Challenges to religious liberty are increasingly common today as historical Christianity comes into conflict with a new, secular orthodoxy. In this thoroughly revised second edition of First Freedom, leading evangelical scholars present the biblical and historical foundations for religious freedom in America, and address pressing topics such as: * Religious freedom and the exclusivity of the gospel * The Christian doctrine of religious liberty * Religious liberty and the public square * Religious freedom and the sexual revolution * Baptist contributions to religious freedom, and much more. The contributors equip churches, pastors, and Christian citizens to uphold this first freedom given by God and defended by Christians throughout our nations history.
“Nearly every week, the news informs us of new threats to religious liberty at home and abroad. In America, many fear this first freedom is becoming an endangered species as our culture's idols of sex, money, and power converge increasingly against the free exercise of religion. For this reason, I'm grateful for this new edition of First Freedom. This second edition includes several timely new essays that strategically update an already helpful book. The result is a ‘tract for the times’ for Baptists and others who champion a free church in a free state and advocate for the religious liberty of Christians and other groups who suffer under foreign regimes that persecute religious outliers. I will be returning to some of the chapters frequently as I think through what it means to defend religious freedom until that day when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”—Nathan A. Finn, dean of the School of Theology and Missions and professor of Christian thought and tradition, Union University
“It is rare that a book and a moment perfectly meet, but that is what I believe has happened with the publication of First Freedom: The Beginning and End of Religious Liberty. Historically, Baptists have championed religious liberty for all citizens, believing that religious liberty is not a majoritarian right or a gift of government, but an inalienable right for all citizens. Presently in America, religious freedom is increasingly threatened as governmental authorities steadily attempt to compel people of all faiths to compromise their beliefs or face legal consequences. It is past time for the American Christian church in general, and Baptists in particular, to reclaim our theological and historical commitment to religious liberty in order to face the unique challenges of our day. This excellent collection of essays should be in the hands of every pastor, informed layman, and public servant in our nation.”—David E. Prince, pastor of preaching and vision, Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, and assistant professor of Christian preaching, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Religious liberty in America faces an uncertain and imperiled future. The great battles for religious liberty in the past continue today in the courtrooms and public square as we contend for the right to live and speak our faith freely. This book is an excellent resource for believers to be informed about religious liberty so they can take their place in helping to defend it both now and for future generations.”—Erik W. Stanley, senior counsel and director of the Center for Christian Ministries, Alliance Defending Freedom
“Baptists have always been at the forefront in the fight for religious liberty, noting the high stakes involved in the battle. The very able stable of scholars in this volume continue the fight with biblical fidelity, historical awareness, and cultural sensitivity. What they ask for themselves they would ask for all. I hold out hope that their just cry still might be heard.”—Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“It is difficult to exaggerate the historical importance of the Baptist witness to religious liberty. This immensely valuable collection of essays carries that witness forward, addressing new challenges to the rights of conscience presented by early twenty-first century liberal secularism. The spiritual ancestors of the contributors to the volume would be as proud of them as I am grateful to them for placing their impressive intellectual gifts at the service of our first freedom.”—Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
“Religious liberty has been a foundational component since the formative years of our country. However, many Christians are ill-informed about the assault upon their freedom as American citizens. This updated edition of First Freedom is a timely work that exposes the areas in which our religious freedoms are being threatened. In it, a number of well-respected Southern Baptist leaders help us better comprehend the biblical foundation and history of religious liberty, identify the current challenges we face, and provide ways to move forward in today’s culture. After reading this book, you will feel confident to stand firm in the face of adversity and defend the religious freedoms our country was founded upon.”—Robby Gallaty, senior pastor, Long Hollow Baptist Church, and author, Growing Up and Rediscovering Discipleship
“Historically, Americans have embraced freedom of religion, not merely freedom of worship. The former fosters freedom to practice one’s religion in the church and the culture. The latter restricts the practice of religion to the confines of the church. As religious liberties erode in America, First Freedom is a refreshing resource presenting pertinent information for all to consider regarding this seminal topic.”—Steve Gaines, president, Southern Baptist Convention, and senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church