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The Fear of Freedom

By R. J. Rushdoony
August 14, 2007

California Farmer 242:3 (Feb. 1, 1975), p. 55.

E. R. Dodds, in his study of The Greeks and the Irrational, titles a chapter “The Fear of Freedom.” The whole of the ancient world was marked by this fear of freedom. Plato and Aristotle planned states in which freedom was to be denied to most men, and pagan rulers uniformly acted on this principle. Freedom was believed to be a dangerous thing, and only a handful of rulers could be trusted with it.

Through the centuries, men have noticed how fearful men are of freedom and how most men are unable to cope with it. T. H. Huxley said, “A man’s worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes.”

Certainly, in our day most men pay lip service to freedom but in reality vote against it with their lives and their ballots. Our legislators assume that farmers and farm workers cannot be trusted with freedom, and capital and labor both assume that the less freedom for others, the better all will be.

Men do not like freedom because they themselves are not free by nature. The basic slavery, slavery to sin, is the nature of their being, and they show their slavery in every area of life.

Jesus declared, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant [or slave] of sin … If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36). The root of slavery is in the nature of man.

We are today surrounded by a slave people because they are by nature unregenerate. They are most at home in slavery, and most comfortable with it. They will vote for slavery because they are slaves. They dislike and fear freedom because they are at enmity with God. Give them freedom and they will vote it out of existence and work in every way to destroy it.

Men fear freedom, because it means life and responsibility under God. The appeal of slavery is that it offers a life free of responsibilities, and this is always the appeal of slavery. Some nations have in the past had as many as four-fifths living in actual slavery and content with it, because it took responsibility off their shoulders.

The flight from freedom is always first of all the flight from God, who created man to be responsible and to exercise dominion over the earth under Him. The choice is always God or slavery.


Topics: Statism, Philosophy, Culture , Government, Dominion, American History, World History, Gospels, The

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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