Ravi Zacharias — Religious Liberty

There are many Evangelicals out there who do not see the point you are making. They are completely missing what is at stake before us right now. I can't figure it out. I really can't figure it out.

When God looked at Rebecca when she was pregnant with twins, he didn't say to her, "Two products of conception are in your womb." He didn't even say "two babies are in your womb." He said, "Two nations are in your womb." God who lives in the eternal now. And it stymies me that there are Evangelical voices today who don't see how critical this matter is for the future of the unborn, and of those who are already in life, whose values and whose voices are going to be shut down.

I want to give you a simple illustration; it was at one of the most prominent universities. It doesn't matter what you could speak on. You could speak on the age of earth and somebody is going to raise a volatile social issue of our time as the first question. And the point they want to make out of that is to silence you even on that by injecting this.

So I was at a major university when that question was raised and I looked at the person and I said, "Jesus taught us to question the questioner because when you question the questioner they open up within their own assumptions and it changes the entry point to the discussion." So "Why do you call me good? There is none good but God. If you're calling me God, are you going to listen to me or you don't believe I'm God?" That's really what Jesus intended when he questioned the questioner.

So I said to the person, "I'm happy to answer your question if you will please answer mine. There are three possible cultures as far as ethics is concerned. There is the theonomous culture, theos meaning God and nomos meaning law where God dictates the law within the human heart and we operate by his law. Is America a theonomous culture?"

He says, "No. I don't believe that."
I said, Yeah. Once upon a time we called that natural law that the conscience impelled you towards human value and so on." He didn't believe that.

So I said, "Then there's a heteronomous culture; heteros meaning another and nomos meaning law; where a handful from the top dictated for the masses. Islam is religiously a heteronomous culture. Marxism is politically a heteronomous culture, the handful at the top dictated for the masses below. Is that the culture you want?"

He says, "No. We're not a heteronomous culture."
I said, that leaves the third one, autonomous. Autos meaning self, nomos meaning law; that we individually give ourselves the privilege of conscience on right and wrong since you don't believe in theonomy or heteronomy.

He said, "That's where we are."
I said, "All right. Since we're an autonomous culture I will answer your question. Will you give me the privilege of my autonomy to do that? Or as soon as I answer your question and you don't like it you'll switch to a heteronomous mode and condemn me for it and take away my freedom?"

That is exactly what we are facing right now. They on paper call ourselves autonomous but as soon as you inject the theistic perspective or an absolute moral law or that human life has intrinsic worth and so on, you're all of the sudden put into a heteronomous mode and the few at the top dictated. This self-destruction is going on and yet we talk about tolerance, the most unlikable word for dealing with serious very moral issues. You don't just tolerate people; you've got to be able to give them the freedom to peaceably and with dignity disagree.

And you're absolutely right. The academy and the bench is blocking those views out. And I just think we are going to have to -- "this kind cometh not out except by fasting and praying." Things can change as we seek the mind of the Lord. No one would ever have thought during Mao Zedong's era when he burned the seminary libraries, and in '64 I think said, "Christianity is a forgotten thing here never to return again." Today you can have literally tens of thousands of Chinese in prayer on any given Lord's Day. You go to Singapore and see the same thing.

I believe in the hope that we're talking about but the dark valley is very real. And to speak your mind you have to -- my mother used to say, "You can touch your nose this way or you can go around the wrong way." You have to go down the long way before we get to it and an average student sitting there, the light turns on, on the inside and they will at least respect what it is you have to say. I think that's how lives are going to be changed, one, two, three at a time.

But your point is very important and I wish the Evangelical world would wake up to the starkness and the importance of what you're saying; that future generations are going to be affected by decisions made on the bench. And if we don't wake up to it we lose the next round the same way. We were not heard the previous time or backed off and didn't get involved, many did, and then they complained for the next few years about what's happening the wrong way. We must get our people involved and get them voting so that the moral conscience speaks and expresses the greatest privilege God has given to us in this country to express a voice on what we believe the future needs to hold.
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