Thoughts on Freedom


Today is the 4th of July here in the U.S., Independence Day. Or as Chad Holtz (and Shane Claiborne) have dubbed it, Interdependence Day.

Another word that gets tossed around a lot this time of year, is Freedom. I’ve been thinking about this word recently, provoked by some of the ideas laid out in Landon Whitsitt’s new book, Open Source Church (2011, Alban).

I just wanted to share some excerpts from Landon’s book that speak to this idea of “freedom” and invite you to wrestle with these thoughts along with me:

“I think of the gospel as roughly equivalent to software and computer programs in that it exists to accomplish a certain goal: to ensure our freedom. Whether we are bound to outmoded ways of thinking or self-destructive behaviors, held captive emotionally or physically, or crippled by personal struggle or systemic injustice, the gospel of Jesus Christ exists to set us free. …

“The church in many places has changed from an institution that teaches postures, approaches, and behaviors that lead to freedom to an institution that teaches postures, approaches, and behaviors that will maintain itself. A gracious way of saying that is that the church intends to teach us effective ways of organizing ourselves or beneficial ways of believing that lead to freedom, but opportunities for graciousness are becoming fewer and farther between. …

“There is no work or action that one must perform in order to benefit from the freedom promised in Christ’s gospel. Christ’s gospel of freedom does not depend on someone regularly attending a worship service or educational offering or engaging in a missional experience. To be sure, those events will only help someone become more aware of their freedom, but they are not required as a prerequisite for experiencing freedom. … Freedom is freedom, whether one has their theology ‘correct’ or not …

“No theology, creed, confession, doctrine, or statement of faith can claim, or can be said to be vested with, a total embodiment of freedom. The totality of the gospel will never be found in a particular, contextualized expression of it. Acknowledging this is, in and of itself, a form of freedom.”

(Open Source Church, pp. 10-11, 25-27)



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Posted on 07-04-2011


  1. Eric O says:

    July 5th, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    When we speak of “freedom” I think we take for granted how hard freedom is to maintain. So, I do think freedom requires something to be regularly performed. I think it does require.

    Take for example the movement to “open source” the data that supposedly promises to make our lives data-rich and efficient (to relate to the provocative book title here). Benjamin de la Pena points out ( that open-sourced data, while cultivated with good intentions, leads to an inherent imbalance between data providers (and users) and the data poor. Open source data threatens the freedom of those who aren’t connected, the “global population unrepresented in global data”.

    The gospel here would point those of us with the tools of privilege to bring light and legitimacy to the needs of the data non-represented. It requires a constant act of correction, a lean against the drift, with vigilance. It requires a constant gospel …Shall we say, a constant gospel of correction?

  2. Steve K. says:

    August 25th, 2011 at 7:19 am

    “a constant gospel of correction” – I like that, Eric! I’m feel pretty strongly about holding onto epistemic humility, that all of our attempts to speak of God are provisional, but we must continue to articulate our faith and describe that in words and phrases — we’re just simply wired to do that.

  3. Are We on the Verge of Participatory Church? | | the online home of Steve Knight says:

    December 11th, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    […] essentially the same message that Landon Whitsitt wrote about earlier this year in his book Open Source Church, and it’s an idea that Dr. Ryan Bolger, from Fuller Theological Seminary, has been playing […]

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