Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Opus 2018-256: Liberty Is Not Tolerance, part 1 of 2

I was looking over my book shelf trying to decide which books I would never get around to reading.  One that caught my eye was American State Papers.  Since so much is available on line I wondered why I still had this old volume.  When I looked a little closer and saw the subtitle I got a better idea.  It continued with and Related Documents on Freedom of Religion.  It was a collection that focused on the American concept found in the First Amendment that we called “Freedom of Religion.” 

A statement in the Foreword caught my eye.
“This is a country of religious liberty, not of religious toleration merely.” page 9
The Foreword was written in 1893 by a man named Thomas M. Cooley.  I think it would help us today to think about the difference between liberty and toleration.

Liberty is an important term to understand.  It is not the same as freedom.  Freedom has the idea that you can do anything you want at any time you want.  The American concept of liberty understands that your right to do anything you want has boundaries set by the rights of others.  Thus I am free to turn my music as loud as I want until it reaches into someone else’s space where they desire quiet.  At that point I can either turn my music down, change locations, use my headphones or invest in some insulation.  They don’t have to tolerate your liberty.

American religious liberty has been a development.  Almost every one of the original thirteen colonies had an official church.  The exceptions that come up in my memory are Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.  There were struggles to allow the kind of denominational differences that we take for granted today.  The key is that the struggle continued until the First Amendment demanded that we be free from an official state church.  Even after the Bill of Rights was ratified states still had official churches but the tide was moving toward liberty.

Early in our history we had tolerance.  There was an accepted state church but they tolerated others.  In the toleration only the state church received tax support.  In the toleration the non-conformists faced a lot of discrimination.  The key is that in time we moved from tolerating what we did not like to allowing freedom of conscience without penalty.

To be continued...


Thomas M. Cooley was on the Michigan State Supreme Court after the Civil War.

Dennis Prager covers the distinction between liberty and freedom well in many forums.  You can do a search for “Dennis Prager on liberty” and find many listings.

Blakely, William Addison, Ed.  American State Papers and Related 
   Documents on Freedom in Religion, Fourth Revised Edition. 
   Washington, D.C.:  The Religious Liberty Association, 1949.

homo unius libri

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.