SOUL LIBERTY: How far does it go?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Barnabas H., Aug 19, 2004.

  1. Barnabas H.

    Barnabas H.
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    For some strange reason, the original "SOUL LIBERTY: How far does it go?" thread by dianetavegia has been lost. With her permission I am reposting the original thread (saved on the hard-drive of Brother Clint Kritzer), and asking you folks to participate in this interesting discussion. Please bear in mind that although we may be of different opinions we will try to be on the same mind (no pun intended) with one another in the Lord! [​IMG]


     
  2. Barnabas H.

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  3. Barnabas H.

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  4. Barnabas H.

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  5. Barnabas H.

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  6. Barnabas H.

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  7. Barnabas H.

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  8. Barnabas H.

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    As I was reading this thread, I couldn't help notice that the concepts of Religious Liberty, Christian Liberty, and the right to a Personal Faith and Witness (which were frequently illuminated by the giants of the faith) nowadays are often referred to as synonymous with Soul Liberty.

    If I am not mistaken, the word was first coined as such by the Christian minister, Roger Williams, who understood by the phrase simply the individual's freedom to choose for or against God. By this Williams was preaching religious tolerance, and he was a stern advocate of separating church from state. In his views, an atheist, who denied God had equal footing with a Christian who was a believer. Sort of a weird utopia, which by the way did not work in his newly formed world at Rhode Island. :(
     
  9. rsr

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    Williams understood that forced religiosity is an affront to the Gospel.

    — Roger Williams, "The Bloody Tenent of Persecution," 1642


    — John Clarke, "Ill Newes from New England," 1652

    Yet they were not the first Baptists to espouse religious liberty.

    — Thomas Helwys, "A Short History of the Mistery of Iniquity," 1612

    Baptist history, both General and Particular, is chock full of this tradition, which acknowledges that "soul liberty" is not an excuse for private interpretation.

    — Standard Confession, 1660

    — London Baptist Confession, 1689
     
  10. Barnabas H.

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    rsr, thank you for the great quotes and insightful information about the Williams' thought process. [​IMG]

    However, the original concern of Diane was to distinguish defenders of those people who are against fundamental Bible teachings under the disguise of "soul liberty." I think, that is the point here. [​IMG]
     
  11. rsr

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    Well, that may be one of the points. The other, I think, was that some Baptists allow soul liberty only to those who think as they do.

    The fact that the term can be misused is no reason to discard it; it is a cornerstone of the Baptist heritage.

    The misuse of the term is addressed by both Armitage and the third point of the London Confession.
     
  12. Clint Kritzer

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    To the contrary. I do not believe that Williams was seeking a utopia in Rhode Island, but rather a society in which religious liberty would be the norm. His ideals are one of the cornerstones of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. He was not alone in the quest for freedom from persecution. William Penn comes to mind as another religous liberty model.

    On the other hand, the attempted utopia that DID fall was the Puritans in Massachusetts. Though the romantic notion is that they fled England in search of feedom from persecution, the fact is they fled to establish their own form of theologic dictatorship. If one was found guilty of not worshipping in line with Puritan thought, the perpetrator was fined, whipped, beaten, and/or imprisoned or executed. Nonconformity was, needless to say, deeply frowned upon.

    Even in the depths of that merciless and unyielding society, though, Soul Liberty would shine through in true believers who believed that, just as Peter and the other Apostles stated, they should obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). One example is Anne Hutchinson.
    http://pbskids.org/wayback/civilrights/features_hutchison.html

    Because of the courage of those who were willing to bear the whips and the burning stakes before us (and practically none of us would agree with all of their doctrines), we live in the luxury of a society in which we can choose not only to worship or not worship, but the way in which we will do so or not. If we were ever to lose that luxury, however, God's people will still suffer any misfortune, fearing not those that can kill the body but He that can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). That is the true essense and poetic beauty of Soul Liberty.

    As Robert Vaughn once posted in the history forum, the first two stanzas of Faith of Our Fathers sums it up:

    Faith of our fathers, living still,
    In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
    O how our hearts beat high with joy
    Whenever we hear that glorious Word!
    Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
    We will be true to thee till death.

    Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
    Were still in heart and conscience free:
    How sweet would be their children's fate.
    If they, like them, could die for thee!
    Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
    We will be true to thee till death.


    [ August 20, 2004, 12:13 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  13. dianetavegia

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    Barnabas and rsr are both right. My concern is that we use this term when it suits us and it's now a corrupted term.

    We scream soul liberty but then will say our brother is bound for hell because he doesn't believe the same as us on election, versions, pants for women, women preachers, divorce, etc. It cannot be both ways. Either we believe it is the right of each believer to read scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to their heart or we force everyone to believe exactly as we do.

    Example: I had a young married mom approach me about what she had been 'taught' at a neighboring church at a Bible Study where the pastor was present but not teaching the class. The teacher said that you are married to the first person you had slept with and the only recourse was to leave your now spouse and find that person and be married to them. The woman asked the preacher after the class what she should do. He most probably misunderstood her question but told her that it was the right of the teacher to believe and teach that because that was his 'soul liberty'.

    My fear is that we have misconstrued the first meaning of soul liberty to mean it's okay for us as Christians to believe anything you want and I'm to defend your right to believe it. However, scripture tells us not to distort scripture. Is my silence an endorsment of mistruths?

    Would you stay in a church where the preacher stood up and preached something clearly not Biblical? Would you defend his right to preach those lies? If so, why do we turn aside the JW teaching, LSD teaching, RCC teaching?

    Just some other questions for you...... [​IMG]
     
  14. Barnabas H.

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    My humble observation here is the following: "Soul Liberty" is being used by some as synonymous with religious liberty, Christian liberty, and the right to a personal faith and witness.... however, the original intent of the coinage was (which I have already quoted) "...the individual's freedom to choose for or against God," period. As far as I know, the words were never used before Roger Williams, in fact he was the one who first introduced them into our Christian vocabulary.

    Brother Clint, the Biblical quotes about conscience above is clearly understood and is self explanatory, but I am afraid it has nothing to do with the concept of "soul liberty" for as I have already stated the coinage bears simply the meaning of "the individual's freedom to choose for or against God," nothing else.

    Let me put this topic into a better perspective. When, lets say (for example), a practicing homosexual is re-interpreting the Bible for us and say that practicing homosexuality is not forbidden in the sacred Scriptures, we challenge that - don't we? As a response to our challenge the person will turn around and claim "soul liberty" for interpreting the Bible to suit his cause. When a married man commits adultery and he claims that there is nothing written in the Bible to condemn his actions, we challenge that - don't we? And when the person turns around and tries to misinterpret the Bible for us, claiming "soul liberty" in doing so, we must recognize that not only is he in error concerning the word of God, but he is in error by using the words "Soul liberty" for his actions. Because once again, the meaning of soul liberty is the individual's freedom to choose for or against God." I think this may have been Diane's original concerns. [​IMG] Just my two cents worth... [​IMG]
     
  15. Clint Kritzer

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    Brother Clint, the Biblical quotes about conscience above is clearly understood and is self explanatory, but I am afraid it has nothing to do with the concept of "soul liberty" for as I have already stated the coinage bears simply the meaning of "the individual's freedom to choose for or against God," nothing else.</font>[/QUOTE]Then we do indeed have a need to define terms. Though your definitions fits in with Soul Liberty,and is in fact directly addressed by Paul in Romans 1-2, I have not seen so narrow a definition. William's was referencing not only the heathen Indians of New England that fled to Rhode Island but the Puritan dissenters that entered his colony as well.
    Soul Liberty is the same as Liberty of Conscience and encompasses Soul Competency, when in reference to believers.

    Of course we do. The flaw in your example is found in the phrase "is re-interpreting the Bible for us". I assert that his liberty does not negate YOUR liberty, and vice versa. Erroneous church leaders, from popes to pastors, all through history have tried to lay claim to their interpretation being authoratative. It is the Scriptures that are authoratative, not the interpretations. Only God can regenerate the heart. The notion that an ecclesiastical agent, be it the government or a dogmatic Baptist, can bring about that change is not in line with Scripture. For a Christian, one who has the indwelling Holy Spirit, the final litmus test is his conscience.

     
  16. Clint Kritzer

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    To say that someone is "bound for hell" because of a difference in doctrine is erroneous (John 5:22). There is nothing in the plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ that says one must follow "perfect" orthodox doctrine. We are saved by faith through Grace. Faith + anything as a system of salvation is manmade and is legalism. Even the Apostle Paul said in 1Corinthians 13:
    In a way, he was correct. He had a right to be wrong, and he was, IMO. It was the duty of the student to study for herself what the Scriptures had to say about it. If the indwelling Holy Spirit spoke to her that the teaching was erroneous, then at His urging she would seek His will.

    As Christians we seek to evangelize, that is, preach the Message of the Gospel. No one said anything about silence. Another Christian's liberty does not negate your own. I will reiterate, as Stephen pointed out, that Soul Liberty is not a liscense to believe in anything or behave in any manner one wants. This, too, is erroneous. We are to exhort one another to sound doctrine. There is nothing wrong with presenting your own views on a subject to another Christian. However, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6

    It depends on the error the preacher taught. Many Baptists these days preach against the concept of Separation of Church and State, even though Christ told Pilate that His Kingdom was not of this world. It's an unbiblical teaching to say that we should take over the government, or that we should receive money from it, or that the government should be tied to the church. As far as that goes, tax exemption goes against Matthew 17:24-27 and 22:15-22. However, though I would argue the point, it would not be enough to make me leave a church. If a preacher taught that baptism is a neccessary element for regeneration, I would not stay. I would, however, defend his right to believe in that doctrine. Much of Christendom does. If the Spirit can use me as an instrument to turn someone from such an erroneous thought by use of the Scriptures, then to God be the glory.

    The Apostles faced a similar situation in Luke 9.
    The Apostles' pride in their doctrine and close affinity to Christ made them proud. Jesus set them straight that His followers were not an exclusionary group but any that received Him as Lord.
     
  17. dianetavegia

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    Clint said: In a way, he was correct. He had a right to be wrong, and he was, IMO. It was the duty of the student to study for herself what the Scriptures had to say about it. If the indwelling Holy Spirit spoke to her that the teaching was erroneous, then at His urging she would seek His will.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I disagree Clint. This was a church sanctioned Bible Study and the teacher was chosen by the pastor. This young mom was very distressed believing that she had to leave her now husband and seek out some boy she had sinned with during her high school years. She came to me with a broken heart.

    The pastor should have stopped this teacher in mid sentence and explained that he had a right to his views about this subject but scripture doesn't say this.

    If you were a pastor and a Sunday School teacher was telling her class that Jesus wasn't sin free (I had a preacher's wife tell me that a few years ago, but he didn't mean to she said...) and you did not remove that teacher from his duties, the burden of guilt would, in my humble opinion, fall on you for allowing him to cause a little one to stumble.

    EXCELLENT CLINT! Clint said: To say that someone is "bound for hell" because of a difference in doctrine is erroneous (John 5:22). There is nothing in the plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ that says one must follow "perfect" orthodox doctrine. We are saved by faith through Grace. Faith + anything as a system of salvation is manmade and is legalism.

    Agee completely!
    Diane
     
  18. Clint Kritzer

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    Then you are expecting someone to be perfect just because they are sanctioned by a church? That is not a human possibility.

    One final thought on speaking to those who hold doctrine that is different from your own, even to the point of "heresy":

    Titus 3
    3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
     
  19. Barnabas H.

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    Well, yes, thank you Brother Clint! [​IMG] I have no quarrel with your Scripture presentation in defense of what you believe is "soul liberty." Although I tried to illuminate earlier that the term (even though it is being accepted in our present terminology as encompassing a greater meaning) in its original form and application was rather narrow. [​IMG]

    And as far as Roger Williams is concerned, yes, he wanted everyone to be on the same footing whether the person was an atheist, an American Indian (worshipping idols), or something else. For he maintained, and rightfully so, that no government should dictate the conscience of a man - therefore there should be no state religion enforcing everybody to follow a narrow dogmatic way (as it was practiced in Europe and elsewhere). Yes, we are in agreement there. His methodology indeed was a form which has been widely accepted in this country - becoming an example in religious tolerance for the rest of the world.

    However, I still maintain that the term "soul liberty" is solely used to define an individual's choosing for or against God and nothing else. When we are talking about conscience, Christian liberty, religious liberty (which was defined in length by the great reforned theologian, Martin Luther), and the right to a personal faith and witness, then we are talking about something else again.

    Naturally, this is my humble opinion, and if you coupled that with a $2.00 bill, you will be able to get on the New York City Subway for the ride of your life! [​IMG] If you disagree with my summation Brother Clint, then I humbly submit that we agree to disagree - and still love each other in Christ. [​IMG]
     
  20. Clint Kritzer

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    I concur. [​IMG]
     

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