Freedom Disconnected from Morality Leads to Chaos

“…abide in my word.”  John 8:31

John 8:31 In Light of Society’s Departure from God 

Many modern translations render the word “abide” by “hold to.” I think the NKJV translation is closer to the mark. “Abide” means to “to continue to be present [in].” To put this idea in the negative is “equivalent to not to depart, not to leave.” So, rather than our holding to something, this text exhorts us “to keep ourselves within the sphere of being influenced by Jesus’s teachings.”

All the world has slipped beyond the pale of Jesus’s teachings, it seems. In any discussion in the public arena, the only wrong answer to any moral question is the one given by Christianity. Society is tolerant of every opinion except that of the Christian. As Christians, we need to keep ourselves under the influence of and within the sphere of Jesus’s teachings. His is the morality we need today! His teaching is what is missing from the discussion. 

In this post I want to look at the result of uncoupling freedom from morality. What happens when we do not abide in Jesus’s word?

William Butler Yeats’ Poetic Vision

I don’t like to quote long portions of material in this blog, but William Butler Yeats poem, “The Second Coming,” is the most quoted poem of the Twentieth Century. Yeats saw that absolute autonomy produces moral and physical chaos. I can’t say that he saw the solution, though. (Yeats is hardly a paragon of orthodoxy! However, common grace means he saw dangers beyond his own belief system.)


Portrait of a young William Butler Yeats (Image Public Domain)

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. 

I won’t quote the entire poem since the latter part is difficult even by Yeats’ poetics. 

In the first part of the poem, Yeats uses imagery drawn from falconry to illustrate what happened to Europe after WWI. The trained hawk has flown so far from the falconer, it can no longer hear its master. The imagery is applied to society in Europe after the devastation of war. Nations are no longer able to view their past foundations as having any modern application. Anarchy creeps over the continent and passion takes the place of principle. It is indeed a bleak picture! (See “Second Coming” below)


Robert Bork’s Assessment

It gets much worse after WWII, Korea, Vietnam and all the other “conflicts” in the Middle East. Robert Bork adds: 

Passionate intensity [has been] uncoupled from morality [and] has shredded the fabric of  Western culture. The rough beast of decadence, a long time in gestation, having reached its maturity in the last three decades, now sends us slouching toward our new home, not Bethlehem but Gomorrah” (see “Bork” below, p. vii; “slouching toward Bethlehem” is a reference to the second half of  Yeats’ poem). 

Judgment takes on Apocalyptic Dimensions

We see chaotic judgment in the Revelation of John. “The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the Four Horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment.” Revelation is not a newspaper account, but it is a message to us that God is in control and He will judge sin. 

What we have in the vision of Revelation 6 is a picture of the effects of God’s judgment on the world as a result of war and anarchy that follows. 


Above is “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” an 1887 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov. Depicted from left to right are Death, Famine, War, and Conquest. The Lamb is visible at the top.

Uncoupling freedom from Biblical morality lets loose this chaos and causes us to “slouch toward Gomorrah!” Far from bringing greater freedom, immoral behavior looses chaos in every area of life and leads to greater slavery to sin. 


Bork, Robert H. (1996). Slouching Toward Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers. 

Second Coming (written poem), The. (2018). Accessed 29 August 2018 from

Yeats, William Butler. (2015). “The Second Coming” (audio recording). Accessed 31 August 2018 from

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved


Total Autonomy is not Freedom

“…abide in my word.”  John 8:31

Popular Preaching and Unbiblical Content

I heard a pastor telling his television congregation that he was committed to the autonomy of each individual congregation. He went on to say that he even be­lieved that each member of his congregation was autonomous.

“No one can tell anyone else what to do,” he added.

This sounds very American. However, this sentiment is in reality the essence of a sinful autonomy. At the heart of autonomy is the spirit of rebellion against all external authority, and ultimately, even rebellion against God’s own legitimate authority.

“No one can tell me what to do!”
“I did it my way!”
“Have it your way!”


Quotation from John Calvin’s The Necessity of Reforming the Church

All these expressions are very American, but they are also unbiblical in the extreme. Total autonomy for the individual is a result of a radicalized view of freedom.

Radical Individualism and Society

Bork Book Cover

The subtitle of Bork’s tour de force, Slouching towards Gomorrah is: Modern Liberalism and American Decline. According to Judge Bork, the defining characteristic of modern liberalism is “radical individualism.” In essence this falsehood reduces “the limits to personal gratification.” It wrongly surmises “the individualist[s] pleasures can be maximized only by freedom from authority,” Bork points out.

…When egalitarianism (belief in equality of outcomes) reinforces individualism, denying the possibility that one culture or moral view can be superior to another, the result is cultural and moral chaos, both prominent and destructive features of our time. (Bork, Slouching towards Gomorrah, p. 5)

Our lifestyle of unbridled gratification has unleashed the chaos we see all around us today. We do not have to participate in it, though. 


Bork, Robert H. (1996). Slouching Toward Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers. 

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Fullness of Faith is Necessary!

“…abide in my word.”  John 8:31

Abiding in Christ’s Teachings

It’s not enough to know about the teaching of Jesus. Those who know and receive intellectually Jesus’s teachings are not his disciples, at least not yet. They are on the right path.

Different Aspects of “Faith”

Jesus attempts to instill in his listeners that it is important to have a full commitment to, and not just intellectually believe in, him. What is the distinction?

Theologians enumerate “three distinctive aspects of biblical faith”:

(1) Receiving the truth intellectually—”intellectual acceptance of the content” (notitia in Latin; I highlight the meaning in English since I am not writing for scholars.).
(2) Agreeing with the truth volitionally—persuasion of the truthfulness of the content (assensus in Latin).
(3) Committing to the truth completely (fiducia in Latin). (For these theological distinctions see “Sproul” below)

Jesus’s followers in the popular sense were those who had heard and had received the content of his teachings. He wanted to compel them to the next level and ultimately to the final level of full reliance upon Him. Let me illustrate this. 

An Illustration of Faith at its Fullness

Suppose you were swimming and suddenly got in dire straits. Let’s suppose you were in deep water with a cramp in your leg. You look about for help. You see people in a row boat nearby. You suddenly think, “There is a rowboat!” You have received the information correctly. You are not yet rescued, though.

Then, you think to yourself, “That rowboat is able to rescue me from drowning!” You have information and have assented to the facts as true. Are you safe, yet? No.

You begin to tread water over to that rowboat. When you get close, you receive helping hands from its occupants and are pulled into to boat. You immediately cease flailing your arms about and lie on the bottom of the boat in perfect satisfaction. Only then have you been saved from drowning. 

rowboat save

Only when our faith reaches the level of trust will we be safe in the arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let me give a classic definition.

Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel. (see Westminster Shorter Catechism below; emphasis mine)

If Jesus’s teaching abides in our hearts and minds, we abide in a relationship with Him.


Study Bible. (n.d.) Accessed 22 September 2018 from N.B. I use this simple dictionary for ease of lay access.

Sproul, R. C. (2016). “What Does It Mean to Believe?” Accessed 5 October 2018 from

Westminster Shorter Catechism; Question 86. Accessed 5 October 2018 from

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Freedom Re-defined for Us

When I think of what freedom is, John 8:31-36 comes to mind. Let me quote one verse for now, and we will look at the others in due course. 

36 …if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The Biblical Basis of Freedom

This verse sums up the theme of this passage where Jesus teaches us—

Freedom, at its primary level, is liberation from sin, so that a person can do the will of God.

It is obvious that many today do not understand the Biblical concept of freedom as Christ explained it to the Jews. The tragedy is that we once knew and accepted the Biblical concept of freedom as Christ explains it, but we  have, as a society, now lost that Biblical conception. We all need to hear the Biblical basis of freedom once again.


Inscribed on the “Liberty Bell” is Leviticus 25:10—“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof.” The foundering fathers recognized the Judeo-Christian religious tradition under-girds the freedom we enjoy in the Western World! 

John 8:31-36 presents the necessary spiritual dimension which underpins our freedom. Despite the fact that the founders of our country understood this so clearly, we no longer believe that Christianity is necessary to maintaining freedom in any country. However, without this spiritual dimension, freedom cannot exist for long among any people.

Bork Book Cover

Our Real Immigration Problem

At some point in the past, we failed to educate immigrants in the Biblical basis of our freedom. As a result, America has a huge immigration problem today. What has caused this? The late Judge Robert H. Bork reminds us that the immigrants to our nation in each generation are always of two kinds.

(1) There are foreign immigrants who come from other countries to our shores and are in need of instruction about the Biblical basis of freedom.

However, we are not sufficiently aware of a second group of immigrants who are in need of instruction, as well.

(2) They are biological immigrants—our own children.

Our country since WWII has failed to initiate its own children in the true meaning of freedom. Bork reminds us—

Every new generation constitutes a wave of savages who must be civilized by their families, schools, and churches. An exceptionally large generation can swamp the institutions responsible for teaching traditions and standards. …[since World War II] heap after heap of human beings have been dumped on to the historic scene at such an accelerated rate, that it has been difficult to saturate them with traditional culture. This is what Rathenau called “the vertical invasion of the barbarians.” (“Robert Bork,” p. 21, see below.)

What I want us to see in future posts is—

Freedom is a God-given privilege which carries with it certain Biblical underpinnings necessary to its maintenance.

Each new generation must be instructed in the Biblical basis of freedom. If all people, young and old alike, do not learn what Biblical freedom is, their own sinful human natures will infuse a meaning into freedom which will lead our society into further ruin.

Jeremiah 6.16

If mature adults seek to change their views to please the next generation, they will become a part of the problem and not provide that needed solution.

When I visited central Europe shortly after the Berlin Wall fell, I remember hearing Eastern Europeans tell what escapees to West Berlin expected when they first arrived. They said they came to the West expecting to get a Bible. Instead they got 50 DM (money). They would have rather had a Bible! 

We do not free our children by giving them a credit card and a car. We wrongly think since we didn’t have them growing up, they need them to be free. They like us need God and God’s Word first and foremost. 

We cannot Follow the Trends of the Times and Remain Free

Our society needs for mature adults to step up to the plate! Live free, in the Biblical sense; teach others how to be free, also. This is our task! It may not be popular, but G. K. Chesterton reminds us: 

He who marries the spirit of the times will soon find himself a widower. 

I John 2:17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (emphasis mine) 

“Lust” is epithymia in Greek—desire, craving, longing—especially for what is forbidden, lust. This fallen world infuses into its followers a desire for that which God has forbidden to human beings. At issue is whether we get our conception of freedom from the fallen world of humanity or from God’s infallible Word. 


Bork, Robert H. (1996). Slouching Toward Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers. 

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved