March 9, 2013
FREEDOM TO, NOT FROM:
The Bonds of Freedom : There is paradox in the Christian understanding of what it means to be free. (Roger Olson, 10/5/2012, Christianity Today)
Posted by Orrin Judd at March 9, 2013 9:38 PMThe contrast between the gospel truth of real freedom and its satanic substitute begins to unfold in the Genesis story of humanity's origins and fall. According to Genesis 2, God gave the first humans freedom: "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat" (Gen. 2:16-17, RSV). Conditioned as we are by modernity and its obsession with autonomy, our first reaction is: "How is that freedom?" To us, freedom with limitations is not freedom at all.We know, however, how grasping for that sort of freedom turned out for Adam and Eve, and indeed for the whole human race. It's a story of shame, hiding, alienation, enmity, toil, and death--in short, the absolute antithesis of freedom. In Paradise Lost, John Milton parodied humanity's Promethean rage against limitations when he had Lucifer declare, "Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven!" The question presses in upon us: When were Adam and Eve most free? In the Garden of Eden, when they could eat of all the trees except one? Or after they lost paradise, and were "free" to roam around and eat whatever they wanted?The implication of the Genesis story is unavoidable: True freedom is found only in obedience to God and the fellowship that comes with it. Loss of true freedom comes with self-assertion, the idolatrous desire to rule my own square inch of hell rather than enjoy the blessings of God's favor.The entire biblical narrative can be read this way--as a "theo-drama" of freedom and its loss through the desire and attempt to enjoy unfettered autonomy.