Religious Liberty Outlines
Religious Liberty I – Religious Liberty Fundamentals
I. What Is Religion?
- A. Religion defined:
- “Religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.” Virginia Constitution of June 12, 1776.
- 1. The duties which we owe to our Creator are:
- a. Defined by God.
b. Revealed by God.
c. Objective, not subjective.
- 2. Freedom in selecting the manner of discharging duties owed to God is an inherent part of religion. In other words, “religion” includes faith and works; belief and action; ends and means.
- 3. Since religion cannot be coerced by force or violence, the civil government is unable to regulate religion.
- 4. Religion consists of moral duties owed to God alone, that is, religion pertains to the relationship between God and man.
- B. Freedom of the mind: a major component of “religion.”
- 1. God created the mind free.
- a. Man’s mind is the gift of God.
b. Man’s creative thought reflects the image of God in man.
c. The mind is an aspect of self-government. Prov. 23:7.
d. Each person is accountable solely to God for his thoughts.
- 2. By nature, all ideas are free – whether they are religious or secular is irrelevant.
- a. Take every thought captive to obedience of God. 2 Cor 10:5.
b. In God are hid all treasures of wisdom & knowledge. Col 2:3.
c. Example of Paul in Act 17:26 – lonang applies to all subjects.
d. It is impossible to distinguish religious from secular opinions because all ideas partake of assertions of truth and are equally free.
- C. State controlled (“established”) religions are against the law.
- 1. An established religion has four elements:
- a. State approved teachers.
b. A prescribed view of truth (state approved curricula).
c. Compulsory attendance.
d. Compulsory financial support.
- 2. What modern institution meets the above four criteria?
II. What Is Liberty?
- A. Liberty defined.
- 1. True liberty is the freedom to perform your duties to God as He directs you, that is, the freedom to be all that God created you to be. “If you abide in My word, then . . . you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Jn 8:32.
- 2. The perfect law of liberty. Ja 1:22-25.
- 3. An essential ingredient of religion is to proclaim liberty. Lk 4:18.
- B. The protection of liberty.
- The enemy of liberty is tyranny, or the use of power to exercise someone else’s authority, contrary to lonang. The best protection against tyranny is for each person to teach, and observe, lonang.
- C. God’s plan for society: let everyone submit to governing authorities.
- 1. No one is the supreme ruler
- a. All power and authority comes from God.
b. God hasn’t given anyone absolute power.
c. Many people have the same kind of power at the same time.
d. Everyone is governed by more than one authority.
- 2. There are two kinds of government:
- a. Institutions (something you are born into) –
- (1) Individual – Gen 1:27.
(2) Family – Gen 1:28.
(3) Incorporeal church – Jn 3:5.
(4) Nation – Gen 10:32.
- b. Associations (something you agree to join) –
- Schools; clubs; employment; local churches; businesses; others.
III. How Is Religious Liberty Secured?
- A. A legal context based on the law of nature.
- 1. The law of nature is God’s will impressed in the created order, and is applicable to all people, everywhere, and at all times.
- 2. The Declaration of Independence established the legal context in America.
- a. The “laws of nature and of nature’s God.”
b. As charter for the nation, all later laws must conform to it.
- B. A covenantal framework patterned after the biblical model.
- 1. God governs man by covenant, man is to follow the divine pattern.
- a. A system of justice and authority must come from God.
b. The desired result: a government of laws, not of men.
- 2. What is a covenant?
- a. An agreement between two or more persons (God is witness).
b. Its purpose cannot be changed, even by future generations.
c. It serves as a framework for administering law.
- 3. Our state and federal constitutions are civil covenants patterned after the biblical model, designed to secure religious liberty for all Americans.
- C. The restoration of liberty.
- 1. Liberty is proportional to covenant faithfulness.
- a. Keeping covenants is important. Israel’s example. 1 Cor 10:6.
b. Covenant keeping brings blessings (liberty). Deut. 28:1-14.
c. Covenant breaking brings cursings (tyranny). Deut. 28:15-68.
- 2. Biblical pattern for covenant renewal.
- a. Rediscovery of covenant text and terms.
b. Repentance from unfaithfulness to the covenant.
c. Recommitment to obey the covenant.
- 3. Covenant renewal: applications.
- a. Individual. Eph 4:1.
b. Family. Gen 1:28.
c. Church. Matt 28:18-20.
d. Civil Gov’t. 1 Pet 2:13-17.