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Religious Freedom Questions.

Category: I'm Registering an Opinion Published: Thursday, 22 October 2015 Written by The Kiwi

Religious Freedom 3c 1957 issue

Last week I got an email from Skye Jethani's website which included a link to his latest article, "Should Christians defend the rights of Muslims?", and the line:


Well, it hasn't so far :).

I decided to comment, but my comment has been in moderation since last Friday. I posted a clarifying comment on Monday, and that is also still in moderation. So, the conversation hasn't really got very far.

Of course, my response had less to do with the question at the top of the article, and more to do with the basis on which Skye answers, "Yes", i.e. the principle of religious freedom. For me, my questions about that particular subject are still live ones, so I've decided to reproduce them here for my own benefit if no one else's.

Hi Skye,

I’m wondering if you could help me out here because I’m not sure your arguments are biblically or historically based. But I’m open to being proven wrong!:)

First, is there a biblical mandate for religious freedom? If so, where? And if it is extra-biblical, but common grace tells us it’s the best idea, does this mean Christianity thrives best in a non-biblical framework?

Second, is it true that “for true religion to thrive, for peoples’ affections to be stirred for their Creator, they needed freedom”? China and other places where religious freedom was/is severely curtailed indicates that true religion can thrive in places where there is little freedom. And the history of the much reviled Christendom is littered with revivals and moves of God that indicate true religion was still very much present. In fact, when one compares the true religion of today in places like Australia and New Zealand where religious freedom is a given, it would appear that freedom of religion is not necessarily a strong indicator of true religion at all.

I suggest that true religion is reliant not on religious freedom, but on the preaching of the gospel and ultimately, of course, the Spirit of God. We are to pray for peace (1 Tim 2:1-3) but while religious freedom certainly has its benefits, is it actually a biblical goal?

A couple of days later I added this:

Since writing the above comment, I have listened to the two most recent Phil Vischer Podcasts. In the context of those two podcasts, I’m guessing it will be easy to assume that criticising religious freedom automatically means treating Muslims as the enemy. That is definitely not my position. Instead, I am firmly in favour of gracious and loving relationships with all non-Christians – I just don’t base that behaviour on the concept of religious freedom.

I don't know whether Skye will actually take up the conversation his email assured me continued on his website or not, but at least I've recorded my meagre contribution here.

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