Religious Liberty Work Evangelistic

Religious liberty is fundamental to the religious life.

By HEBER H. VOTAW, Secretary of the Religious Liberty Department

In the 1943 Ministerial Reading Course vol­ume entitled "Principles of Church Organ­ization and Administration," by Oliver Mont­gomery, the work of the Religious Liberty Department is recognized as a part of the "evangelistic" branch of denominational en­deavor. In giving his reason for this, Elder Montgomery says:

"We believe that religious liberty is fundamental to the religious life and experience and conduct of the people of God. It has to do with the protec­tion of the right of every individual in the exercise of his God-given liberties and rights to worship God, or not to worship, according to the dictates of his own conscience.

"The work of the evangelist is to win souls. The work of the Religious Liberty Department, as it re­lates to the church, is to encourage and safeguard the child of God in the exercise of his religious faith and practice."

It is gratifying to those who are connected with the Religious Liberty Department to have this branch of the church's efforts thus defined. There is frequent need for contacts to be made with men in public life—municipal, state, and national—both to set forth general Christian principles with respect to the inherent rights of men and to seek to adjust difficulties that arise in the application of these rights in par­ticular cases.

In seeking to keep church and state separate, it seems imperative that representatives of the church meet and confer with representatives of the government. This does not mean that workers from the Religious Liberty Depart­ment study politics or political methods. Every­one knows that God's ways are not man's ways, and there is no more pitiable spectacle than that of a minister of the gospel resorting to the methods employed by the professional politician to gain his end, even if it be a worthy one.

Religious liberty work is a part of the third angel's message and belongs to the purely evan­gelistic branch of our work. By its nature it gives an opportunity to visit many who might not be seen otherwise, and it treats of matters that frequently arouse an interest when other points of our message might not. These strik­ing words from "Gospel Workers" should thrill every soul :

"The banner of truth and religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God's witnesses during the centuries that have passed since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. The responsibility for this great gift rests with those whom God has blessed with a knowledge of His word."—Page 389.

Seventh-day Adventists often speak of "the truth." It is significant indeed that the mes­senger of the Lord linked religious liberty and truth together. It must have been to call par­ticular attention to the necessity, in the closing days of the work of God, for us to have a clear understanding of the principles of religious lib­erty and put forth earnest endeavor to save our heritage of liberty.

It may be fittingly said that no finer standard could be carried at the head of the marching hosts of God's people than truth and religious liberty.

The enemy of souls always attempts to assault inherent, fundamental rights. Wherever he works, the flag of rebellion is raised and force is attempted. Where God's message goes, men are invited to accept its glorious truths and live in the hope of experiencing its final triumph. Glorious freedom comes to the believer. He not only may choose the course he desires to follow, but he must do so. He learns that no priest, no prelate, has been commissioned by Heaven to decide life's questions for him or to give him either indulgence to commit sin or absolution for having committed it. He be­comes a free man in God, unafraid of what men may say, determined to obey God at any and all costs. As St. Paul says, he is "delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." Rom. 8:21.

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By HEBER H. VOTAW, Secretary of the Religious Liberty Department

November 1943

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