A Universal Thirst for Freedom
Throughout human history, people of all cultures have sought freedom. Some have emphasized inner spiritual or emotional freedom, and others freedom from external restraints (such as slavery or political freedom). Hindus seek an experience of oneness with the universe that frees them from the illusion of this world of distinction. Buddhists seek enlightenment that involves a detachment from desiring anything in this world. Atheists want to be free from the constraints of any objective moral rules.
In the political arena, there are a variety of liberation theologies. Gustavo Gutiérrez wrote his Theology of Liberation with a focus on the political and economic situation in Latin America. James Cone wrote A Black Theology of Liberation to develop a black theology that identified with the oppressed. Others have developed feminist liberation theology that focuses on cultural problems that have limited women’s freedom. Most of the above perspectives involve a freedom from constraints, but are not clear about what the liberated situation would look like. This “freedom from” is at the heart of our secular culture. In this article we will discuss the biblical view of freedom, first contrasting it with other views so we can see its significance more clearly.
Art Lindsley, Ph.D., is Vice President of Theological Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics.