What does it mean to be free?

Discussions pertaining to scripture and theology from a philosophical approach.

What does it mean to be free?

Postby Gabe Grinstead » Wed Nov 19, 2014 3:52 pm

Cindy,

I read your article found at http://www.journeyintotheson.com/2014/03/20/what-does-it-mean-to-be-free/ and didn't know it was you who wrote the article. Very good post. It caused me to analyze the concept of freedom and made some excellent points. One of the great thing I can quote out of it was

[A person who obeys his every whim and does all his heart desires at any moment, unresponsive to any outside influence, will live in constant torment. He’ll be socially isolated, impoverished, and probably physically ill. If our bodies’ cells did this, we’d be dead in moments.


This was so insightful... Freedom isn't to do anything I want, Freedom is to do what is right! The cells in our body is such an insightful analogy! Again, great post.
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Re: What does it mean to be free?

Postby Cindy Skillman » Fri Nov 21, 2014 8:07 pm

Thanks so much, Gabe. :) I'm really glad it spoke to you, and thanks for letting me know. I appreciate that.
. . . we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)

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Re: What does it mean to be free?

Postby Paidion » Sat Nov 22, 2014 4:13 pm

Well, obviously having free will doesn't mean being able to do anything we want. We might want to fly up into the air by waving our arms, but we cannot do so.

The basic position of those who believe in libertarian free will is that a normal adult human being CAN choose to perform a particular act in spite of the many influences upon him to do otherwise.

One definition of libertarian free will:

Person P, having chosen in the past to perform Action A, COULD HAVE chosen NOT to have performed Action A.
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Re: What does it mean to be free?

Postby Trey Tomeny » Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:04 pm

Thanks for posting the topic, what an important question.

My guess is that what it means to be free is to be free to die. To have no fear whatsoever. To put everything in the hands and will of God.

And when we have died, God will fill us with HIs Spirit and Love and then we have a new free- we are free to love. Not our own self-interested love, but HIs perfect Love moving through us.

With God fully in us, we are free to do anything that delights Him.
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Re: What does it mean to be free?

Postby Cindy Skillman » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:16 pm

Since people are replying, I'm just going to go ahead and copy/paste the post here that Gabe was kind enough to refer to -- for convenience sake, and anyway, it's short. That way, if folks have comments/discussion on it, we can all share them together. ;)

We Christians (and secularists too) debate endlessly whether we are in fact free entities capable of doing as we choose or whether we’re helpless elements of the universe whose every “choice” is in fact determined by preexisting factors completely beyond our control. Are we water sprites or ripples? Do we respond to the stimulus of a pebble tossed through the surface to create utterly predictable wave patterns, or do we skate over the pond at will?

Theologians fill our libraries with volumes examining this question. Secular philosophers do the same, from their own points of view — but what does it really mean to be “free?”

I wonder . . . are we mixed up on this topic because we have the idea that freedom means license and psychological ability to do absolutely anything we’re capable of doing at any time? Or is such a radical degree of liberty the root of chaos and death? Such “freedom” describes the torture of the mentally deranged, the disorganization and death of a wilderness, the wild reproduction, immaturity and unpredictability of a cancer. Such “freedom” leads inevitably to death.

A person who obeys his every whim and does all his heart desires at any moment, unresponsive to any outside influence, will live in constant torment. He’ll be socially isolated, impoverished, and probably physically ill. If our bodies’ cells did this, we’d be dead in moments. If the universe behaved in a completely “free” (ie: random) manner, it would not exist. Because of the organized (and yet free) dance of the universe around us, an individual person may survive for a time in a state of complete psychic disorganization. He’ll end up in a mental hospital if he’s lucky, a prison if less so, or if he has no luck at all, he’ll soon meet death, whether by his own hand or by disease or by the violence of another. Neither society nor the world can tolerate this kind of freedom for more than a very brief time.

We have a lovely, romantic idea that wilderness brims over with beauty and life, and is natural and perfect just as it is. As a person who lives in what is more or less a wilderness, I beg to differ. Wilderness means that plants and animals go their own ways, fighting with one another for survival. One sort of plant (Ponderosa Pine in our case) overgrows all the other plants to the point of excluding almost anything other than itself. As a consequence, whole forests die from unchecked, specialized infestations, and thorns grow up in their place. Populations of animals ebb and flow in a constant battle between predators and prey, with disease and depredation as a wild card. There is great beauty here, but the beauty is in the organization, and the organized things are the healthy things.

Mankind was deputized to keep the garden, which essentially means to introduce organization, to keep all things in balance with one another and in a state of health and optimum well-being.

Between wilderness and wild garden, which of these states truly embodies freedom and life? Only the garden offers a space for genuine freedom, for all the plants and animals to thrive and live in peace with one another. The wilderness — the way of libertarianism — is the way of chaos and death. If all the residents live according to a higher nature, that is, in love toward one another (not the letter of the law, but the spirit — which is love), then the garden thrives.

Cancer occurs when cells reproduce out of control — that is, in a disorganized fashion. They never mature, but continue to grow and stack up one on another on another in a chaotic mass which is, in itself, extremely viable — until it kills its host. Are the cells free to do as they will? Maybe — at least they’re free to do what’s in their nature. What they “will” is to garnish all the resources of the body to feed their wildly reproductive nature. The problem is, that they’re broken. But they’re doing what they, as broken things, will to do. Is this freedom? Is this the sort of freedom Father wants for us?

WE are broken. Without His guidance, WE are following the will of a broken nature. When we die with Christ, we leave behind that broken nature, that unchecked chaotic wilderness, that deranged and disorganized mind. All these things are bondage. Is it possible that, in conforming us to the image of His Son, He’s lifting us up into the next stage of our development (evolution, if you like) from the merely physical plane into a new freedom? As we are naturally, we’re confined to the physical dimension. When we die with Christ and are raised with Him, we add the spiritual dimension; we become new creatures, learning to live in the life of God, in the dimension of the spirit, rather than merely in the life of the natural, physical plane.

In our new level of life, we no longer desire to do the things that lead to death. Does that mean we’re not free? I suppose you could look at it like that, but in truth, I think it means we enter a freedom the like of which we cannot yet fully comprehend. We enter life. That does mean organization as opposed to chaos, and maybe in our present state we see that as somewhat restricting. I don’t think we’ll see it that way for long though.

A child who learns to keep his bedroom clean and tidy is free to enjoy his room far more than a child who has to climb over piles of toys and dirty clothes to get to a bed he must first clear of books and candy wrappers, more toys and more dirty clothes before he can relax with his new magazine. We tend to resist this kind of freedom just as a child may resist organizing his room. Nevertheless, it doesn’t follow that organized freedom is any form of bondage. In fact, it is maturation (which you remember cancer cells never experience), and keeping the garden so that it fills with life rather than death, and finding true mental stability and peace. It is, I believe, becoming the adult sons and daughters of God — His representatives in the physical universe who have become fit to orchestrate the Kingdom of Light in the realm of disappearing darkness.
. . . we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)

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Re: What does it mean to be free?

Postby Cole H. » Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:57 am

Being free for me includes loving from the heart (because I want to). When I first got off of drugs it was based out of compulsion. It then later turned into an act to where I don't do drugs because I no longer want to. I don't come to Christ out of compulsion but because I want to.
Evil eros seeks only the pleasures of money, fame and sex. Holy eros seeks the joy of giving and union with Divine Beauty. It yearns for the final reward of heaven.
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