“The convoluted wordings of legalism grew up around the necessity to hide from ourselves the violence we intend toward each other.”
– Emperor Paul Maud’dib, From the novel, “Dune Messiah,” by Frank Herbert
In this article we will examine how the Bible’s covenant principles have guided the development of faith and freedom, and what seems to be a natural tendency for many Christians to try and divorce the two.
Freedom is Dangerous
Freedom not only provides opportunities for people of good conscience, but it also provides opportunities for people of evil character. Of course, lack of freedom never stopped evil men from pursuing their dreams. But the lack of freedom restricts good in society.
It seems only natural that postmodernism should arise in the wake of political freedom. Postmodernism itself is a form of political and anti-religious expression. The danger of postmodernism is that it changes the definition of what was previously accepted as normal. Moral values are no longer moral; they are simply personally held beliefs in the most subjective sense. Absolutes are not absolute. One might look at these concepts and offer the excuse that since a truly free society must allow contrary points of view or perceptions (and it must) then we have to accept these ideas as a legitimate premise for others. The problem is that postmodernism does not just change definitions or values. Postmodernism eliminates the starting point from which modern freedom began. We usually shape our examination of the complexities that postmodernism introduces from this point of it eliminating all previous definitions and starting from an empty slate. This is true, but there is something it does that is even more important and critical to understanding its effect on societies. Postmodernism replaces relationships with philosophies, therefore, it cannot build a society; it can only enter an existing society and redefine it–most likely to that society’s demise. Postmodernism throws away the basis of the biblically influenced relationships from which early political freedom sprang.
Judaism and Christianity: Building Relationships and Realms
Taken as separate entities, Judaism and Christianity are unique among the faiths of the world in that they are fundamentally driven to create relationships and realms. Let us first look at Old Testament Judaism. The Bible teaches that the primary reason God gave the Jews for establishing their nation was that He loved them:
Because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery… (Deuteronomy 7:8, emphasis added).
The start—and true heart of biblically expressed Judaism—is a personal relationship with the personal God. The personal relationship of the patriarchs to God was the foundation upon which the Israeli nation was built. This was first modeled in the Patriarch Abraham: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23, emphasis mine).1 Because God loved His people He gave them a law to use to guide their personal and national development. While the law became paramount to Israel, the most important thing was still the relationship that established the law. Moses, the lawgiver and founder of Israel’s theocratic system, typified this; “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11). As a result of this personal relationship, God built a nation to be a people of special relationship with him; “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6). It was through relationship that God began the process of building a people group, followed by a nation, culminating in a changed world. Because of the relationship, God provided Israel with a law that would set them apart from the other nations of their day (Deuteronomy 7:8-9). But creating the Israeli nation required more than provisions of law, a tract of land, and a religious liturgy. These were only the beginnings of building the realm (kingdom); simple at first, but designed to expand.
The Old Testament law prescribed the building of a civil as well as a religious infrastructure–a tabernacle (later a grand temple), implements and storage for offerings, the physical layout of the community around the tabernacle for order, priestly garments, and the building of whole communities especially for the priestly tribe. (In today’s terms we may not think of this as significant, but remember that the priestly tribe of Levi constituted at least 4 percent of the nation, and may have been significantly larger.)2 Additionally, the religion of Israel required a massive investment to carry out the offerings and service of the faith. Judaism was known for the bloodiness of its religious expression. There were daily, as well as periodic freewill sacrifices of lambs, bulls, goats, and doves. As the nation grew in number, and the cultural commitment to its faith deepened, where did they get the millions of animals needed for daily, periodic, and annual sacrifices, not to mention food? The Jews didn’t go lamb hunting! Judaism encouraged husbandry, ranching, agricultural trade, and a complex economic component to the expression of faith far beyond the tithe. Though it was not the central purpose, the side-benefit of Judaism’s sacrificial worship was that it created a national religious industry, and that faith business was good economic policy for the nation.
The nature of Judaism’s theocratic system, even the law itself, was relational. One purpose of the law was to enable the people to draw close to God through a sacrificial system of atonement for sin, demonstrating that reconciliation was preferred over vengeance. Refugee cities (where the accused could flee) were ordered built as part of the justice system. National festivals were prescribed. And while the relational aspects of these practices are clear, what becomes even more obvious upon closer examination is that the Jewish law was specifically designed so that if carried out properly, it would create a prosperous economy that over time would cycle and grow. Debts were to be declared invalid every 50 years, family land given in payment of debt was to be returned to its original owner.
Surveying the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles reveals that when Israel tried to hold tightly to the law (notwithstanding oversight or errors of ignorance), the nation’s economy and well being always grew to a highpoint. Thus we see that Judaism’s core of a personal relationship with God, and relationship with community, built their realm (kingdom).
Christianity is markedly different in that no nation building (in the political sense) was ever commanded in Jesus’ or the Apostle’s teaching. Regardless, it was Christianity that propagated the most important benefits of Judaism to the world–including Judaic concepts of law and justice. This is one way we can accurately say that Christianity, or more specifically, Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament Judaism3 to the world.
The Law of Moses helped craft Israel as a nation. But in Christianity, there was no directive given to take up the cause of building worldly nations or political power structures (it was inevitable that it should happen, but we will deal with that issue shortly). There are many New Testament references to Christians being a part of, and building, “God’s kingdom” on Earth, but it is not a reference to a political kingdom. Nowhere does the New Testament prescribe forms for the establishment of legal structures, criminal justice, rules of war and foreign relations, limits on political power, health and agricultural policy, tax provisions, infrastructure development, and so on–which were all described in detail in the Old Testament law. The New Testament’s focus is on the person and identity of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, and our moral obligations to Him in the practical aspects of our daily lives. Although the relational aspect of faith is more highly developed under Christ than under Moses, constructing a political realm of Christianity was inevitable, for cultural, as well as religious reasons.
Under Roman occupation, a religious infrastructure that built and contributed to community and economic growth was the norm. Roman rule took advantage of local deities, and established temples of its own. Whole communities thrived on the business generated by pagan ritual and devotion. The Apostle Paul experienced this in Ephesus when the metalworkers and priests of the goddess Artemis wanted Paul killed for fear of what would happen to their industry if his preaching prevailed.4 Culturally, the Jewish and Gentile Christians who would proclaim the faith to the known world were used to a culture where religion was a vital part of building empires and solidifying a community’s faith through the economic and political benefit that faith offered. Faith, that to a large degree helped build communities, was normal. Ironically, community building is something most of the great faiths of the East did not do. Buddhism, Hinduism, and others focused on either personal denial, or spiritual attainment, but they built no lasting communities within communities, or empires within empires. Nor did they build communities with an economy-generating component, as Judaism and Christianity did. Christianity was designed to transcend a culture, and through that transcendence, transform it. This is why Christianity was able to spread and develop beyond the cultural borders of Israel. Christianity is culturally independent: It can be adapted to fit many cultures without losing it core values. Where its principles cannot be adapted, it will either transform the culture or be rejected. As an example: Can a cannibalistic tribe keep its cannibalism and properly apply biblical principles in that culture? Certainly not! The tribe must either be transformed in its culture, or reject the principles of biblical society.
Second, and most importantly, even though the New Testament did not prescribe “nation-building” in Old Testament fashion, the principles of its relationship-oriented, missionary venture are identical, as we will see. Christianity may not have set out with political agendas, or nation-development in mind, but the Missionary Principle made it inevitable. Let us be clear about this: Nation development was inevitable, it was destined to happen, it could not be avoided. The Missionary Principle guaranteed it.
By this time, many Christians who believe it is best to avoid all political involvement will be scratching their head. How does the Missionary Principle guarantee political change? You may be in for a shock. There’s a secret you should know about the Great Commission and its place in the Bible.
When the Great Commission was given, it was not a new idea.
When Christians think of missions work, they think of Matthew 28:18-20:
All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Matthew 28 is considered the foundational biblical passage that mandates what missionaries do–simply put, to tell others about Jesus. But it is more complex than that. Notice the emphasized words above: authority on earth, discipling, nations, observe. The meaning of authority on earth should be obvious–Jesus is the highest authority. Discipling means to make someone like the object of the one discipled: in this case, Jesus Christ. Whole nations (of people, not political groups) are to be discipled. They are to observe, in other words, hold closely to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who, by the way, is the highest authority on earth. Imagine if someone had read Matthew 28 to the Roman governors or kings. Chaos! Treason! Imagine if the Jewish leaders and their Roman masters had truly understood the meaning of Jesus’ command?
They knew exactly what it meant, and that’s the point. How did they already know? Because they read the Great Commission in their own scrolls, long before Matthew ever put a pen to lamb’s skin.
The Great Commission of Matthew 28, which I refer to as the Missionary Principle, is found at least five times in the Old Testament scrolls. We call them, covenants. These covenants contain identical principles that God uses to govern his relationships with men, families, and nations.5 The principles within the Great Commission are the same foundational principles of the Adamic, Noahadic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants.6 These principles flow like a single river, covenant to covenant, until they end up at the mouth of Jesus Christ using them to create a great sea of peoples to call his own. The principles are identical; the only major difference of consequence is in their application.7
There is a tendency to regard “fruitful and multiply” as the same thing. This is also true of “subdue” and “rule.” That these concepts are delineated in each covenant, and then repeated separately, infers that they are different. When looking at the spread of each principle over all the covenants, the difference becomes clearer as the application of each principle changes. The progression can be noticed in the Adamic covenant: Be fruitful (grow), and multiply (reproduce) yourself until you fill the earth, subdue the earth as you multiply, resulting in mastery (rule) over it.
Under Adam and Noah, the principles built a world population and the beginnings of a religious idea–man can relate to God. Under Abraham they built a family into a clan, and then clans into a nation founded on a tenet of faith–a special relationship with God. Under Moses the principles expanded that tenet and birthed a theocratic commonwealth–a nation with a special relationship to God. Under David the principles solidified the identity and destiny of the nation, while looking ahead to greater rule–a particular man (Jesus Christ) with a special relationship with God.
All the covenants look forward to expansion beyond the current state of the relationship. All the covenants are redemptive in some fashion; and can be construed, even in a minor way, as having political ramifications: “fill the earth, subdue it…rule over” (Adamic–Genesis l:28); “your seed shall possess the gates of their enemies” (Abrahamic–Genesis 22:17); “kingdom of priests and holy nation” (Mosaic–Exodus 19:6); “establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (Davidic–II Samuel 7:13). Only the covenant under Christ goes further, “All authority has been given to me in Heaven and on Earth” (Matthew 28:18).
The Old Testament covenants also looked forward to an individual who would fulfill the terms of each covenant–especially that of redemption: Adam’s “seed of the woman,” (Genesis 3:15), Noah’s implied promise of redemption (Genesis 9:9-17), Abraham’s heir who would bless all nations (Genesis 12:1-3), Moses’ coming prophet to write the law on our hearts (Deuteronomy 19:15-18), David’s descendant who would establish a permanent kingdom rooted in God’s house (II Samuel 7:1-17).
The Missionary Principle demonstrated in these covenants expanded a single family into a world-influencing ideology, and modeled a system of morality and a basis for civil law that was to be emulated in multiple nations around the world for thousands of years. It established the kingdom that would be the primary propagator of its principles, and culminated in a single man–the very object of the Missionary Principle itself–who fulfilled the terms of all the covenants. By framing the covenant principles in the Great Commission, Jesus validated their previous application for nation building, ensuring their continuance.
The Effects of the Missionary Principle
Throughout history, Christians have shaped philosophy, science, education, global discovery, and humanitarian causes. For purposes of this examination, Christians have reordered the world of human rights, redefined basic human freedoms, and yes, forever changed the nature of political expression and rule.
No other faith can accomplish what Christianity has done. The foundational principles necessary don’t exist in Atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and not even Islam–the most notorious perversion of biblical concepts and personalities in history. Mohammed’s attempt to imitate the growth of Christianity, made possible by the Great Commission, pales compared to the genuine article. Throughout its history Islam has primarily grown through birthrates, political expansion, and coercion. Given enough time within an environment of true freedom, the political philosophy of Islam is doomed to self-destruct and go the way of all ideologies that are rooted in the suppression of man’s natural desire to be free.
Starting Well, Stumbling Along
Now, we must ask how the application of the Missionary Principle has stumbled in recent history. This series of articles began with a premise: Without necessarily knowing it or intending it, missionaries have been a front-line force advancing the principles of freedom and democracy around the world. But postmodernism, cultural correctness and good intentions have pushed many missionaries to do that which is impossible–divorce their political ideals from the religious concepts and liberties that molded them. If the advancement of Christianity and its influence in political realms was a natural byproduct of the Bible’s covenant principles, then why does the Christian church in America (which has received freedom’s greatest benefit) shy away from advocating biblically based political change or influence elsewhere?
This problem is further illustrated by the survey responses in preparation for writing these articles. When missionaries on the field were asked, “Do you think American principles of freedom and democracy are compatible with your mission to make disciples?” Sixty-three percent responded affirmatively, as illustrated by this response from a missionary in Brazil: “Freedom and democracy are biblical principles for today;”8 and this response from a former missionary to Portugal, “Freedom and democracy really are handmaidens of Christian evangelism and faith. They flow out of the lives that are formed by biblical belief. Democracy, though, is not a ‘biblical’ value. A theocracy is much nearer to what we as NT Christians would pursue.”9
This is not to say that those who responded are seeking to advance American political concepts on the field. They are not saying that. They are only saying that these concepts are compatible with their mission. They live and work in these countries. They are the ones taking the risks, adapting to the culture, and communicating with nationals. They are the ones with the practical experience in their areas. Keep in mind that these are field missionaries scattered across both friendly and hostile lands. What do their spiritual leaders back in America say?
Look at the following question asked of ministry leaders: “Missionaries are not usually in the business of promoting political ideals, however, would you agree that missions work automatically lends itself toward promoting the concepts of political freedom?”10
In response, many Christian leaders interviewed responded negatively, as represented by this response from Ron Cline, former Chairman of HCJB: “No, I would not. We would not equate the spiritual freedom to know God with political freedom.”11
Pastor and international radio Bible teacher Dick Woodward takes a similar view: “The mission objective of the missionary should never be political. Jesus and the Apostles did not promote regime change or the overthrow of the Roman Empire. However…by leading human beings to become new creatures in Christ…they did eclipse and outlast the Roman Empire.”12
Steve Brown of Key Life Network notes, “There is a danger here in defining political freedom in terms of Western Democracy. While I affirm that, I’m not sure that we need to promote it as we engage in the mission enterprise Jesus gave us. One must remember that much of the New Testament was written in the context of a political system that was quite oppressive to most of the populace.”13
Matthew Staver, President of Liberty Counsel takes a different, though not necessarily contrary view:
Missionary work is political. Expressing the gospel, that for freedom Christ has set us free, has political implications. While most missionaries might not think sharing the gospel is political, it is expressly political. When you share that Christ forgives our sins, grants us eternal life and creates a new creation, that radical concept overflows to every aspect of our personal and social lives. The gospel is inherently political…Most Christians have no clue about how to view the world from a Biblical worldview. Thus, many are swayed by cultural trends, and have in fact become conformed to the world instead of reforming the world.14
There seem to be a disconnect between some missionaries and Christian leaders about Christianity’s role in facilitating political freedom around the world.15 Part of this may be attributable to differing ideas of what politics and political freedom really is. But it may be more than that.
It’s People, not Politics
It is necessary to examine the practical reasons why missionaries avoid political entanglements overseas. As we dive into this section it is important to understand that the primary mandate of the missionary is not political change. “Entanglement” is probably the best word to use when dealing with this issue. This is because religion and politics, as we might define them in the modern age, have different fundamentals. The greatest and most important difference between the two is that religion deals with issues of eternal conviction, while modern politics deals with issues of temporal convenience. The nature of modern politics is compromise–a dirty word for a faith like Christianity where absolute truth is paramount. Therefore, mixing religion and politics on the mission field presents not only unique problems but also precarious ones. This is true even if the problems are only perceived.
Missionaries in the field avoid three types of politics:
- Positional Politics. This refers to the positions governments or politicians take on contemporary issues within their society: economic policy, foreign trade and relations, business law, criminal justice, virtually anything that might be perceived as the host government’s unique domain of authority or culture. Missionaries avoid public and other comment on these issues to keep from being perceived as political change agents of an outside power.
- Power Politics. This includes support or encouragement for political candidates, party platforms, or even current office holders where the relationship might be construed as support for political positions or accumulation of power by the politician in question.
- Practical Politics. This is a mixed bag because there are times when the missionary or mission agency must become involved in practical political relationships to protect their mission and/or personnel. For instance, if VISA laws change, missionaries could be forced to leave their host country. In such an instance local missions leaders might lobby government officials or attempt to strike a deal to protect their spiritual investment. However, these entanglements are the exception and not the rule.
Avoiding political entanglements on the mission field happens for multiple reasons:
- Principle. The missionary venture (Great Commission) is viewed by most missionaries as spiritual, not political (as if the two are somehow divorced or operate in exclusive realms). The missionary views heart transformation only—and not political change—as being mandated by the New Testament.
- Preconceptions. Some misperceive American missionaries as agents of a superior political power bent on determining the course of nations. This is not too far from the truth, except that the missionary works for a Heavenly nation, not a temporal one. Regardless, the field missionary attempts to avoid this preconception by staying away from his host country’s politics so as not to be perceived as a cultural or political threat.
- Personal Protection. In some host nations, commenting about local or national politics can get you killed, or at least in a great deal of trouble. As an example, when I lived in the Islamic world I usually avoided talking about politics, even in private. As noted earlier, some countries view missionaries and even indigenous Christians as a direct threat to their political power–much like the Caesars did.
If faith has faltered in these areas, then how has it done so? First, by avoiding all discussion of political freedom even in private matters, and second, by applying this avoidance principle even in countries where it may be safe, acceptable or welcome to broach these issues. The modern tendency is to define politics as separate and apart from religion, or only as a personal faith. Many missionaries regard discussion of religion and politics to be inappropriate because the politics of a nation or leader can change at any given time. They don’t want to pollute the message of the Gospel with something that divides so sharply as politics. As one Campus Crusade missionary wrote, political leaders who claim to be Christians can often present a quandary. This missionary wrote,
I became a missionary and first worked overseas at the beginning of the Reagan Administration. I remember fighting with fellow missionaries who believed that Carter was a better president because he professed Christ. My response what that while Jimmy Carter was a good man, he was not biblical in his approach to the issues, Carter believed in a separation of his faith and his political beliefs. Reagan had a completely integrated view. I taught disciples that Reagan was a better “true Christian” because of his beliefs. The Clinton Administration added much more complexity to my position because, unlike President Carter, he was not a good man, very immoral, yet proclaimed personal faith in Christ, and was embraced by many Evangelicals. I was working mostly with Muslims who saw Clinton as a morally weak person following a weak religion, Christianity.16
Another missionary who served in Portugal for 11 years had similar experiences, though with the nationals he was ministering to, rather than with his fellow missionaries.
A consistent question was about Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy and his stand against Communism. My personal opinions were the focus of those questions. This too, provided opportunities for demonstrating the influence of Biblical values (or the lack thereof) in what America does at home and abroad. These conversations were often very deep and involved the exchange of Scriptural passages and their interpretations.17
When we try to keep Christianity as something that is “personal only,” with no relation to politics we miss something critical: Political freedom is a moral issue, and a biblical issue about which God is concerned. This means there is room for political discussion within spiritual conversation – including missionaries’ conversations—as illustrated in this survey response from a Calvary Chapel missionary: “I avoid promoting political views unless a passage in the Scriptures deals with a political subject. Then I simply present the Bible’s position.”18
According to Wayne Pederson, former President of Mission America,
Biblically and historically, spiritual freedom19 eventually resulted in political freedom. The great revivals helped bring an end to slavery. The revivals in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia are bringing about greater freedom to practice their faith outside the bounds of government or church restrictions. We need to unleash the Gospel in places like Sudan so that women and the underprivileged can be free of the horrific bondage that culture imposes on the oppressed and powerless.20
Mr. Pederson expresses part of that which we’ve already discovered, that spiritual freedom can lead to political freedom, which also produces religious freedom. We can continue that theme to say that religious freedom facilitates spiritual freedom, which can lead to political freedom…and so on.
The Bible is replete with examples of God’s concern over the basic freedoms of speech, press, and conscience. In terms of general political freedom, we find the following: God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 20:2); He demonstrated heartfelt concern when his people were oppressed by outside forces (Judges 2:18, 4:3; II Kings 13:4-5, 13:22-23; Ecclesiastes 4:1; Isaiah 58:6); and He chastised Israel for oppressing the rights of sojourners in their country (Ezekiel 22:29). As for free speech (also related to free press21), when the prophets were persecuted for their messages, God condemned their opponents (II Chronicles 16:7-10; Jeremiah 36:27-28; Acts 5:28-29). In fact most of the previous examples cross lines between speech and Jewish religious rights.22 Much of the Old Testament is a record of the oppressive acts of political authorities, and God’s response to the oppression of the people He loves. This notion of God condemning the oppression of those He loves is especially critical for a New Testament understanding. While the Old Testament primarily expressed God’s love for Israel, the New Testament expresses, repeatedly, God’s love for all people of all nations. Therefore, these principles are applicable across nations. Although many missionaries avoid addressing these issues directly in their field of service, indigenous Christians will address them in their own country.
“During the Pinochet (Chile) years there were many times that due to human right abuses and excesses that evangelical pastors were aware of, the pastors were very desirous of political freedom. There were private debates about political freedom and the abuses.”23
Imagine if God had not commanded Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Minor Prophets to speak out about the political injustices committed by Israel and its neighbors. A large portion of Psalms laments political oppression and legal injustices, with the Psalmists seeking God for a permanent solution or temporary refuge from evil. If God had not moved these prophets to speak and write, more than half the Old Testament would not exist, and we would lack a full picture of God’s concern about this issue. Even so, there is a tendency among some to so divorce religion and politics—or, specifically, Christianity and politics—that many of these issues are lost on the mission field. This is regrettable, because political oppression can lead to marvelous opportunities to serve people and nations, and reveal God’s view on these issues under the light of the Gospel.
- While Genesis does not record God calling Abraham his friend, other Old Testament passages make this clear, such as II Chronicles 20:7, “…your friend forever.”
- Numbers 3:43 records the tribe of Levi at 22,273. Numbers l:46 placed the remaining 11 tribes at 603,550. Actually, the total population numbers were much larger as the census only recorded males one month and older. Some Bible teachers speculate the total population may have been closer to 2 million. If we assume the 2 million-population figure is true, then Levi’s percentage of the population may also have been higher, which would make the economic contribution of the Levitical tribe on Israel even greater.
- In using the phrase “Old Testament Judaism,” I am making a distinction between Judaism represented in the Old Testament, as understood from an Evangelical interpretation of Christ’s fulfillment, as opposed to being a separate and distinct religious faith as it is often thought of today.
- Acts 19:27 says, “Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless….”
- See Professor Richard Pratt’s books, He Gave Us Stories, and, Designed for Dignity for an explanation of the fluidic relationship of the Bible’s major covenants.
- In addition to the new covenant under Christ, there are actually a total of seven major covenants, if the Levitical covenant mentioned in Malachi 2:4, 8 is included. Though the Old Testament does not elaborate on all of the details of the Levitical covenant, it may be regarded as a foreshadowing of the coming priesthood of Jesus Christ; therefore, it should be included in the list of major covenants, assuming it had similar, if not identical principles to the other covenants.
- The difference in application of the covenant principles is critical to understanding the flow through history. Each time the principles were used to initiate a new covenant, the application was restricted to a smaller and smaller people group. Only when those principles end up at the mouth of Jesus Christ do they find their full force of Heavenly as well as Earthly application. “All authority has been given me….”
- 14 year missionary with Baptist Mission to Forgotten Peoples. August 13, 2003 email interview.
- Campus Crusade missionary. June 23, 2003 email interview.
- Surveys sent to ministry leaders were contextually focused on the three freedoms covered in this book, freedom of speech, press, and religion.
- Email interview, July 27, 2003.
- Email interview with Dick Woodward, radio teacher, Mini-Bible College, International Cooperating Ministries. June 22, 2003.
- Email interview with Steve Brown, President of Key Life Network, and professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. July 17, 2003.
- Email interviews July 16 and 17, 2003. Mr. Staver’s comments were not made in direct response to the three previous Christian leaders interviewed, but his comments do provide an alternative view for comparison.
- These responses should not be construed to mean that all or most missionaries and Christian leaders disagree on this issue; only that there seems to be incongruity between the two in some areas.
- Career missionary of 23 years with Campus Crusade for Christ, International. August 24, 2003 email interview.
- Campus Crusade missionary. June 23, 2003 email interview.
- Calvary Chapel missionary serving in Eastern Europe. September 2003 email interview.
- The term “spiritual freedom” as used by Mr. Pederson should not be confused with “religious freedom.” Mr. Pederson is using this term in reference to the freedom from sin, and living a life of righteousness empowered by Jesus Christ. The latter term refers to the political notion of religious freedom, that citizens of a country are free to follow their consciences regarding religious belief and practice.
- Email interview with Wayne Pederson, President of the Mission America Coalition. July 3, 2003.
- We need to view the freedom of press as an extension of free speech rights. Publishing our views is speech given a more permanent and transferable form.
- It might be argued that God was not concerned with the free speech rights of non-Jews living in Israel during the Old Testament period. There were stipulations in the Mosaic Law that those expressing a religion other than Judaism were to be exiled or put to death (Deuteronomy 18:9-22). However, there are three arguments against this position. First, it should be noted that this law was given in the overall context of creating a special nation, with a unique national and tribal religious heritage during a specific period of ancient history. God was establishing a national religious identity for Israel, to set them apart from other nations. Second, the law also provided a prophetic means for Israel to recognize the coming Messiah (15-19), whose identity was predicated upon the previously established religious identity of the nation. Third, it is also important to note that the law was specifically referenced to those who practiced forms of witchcraft and human sacrifice (9-12), and specific leaders (prophets 20) who lead others astray. These were practices which were the very antithesis of anti-Jewish values, and God’s previously revelation that men were valuable to Him because they were made in His image. To provide a contrary example, the Old Testament did not require an atheist be exiled or killed. It rightly calls him a fool, but leaves him alive in his foolishness. Thus, even under the Mosaic Law God permitted a measure of freedom and even rebellion so as to win men with persuasion rather than the force of political rule.
- Career Assemblies of God missionary of 23 years. Email interview July 3, 2003.