Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in the French Revolution

Because of my fascination with the true nature of Freedom (Liberty) I was drawn to the emphasis given to this topic in the French Revolution and the Enlightenment. What I find is that the secular notion of ‘liberty’ as found in the Enlightenment and the Revolution, and also celebrated in America’s Statue of Liberty (given them by the French) is at odds with the Christian notion of True Freedom. This is a topic I will rake over multiple times, so read the various posts on this and related topics and see if you agree with my take on the matter.

The Enlightenment and French Revolution

The Enlightenment gave a new set of principles from which the architects of the French Revolution could justify their course of action and motivate the masses. Much happened in that whole process and any history of the events ends up being a summary at best.

However there was a clear tone to it all. It was decidedly secular and anti-religious. The French reacted to the Roman Catholic faith which had dominated the nation. They also reacted to their monarchy and all expressions of privilege. They wished to cast off traditions. They expected that the rational mind was sufficient to craft a culture and social order suitable for all.

The whole process came to be identified under three banners, as it were. There was the ideal of Freedom – expressed in the French word Liberté. There was the related ideal of Equality – expressed in the French word Egalité. And there was the ideal of Brotherhood – expressed in the French word Fraternité.

Intention

The intention of the Enlightenment was to be free from impositions ascribed to traditional religion (the Catholic church) and inherited rights (the monarchy and positions of privilege). There was a reaction against the constraints being imposed on people by religious tradition. There was also reaction to the idea that some people had privilege over others.

It could be argued that the desire for freedom represented a resentment of two things: personal limitation under external powers; and personal limitation due to limited personal inheritance.

Thus the objective was to do away with personal accountability and the consequences of inheritance. It could thus be seen as an attempt to do away with personal accountability and the consequences of sin.

I suggest that the underlying motivation behind the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the broader applications of that mindset was and is to be free from God. God is the one who holds each person accountable and God is the one who visits the iniquities of the forefathers down the family line.

Application

The motivation to do away with personal accountability, inherited advantage and personal limitation led to the imposition of a tyranny. All those who were benefited by their own actions or who received inherited advantage due to God’s blessing or the outworking of circumstances in previous generations were subject to theft, victimisation and death.

By demanding and legislating equality for all, the citizens expected to be freed from the consequences of their own personal choices and personal limitations. This is a similar pursuit to the socialist and communist conceptions, where all citizens become equal comrades in the society.

Interpreting Liberty, Equality and Fraternity

In the light of my observations consider what the three catch-cry terms of the French Revolution mean.

Liberty represents the rejection of imposed constraints, including those from God.

Equality represents rejection of personal accountability and consequences from actions.

Fraternity (brotherhood) represents the basis on which happy social order is to be expected.

A New Tyranny

Those who subscribed to the ideals of the Enlightenment sought to throw off the constraints of religion, tradition and inherited advantage and disadvantage. They resented this tyranny. Yet in their own actions and dogma they have imposed a whole new tyranny of their own. Their world is not better than the one they overthrew. They have not freed people from anything, but simply changed the clothes of those who are in control.

Note that the new enlightened world, under the power of ‘reason’ and not the tyranny of religious dictates, is presently held to ransom by the ‘religious’ beliefs of the dogma of evolution, with no regard for the ‘reason’ which was appealed to in the establishing of the republic concept. Reason argues against evolution, but it is the imposed dogma and those who exalt reason tyrannise others by their demand that everyone subscribe to the evolutionary doctrinaire.

This is just one example of how Enlightened people have brought nothing that resembles true freedom to the world. They have simply demanded the right to be the tyrants in place of others they resented.

Murder Reveals the True Connection

The wholesale slaughter of people whose crime was their place in traditional institutions or to hold inherited advantage, implicates the Enlightenment’s devotees as servants of Satan. I don’t say that to be sensationalist, but to echo the observation of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ told the religious leaders of His day that they were under the leadership of Satan, and that they had the same murderous ambitions that Satan had. They protested at His claim, but in short time were crying out, “Crucify Him!”

“You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth….” John 8:44

People who are happy to murder others are not in Christ’s team. They are players for the devil. When the French pulled out their guillotine and dispatched thousands of people they set Satan’s royal seal on their endeavours. Tens of thousands (some argue 1 million) people died as a consequence of the French Revolution. Many were simply murdered because of their place of privilege.

This is how the Enlightenment gave us freedom, equality and brotherhood. Hmmmm.

King of America

I am an Aussie and so I am not into American patriotism. I leave that to them. Since American influence over western culture is ubiquitous much is written and said that is tinged with that patriotism. What I am writing here is not to suggest any idolatry of the American nation, but simply to share with you something I recently found which honours God with a significant place in that nation.

But first, some background.

Nations have their own deities, leaders, values, etc. These things have more impact on the nation and its future than might be anticipated by some. So when a nation makes a strong statement about what it is and what it stands for or worships, you can be sure there will be repercussions in the future.

The nation of France, as an example, made a deliberate mockery of God, during the French Revolution. Catholicism had been France’s national religion, but on November 10, 1793 Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was rededicated as a Temple of Reason. An opera dancer, Mademoiselle Maillard, draped in the colours of the new republic, was enthroned as the goddess of reason on the altar of the Cathedral. The Cathedral was then used as a food warehouse during the revolution.

That rejection of Christianity in all its forms has had profound impact on France and Europe in the centuries since.

In 1606 the Spanish explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros arrived at the Pacific islands of New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) and dedicated all the lands from there to the South Pole as “Terra Australis del Espiritu Santu” – the “Great South Land of the Holy Spirit“. This dedication is held to have significant prophetic fulfilment yet to be enjoyed in Australia and New Zealand.

So, now to America. I was delighted to be shown the following excerpt from a tract titled “Common Sense”, written in 1791 by an Englishman who took up the revolutionary cause of the Americas. Thomas Paine uses the term “king of America” and directed it to acknowledge God’s significant role in that nation, which at that time had not yet developed its constitution or gained statehood.

Paine declares that God is the King of America and rules via His Law, which is found in the Bible. Thus a crown should be placed on the Bible itself, to show that God’s law is King and there should be no other. Then scatter the crown among the people to show that the law belongs to them.

“But where says some is the King of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve as monarchy, that in America the law is King. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.” Thomas Paine “Common Sense”

(For a full text of this tract go to: http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/milestones/commonsense/text.html)

Thomas Paine proclaimed, before the formation of the fledgling nation, that God is the sovereign and God’s Word, the Bible, is the holy law upon which the nation is established.

That’s a wonderful start and is just part of what has made America a significant player in world affairs over the past 2 centuries. Note that the French mockery of religion dates to 1793, while Paine’s profession of God’s centrality occurred almost at the same time, 1791. In the 200 years since we can see that Reason did not produce the same national significance that godliness brought to America.

We need to be careful about what we dedicate ourselves to, at an official and practical level. Future generations are at stake.