By Gordon S. Jackson
This booklet argues that during Western democracies, Christians of all theological and political backgrounds needs to be ardent advocates of advancing, now not curtailing, freedom of speech. they should accomplish that either inside of their very own ranks and within the more and more secular societies within which they reside.
This examine offers the idea that of loose expression, and its contrary of censorship, as a device for the Western church (and the USA church specifically) to reply extra correctly and successfully to controversy. of their such a lot serious shape, those controversies result in either formal and casual boundaries on unfastened expression, as Christians search to silence people with whom they such a lot stridently disagree. This learn is well timed given the Western church’s present nation of flux because it attempts to figure out its id and venture in a post-Christian surroundings. The booklet will attract a variety of considerate Christians who might welcome principles on how the church should still refine and stay out its project within the early twenty-first century.
The learn hence explores the church’s perpetual quest for stability on fronts. First, in the church, there's the necessity is to welcome all who input its doorways, but additionally to proclaim and cling faithfully to the gospel message. moment, as Christians have interaction with their host tradition, they should take the gospel message to the area with out being infected by way of it. Neither of those demanding situations is new. yet them in the course of the body of unfastened expression is, as are the insights anticipating the considerate reader.
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Extra info for Christians, Free Expression, and the Common Good: Getting Beyond the Censorship Impulse
If Christian orthodoxy has throughout the ages proclaimed an absolute God, with a message of the good news of his saving grace, we have been equally consistent in our attempts to revise what God expects of us. From the beginning of human history, in the Garden of Eden itself, humans have had God-imposed limits. Yet it is our sinful, fallen nature that resents, disregards or tries to wish away those limits. Either we ignore the ones plainly before us, and go ahead and eat forbidden fruit, or we set artificial limits of our own devising.
If, for the sake of argument, we accept that at the very least Christians have, on the whole, not handled these public disagreements at all well, where does that leave us? Hamilton says that, “Christianity, when most effective, most faithful, and most empowering, is found in the A Theology of Freedom and Free Expression 39 sweet spot between legalism and libertinism. ” To return to our example in Olympia, could those who were so offended have disagreed more Christianly? ” A longer answer requires a look at how the concept of free expression plays out when Christians no longer play nicely together.
Adam Hamilton comments on this conservative-liberal divide: “The legalists are ready to judge all who don’t live the gospel according to their rules, and their rules have served to push many away from Christ. ” 105 You can add your own Christian group’s particular set of fences concerning both theological understandings and what we see as biblically mandated living. The connection of Bayly’s image to free expression becomes apparent when we think of Steve Wilson, the protestor in Olympia quoted earlier, who had a clear idea of where to draw one such fence.