Human Freedom

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What does it mean to be free? We value nothing more in our culture: ‘live free or die’! Yet we also imagine various ways in which we are anything but free: our genes, our families of origin, economic forces, etc. We think of freedom as room I must win, as autonomy I must wrest from others. Freedom is our prime cultural goal and our problem.

Christianity agrees the the human is made for freedom; in fact it contributed historically to this very goal. Jesus tells us that the truth will set us truly free (John 8:36), but the truth spoken of here is not only in our minds, since the ‘good I would do I do not do.’ (Romans 7:19). It involves the freeing of our wills from bondage, distortion, fear, and guilt. Without this, what we imagine to be freedom is really the limited power to choose between forms of moral and spiritual slavery.

Trusting obedience to God then is not the opposite of freedom, but its condition, nor does it diminish our dignity, but rather enables our flourishing.


google the poem ‘Stations on the Road to Freedom’ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Epilogue 2: Local Jesus

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Jesus was a specific individual at a specific place and time. The different writings of the New Testament present aspects of Him with the help of different kind of philosophical vocabulary, all to apprehend the same unique person.

Jesus the divine guru or prophetic campesino or the indigenous chief or the byzantine ruler: the list could be multiplied. The message of the incarnate and ascendant Jesus can be translated and understood in many tongues, since He is Lord of all the nations. But the One whom the nations know is the same, not diverse.

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