Freedom, n. One of the foundational aspects of the Christian walk. Its
proper understanding is one of the pivotal themes of Galatians, a book
which refutes a heresy that shocked Paul so greatly that he skipped
the usual pleasantries in beginning his letter. There are two major
historical interpretations, both of which (in some form or other) can
claim many orthodox adherents.
The first, the libertine interpretation, states that, due to grace and
forgiveness, there are really no behaviors a Christian should avoid.
Hence the believer is free to participate in orgies, free to have
conduct dictated by an addiction, free to touch molten iron, and so
The second, the Judaizing interpretation, states that grace and
forgiveness make sense only if there is such a thing as sin, and have
an extensive list of sins to avoid. At the same time, the essence of
their teaching is freedom. Hence the believer is free (at least one
day in seven) to drop an article of clothing once every few steps,
free to have conduct dictated by a written code of rules, free to
become castrated, and so on.
Both of these emphasize freedom as the center of their walk. There is
rumored to be a third interpretation, but it does not claim enough
adherents to be worth explaining.
- -- Hayward's Unabridged Dictionary