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The Basis for Religious Liberty

Gregory Matthews

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Fundamentally religious liberty is right because it is an attribute of God, and a measure of the manner in which God relates to us.  It is true that a broad basis of religious liberty provides us with the best opportunity to worship God as we believe we should and it provides us with the freedom to proclaim God’s message to others. 

Closely associated with the right of religious liberty must be the civil freedoms of the society in which we must live.    Religious liberty is limited when the rights to earn a living is abridged.  It is limited when the right to publish is circumscribed.  Our witness may be limited when we are restricted in the relationships that we may form. 

Our commitment to religious liberty must include support for positions with which we disagree. 

The Pope has shocked the religious world by publicly supporting civil marriage for homosexuals.  See: 


This was not endorsement from the religious standpoint of such marriages.   It was simply acknowledgement of a religious right.  See: 

NOTE:  The phrase "Are we willing to do the same?" ,I wrote.   It was not part of the statement by the Pope.


“Quite understandably, the Holy Father’s recent statements concerning civil unions have captured the attention of the world press, because many people are anxious for the Church to change its position on marriage and family,” O’Malley said. “Pope Francis strongly and consistently teaches that marriage is between a man and woman for a lifetime and that this is God’s plan for having and raising children.” 

Francis became the first pontiff to endorse civil unions for same-sex couples in an interview segment for a new documentary, “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival. 

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in a sit-down interview for the film. “You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”

Are we willing to do the same?



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1 hour ago, Gregory Matthews said:

Fundamentally religious liberty is right because it is an attribute of God

Respectfully, I must strenuously disagree. (Although I agree with the rest of the post, and the Pope's newly stated position.) 

Ignoring for the moment the Old Testament, in which religious liberty was categorically denied, there is no language in the NT which indicates anything other than all men (humanity) must come to God through Jesus. Period. Among the plethora of difficulties this statement creates is the denial of religious liberty, expanded on in Philippians 2:10,11 ("every knee shall bow...), John 3:18 (whoever does not believe is condemned already), Mark 16:16 (...whoever  does not believe will be condemned), etc. The entire book of Revelation depicts in graphic language the destruction of those who do not believe in (the Judeo-Christian) God god. 

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I agree that all of humanity must come to God through Jesus and the activity of the Holy Spirit.  I do not understand your disagreement.  How is it that my statement  conflicts with this.

My statement involves my belief that God does not force belief.  Rather we have free choice.  That free choice, I understand to be an attribute of God.  I teach that in the final end, those who are lost will be those who made the choice not to spend eternity with God.



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When reduced to its lowest denominator, Christianity states "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Acts 16:31.  By implication, as well as direct statement of Scripture,  the inverse is also true: "If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be destroyed."

While it may be spun that "you have chosen to die/reject the life god gives/separate yourself from the life giver/yadda/yadda/yadda" in reality you have chosen to exercise the free will which god has given you and are being destroyed for making the wrong choice.

The concept, reduced to its lowest denominator, reads "Accept god or die."

This is not free will.

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57 minutes ago, Gregory Matthews said:

I agree that all of humanity must come to God through Jesus and the activity of the Holy Spirit.  I do not understand your disagreement.

You don't understand my disagreement because a) I did not make that statement and b) I do not believe that statement. The reasons for that are for another thread.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but it seems like a distraction from my original position, which is that religious freedom is NOT an attribute of the Christian god.

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In case anyone is interested:  My comment with its included quote from the Pope has now been posted on the website of The Adventist Review.  You may read it and the article to which it is attached at:




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