From the Circuit Rider’s Library
Sermon Title: Religious Freedom
Sermon Text: Matthew 22:15-22
This sermon was preached on July 4, 1976 in Rifle, Colorado at the Rifle Southern Baptist Chapel. It was the bicentennial of the nation. There was unrest in the nation and unrest in the church across the nation regarding the inerrancy of Scripture. Following are from his hand written notes from his Lord’s Day sermon, July 4, 1976.
I was 9 and 1/2 years old.
The Circuit Rider took to the pulpit reading a portion of the U.S. Bill of Rights, Amendment #1 followed by reading from the Baptist Faith and Message Sec. 17.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” (Bill of Rights, Amendment #1)
“God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has Left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.” (Baptist Faith and Message, Section 17)
Two great liberties that have challenged the devotion, love, loyalty of freedom loving people:
- Political Liberty
- Soul or Religious Liberty
they go together
No genuine religious liberty without political liberty – no political liberty without religious freedom.
Desire for freedom has been the battle cry of men through the years…
- Magna Cart grew out of oppressive circumstances
- American Revolution…
- Racial unrest…
“We want freedom! We want freedom!”
- the Battle for Freedom
the Battle for religious freedom played a [primary] role in the colonization of the United States.
the idea of religious liberty is not just a Baptist idea
-it is a God given right!Church and state united in 325 under Constantine and not separated until —
* 1663 in Providence colony by a Baptist, Roger Williams
* in 1786 Virginia adopted a similar law
* in 1791 it was incorporated into the Bill of RightsThere are those in the world today who would destroy “this silly protestant idea.”
illustration: Herbert Hoover told a story after a dinner at a certain home concerning a priceless heirloom, a family treasured it very much, a vase handed down for many generations…
Little Girl – “Mother, you know that wonderful, beautiful vase that has been given to us, handed down from generation to generation?” the mother thought sh had finally realized it’s value… “Yes, I do!” “This generation just dropped it!”We stand in danger of dropping freedoms handed down to us.
- What is Religious Freedom?
the average American understands freedom to mean “unrestrained”. Every individual must be left free under God to perform his duties and responsibilities according to the dictates of their own conscience.”We must obey God rather than men.”Bound only by the word of God.
Martin Luther brought before the council and was asked to recant:
“Every conscience is bound to the word of God. Unless convinced of error by clear argument of reason, I will not [recant], I cannot recant. Here I stand, I can do no other. God Help me!
Three attitudes toward religious liberty: 1. Destroy it. 2. Stamp it out. 3 Tolerate it.
No other country on earth enjoys the freedoms that we do.
Look at the difference between North and South America
Eisenhower – “Let people choose weather to live under communism…”
- Freedom of Worship
Right along with freedom of choice is freedom to worship or not to worship.George W. Truett, at an address delivered from the East Steps of the National Capitol at Washington, D.C., on Sunday, May 16, 1920 (full speech HERE):
“Baptists have one consistent record concerning liberty throughout all their long and eventful history. They have never been a party to oppression of conscience. They have forever been the unwavering champions of liberty, both religious and civil. Their contention now, is, and has been, and, please God, must ever be, that it is the natural and fundamental and indefeasible right of every human being to worship God or not, according to the dictates of his conscience, and, as long as he does not infringe upon the rights of others, he is to be held accountable alone to God for all religious beliefs and practices. Our contention is not for mere toleration, but for absolute liberty. There is a wide difference between toleration and liberty. Toleration implies that somebody falsely claims the right to tolerate. Toleration is a concession, while liberty is a right. Toleration is a matter of expediency, while liberty is a matter of principle. Toleration is a gift from God. It is the consistent and insistent contention of our Baptist people, always and everywhere, that religion must be forever voluntary and uncoerced, and that it is not the prerogative of any power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, to compel men to conform to any religious creed or form of worship, or to pay taxes for the support of a religious organization to which they do not believe. God wants free worshipers and no other kind.”
- Worship in Spirit and in Truth
The freedom to interpret God’s Word.
Everyone can have a Bible
This is not so everywhere
- Present Day Enimies1) Totalitarian Religion (religion that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience.)
2) GovernmentWe must realize that the freedom we champion had its source in God. “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.You shall know the truth
We need to face the fact that it can happen here [we can loose this freedom here]…
* if we forget what it cost.”
* If we quit fighting.”
* if we fail to exercise practical freedom.”