Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

The Freedom to Worship

I just read Dr. Michael Brown’s piece on Shall We Burn One Another at the Stake? in which Dr. Brown argues for peace among brothers and sisters.  He points out that Christians have often been hotly divided over theological issues to the point that they shed blood.  He pointed out that during the Reformation, the Anabaptists were heavily persecuted by the Reformers.  Arminius himself was asked by the Calvinists in Geneva to prepare a theological response to the Anabaptists.  The Calvinists considered the Anabaptists as heretics and worthy to be burned at the stake for their views.

Dr. Brown points out that Christianity has many such battles in her history.  This is not based at all on the teachings of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 5:43-48) or even His example (1 Peter 1:23).  We have nothing in the New Testament to suggest that disciples of Jesus should war toward others whether believers or not.  In fact, we have the opposite.  Disciples are to be peaceful (Titus 3:1-7).  Disciples are to to do good to all men especially those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).  Paul wrote this in Romans 12:14-21:

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I strongly believe then that disciples of Jesus should uphold the freedom to worship.  I am not advocating that all religions are the same or that we all worship the same God nor am I advocating that the disciples of Jesus should not evangelize.  We have the command from Jesus Himself to evangelize the nations (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8).  We are His ambassadors by virtue of being His children (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  I am not advocating that we should just ignore religions and not seek to engage them with the gospel.

However, I do believe that we should allow all people to be free to worship God as they see fit unless that worship violates or hurts others (such as human sacrifices).  Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, etc. should be allowed the freedom to worship and to share their views openly without fear of physical attacks.  No disciple of Jesus should ever desire the death of their enemies.  We are commanded to pray for them and to preach the gospel to them but not to kill them.  Murder is a sin (Exodus 20:13) and murder in the heart is a sin as well (Matthew 5:21-26).

Our passion should be to preach Jesus and to glorify Him with our lives.  Our passion should never be violence in any way.  Jesus clear on this issue (Matthew 5:38-42).  Our lives are to be marked by holiness and peace (Hebrews 12:14-15).  Yes we must preach the gospel to the lost and none can be saved apart from the gospel (Romans 10:14-17) but let us preach the gospel not with anger or intimidation but the truth of the Lord Jesus.  Jesus alone saves (John 14:6) and our passion should be for all to be saved in Him (1 Timothy 2:3-6).  But this doesn’t happen by the works of the flesh nor by forcing people to repent.  Salvation is a work of God.


Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/26/2013 at 12:19 PM

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