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In a world of doctrinal error - Religious Liberty is the only thing that works.

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by BobRyan, Dec 4, 2020.

  1. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    The Bible talks about not judging others (Matt 7) and we all know that it is easier to see a fault in someone else than to see a fault in yourself.

    That principle has implications for governing nations and for laws protecting religion.

    ========================

    In America the assumption in our political system is that people are prone to some kind of error (all have sinful natures) and so we have the government structure setup with checks and balances as a representative democracy governed as a federal republic.

    A benevolent dictatorship would be much simpler but the dictator would be "the weakest link" and it is prone to fail given that all humans have sinful natures.

    RELIGION has the same issue
    =======================

    The dark ages demonstrates the problem of a world filled with doctrinal error and the only solution to that problem is "religious liberty". Today we still live in a world filled with doctrinal error. This is not to say that someone is not right -- but having some group be right does not solve the problem.

    This concept of "religious liberty" most certainly would not have been allowed under the Old Testament system of a Theocracy. That system worked with God as King sending direct commands to His servants the prophets or the priests via the urim and thumim etc. You could not be a Hindu or atheist and then apply for office as king, or priest, or leader.

    But once the theocracy is gone (as was the case in Christ's day and is still the case) - the only workable solution is "religious liberty" where the government does not dictate or restrict religious practices of worship, or doctrine. This means no such thing as tormenting, torturing, killing "heretics" if your government embraces religious liberty. So then you can't steal their stuff, can't get them fired, can't stop them for running for public office...etc.

    This system works because it assumes that everyone will be at risk of having doctrinal error and the only checks/balances for it is that the church does not dictate doctrine to the state and make the state enforce its doctrines. If the church ever starts to get the state to dictate religious doctrine then some body of believers would get "persecuted by the state" for not being "in line" just as was done in the dark ages, and even beyond. It would be a mess again.

    NT Writers did not call for civil punishment of church members that were in doctrinal error - and that is a lesson for all.

    So in many of my posts I end with "you have free will and can believe as you wish".

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2020
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  2. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    So then how did the early American founders figure that out?

    They did not have a historic reference in the Bible demonstrating the benefits of religious liberty as a law of the land.. And Europe certainly did not have it.

    What is more the early Pilgrims had a strong motivation to exert absolute control over their settlements to ensure they had no "doctrinal error" spring up because the European churches were watching to see if the puritan separatists would end up in all kinds of foolishness once out on their own. Disconnected from the dictators that were in control of their mother churches in Europe many would have assumed that the early settlements would simply melt own into a kind of doctrinal chaos and moral decline.

    But what we have today is a result where many people seek to migrate into North America from the nations controlled by a church-state structure (Both Christian and non-Christian church-state structures). And it appears that is for good reason.

    =======================

    Religious liberty in America started before the revolutionary war.

    Rhode Island: Cradle of Religious Liberty

    "Religious tolerance has been a way of life in Rhode Island since the colony was chartered in 1663. In fact, the colony was the first political entity in the history of the world to declare officially, as a founding principle, the separation of church and state. "

    Religious liberty is not an argument for doctrinal purity - it is an argument for limiting despotic error forced on the general public ... no matter what other doctrinal errors the public may already have or be inclined to have.

    So then no "religious prisoners" of the state just like today we have no "political prisoners of the state"

    See this article on the history of religious liberty in America
    Freedom of Religion

    ============================================
    So as wonderful as that is - there is still a question about how this nation's founding fathers figured that out without a precedent to guide them in Europe??
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2020
  3. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    I suppose we could say they learned from "getting burned" by the church-state system in Europe... but that did not occur to them for a while.
     
  4. OldWiseGuy

    OldWiseGuy Wake me when it's soup. Supporter

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    Possibly they finally got to read the bible for themselves and discovered that the 'yoke of Christ' wasn't intended to be as hard as they were taught.
     
  5. Bob Crowley

    Bob Crowley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The main reason was that they had the "Wars of Religion" in recent historical memory and didn't want a repeat, coupled with their experience of British colonialism (even though at that time a lot of them would have been of British descent. I doubt if the original 13 states were called New England for nothing.)

    But by refusing to allow an overriding authority to decide on doctrine, the United States has the most divided religious house in Christendom.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2020
  6. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    And the most tolerance , the most religious liberty. The result is that even Catholics from other nations are standing in line to immigrate to the U.S. Even the Pope wants those Catholics to be allowed into the U.S. without regard to Law in America.

    No "State Church" means no history of "religious" war with neighboring nations.
    No "State Church" means that all religions are free here.
    No "State Church" means no inflated numbers for "membership" in any given church where just being a citizen makes you "appear" to be a member of the "state church".
    No "State Church" means no federal taxes imposed to fund the church.
    No "State Church" means no "religious test" for holding public office
    No "State Church" means no "religious crime of thought" will land someone in Jail for believing a doctrine "not approved by the state".

    =========================

    the point of the OP is that given that mankind no longer has a Theocracy -- then the system of "religious liberty" is the only one that works because it is the one system the accepts the fact of human error in a context where mankind has no theocracy.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2020
  7. Hazelelponi

    Hazelelponi Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It happened fairly early in the reformation...

    Republicanism was born in Geneva as a direct result of Mary 1 's (or Mary of Tudor or "bloody Mary if you will) assention to the throne.

    Geneva is where many Bible scholars fled persecution and eventually translated the Geneva Bible in English as the first study Bible ever created, and their translation from the Hebrew and Greek made the most literal and readable Bible ever to that date, which sought to make plain what was plain, and explain what was difficult to understand.

    With the advent of the Geneva Bible separation of church and state began as an idea, because it was in those pages people saw for the first time, that if King (or Queen) didn't follow scripture according to Biblical mandate, his laws could be refused... in other words, he couldn't force anyone into sin, or himself sin against his people.

    The 1611 King James version of the Bible was translated to refute that idea, and keep people in the dark as to the limited power of a King.

    Good article for you:
    The Geneva English Bible: The Shocking Truth

    Interesting to note the first Bible to come to America was the Geneva Bible. My husband has a copy, its one of his most treasured Bible's...
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2020
  8. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    So they tolerated protestants to some extent in Geneva - but they also engaged in religious persecution..

    VW: Calvin and Persecution: Why the Silence!

    Where does the Geneva Bible say that people are allowed to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience any way they wish and without regard to how the state thinks worship or doctrine should be promoted?

    Even the Catholic church in those days would argue that citizens should not be bound to their civil leaders if those leaders commanded them to sin, to dishonor God etc.

    But what they considered right or sin -- was not inline with what Protesting Catholics thought was right or what constituted sin... and that is where Religious Liberty would have been helpful.
     
  9. Hazelelponi

    Hazelelponi Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Careful: your bias is showing...

    There was no church council in Geneva that could do anything outside recommend excommunication, and for a long time even that had to be approved by the governing authorities in Geneva, and Calvin never held a position outside the church until very late in life, because he wasn't even a citizen of Geneva. He couldn't even vote.

    As far as what Calvin ever wrote in support of, you can read some from this link here:

    Calvin and Servetus

    23 were charges that would today be considered bioterrorism which Calvin supported the death penalty in, a couple were over charges of "serial" adultery etc. while only two were for heresy, and in one of the heresy cases Calvin himself argued the death should be carried out in a humane manner - a recommendation the ruling government in Geneva declined.

    So the truth is, the protestant church in Geneva had no political power and did no more than excommunication for heresy, in and of herself.

    Not only that, Calvin didn't have a hand in the translation of the Geneva Bible outside allowing the use of a few words he wrote 20 years previous for another work.

    So you can snub your nose all day long all you like... but it's due to your own biases not based in Truth.

    I honestly thought this would be a serious discussion, apparently I was incorrect. I'll take my leave, good day.
     
  10. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    So they tolerated protestants to some extent in Geneva - but they also engaged in religious persecution..

    VW: Calvin and Persecution: Why the Silence!

    I have heavily biased in favor of religious liberty and not tormenting other Christians just because they have some doctrinal difference.

    Luther had a great deal of influence in Germany without being a government official.

    1. I am pretty sure Calvin did not even know what bioterrorism was.

    2. hmmm "death" for the "crime" of heresy ... is exactly what religious liberty "is not". No matter how nicely one wants to claim they killed the person who differed with them on doctrine.
     
  11. Bob Crowley

    Bob Crowley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    PS - I added this late in the day. I lifted the list of signatories to the American Declaration of Independence from this site.

    Signers of the Declaration of Independence

    On perusing the list, every single name has a British ring to it, if I'm not mistaken. Britain, despite the various executions carried out by Henry VIII, Mary and Elizabeth, to a large extent missed out on the worst of the excesses of the European Wars of Religion. They had that British concern to keep that sort of violence at arms length. They have a history of keeping out of European wars if they can, and of playing one nation against another to maintain some sort of balance of power.

    I think pragmatic politics played a role in deciding that the US would become a polyglot of "free" religions, as much as any concern for doctrinal purity, if they were considering opening up "New England" to immigrants of other, mainly European nations (at that time).

    You could say the American War of Independence was Englishmen fighting Englishmen - a British affair, with the end result underscored by pragmatic British politics.
     
  12. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    Religious liberty in America started before the revolutionary war.

    Rhode Island: Cradle of Religious Liberty

    "Religious tolerance has been a way of life in Rhode Island since the colony was chartered in 1663. In fact, the colony was the first political entity in the history of the world to declare officially, as a founding principle, the separation of church and state. "

    Religious liberty is not an argument for doctrinal purity - it is an argument for limiting despotic error forced on the general public ... no matter what other doctrinal errors the public may already have or be inclined to have.

    So then no "religious prisoners" of the state just like today we have no "political prisoners of the state"

    See this article on the history of religious liberty in America
    Freedom of Religion
     
  13. Bro.T

    Bro.T Bible Christian Supporter

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    Thank God for King James. With all this political power God knew he had to disperse his word throughout the world to this day, so that everyone could be accounted for they own salvation. This "translation to end all translations" (for a while at least) was the result of the combined effort of about fifty scholars. They took into consideration: The Tyndale New Testament, The Coverdale Bible, The Matthews Bible, The Great Bible, The Geneva Bible, and even the Rheims New Testament. The great revision of the Bishop's Bible had begun. From 1605 to 1606 the scholars engaged in private research. From 1607 to 1609 the work was assembled. In 1610 the work went to press, and in 1611 the first of the huge (16 inch tall) pulpit folios known today as "The 1611 King James Bible" came off the printing press.
     
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