Independence Day

Some Thoughts on Freedom and Truth

Some 242 years ago Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and the United States of America was born. We declared our freedom from the tyranny of King George.  It’s been an interesting 242 years, to say the least.  And the country – and the world – has come a long way since then.

But nearly 2,000 years have also passed since the first Easter Sunday. And even after all that time Jesus’ words on how we should live still do not seem to have registered.

Everything Jesus taught us about how to live is pretty much summed up in his reply to the Pharisee in Matthew 22:37-40, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

It’s sad that even in a world of almost instant global communication, there are still people in the world who may not have heard of Jesus Christ or these two simple, yet profound commandments. Together they are pretty much ‘the meaning of life’ – we are here to love and serve God. This means keeping His commandments and living our lives according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Only by living our lives according to God’s Word will we be truly free.

Today’s freedom and truth problems

But there are atheists amongst us who have a problem with the First Commandment and radical Islamic extremists in the world who have a problem with the Second Commandment. There are also too many people in the world who seem to have a problem with both commandments. And in a world that more and more praises secularism and moral relativism, even in counties where Christianity is the predominant religion, many Christians are struggling, trying to keep these commandments on a day-to-day basis.

Catholic theologian George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Founding President of the James Madison Foundation, recalled an old joke about that so highly esteemed bastion of intellectualism, Harvard:

“Harvard University’s crest, it seems, used to read Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae [Truth for Christ and the Church]. Christ and the Church were jettisoned over a hundred years ago; the crest now reads, simply, Veritas. The joke was that the crest’s next iteration would be Veritas? — thus honoring the post-modern canon that there is no “the truth,” only “your truth” and “my truth.”

And this, it seems, is where we are at today. Truth is now relative. Even all the different denominations of Protestant Christianity that have come into being since the Reformation cannot agree on what ‘truth’ is. But it has not changed. The truth has always been present in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Today’s intellectual elite seem to think they are much smarter than the early Fathers of the Church. Heck, we have television and smart phones and computers and satellites and robots. We’ve split the atom, sent men to the moon, and we can cure diseases and transplant organs. So who’s to say that the early Fathers and Doctors of the Church all those many years ago weren’t just wrong about a lot of things?

Science has shown us the wonders of technology and pretty soon we’ll have self-driving cars and devices with artificial intelligence that will be doing most of the work for us. We’ll all be free to pursue lives of leisure. The world will be a wonderful place then. Or maybe not.

Chances are in the future atheists will still be criticizing people who believe in God. And the LGBT crowd will probably still be demanding that the Church should change its doctrine to accommodate their belief that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are perfectly normal. And there may still be radical Islamic extremists who want to kill anyone who doesn’t believe as they do, and nuts like Kim Jong-un who want everyone to bow to them.

In the future, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will probably still be making the rounds of neighborhoods trying to convince people that the Bible translation done by Nathan Homer Knorr’s secret group of translators is really the true Bible, and that it proves their religion is the only true religion. And there will probably still be some Protestants who call the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon and the Pope the Anti-Christ. And some ‘Christians’ will still be calling Jews ‘Christ killers.’ And there will probably also still be some white people who don’t like people who are not white, and some black people who don’t trust anyone who is not black.

Yet even with all these pesky problems today (that don’t appear to be going away anytime soon), far too many elitists amongst us think that it really is possible to create heaven on earth. All we need to do is put the right political system in place and put the right people in charge. Then we’ll get more and better man-made laws that ignore God’s laws. The new man-made laws will regulate everything and make the economy work right and make life ‘fair’ for all. And then we can have Utopia here on Earth!

But there will never be Utopia on Earth, because as smart as we may be there will always be too many individuals in the world who think nothing of hurting others or manipulating others, or amassing wealth or seeking to attain power in a misguided effort to make things better, mainly for themselves.

As smart as we are today we may never get along, even though Jesus Christ told us how to live over 2,000 years ago. “I am the way and the truth and the life” He tells us in John 14:6. And then He died for us so that those who ‘get it’ will get their reward in heaven, which is not of this world.

A slightly different version of this article by the author first appeared at AmercianThinker.com on March 27, 2016