Exploding the argument about God and freedom

George Weigel

One of the standard tropes in Western culture has held that God of the Bible is the enemy of human freedom. Last December, Rémi Brague exploded that myth, writes George Weigel.

- Ethics and Public Policy Centre

Brague’s talk at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome was a running commentary on a florilegium of biblical texts; I can’t fit the entire roster into a single column, but the following selections (the text preceding a summary of Brague’s remarks on that Scripture, with a few additions from your scribe) may be aids to Lenten reflection.

'And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done' (Gn 2:2-3): In establishing and blessing the Sabbath, God created 'free time,' time for the activities that befit free human beings.

'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy . . . the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall do no work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth . . . and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it' (Ex 20: 8-11): This Sabbath time-for-leisure encompasses everyone, not just slave-owners. All are called to leisure, and thus the Sabbath has a profound social dimension: It’s the thin wedge by which freedom enters ancient societies, eradicating the distinction between masters and slaves.

'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage' (Ex 20:2): As Israel’s liberation from Egypt demonstrated in a nation-forming experience, God not only creates us free; God sets us free and then provides a 'codification of freedom' in the Ten Commandments. The Decalogue is not the imposition of the will of an arbitrary divinity; the Ten Commandments help the liberated from falling back into the bad moral habits of slaves, and thus help a free people remain faithful to the logic of their liberation.

FULL STORY God and freedom (Ethics and Public Policy Centre)

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