to
Christianity. In modern times, however, this conception vanished and was
replaced by the illusory idea of freedom as subjective arbitrariness which
does not acknowledge a norm, a law from beyond. There ensues a relativism
which does not acknowledge absolute ethical demands and absolute truths.
The end result of this development is nihilism.
[Commentary] The concept of "obedient freedom" may have been
well known in the ancient Greek culture and in Christianity, but this
doesn't make it God's way or make it right. And no mature spiritual man
would foster the idea of freedom as "subjective arbitrariness".
Freedom is never attained while operating under law or rules. Freedom is
realized when operating within principles and values with which you agree
There are several reasons for this development. The
first is the development of science and technology which procures the
illusion that man is master over the world and his life. Then there is the
historical relativism which grew out of the Romantic Movement. It contends
that our reason does not perceive eternal or absolute truths but is subject
to historical development, that every truth has only a relative validity for
a given time, race or culture, and thus, in the end, the search for truth
[Commentary] We can agree with Bultmann as to the illusion
fostered by science and technology, and the defeatist relativism that
There is still another reason for the change from
genuine freedom to the freedom of subjectivism. This deepest reason is
anxiety in the face of real freedom, the yearning for security. Genuine
freedom, it is true, is freedom within laws, but it is not freedom in
security, because it is always freedom gained in responsibility and
decision, and therefore it is freedom in insecurity. Freedom of subjective
arbitrariness believes itself to be secure precisely because it is not
responsible to a transcendent power, because it believes itself to be master
of the world through science and technology. Subjective freedom grows out
of the desire for security; it is in fact anxiety in the face of genuine
[Commentary] Here Bultmann seems to be in denial of one of our
most basic and legitimate needs or desires, that of security. Until we have
the tangible delivery of salvation or safety, anxiety will come and can only
be repressed or denied.
Now it is the Word of God which calls man into genuine freedom, into
free obedience, and the task of demythologizing has no other purpose but to
make clear the call of the Word of God. It will interpret the Scripture,
asking for the deeper meaning of mythological conceptions and freeing the
Word of God from a by-gone world-view."
Rudolph Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology, Chapter III, p.
[Commentary] It certainly is NOT the Bible that "calls man into
genuine freedom", but the message of the J person. And what does Bultmann
really know about the "deeper meaning of mythological conceptions? Not
much at all!