Proclaim God Given Liberty


Viewpoint of Mark Cadwallader, Creation Moments Board Chairman


Mark Cadwallader

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” – The Declaration of Independence, 1776

These familiar words are especially celebrated and remembered this month as we proclaim the July 4th holiday in America. But have you ever considered just how much the freedom celebrated as a great American heritage and a great American ideal is based on the opening chapters of the Bible and on Christianity?

Free is what God created man to be. In Genesis 1:26, God dignifies mankind by saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…” God gave us the freedom to be in charge of the rest of creation and created us in the likeness and image of His own “free” self.

Consider that in the very beginning of the Bible we read: “…and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The Spirit is specifically mentioned as being present when God (“Elohim”, plural) spoke creation into existence. And God’s Spirit is particularly characterized and identified as “free” elsewhere in the Bible (e.g., Psalm 51:12, 2 Corinthians 3:17).

God’s dignifying man with an inherent freedom is clarified in the next chapter of the Bible, which goes back into the specifics of how He made man and put him in the Garden of Eden. God told the man, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat” (Genesis 2:16). But, as you know, God commanded the man not to eat of the fruit of the one “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and gave him a warning that if he did so, he would die.

How, you might ask, was man truly free if he had that one key restriction? The answer is in considering not only every other freedom, but also the freedom of choice for relationship and morality. By adding the stipulation about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God allowed man to be a truly free moral agent, capable of accepting or rejecting God’s will. Here is dignity – that man in the image of God was given real liberty of choice for personal relationship of love and respect with his Maker.

Freedom as an essential part of God’s nature and plan for man is also apparent at Mount Sinai when God gave the people the Ten Commandments. God identifies Himself as the author of freedom as He begins the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord thy God, which … brought thee … out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2, Deuteronomy 5:6).

And God – in the 4th Commandment, “Honor the Sabbath Day” – gives the people two key points connecting creation and freedom. (1) “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth … and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11). (2) The people were to use the day of rest to remember especially how they were made a free people and delivered out of bondage in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). Freedom is arguably the point of the Sabbath. While work is a noble and necessary thing, we are not to be enslaved to it. We are to be free.

Of course, the plain sense of the Hebrew in Exodus 20:11 reaffirms that God made the creation in six literal 24-hour days, with one day of rest, as does the application to the Commandment to Honor the Sabbath in a seven-day workweek. Creationists have pointed out that there is really no other basis for the mostly ubiquitous 7-day week around the world – other than God in creation. It doesn’t have the same astronomical basis, for example, that a 24-hour day has (earth’s rotation on its axis), or a 365-day year (earth’s revolving around the sun), or an approximately 30-day month (phases of the moon). The common use of a 7-day week as with the ancient Babylonians, for example, seems more to be another corrupted primeval memory of creation truth, and that it fits with the cycle of work and rest for “the image of God”.

By the time we get to the New Testament, freedom is truly front and center. When He launched His public ministry from the temple in Nazareth, Jesus read out of the book of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor … to preach deliverance to the captives … to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). He told the congregation that the scripture was fulfilled that day in their hearing.

Jesus is the Messiah, and He brings freedom – freedom from the bondage of sin and death that came upon the human race when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). Through faith in Christ, we are adopted back into family-relationship with our Maker – sons and daughters, children of God. This is truly liberating – that our identity becomes like that of beloved little children who can call their Creator “Daddy” (Romans 8:15)!

The Founding Fathers of America made freedom a highest value. With the heritage of settlers to the New World who brought their love for Christian principles and longing for freedom to practice a more purely biblical religion, they created a Republic with checks and balances against the corruptions of human nature that has stood the test of time.

The Bible exhorts us to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…” (Galatians 5:1). To “stand fast” means to firmly resist the tendency to compromise a principle. Thus, Founding Father and strong Christian Patrick Henry could famously say, “Give me liberty or give me death!” This is uncompromising courage of conviction. And this is what we also can uphold as we proclaim the uncompromising and foundational truth of biblical creation!

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