Tuesday, October 28, 2014

III. Liberty

THE ORIGINAL TEXT on liberty from Christianity is Paul's: Do not allow your liberty to be an excuse for sin. All other texts are similar: All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial and I shall be enslaved by none. Juxtaposed is a position of extreme liberty with extreme discretion; liberty from the basic principles of this world (GNON) comes with a heavy price - responsibility to not misuse it.

THIS BASIC RESPONSIBILITY is not legal. The character of the liberty is itself extralegal; it is a setting aside of all rules and regulations that were set upon us. Discretion is required where no rules hold sway; but this is not so much a doing-away with rules, as a doing away with legal obligations. Discretion is itself a set of rules, but ones more subtle and adaptable than "if you don't do X you're getting stoned."

LIBERTY, like equality, cannot be an absolute. Liberty is always in reference to something; and the very question of what liberty is in reference to is the question which consumes most post-enlightenment debate. There is a certain fear that if liberty is defined positively; i.e. 'freedom to become X', 'freedom to do Y', it gives license to social engineers to take away all freedoms which do not tend towards that end.

A MAN WISHES TO SAIL THE SEA, but in order to do so, he must be confined in a boat. The freedom to cross the ocean is a real freedom, but so is the freedom to move about freely on foot. These freedoms contradict one another. Thus people argue endlessly about 'freedom' when what they really have in mind, the telos, differs. Because of this, they can without conflict claim others' ideas of freedom are in fact slavery, and vice versa.

THE CATCH on the Christian definition of liberty however, is that such liberty is in the Spirit. This is a peculiar expression, but indicates that mankind in general, as a rule, is not in a state of liberty from GNON post-incarnation. It indicates that Christians (specifically, baptized Christians) may be, but that such freedom comes through the Spirit itself, and not as some mental revelation.

BECAUSE OF THIS, the discussion of liberty must be one of potency; all human beings are potentially able to become baptized Christians, ergo, they are potentially able to be in complete liberty. But complete liberty, as we have noted above, simply means the freedom to will anything, not necessarily the freedom to fulfill it (since freedoms can contradict.) Thus we are, in the post-lapsarian state, not merely unable to fulfill what we wish, but often unable to wish what we wish.

IF LIBERTY IS in reference to something, we must ask 'what'. If man is granted freedom, what is this freedom for? Those who argue no purpose for such freedom realistically have little ground to stand on for arguing that it is even freedom at all. Thus such a position is self-closing; we can consider it answered by its own conditions.

MERELY ACKNOWLEDGING that we do not precisely know the purpose for our liberty does not call into question the existence of a purpose; unless we assume that because we did not know precisely of the New World in Europe prior to Columbus' journey that it probably didn't exist. There is a tendency to hold the tension of the unknown falsely; to make lipservice of admitting the mystery while in our minds making a series of unwarranted assumptions.

HUMAN FREEDOM, therefore, is attached to human being. To understand the purpose of human freedom requires understanding what a human being is, what it is for, and so on. Obviously therefore, if one does not believe that a human being is 'for' anything, human liberty must not be 'for' anything in particular.

GIVEN THIS STIPULATION we can only talk about freedom, meaningfully, in terms of ends. The first end of human beings is quite obviously to perpetuate themselves. Now, it is not the case that human beings exist to perpetuate 'humanity' - but rather, their own bloodlines. In the long run this fulfills the original command "be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth."

PROLONGATION is the first end of man, And given man's abilities and nature his prolongation does not end with the body, but continues with the mind, the soul, the spirit. However, as men die, in order to meet their purpose, they must continue to live somehow. Different religions have proposed different solutions to this enigma, some even falling so low as to believe that men, like animals, are only prolonged through their descendents. Others have speculated that the soul transmigrates, which allows man to persist but destroys his psychosomatic identity, and yet others thought the soul itself to partake of life and thus continue after, without the body.

CHRISTIANITY proposes a different notion, that the dead shall be raised to life, and in that life the psychosomatic identity will be prolonged into the everlasting. All things resurrected must both be made new but also be the same thing they were before, else man's basic purpose go unfulfilled. As God is immortal, men being prolonged into the everlasting is being in likeness to him.

BUT IF THE RESURRECTION is of the body, then the life of the body is meaningful, and cannot be disregarded. Further, given that man is living, (his basic purpose) his purpose is then to glorify God. But what can this mean? People who attend church services think they know what it means, because they attach the words to certain events. But let us examine the concept more carefully.

TO EXALT GOD would mean to show forth the goodness of him; and in the example above we noted that as God is immortal, so man is meant to be immortal. And if immortality in man is shown to be glorious, then the Immortal One is shown to be glorious. Likewise with all things that God has impressed upon man; inasmuch as man exercises them rightly, they glorify the one whom they are taken from, the original.

IN THE GRAND SCHEME of things, praise and worship songs are small change in the glorification of the Infinite God. Therefore we think it not unreasonable to say that not only is man only truly able to be free in God, but that this freedom is directed towards the magnification and perfection of all of the characteristics that God placed of himself in man.

THE QUESTION OF FREEDOM as ensconced in the desire for liberation is irrelevant; actual liberation can only happen in the context in which the divine characteristics in man can be exercised and made excellent. Any liberation outside of this is an illusion or worse, a kind of bondage which sells itself as freedom - the very libel perpetuated against the Church by revolutionaries.

IF MEN ARE NOT FREE to become gods, then they are not free. They are brute beasts, whose fate it is to be torn to pieces.

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