Why freedom is not what you think it is
The Bishop of Kensington, the Rt Revd Dr Graham Tomlin has explored the relationship between Christianity, freedom and modern society in his book Bound to be Free: The Paradox of Freedom.
In a new video, Bishop Graham discusses his motivation for writing the book, what problems a secular understanding of freedom causes in our society and how Christianity can provide the solution.
Bishop Graham said:
“Secular freedom makes my neighbour not so much a gift, but at best a limitation, and at worst a threat. A Christian understanding of freedom is the freedom to love God and to love one another. Simply put, it is freedom for other people not from other people”.
A secular approach to freedom, which can trace its roots back to philosophers such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Stuart Mill, is flawed, Bishop Graham argues. In fact, it makes true social cohesion very difficult. This libertarian version of freedom, which prioritises individual liberties, makes that the presence and proximity of other people seem like an obstacle to our own liberty, or even a threat to it.
It is this incompatibility which inspired the Bishop to search for a more fulfilling form of freedom, a process which he says took many years. In his video, the Bishop charts the effects of libertarian ideas of freedom on society, many of which are recognisable from our own lives, and offers a different vision based on Christian reflection on Freedom which has developed over the centuries.
The Bishop believes that this Christian interpretation of freedom allows both for personal flourishing for greater social cohesion, and a society in which other people are loved, rather than feared.
The book, which is available online, explores these ideas and more in the context of a modern society which at times values freedom, in one form or another, above all else.
To find out more you can view this blog post by Bishop Graham.