Thursday, January 13, 2022

Religious liberty

Russell Moore on why Christians ought to support religious freedom:
Religious freedom...—as articulated by the early British Baptists or by the persecuted Anabaptists during the Reformation or by the colonial American evangelists or by any of their allies—has never meant a "You believe in Baal; I believe in God; what difference does it make?" sort of pluralism. The question in religious freedom is who should have regulatory power over religion. If you believe that shouldn’t be the state, you believe in religious freedom.

That’s why the free churches—and those who believe in the necessity of personal repentance and faith—have been the most dogged supporters of religious freedom for all. They understand what the gospel is.

The gospel according to Jesus is not an external affirmation of generic belief from a heart still untransformed. The gospel according to Jesus is not accepting Christianity as a ticket of admission into society. The gospel according to Jesus means that "there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5). One can stand before God at judgment only by union with the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ. And one can come into union with Christ only through faith (Rom. 3:21–31).

This faith, as defined by Jesus and his apostles, does not come through the proxy of a nation, a ruler, or even a religious structure. If that were the case, John the Baptist would not have needed to preach repentance to the descendants of Abraham (Matt. 3:8–10). And if that were the case, the apostle Paul could have found no fault in those who served the false gods chosen by their national or family traditions (Acts 17:22–31).

Instead, the gospel addresses each person—individually—as one who will stand at the judgment seat of Christ, who will give an account, and who is commanded to personally believe the gospel and repent of sin (Rom. 10:9–17). As Jesus said to Nicodemus by night, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again" (John 3:3). .... (more)
Russell Moore, "Does Religious Freedom Send People to Hell?" January 13, 2022.

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