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As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. - Abraham Lincoln

Freedom versus Liberty
Updated: 02/20/2020

As it is with so many facets of life, the  issue on our conceptual table has more nuances than for which we have words. Conversely, we have many words that are used interchangeably that really originally or should be used for different meanings. Thus, philosophically, I am going to make a distinction between freedom and liberty, and assign salient aspects to one or the other.

The wise man seeks not pleasure, but
freedom from care and pain.
- Aristotle

We can say that Freedom and Liberty may seem to overlap, but actually may point in different directions as do up and down. Freedom focuses on being subject to evil and FROM evil results that would reduce the sustenance and enhancement of life. Ideally, our freedom from evil should be total and complete. Freedom relates to eliminating fear, and Liberty enhances worship.

Liberty focuses on the latitude that we have to pursue fulfillment of the sustenance and enhancement of life. It refers to the extent for which our actions and behavior are unrestrained. Liberty should be naturally constrained only within our humane and ethical principles.

Thus, the government should be more in the freedom business and less in the liberty business BECAUSE freedom is the foundation of Liberty, and thus MORE important. Many things are forbidden or restricted, such as crime, and some that are allowed should be restricted, such as exorbitant interest rates, revolving credit cards, banks involved in investing, etc.

There are two different facets that are needed. Freedom from
oppression and liberty to express and pursue life. Give me both.

As far as how Freedom and Liberty are treated in Christendom, we will use what Rudolph Bultmann has to say as a foil:

"Genuine freedom is not subjective arbitrariness.  It is freedom in obedience.  The freedom of subjective arbitrariness is a delusion, for it delivers man up to his drives, to do in any moment what lust and passion dictate.  This hollow freedom is in reality dependence on the lust and passion of the moment.  Genuine freedom is freedom from the motivation of the moment; it is freedom which withstands the clamor and pressure of momentary motivations.  It is possible only when conduct is determined by a motive which transcends the present moment, that is, by law.  Freedom is obedience to a law of which the validity is recognized and accepted, which man recognizes as the law of his own being.  This can only be a law which has its origin and reason in the beyond.  We may call it the law of spirit or, in Christian language, the law of God.

[Commentary]  Bultmann is talking like a typical Christian legalist and fundamentalist, believing in both the "law of God" and the Bible as the "word of God". He seems to be oblivious to the distinction between Freedom and Liberty elucidated above. "Obedience" to the law is for spiritual toddlers and morons. Real adults don't think in terms of obedience to each other, but in terms of cooperation.

This idea of freedom, constituted by law, this free obedience or obedient freedom was well known both to ancient Greek philosophy and to Christianity.  In modern times, however, this conception vanished and was replaced by the illusory idea of freedom as subjective arbitrariness which does not acknowledge a norm, a law from beyond.  There ensues a relativism which does not acknowledge absolute ethical demands and absolute truths.  The end result of this development is nihilism.

[Commentary]  The concept of "obedient freedom" may have been well known in the ancient Greek culture and in Christianity, but this doesn't make it God's way or make it right. And no mature spiritual man would foster the idea of freedom as "subjective arbitrariness". Freedom is never attained while operating under law or rules. Freedom is realized when operating within principles and values with which you agree and support.

There are several reasons for this development.  The first is the development of science and technology which procures the illusion that man is master over the world and his life.  Then there is the historical relativism which grew out of the Romantic Movement.  It contends that our reason does not perceive eternal or absolute truths but is subject to historical development, that every truth has only a relative validity for a given time, race or culture, and thus, in the end, the search for truth becomes meaningless.

[Commentary]  We can agree with Bultmann as to the illusion fostered by science and technology, and the defeatist relativism that developed

There is still another reason for the change from genuine freedom to the freedom of subjectivism.  This deepest reason is anxiety in the face of real freedom, the yearning for security.  Genuine freedom, it is true, is freedom within laws, but it is not freedom in security, because it is always freedom gained in responsibility and decision, and therefore it is freedom in insecurity.  Freedom of subjective arbitrariness believes itself to be secure precisely because it is not responsible to a transcendent power, because it believes itself to be master of the world through science and technology.  Subjective freedom grows out of the desire for security; it is in fact anxiety in the face of genuine freedom.

[Commentary]  Here Bultmann seems to be in denial of one of our most basic and legitimate needs or desires, that of security. Until we have the tangible delivery of salvation or safety, anxiety will come and can only be repressed or denied.

Now it is the Word of God which calls man into genuine freedom, into free obedience, and the task of demythologizing has no other purpose but to make clear the call of the Word of God.  It will interpret the Scripture, asking for the deeper meaning of mythological conceptions and freeing the Word of God from a by-gone world-view." Rudolph Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology,  Chapter III, p. 2, 1958.

[Commentary]  It certainly is NOT the Bible that "calls man into genuine freedom", but the message of the J person. And what does Bultmann really know about the "deeper meaning of mythological conceptions? Not much at all!

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