I was at the gym today here on the FOB, and remembered seeing an article about Dallas Theological Seminary in a Texas magazine (Texas Monthly or Texas Weekly, I will check next time I am there). I had started to read the article before, and it seemed to give the school and its founding theology a fair shake, so I decided to finish the article.
Now, DTS was founded by Lewis Chaffer, whose brand of premillenial dispensationalism (in the tradition of Scofield) is never received indifferently. All true Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the only Savior (the Scriptures are clear on this point), but premillenial dispensationalism hold to a dramatic eschatology in which Christians are bodily raptured into the air, massive catastrophes are rained down on the Earth, and the anti-Christ rises to power in the midst of the turmoil. Once he rises to power, he will force the nations to choose between him and Jesus (and possibly any other religion), with death as the punishment for the dissenters.
It is hard to imagine such a situation arising in our nation. The author of the article reflects this sentiment, claiming that with the two choices presented in such stark contrast, that freedom of religion seems to go out the window. She is ironically ironic (because she doesn't know she's being ironic). She thinks it is the eschatology of the dispensationalist system that is contrary to religious freedom, but in fact it will in that day be the human servants of Satan who will not abide Christianity. Even as the thugs of the left continue to tear away at our Constitutional order in favor of their oligarchic superstate, there is no foreseeable end to freedom of conscience here in the United States (though hate crimes legislation and the debacle in Canada with Ezra Levant are unsettling).
This is a key misunderstanding in our day. The fact that citizens of this nation are free to choose does not mean that there is not a right choice. Put another way, religious freedom does not presuppose relativism, or nihilism. We are free to choose because it is not the place of the laws of men to dictate to us how we will worship God (or so our Founders believed); it is not the case that we are free to choose because there is no good way to figure out which answer is right, so the government should stay out of it. What this proposition brings to light is the disturbing remains of rationalism, which has degraded into a yearning for a technocratic dictatorship a la 1984. An underlying assumption is that one any question where science or reason can get to a final answer, the issue of the freedom of choice is null and moot, because there is only one choice. This of course is a fundamental misunderstanding of belief formation in general and the mechanisms of science in particular.
To me, it represents a hidden axiom of the left: that progress will mean greater state control until such time as the state solves all questions and problems. This is their Utopia; this is our nightmare. This is in some ways like the argument that since some Christians have done terrible things, Christianity must be invalid. The left often employs this backwards thinking in other arenas, where they equivocate based on their relativism. How can we declare ourselves to be better than other nations? By what arrogant right do you dare say the West has made more positive contributions to free societies?
Religious freedom, or moral freedom in general, does not mean that there is no truth. Even presented with the very presence of truth, Adam still choose deception and sin. He was free to choose, he had real volition in the garden, but he chose the unrighteous path. Our liberties do not exist by virtue of the lack of objective truth; men are free to believe how they will, not free from being presented with evidence to the contrary.
Would an omniscient government be able to legitimately deny your freedom of belief? This is the exit question for any readers I might have. Is the epistemic limitation of man at least partially behind our insistence on these liberties?