Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Freedom as God’s gift

This breathless NYT article describes this speech, in which President Bush once again indicates the universalistic basis for his approach to world affairs. He says again what he’s said many times before--"Freedom is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to all humanity." He proceeds to lay out what might be called the anthropological evidence for the proposition that freedom has a transformative power. Of course, there’s room to argue with him, on anthropological and historical grounds (which is where he chooses to make his stand).

Stated another way, despite the efforts of the NYT reporter to make it seem as if Bush’s foreign policy is altogether faith-based, it just ain’t so. His argument surely could be much more nuanced than it is, but a number of propositions are clear. First, freedom doesn’t require Christianity. The God who created us in His image gave freedom as a gift to everyone; it’s a matter--in Reformed parlance--of common grace, accessible to the Shinto Japanese, the Muslim Afghans, and Americans of all faiths and no faith.

Second, freedom is hard. People with little or no experience of it appreciate it, but don’t immediately know how to protect it and use it well. They also have determined and unscrupulous enemies who don’t wish them to learn these things.

Third, the spread of freedom ultimately [I’d add--perhaps not in every instance immediately] serves America’s security interests.

So the demands of justice and (long-term) interest come together:

People of all faiths and all backgrounds deserve the chance at a future of their own choosing. That’s what America believes. After all, those were the ideals that helped create our nation. Those ideals were an honorable achievement of our forefathers, and now it’s the urgent requirement of this generation.

As I said, this is far from the first time President Bush has spoken in these terms. And I’ll add, in speaking this way, he’s perfectly in the mainstream of American presidential rhetoric.

Discussions - 3 Comments

I would ask Bush what is the THEOLOGICAL/Biblical basis for the assertion that God intended political freedom for all? Did God intend universal suffrage? Did God intend Lockean consent? What verses suggest this? Why was the Church so late in discovering this intent? Was ancient Israel politically free in the way we understand that term today?



It seems to me unfair to credit/blame God for something and then take Him out of the equation? If you are going to invoke God, fairly clearly the God of Christianity, then you need to justify that invocation with theological arguments. Not invoke God and then run as fast as you can to modern philosophy to justify your claims.



This strikes me as trying to have it both ways. You get to appeal to God for a certain permanence and universality and you engender a positive emotional response in most (although with the growing number of militant secularists and atheists this is less so than it used to be), but you don't have to live with the implications that if God gave them to us He may actually have some ideas about how we should order our affairs.

So - what exactly IS "freedom"? I know eveybody loves it, but what do they love?

People of all faiths and all backgrounds deserve the chance at a future of their own choosing.

Meaningless pap. The President does NOT think that the people of Pakistan, for instance, should have this particular freedom. And he's right to think it. So why engage in this nonsensical rhetoric?

People of all faiths and all backgrounds deserve the chance at a future of their own choosing. That’s what America believes. After all, those were the ideals that helped create our nation

It's a shame, though not surprising, that the POTUS knows so little about the founding of this country.

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