In light of some recent discussions about the nature of freedom, theologically speaking, I’m going to venture a proposal here. From a Christian perspective, freedom is the translation of human beings into the triune life of God. To be free is to be united to God through Christ, and in being so united, to be liberated from any and all powers, ideologies, loyalties, and compulsions that would direct one away from union with God. Union with God here is understood as participation in the radical love the defines God’s life. To be free is to be liberated from anything that would compete with God’s love for the possession and production of human identity.
As such, “freedom” truly names the singular reality of divine grace, which, through the Holy Spirit breaks into the world and into our lives as an act of pure gift. Grace comes to humanity in pluriform ways, occurring wherever, through the Spirit, the singular agape of Christ invades and transforms human lives that had previously been in bondage to principalities and powers.
As such, freedom takes on many forms as it interrupts and transfigures human life. True freedom is an event which happens as human persons are taken up, transfigured, re-created by God’s radical grace. What this freedom looks like depends on the social situation that God’s grace invades for the purpose of transformation, but the end result is always the same: liberation into a life of missional love, the experience of God’s own non-coercive self-giving on behalf of others.
Freedom is what happens when God draws us out of those things that inhibit participation in agape. This may and will mean political and social liberation for oppressed peoples who are violently deprived of any sort of self-determining power. Likewise this may and will mean liberation of ideologically-bound human beings who are, though their affluence, enslaved to the power of ubiquitous choice, decadence, and upward mobility. In this case the experience of freedom must be an embrace of the path of kenosis, a joyful descent into self-divestment, self-limitation, and agapeic sacrifice. This is the experience of freedom that most people reading this blog need to embrace as the path for their lives in Christ.