"The Easter Message of Religious Freedom"
Dr. Joseph Loconte on belief and persuasion
Last weekend, billions of Christians and non-Christians alike celebrated Easter, the holy day commemorating the resurrection of Christ. For some, Easter symbolizes renewed hope in the God who conquered death. For others, Easter is simply an opportunity for quality family time. In “The Easter Message of Religious Freedom,” Dr. Joseph Loconte argues that Easter represents more, namely the powerful method of persuasion that Christ used when he asked others to “follow me.”
Writing in the Wall St. Journal, Loconte argues that, in contrast to the extremist religiosity of today, Easter demonstrates the incredible tolerance with which Christ invited others to believe in him. The story of the two men traveling on the Emeus road, Loconte writes, provides insight into Christ’s non-coercive nature. Christ explains to the travelers, who are “in a storm of grief and doubt,” that his conquest was spiritual, not political as they had assumed.
“The disciples have been guided, not coerced, out of their skepticism,” Loconte writes. “Their objections have been met with reason, not force.
Unfortunately, history shows that the church has not always lived up to this model. “The church, imitating the Roman state under which it had suffered and ultimately thrived,” Loconte observes, “soon endorsed the methods of Caesar: the use of imprisonment, torture or death to combat unbelief.”
Eventually, the church realized the error of its ways. By the late 17th century, the torrent of pamphlets and writings “delivered a singular message about the sacred rights of individual conscience.”
The Easter story affirms the right of individual conscience. Thus, Loconte concludes, “Here is an Easter story—a message of the grace of God toward every human soul—for believers and doubters alike.”
Click here to read the full article on WSJ.com.
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