Freedom is Real

The prevailing notion in the secular culture regarding what it means to be human suggests, without always being explicit, that freedom is illusory.

The naturalistic superstitions of the day fall into one of two similar veins.

1) Man is entirely the product of his environmental circumstances and is unable to transcend his experiences. This is the Freudian view which was made popular in the 20th century and has maintained a grip on the popular imagination even though Freud himself was displaced by others in terms of widespread acclaim. Politicians (e.g. the President) are echoing this view when they say things like the moral and social pathologies within the black community are the product of slavery.

2) Man is entirely the product of his genes - this is the evolutionary psychology point of view which was perhaps first set forth by Richard Dawkins in his book from the 70's called "The Selfish Gene". This view argues that we are all inexorably on a track dictated by our genetic make-up and that choice or freedom has little to do with it. Implicit acceptance of this view, often unconscious, undergirds much of the recent debate on homosexuality and acts as the basis for many who have an instinctive sympathy for the "rights" argument vis-a-vis homosexual "marriage".

Many people harbor views that are sort of an undifferentiated mash-up of these two ideas. But what the two ideas have in common is the necessary conclusion that freedom in moral choices is not real or possible, and there is a sense of unfairness should people be held too tightly accountable for their actions.

A biblical perspective about humanity stands in opposition to both of these views by presupposing that human beings, notwithstanding their environment, experiences, or physical appetites, are nonetheless responsible for choosing rightly. The bible does not soft pedal the realities of fallenness but offers hope, rather than despair, that freedom is real and help is at hand for everyone who seeks a way out of moral slavery.

One of the reasons that the arts are so powerful is that they convey ideas that worm their way into our thinking, having bypassed a great deal of explicit analysis on our part. That comment is not meant to be negative in regards to the arts but is merely to observe that our thinking is influenced in ways that we're not always entirely aware of.

If you've never seen the movie "I Am David", you really ought to rent it. It is a delightfully quirky movie about a boy who has been raised in a Bulgarian concentration camp during the cold war but escapes to freedom. Everything about his existence has conditioned him for depravity but his path is altered by a friend of his (played by Jim Caviezel) who gives his life for David in the camp just prior to his escape.

What I like about this movie is the presupposition that, notwithstanding his horrific childhood, by God's grace David was nevertheless still free to choose a different understanding of life and meaning. The video clip linked to below is from the climax of the movie when David wanders into a church building during a choir rehearsal and, as the choir sings Ave Verum Corpus, he flashes back to the camp where his friend took the blame for something David himself had done and died in David's place. The scene in the following clip represents the turning point in the movie where, notwithstanding the brutality of his childhood, he begins to see the world through new eyes.

Written by

Keith Lowery

Follower of Christ. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Maker. Consumer of Data. Reader of Books. Writer of Code.


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