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Running head: THE THEOLOGICAL MEANING OF HUMAN FREEDOM 1 The Theological Meaning of Human Freedom Name Institutional Affiliation
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THE THEOLOGICAL MEANING OF HUMAN FREEDOM 2 The Theological Meaning of Human Freedom Introduction Freedom, in general, is having the capacity to act or change without limitation. By free will, a person can shape their own life. In religion’s history, human “freedom” has often been comprehended basically as the ability to select between choices. A person can pick either A or B, and therefore consider themselves “free.” But it is absurd to understand freedom in such a way because just standing at crossroads does not make a person free. Freedom is not the intellectual capacity to select between two paths; instead, it is the reliable choice of one specific way. In theology, human freedom is a force for development and maturity in truth and morality; it achieves its perfection when directed towards the Lord, our beatitude. How Theology Defines Human Freedom The Bible states that those who believe are free in Christ: "It is for freedom that Jesus has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). Before Christ died on a cross, the people of God survived under a strict system of rules that worked as a moral compass to direct their lives. The Law, while incapable of granting salvation or producing true freedom, nevertheless taught the way to Jesus Christ. Through Jesus’s sacrificial death, He fulfilled the law, setting Christians free from the rule of sin and death. The Lord’s laws are now written in believer’s hearts through the Holy Spirit, and believers are free to follow and work for God in ways that please and adore Him. In a nutshell, this can be defined as Christian freedom. A crucial aspect of Christian freedom is our duty not to return to be controlled by the law. Benedict XVI compared living under the law to slavery: “Stand strong and do not be overburdened again by a load of slavery” (XVI, 2006). Continuing to stay under the law after redemption is simply a legalistic form of belief. Christians cannot receive righteousness through
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THE THEOLOGICAL MEANING OF HUMAN FREEDOM 3 the law; instead, the law aimed to define our evils and show us why we need a Savior. Believers’ freedom involves staying not under the heavy obligations of the Law but the Lord’s grace: “For you will no longer dwell in wickedness, you will no longer be governed by the law, but covered by grace” (Gascoigne, 2009). In Christ, believers are free from the law’s cruel system, from the consequences of sin, and the influence of sin. However, Christian freedom is not an authorization to sin. Believers are free in Jesus but not free to live however they want. Believers are not free to
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