Thursday, December 29, 2005

Baptists and Religious Liberty (3)

The concepts of religious liberty and separation of church & state are frequently on the minds of Americans. Events, judicial decisions, and anti-Christian activism may sometimes unnerve us. Will we always have our freedom? Could telling the truth become hate speech? What does the future hold?

The circumstances of this country could change, and our constitutional religious liberties could someday be stripped from us. BUT the lack of government support -- even government interference, nay even government opposition -- will not do in God's way of faith. The faith has outlasted friend and foe, been baptized in blood, drowned in water, endured the flame of fire and dank darkness of dungeon, and has marched on from day to day and from age to age, and by God's grace and the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. WITHOUT DOUBT, I prefer to freely stand and preach without fear of persecution, aggression, or bodily harm, but by that same grace that has made freedom my lot thus far, may I -- may we -- be pleased to stand firm and endure afflictions as a good soldier of Jesus Christ -- if and when it may come to that.

Faith of our fathers, living still;
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
O how our hearts beat high with joy,
Whene'er we hear the glorious word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We would be true to thee till death.

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children's fate,
If they, like them, could die for thee!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We would be true to thee till death. - Frederick W. Faber

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free...If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." - John 8:32, 36


Anonymous said...

Yes, I am one of the "unnerved" at the moment. I am shocked at the prospect that scriptural preaching on, for example, homosexuality may in my lifetime be prosecuted as "hate speech." I am mortified by calls that the exemption of churches and other religious institutions from legislation affecting equal opportunities for women, for example, be lifted. I am appalled that discussions with liberals on toleration of ideas not in accordance with prevailing sentiments of political correctness seem to fall on deaf, or at least uncomprehending, ears. I fear outright censorship may be not very far ahead, along with lifting of tax-exempt status for churches, stiff fines for refusal to admit women to clergy, etc.

Having read of persecution of believers in other times and places, I always was grateful to be part of a generation that, here in the U.S. at least, was exempt from such, but I realize that in the larger scope of history our sheltered status has been something of an anomaly and will certainly one day come to an end.


Anonymous said...

.... or, maybe these sentiments will pass with time as surely as McCarthyism! Can hope for that.

Meanwhile, just to keep the lines between church and state clear and establish a consistent principle which hopefully will stand awhile longer, I am willing to see the phrase "under God" dropped from the pledge (ready to see the pledge abolished altogether, in fact), ready to see the 10 comandments theme removed from the doors to the Supreme Court building, and to see every vestige of religion removed from secular life if need be, as long as the state reciprocally remains utterly out of church.


amity said...

R. L. Vaughn said...

"...but I realize that in the larger scope of history our sheltered status has been something of an anomaly..."

A good thing to realize. Most of us are oblivious, living as if our religious freedom is the way it has always been and the way it always will be.