The Allure and Illusion of Freedom

A little comparative literature here for you:

In chapter three of Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God, Keller addresses the topic of whether Christianity is a “straightjacket”. That is, by it’s belief in absolute truths and adherence to rules or ideas based on those truths, Christianity inhibits freedom and divides communities and culture. The opening sentence of the chapter is a question: “Is a belief in absolute truth the enemy of freedom?” Just wanted to set the stage – here is another quote from later in the chapter:

In many areas of life, freedom is not so much the absence of restrictions as finding the right ones, the liberating restrictions. Those that fit with the reality of our nature and the world produce greater power and scope for our abilities and a deeper joy and fulfillment…If we only grow intellectually, vocationally, and physically through judicious constraints – why would it not also be true for spiritual and moral growth? Instead of insisting on freedom to create spiritual reality, shouldn’t we be seeking to discover it and disciplining ourselves to live according to it?

I recently started reading Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford’s book The Sportswriter. I am not too far into it and don’t have any firm opinions, other than to say the book is extremely well written and I’m interest thus far. And while I know where Keller is coming from, I do not have the same knowledge of Ford and of course his characters don’t have to share his convictions. Either way, this caught my attention in relation to Keller’s discussion of freedom and Christianity:

You should never think that leaving a marriage sets you loose for cheery womanizing and some exotic life you’d never quite grasped before. Far from true. No one can do that for long. The Divorced Men’s Club I belong to here in town has proven that to me if nothing else – we don’t talk much about women when we are together and feel relieved just to be men alone. What leaving a marriage released me – and most of us – to, was celibacy and more fidelity than I had ever endured before, though with no one convenient to be faithful to or celibate for. Just a long empty moment.”

People think of marriage or Christianity as constraining and mutually exclusive to the idea of freedom, but freedom so loosely defined (so as to mean that we define our own reality and belief) is an illusion.  It may be alluring, but an illusion nonetheless.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by spadinofamily on May 8, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    I love Kellers thinkology. Stop by my BLOG sometime


  2. Posted by adamtisdale on May 8, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I will stop by and peruse. Thanks for stopping by, as well.

    I am very thankful for Keller’s work (book, sermons, example, etc…) and glad that he is a part of my denomination (the PCA). Good stuff.


  3. Posted by spadinofamily on May 9, 2008 at 9:09 am

    We are CRC (reformed theology on steroids 8-)) but our Church has a unique look and feel. Check out the pastoraa video at the bottom. Not the pastor for everybody.


  4. […] 10, 2008 by adamtisdale Here is a quote from John Stott in keeping with the previous post from a couple of days ago: Many suppose that intellectual freedom is identical with ‘free […]


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