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Freedom

Freedom

Postby AllanS » 07 Jun 2009, 23:37

"What do you know about freedom? You think freedom means doing what you like. Well you're wrong. That isn't true freedom. True freedom means doing what I tell you." Shift the Ape.

It seems to me that freedom isn't the power to do what you want, but rather the power to do what is right. A rich drug addict isn't free, even tho he can snort cocaine all day long. A person who can't forgive his enemies is hardly free, neither is someone who can't control his bodily passions. A person who can't give away all he has isn't free. It's paradoxical. Christ was never more free than when he was crucified. We did not violate his freedom by taking his life. Rather, he demonstrated his freedom by giving his life.

Freedom isn't an external set of conditions, but an internal quality of spirit. It's the power to do what is right. Freedom isn't advanced by democracy or by aircraft carriers, but by prayer and grace. Physical and political liberty is good only if it nurtures this inner liberty. It's the very devil otherwise.

This leads to an observation about universalism. Lewis argued that we are free to reject God forever. But if freedom is doing what is right, rejecting God would be the very antithesis of freedom. It would be impossible, by definition, to reject God freely. Rather, this would be the act of someone utterly enslaved to sin. The damned would be bound to reject God, not free to reject him. This seems to leave me either with double predestination, or universalism.

Any comments?
“And turn their grief into song?" he replied. "That would be a gracious act and a good beginning."

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Re: Freedom

Postby Theophilus » 09 Jun 2009, 15:05

If you have the power to do what is right you must also have the power to do wrong, and if you do choose wrong you can forfeit your freedom. God told Moses he would harden Pharaoh's heart so that he would refuse to let the Israelites go. If you read the whole account of the conflict between Moses and Pharaoh you will find that there were times when Pharaoh hardened his own heart. One example is in Exodus 8:15. Apparently God chose to punish him for this be forcing him to continue in his state of hardheartedness.

There are many examples of this kind of situation. For example, a person who is addicted to drugs isn't free, but he is in that condition because at some time in the past he made the free choice to use drugs.
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Re: Freedom

Postby Bulgakov » 09 Jun 2009, 15:18

The ancients (Augustine et al) held freedom to be the freedom to do what is right. The more you obey God (or practice virtue, etc) the more free (and depending on one's religious tradition) and less a slave to sin you are. Conversely, the more you sin the more a slave to sin you are (John 8). Freedom, therefore, isn't "I get to do whatever I think is peachy at the moment." Rather, it is growing in grace, practicing virtue, obeying God, etc.

As to the second point--the freedom to do what is wrong--maybe. Granted, I come from the Calvinist traditon and think a lot (but not all) talk on free-will is misleading. Maybe that kind of freedom is possible. I would still be cautious about reading too much Kantian libertarian freedom back into other discussions of it.
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"Your revolver in your hand, a prayer on your lips, your mind fixed on Maleldil. Then, if he stands, conjure him.” “What shall I say in the Great Tongue?” “Say that you come in the name of God and all angels and in the power of the planets...." (That Hideous Strength)
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Re: Freedom

Postby deadwhitemale » 12 Jun 2009, 05:05

"Freedom isn't an external set of conditions, but an internal quality of spirit."

I am probably not the best person to articulate the opposing viewpoint here, but I just could not disagree more. There was some quote about this attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer I discovered in the spring of 1995, but I can't recall it verbatim, or find it online. It went something like "Freedom exists not in the thought but in the act [or "the action"].

I'll quote myself instead: "Free your [hindquarters] and your mind will follow -- maybe." I said this in opposition to the common saying, "Free your mind, and [those quarters on which you sit] will follow.

I think I've been on about this before, in a thread titled something like "Everything Comes From Within," and elsewhere. I maintain that external circumstances are not to be discounted or dismissed. There was a scene in one of my all-time favorite movies, Doctor Zhivago (1965?), where a political prisoner being transported in shackles on a train flourishes his shackles and proclaims "I'm the only free man on this train!" He may have added "I'm free in my mind." Or that may have been a line from some other movie. I'm not quite sure right now. :undecided:

Anyway, I have never bought into the whole "I'm free in my mind" philosphy.

I can't go along with the idea that true freedom consists only in doing what is right either. If free will is real, then we must be free to do evil as well as good. I was on about this kind of thing in a thread titled "Romans 13," IIRC.


' The East Anglian Puritans who populated New England used the word "liberty" in at least three ways. There was publick liberty, a collective notion perfectly consistent with close restraint on individuals. Then there were liberties a person might be entitled to: "understood as specific exemptions from conditions of prior restraint … The General Court [of Massachusetts], for example, enacted laws which extended 'liberties and privileges of fishing and fowling' to certain inhabitants, and thereby denied them to everyone else." Then there was soul liberty, which seems to have meant "freedom to order one's acts in a godly way — but not in any other." '

And yet, there are limits to even my belief in free will. I am convinced that many people commonly make choices that are by no means free, or at least not entirely free. I mean they are forced choices, making them no choices at all.

Like I said, I'm not the best person to explain or espouse this view. I suppose I must come across as shockingly materialistic, in one sense of the word. I mean it must seem that I am discounting the metaphysical or spiritual and extolling the material. But I can never be satisfied with any merely symbolic or imaginary or figurative or theoretical freedom, only with literal freedom in the crudest sense -- the full, free exercise of it, in deed, not in word, in fact not in theory.

DWM
"It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun." -- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim(1899?)
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Re: Freedom

Postby deadwhitemale » 13 Jun 2009, 22:06

In a discussion/debate on another, unrelated message board, someone (not I) posted this:

"To me, freedom is something you seize for yourself, it's not something that can be handed to you by a government (otherwise it's just granted privileges, something quite different from freedom). It's like how I defied the authorities when I was still a minor. Many people can thank soldiers and the like for defending freedom in the USA, but I thank myself for my own freedom. The soldiers and like defended the system which I seized freedom from.

Most importantly, it's a state of mind than any political state. Call that a "free in mind chestnut" if you will, but whereas you'd draw your line in the sand and/or railed against the courts in my case, I simply slipped away and made my own life, thumbing my nose at the courts, laws, cops, and other powers that be."

Part of my response went as follows:

" How does one free oneself from inherent, built-in, existential obliagtions and duties? What can the single mother of a child who cramps her style and hinders her partying do? Well, I suppose she could just dump the kid with its grandparents, and split for Funky Town. That seems to be a common solution to that problem. Or she might just "accidentally" forget the kid for a few hours in a locked car on a hot day while she has a few drinks in a bar. You hear about that one a lot too.

Or maybe the kid's not born yet, what then? Well, there was a South Park episode that dealt with that. I think you can view the relevant clip here [it may contain offensive language]:

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/165718

I guess that is one way of seizing freedom for yourself.

Maybe you have elderly, semi-invalid parents or grandparents you are responsible for. Do you abandon them somehow? If you were clever and ruthless enough, there might be a way."


DWM
"It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun." -- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim(1899?)
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Re: Freedom

Postby wondawomen » 14 Jun 2009, 17:49

"The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation."
I think it takes a life time to finally turn from the freedom of our own desires and know that the right God is showing us is the best freedom.
" Good is not easy" Max Lucado
We love, because He first loved us.1John4:19 NASB
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