We talk of autonomy and freedom as if they are gods, but they are not. They are false gods with false promises. We can even believe we are free (especially if you are skillful enough to have been born in the “Free West”), but we are not free, even if some of us on the planet are Western.
Brian McLaren in a Generous Orthodoxy (p.89) outlines precisely why we are not as free as we think, and in fact, how controlled we are:
By our genes (genetic determinism).
By class struggle (Marxism).
By primitive psychosexual aggressions (Freudianism).
By operant conditioning (Skinnerism).
By evolutionary conditioning (social Darwinism).
By laws of physics and chemistry (naturalism, reductionism).
By linguistic and social constructions (some forms of extreme postmodernism).
By Euro-American military and economy (colonialism).
By technique and machinery (industrialism).
And by advertising (consumerism).
So when Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed!” what did he mean? What does it mean to confess “Jesus is Lord”? What type of freedom is offered by Jesus here?
All our circumstances listed above by McLaren remain the same, and if they are true (which they are) how can we be free? But if what Jesus said is true, how does that freedom he offers function within our cultural, historical, genetic prison?
Jesus gives a freedom that doesn’t over-rule our context and location, but just as he came to earth to ‘seek and save the lost’, by coming to us, among us, with us, he likewise frees us from within. Within our culture and socio-historical setting, and within, ontologically, our very nature. In other words, God gets involved! What Father wouldn’t rescue his children from the hell of a prison?
And that is why I know I am a sinner, and yet, at the same time, because of Jesus, I am declared a saint. My mother thinks I’m a saint, my wife knows I’m a sinner. Both love me and both are right!