Paul L. Caron

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The 4th Of July At Pepperdine

Pepperdine University | Human Resources

The 4th of July: Faith and Freedom
As we approach the 4th of July, I invite you to reflect on our Independence Day holiday through the lens of Pepperdine – and our commitment to faith and freedom. 

For Christians, our deepest identity lies not in country, but in Christ. We may pledge allegiance to the United States of America, but our true allegiance is to the One who created us. We are legally citizens of the United States, “[b]ut our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:13-14). We are sons and daughters of God, not sons and daughters of Uncle Sam. 

As Americans, we will pause on Thursday to remember with gratitude our forebears who declared the nation's independence from a despotic King and shed their blood in a fight for freedom. As Christians, we pause each day to remember our dependence on the King of Kings (Revelation 19:16) who shed His blood for our freedom in Him. Although America is not our eternal home, we remain ever grateful to those who came before and left us a country that safeguards everyone's freedom to practice his or her individual faith.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13

Paul Caron
Dean, School of Law

Forward:  To Understand America — Read The Bible, by Michael Helfand (Pepperdine):

What role should the bible play in American politics? This question remains at the center of debates over hot-button social issues—such as abortion and same-sex marriage—where traditional and progressive values continue to clash. As these debates persist, how should American Jews leverage their unique values and texts to develop their own responses to these pressing social and political challenges?

Somewhat counter-intuitively, this is the foundational question raised by a new edited sourcebook, Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States. ... [T]he anthology collects important historical texts in which religious and political leaders incorporated the values, messages and narratives of the bible into their vision of American liberty, community and politics. That this sourcebook bears on contemporary political deliberation may seem odd given that the collected texts themselves date primarily from the 17th through the mid-19th century. Yet in highlighting how generations of prominent American historical figures placed the bible front and center when they spoke and wrote, this anthology invariably asks the reader to evaluate the role of Jewish text and values within the context of political debate and deliberation. ...

[R]eaders of this anthology will invariably disagree on whether or not a return to the bible in political discourse would serve as positive development. To some, an infusion of the bible’s timeless values, such as liberty and covenant, is exactly what are fractured political discourse might need—a reminder of how our core values can serve to unite us at a time of increasing discord. To others, the use of the bible in politics might not only inflame our current state of divisiveness, but also do violence to the very meaning of the bible itself.

For Jewish readers, revisiting how the bible shaped influenced American political discourse in the past ultimately asks the reader to consider how the bible should influence American political discourse in the future. And in this way, Proclaim Libertyserves as an invitation, asking Jews to breathe new meaning into their most sacred texts and values as they navigate an increasing charged and divisive political landscape. The ultimate contribution of Proclaim Liberty — and the reason why it is so urgent for the contemporary Jewish political imagination — is that it presents text and context, and then lets the reader decide how the past informs the best way forward.

In that way, a book ostensibly about America’s history is, in truth, about America’s future.

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