Guest / Limited Access /

No single word resonates with Americans and millions of others quite like freedom. A television commercial announces that buying a certain automobile or flying with a certain airline will make you "free." People celebrate their country's independence with songs of "freedom" on their lips and ringing in their ears. Politicians, businesspeople, advertisers, salesmen, military leaders and recruiters—all know how to use "freedom" to attract attention and draw interest. Few words are so common while carrying so much weight.

The word is also found throughout Scripture and Christian tradition. Everyone raised in Sunday school knows "the truth will set you free" (John 8:32) and "[i]t is for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Gal. 5:1). Freedom is not just an American or humanitarian theme; it's also a gospel theme.

Unfortunately, two very different ideas of freedom get confused in many people's minds. The biblical idea of freedom is different from, but easily confused with, the cultural value of the same name. And neither one is the same as "free will." It can be confusing to the average Christian who wants to know what "real freedom" is. Is it having choices? Is it lack of coercion and constraint? Is it being able to do whatever you want? In what sense does Christ set us free, and how is that different from what Madison Avenue and Hollywood promise?

At the very heart of the Christian gospel is the strange truth that real freedom is found only in giving up everything secular culture touts as freedom. The gospel, it turns out, requires a distinction between the enjoyment of true freedom and the mere possession of "free will." ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Tags:
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only My Top 5 Books on The Cold War
A faith-focused list on the long battle with Communism.
RecommendedWhy Being a Woman in Seminary Is Worth the Work
Why Being a Woman in Seminary Is Worth the Work
It's not always easy to get there, but the blogosphere needs more of us.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickRealizing My Addiction Had Chosen Me Began My Road to Recovery
Realizing My Addiction Had Chosen Me Began My Road to Recovery
Framing addiction as a chronic disease gives a broader framework for understanding.
Christianity Today
The Bonds of Freedom
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.