Non-Catholics - How do you define “Freedom”?


#1

I have been reading the encyclical ”Veritatis Splendor” (“The Splendor of Truth”) from Blessed John Paul, II. He speaks at length about freedom and makes the point that true freedom is not unlimited freedom. While our freedom is far reaching (Adam and Eve could eat of any trees in the Garden except one) it is subject to adherence to God’s laws. He states that the power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone. He further states as follows:

”Certain tendencies in contemporary moral theology, under the influence of the currents of subjectivism and individualism... involve novel interpretations of the relationship of freedom to the moral law, human nature and conscience, and propose novel criteria for the moral evaluation of acts. Despite their variety, these tendencies are at one in lessening or even denying the dependence of freedom on truth.”

So the simple question is, how do you define “freedom”? Does being free mean that we can do whatever we wish? If not, then are we truly free? Blessed John Paul, II states that man is only free inasmuch as he “can understand and accept God’s commands”. Do you agree?

I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.


#2

[quote="SteveVH, post:1, topic:313712"]
I have been reading the encyclical ”Veritatis Splendor” (“The Splendor of Truth”) from Blessed John Paul, II. He speaks at length about freedom and makes the point that true freedom is not unlimited freedom. While our freedom is far reaching (Adam and Eve could eat of any trees in the Garden except one) it is subject to adherence to God’s laws. He states that the power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone. He further states as follows:

”Certain tendencies in contemporary moral theology, under the influence of the currents of subjectivism and individualism... involve novel interpretations of the relationship of freedom to the moral law, human nature and conscience, and propose novel criteria for the moral evaluation of acts. Despite their variety, these tendencies are at one in lessening or even denying the dependence of freedom on truth.”

So the simple question is, how do you define “freedom”? Does being free mean that we can do whatever we wish? If not, then are we truly free? Blessed John Paul, II states that man is only free inasmuch as he “can understand and accept God’s commands”. Do you agree?

I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

[/quote]

I agree with the Pope. True freedom is found in God alone. We were created by God and only when we look to him and find our being and purpose in him will we ever be truly free to be who he created us to be.

Relativism is dangerous, and sadly it is wreaking havoc on much of the Christian world today.


#3

Freedom is the ability to become the best person you can be in God's eyes....to have the ability to become what you were meant to be.

Most people in the world confuse freedom with license.....which is totally different.


#4

[quote="ltwin, post:2, topic:313712"]
I agree with the Pope. True freedom is found in God alone. We were created by God and only when we look to him and find our being and purpose in him will we ever be truly free to be who he created us to be.

Relativism is dangerous, and sadly it is wreaking havoc on much of the Christian world today.

[/quote]

Thanks, Itwin. I couldn't agree more. Let me take this one step further, however. John Paul makes the statement that freedom is dependent upon truth. I believe any intellectually honest person would agree with that statement, but we live in a world with thousands of Christian faith traditions. Does it not then follow that, to one degree or another, the truth, upon which our freedom is dependent, has been obscured in these communities? My point is that the further one strays from the deposit of faith entrusted to the Apostles, the less freedom one has. Would you agree?


#5

[quote="MichaelHowling, post:3, topic:313712"]
Freedom is the ability to become the best person you can be in God's eyes....to have the ability to become what you were meant to be.

Most people in the world confuse freedom with license.....which is totally different.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#6

[quote="MichaelHowling, post:3, topic:313712"]
Freedom is the ability to become the best person you can be in God's eyes....to have the ability to become what you were meant to be.

Most people in the world confuse freedom with license.....which is totally different.

[/quote]

Absolutely this!!!

The truth of Christ makes men free. Free from what? Sin, death, and the devil.

Jon


#7

[quote="JonNC, post:6, topic:313712"]
Absolutely this!!!

The truth of Christ makes men free. Free from what? Sin, death, and the devil.

Jon

[/quote]

But is it not also the case that, in addition to being free "from"certain things (sin, death, the devil) we are also free to "act" in a positve way. We are free to worship, to praise God in many ways, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked... We are free to do what we ought. So the question is, what is it that we ought to do?

If genuine freedom is dependent upon truth, does our freedom diminish proportionately to the degree that we are lacking in the fulness of truth? In other words, I don't believe there would be a Christian of any denomination that would not claim that he is "truly free" because he has found Christ. But is this a true statement?

For instance, if the Catholic position concerning the Eucharist is true, are other Christians less free because they do not believe it? I understand that the Lutheran position is close to the Catholic, but, for argument's sake, say one has the position that it is no more than a symbol. How does that affect this person's freedom? The same may be said for any of the sacraments. If one is not baptized are they free? And so what about those who do not believe baptism is necessary, but still claim Christ? Do you see what I'm getting at?


#8

=SteveVH;10319020]But is it not also the case that, in addition to being free "from"certain things (sin, death, the devil) we are also free to "act" in a positve way. We are free to worship, to praise God in many ways, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked... We are free to do what we ought. So the question is, what is it that we ought to do?

Absolutely, we are free to do as we ought. In fact, before regeneration, we lack even the freedom to come to faith.

What we ought is what He has commanded, as you mention above, not only for others, ut also freedom to do the things He has provided us for our own sanctification - word and sacrament.

If genuine freedom is dependent upon truth, does our freedom diminish proportionately to the degree that we are lacking in the fulness of truth? In other words, I don't believe there would be a Christian of any denomination that would not claim that he is "truly free" because he has found Christ. But is this a true statement?

Well, I often think on Paul's statement that the good he would do, that he does not, and the wrong he would not do, that he does. What diminishes our true freedom is the sinful flesh we continue to inhabit in this world, and the evil one who presents our sins to us, in order to drive us into dispair. The Spirit, OTOH, is strong to guide us.

For instance, if the Catholic position concerning the Eucharist is true, are other Christians less free because they do not believe it? I understand that the Lutheran position is close to the Catholic, but, for argument's sake, say one has the position that it is no more than a symbol. How does that affect this person's freedom? The same may be said for any of the sacraments. If one is not baptized are they free? And so what about those who do not believe baptism is necessary, but still claim Christ? Do you see what I'm getting at?

You know, Steve, I'm not sure I can speak to this. The sacraments are so important to me that I can't imagine the symbolic view, or a view of Baptism that denies regeneration.
The sacraments are a line in the sand for me. In no way could I ever be in a communion that does not discern the real and substantial presence, or regeneration in Baptism.
So, I guess, I do see what you are saying, and agree.

Jon


#9

Freedom is the ability to act and live as one chooses, and it really not mattering what another person believes is 'true'.


#10

[quote="JonNC, post:8, topic:313712"]
Well, I often think on Paul's statement that the good he would do, that he does not, and the wrong he would not do, that he does. What diminishes our true freedom is the sinful flesh we continue to inhabit in this world, and the evil one who presents our sins to us, in order to drive us into dispair. The Spirit, OTOH, is strong to guide us.

[/quote]

Yes, regardless of one's religious persuasion we all have to deal with the human weakness of our flesh to which we can so often become slaves, rather than free persons.

[quote="JonNC, post:8, topic:313712"]
You know, Steve, I'm not sure I can speak to this. The sacraments are so important to me that I can't imagine the symbolic view, or a view of Baptism that denies regeneration.
The sacraments are a line in the sand for me. In no way could I ever be in a communion that does not discern the real and substantial presence, or regeneration in Baptism.
So, I guess, I do see what you are saying, and agree.

Jon

[/quote]

Thanks, I appreciate your POV.


#11

[quote="Rence, post:9, topic:313712"]
Freedom is the ability to act and live as one chooses

[/quote]

Even to do evil? Is it not true that when we sin we become slaves to sin and not free at all? Does this mean that you disagree with the Pope's position on this?


#12

[quote="Rence, post:9, topic:313712"]
Freedom is the ability to act and live as one chooses, and it really not mattering what another person believes is 'true'.

[/quote]

Do you believe that those not regenerating have the freedom, on their own, to come to faith?

If so, does this contradict both of our repsective communions' rejection of Pelagius?
IF not, how then are they really free?

Jon


#13

[quote="SteveVH, post:11, topic:313712"]
Even to do evil? Is it not true that when we sin we become slaves to sin and not free at all? Does this mean that you disagree with the Pope's position on this?

[/quote]

Making the choice to do "evil" usually comes with consequences that limit one's freedom, such as committing murder, which results in spending time in jail.

I don't think it's true that when we "sin" we are not free. The Church teaches it's a sin not to attend Mass on Sunday. I don't see people's freedoms limited by not attending Mass. At one point the Chuch taught it was a sin to not abstain from meat on Friday. I don't think people's freedom was limited if they chose to eat meat on Friday. The Bible says it's a sin to eat pork, and I certainly don't see people's freedoms limited by eating pork. Some people think the Church teaches that it is evil/sinful for women to work outside the home, and I certaintly don't see them not being free if they do so....unless it wasn't their choice to do so in the first place. I don't disagree with any of the Pope's teachings because his job is to encourage people to obey the rules and laws of the Chuch. Of course he would say that people are not free unless they choose freely to obey the rules and laws of the Church. What's to agree or disagree on that one?


#14

[quote="Rence, post:13, topic:313712"]
Making the choice to do "evil" usually comes with consequences that limit one's freedom, such as committing murder, which results in spending time in jail.

[/quote]

What if someone commits murder and gets away with it? Will he suffer any consequences? What does committing murder do to one's soul? Yes, there is evil we can commit which may have the consequence of society placing limits on our physical freedom, but what about the soul? This is where the slavery takes place, regardless of any physical consequences.

[quote="Rence, post:13, topic:313712"]
I don't think it's true that when we "sin" we are not free.

[/quote]

Jesus would disagree with you:

"Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin." (John 8:34)

[quote="Rence, post:13, topic:313712"]
The Church teaches it's a sin not to attend Mass on Sunday. I don't see people's freedoms limited by not attending Mass.

[/quote]

Can you see their souls?

[quote="Rence, post:13, topic:313712"]
At one point the Chuch taught it was a sin to not abstain from meat on Friday. I don't think people's freedom was limited if they chose to eat meat on Friday. The Bible says it's a sin to eat pork, and I certainly don't see people's freedoms limited by eating pork. Some people think the Church teaches that it is evil/sinful for women to work outside the home, and I certaintly don't see them not being free if they do so....unless it wasn't their choice to do so in the first place.

[/quote]

You know I once knew a kid who shop lifted all the time. He never got caught. There was certainly no appearance that his freedom was affected in the least. He never got caught shop lifting. He did get caught breaking into offices and stealing everything he could get his hands on. He finally got busted for seven break-ins. The noose was placed around his neck when he was very young; in elementery school and he was lead to do even greater evil until it ruined his life. We can't see what's going on inside.

[quote="Rence, post:13, topic:313712"]
I don't disagree with any of the Pope's teachings because his job is to encourage people to obey the rules and laws of the Chuch. Of course he would say that people are not free unless they choose freely to obey the rules and laws of the Church. What's to agree or disagree on that one?

[/quote]

You don't disagree with the Pope? It sure seems that you do. ;)


#15

Oh, I don't. The simpler the word, the harder it is to define. "Controlling oneself" is the best I can come up with.


#16

[quote="Zairra, post:15, topic:313712"]
Oh, I don't. The simpler the word, the harder it is to define. "Controlling oneself" is the best I can come up with.

[/quote]

I would agree that having self control brings us freedom because we are no longer slaves to our desires.

The Catholic Church basically defines freedom as the ability to do what we ought. In other words, imagine being prevented from feeding your family, or being able to worship (or not) as you see fit, or to attain an education, or to work. When we are prevented from doing the things we should do, we are not free.

Freedom, on the other hand, does not include just doing anything we want to do. There is a moral code even among those who have no belief in God (because God's laws are written on our hearts, even on those hearts who don't realize it). :) We all know that it is wrong to murder, to steal, to bear false witness, etc. Would you agree that we are not free to violate that basic moral code?


#17

[quote="SteveVH, post:14, topic:313712"]
What if someone commits murder and gets away with it? Will he suffer any consequences? What does committing murder do to one's soul? Yes, there is evil we can commit which may have the consequence of society placing limits on our physical freedom, but what about the soul? This is where the slavery takes place, regardless of any physical consequences.

[/quote]

Slavery is not self-inflicted. Whatever consequences a murderer faces, they brought on themselves. That's not slavery. That's accountability

[quote="SteveVH, post:14, topic:313712"]

Can you see their souls?

[/quote]

Why, no, can you? :)

[quote="SteveVH, post:14, topic:313712"]

You know I once knew a kid who shop lifted all the time. He never got caught. There was certainly no appearance that his freedom was affected in the least. He never got caught shop lifting. He did get caught breaking into offices and stealing everything he could get his hands on. He finally got busted for seven break-ins. The noose was placed around his neck when he was very young; in elementery school and he was lead to do even greater evil until it ruined his life. We can't see what's going on inside.

[/quote]

Of course he got caught. Reread the above.

[quote="SteveVH, post:14, topic:313712"]

You don't disagree with the Pope? It sure seems that you do. ;)

[/quote]

Well you should know I suppose, since you evidently can see others' souls ;)


#18

[quote="Rence, post:17, topic:313712"]
Slavery is not self-inflicted. Whatever consequences a murderer faces, they brought on themselves. That's not slavery. That's accountability

[/quote]

Slavery can very well be self-inflicted if one submits to that which seeks to enslave, as is the case with sin. But you did not answer my question. What does committing murder, or any grave sin, do to one's soul? Remember this? "I tell you the truth, **everyone who sins is a slave to sin." (John 8:34)

[quote="Rence, post:17, topic:313712"]
Why, no, can you? :)

[/quote]

You claimed that missing Mass on Sundays does not limit one's freedom. I asked if you could read their souls. As you have stated you cannot, therefore you cannot know if their freedom is being limited. They are committing a grave sin. See above.

[quote="Rence, post:17, topic:313712"]
Well you should know I suppose, since you evidently can see others' souls ;)

[/quote]

No, I don't read souls. I do believe the words of Christ that tell us that sin makes us slaves. I also agree with the teachings of the Church which tell us the same thing. So I don't have to read anyone's soul in order to determine that if one is sin, especially grave sin, they are slaves and are not free. We all fall into this category to one degree or another. Thank God for Reconciliation. :)


#19

"Freedom", it's a wonderful feeling you find when you break all of the chains that can bind you. I imagine those chains can be as individual as the person wearing them.
For me, it was overcoming painful memories of an abusive childhood, fear, hate, depression and anxiety.


#20

[quote="truthquester, post:19, topic:313712"]
"Freedom", it's a wonderful feeling you find when you break all of the chains that can bind you. I imagine those chains can be as individual as the person wearing them.
For me, it was overcoming painful memories of an abusive childhood, fear, hate, depression and anxiety.

[/quote]

God bless you. That's a lot to overcome.


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