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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Battle for Freedom of Conscience

"Thomas Goold being presented by the Grand Jury held at Cambridge, April 7, 1657, for not bringing his child to the holy ordinance of baptism, the said Goold appearing in Court confessed his child to be unbaptized, the Court sollemly admonished him of his dangerous error." Middlesex Court Original Papers, Charlestown, Massachusetts p. 699.

"The Snake in the Grass or Satan Transform'd to an Angel of Light," title page by Richard Gaywood, paper, etching, 148 mm x 93 mm. At the sides are a Puritan and a Covenanter above an author writing.{{PD-1996}}
"But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them." Mark 13:9

The colonists from the early 1600's through to the writing of the Constitution witnessed time and time again people willing to endure much persecution for their beliefs. Thus, many came to understand a person's conscience cannot be bent to the will of the government or other rulers. To change what a person believes at the core of their being requires an act of God, not of man. A battle for a person's freedom of conscience played a significant role in the war for human rights.

The anabaptist groups, like the Baptists and the Quakers, were demonized by the courts for not baptizing their infants. The Puritans, from which the Congregational Churches were formed, came out of the Church of England (many of the preachers having been trained by that church), held to the doctrine of infant baptism so strongly that they viewed anyone not baptizing their infant a messenger of Satan:
 "'Tis Satan's policy to plead for an indefinite and boundless toleration." Thomas Shepherd, "Election Sermon" (1672), p. 24
"The Lord keep us from being bewitched with the whore's cup, lest while we seem to detest and reject her with open face of profession, we do not bring her in by a back door of toleration." John Cotton, "Bloody Tenet Washed," p. 132, 192
"The Loud outcry of some is for liberty of conscience … I look upon an unbounded toleration as the first born of all abominations." Reverend Urian Oakes, president of Harvard in 1675. http://mises.org/daily/5966/The-Libertarian-Origins-of-Rhode-Island
 Reflecting upon this battle in Colonial times, I could not help but see the parallel in our own times. The cry of anger against evangelical, Bible-believing churches (indeed all who lay claim to the title: 'Christian') no longer comes from a state church but from secularists, atheists, and those in the government who have little regard for true freedom of conscience. They tote toleration while denying business owners liberty of conscience on how they run their business. There is little difference between the above quotes and the actions and words of those who wish to impose laws that are contrary to the conscience of the business owner or the individual.

The Anabaptist groups (like the Quakers and the Baptists and the Seekers) continued to stand for their beliefs, against all persecutions: from arrests, to whippings, to hangings. They did not waiver. Such conviction led others to embrace their freedoms and even their faith. People gave up their positions, their wealth, their homes in order to hold to their core beliefs. And by standing firm, drawing others to them, they eventually won for us religious freedom...which I fear we are losing, particularly if we (out of fear of losing our comforts and 'peace') refuse to stand firm on God's Word--on God's Truth, and not man's--no matter the cost.

The Bible does teach us to obey the laws of the land and live peaceably, but not to the extent of denying Christ or denying God's laws. God's laws must come first in our lives. God, our Creator, knows what is best for us. He gave us those laws, those instructions on how to live, because He knew that to work contrary to them would lead to destruction. He didn't want that for us. As an example to us, He gave Peter and the other apostles courage to say, "We ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)

When  you are facing opposition to what you claim is your faith, are you willing to say as the apostles did, "We ought to obey God rather than men"?

"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because thy are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil."
John 17:14-15


8 comments:

  1. Bravo, Lynn! Fortunately the Constitution has protected many from injustice since those early days, but sadly in recent times many Christians are being marginalized and experience forms of persecution. Denominations are experiencing division when some in the leadership no longer hold to the Scriptures. It can be very painful to stand up for what you believe, but sometimes more costly to abandon it.

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  2. I echo Janet's "Bravo!" It takes great courage to stand firm in the faith when confronted by the current secular demand for not just tolerance but open approval of things which are contrary to scripture.

    Thank you for this post.

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  3. I agree with this post, however, I disagree to the extent of the persecution going on. I think that modern day Christians are really quick to claim persecution, when we have no idea of what true persecution is. Being thrown into an arena to be eaten by lions because you are a Christian, that is persecution. People disliking you for your beliefs, and think you are dumb, that is not persecution. I know that was not your example, but I feel too many Christians equate that with persecution, when it really is not! While things are becoming for difficult for believers in this day and age, we still have it far better than early believers!

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  4. ' but not to the extent of denying Christ or denying God's laws'.....Amen.
    Great post!
    As for Emma's post above, I agree, however, people today are not nearly as strong as they were in the Bible days. Persecution can be a state of mind as well as a physical pain.

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  5. Emma, True, we have not yet experienced persecution to the point of blood (though I know of children who have been bullied and even beaten by other students for their faith--I have personally experienced verbal abuse for my faith). But if we do not act now to hold to our freedoms, we will lose them and we may very well experience the death and beatens experienced by some Christians around the world today.

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    1. Writing this on the iPad and sometimes experience difficulties editing or finishing comments

      We need to look at the situation we are facing now and look to what our children will face. Do you want your children or grandchildren to have the jail experience evangelical pastors in Iran face? Do we want them to be held captive and tortured like missionaries in the Philippines have experienced? It begins with a clash of ideologies and works its way into bullying of one group over another until it succombs to torture and death.

      No, we do not face that. Perhaps we would be better Christians if we did. Perhaps if we faced the threat of physical injury for our faith we'd be less susceptible to the temptations of placing physical comforts and a false sense of peace over God's Word, over keeping Him first in our lives....even to the point of losing our jobs, losing our businesses, losing our status. Perhaps we've encountered an even greater evil than death (and death for a Christian is not evil, rather a very great and eternal blessing) in that we have become lukewarm in our faith. Have we, in America, become like the Laodiceans and God is ready to spew us out of His mouth?

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    2. I had a feeling I was going to be misunderstood after I posted this. I agree with all that you said, we do have to stand up for our faith. We must hold tight to the our knowledge in the Lord, which He has given us through His Word. And as you pointed out, we must obey God rather than men, that is clear within Scripture. I just think that Christian in America are quick to claim persecution. It reminds me of when people cry about a war on women in America. When I think about the way women in the Middle East are treated, or about how often little baby girls are aborted in other countries just because they think women have less values, it puts things far more in perspective for me. I am in no way saying that true persecution is going on here. I am sure it is. The Bible tells us that we will be hated for our beliefs, so we can expect it! I hope that makes my point a little more clear. I understand what you are saying though, and as I said, I agree with it!

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  6. As usual, you have an excellent, and deep, post, Lynn! Thanks so much for your hard work on this one. Our relationship with Christ must be paramount.

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