Remarks by author Mario Diaz, Esq.
Be Spent’s Book Launch Event
December 3, 2015, Washington, D.C.
Be Spent is a book about freedom.
In many ways it is the fruit of many years of study and thinking about the topic, especially in the context of American history. When you think about America, you think freedom.
But what is it; what is freedom?
My interest is not merely theoretical or philosophical. My intrigue with freedom has always found its footing on the practical application. How do we live as free men?
That approach has led me, as I believe it has many before me, to truth, as the one overarching, indispensable requirement to living as free men.
Those of you with a Christian background, of course, will immediately recognize that connection, because Jesus talked about it. He said in John 8:32 that “truth will set us free.”
This is, of course, a reality anyone can see apart from Jesus’s statement.
Take the laws of nature. You cannot live as a free man and ignore the laws of nature because you may not live at all. If you jump out the balcony here, you will go down whether you believe in gravity or not. Therefore, we must abide by the laws of nature if we want to live as free men, or we will suffer the inevitable consequences of ignoring truth—of ignoring reality.
I love Jesus’s and the Bible’s realism, in that regard. Truth will set you free.
In “Be Spent,” therefore I identify the loss of truth as the central quandary of our age, as others have. But I drill down to argue we have lost, not just truth itself, but the appetite for truth.
In other words, we have not lost it like a precious jewel, tearing up the house to find it wherever it is. No, we have stopped looking all together for it. We are not calling out or knocking at the door, so to speak.
In that sense, I think we live getting tripped by all kinds of obstacles, getting all bruised up, not because we are blind, but because we choose to live with our eyes closed.
We suffer from a self-imposed blindness.
The Spirit of the Age tells us a search for truth is futile. You have your truth and I have mine. “Get away from me.”
This is why we have become so intolerant of each other. You see if truth cannot be discovered engagement loses its appeal and isolation becomes much more attractive.
For more on that, take a look at the free speech debates on our college campuses… or at the US Senate, for that matter.
If we care about freedom, we must care about truth.
So what is the answer to Pilate’s question, “What is Truth?” Well, before we go where many of you will want to go, there is a beautiful prayer in John 17, where Jesus prays to the Father for us and in verse 17 he says, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
This is a central point of Be Spent. That the Bible, the Word of God, or at least the principles presented in it are indispensable to freedom, however they are discovered. You cannot have one without the other.
In that sense, and please forgive me the bravado in placing myself anywhere near this giant but, in Be Spent, I am presenting principles of “Mere Christian Citizenship.”
I contend freedom principles are Christian principles. And that Christian principles, in their application to community, contribute to the common good— that are good and profitable for everyone, not just to Christians.
This is discussed in much more detail in the book, but you can see its underpinnings here: if freedom be our aim and truth make us free, His word, which is truth, must be held high.
You can see why I say then that the Christian citizen, the Church, the Body of Christ, who is charged with the dispensation of His word to the ends of the earth, must Be Spent in that task (in the modeling of the application of God’s principles to every area of life) if we are to regain our footing as a country.
I know how crazy it sounds today. Some people’s head would be exploding right now if they were here today. But I challenge them in Be Spent, to not be closed minded, as others before them have been, but to test the claims before dismissing them.
St. Augustine confessed to falling into that trap in his former life. He said, “My rashness and impiety lay in the fact that what I ought to have verified by investigation I had simply asserted as an accusation.”
G.K. Chesterton, said it this way, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”
As Washington recognized, Americans especially, of all people, have no excuse in their failure to recognize this because we saw God’s hand so clearly at our nation’s founding. Here is what he said in his first inaugural address:
No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency… We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.
In other words, we have tried it and it worked. The fruits of those efforts to apply Biblical principles to the way we live and are governed are evident. Nowhere has freedom flourished as in the United States of America.
One example is religious liberty. In the book I discuss that it is actually born of Biblical soil. It is because we are “created,” as our Declaration of Independence asserts, that we should all be free to pursue our Creator. Some people insist that we are somehow fighting for a Theocracy. I think it is because they focus on the abuses of religion, but we need not do that.
We do not fear engagement. We want more engagement. We want dialogue with other faiths. Why? Because we are confident of the Truth we stand on. It is when you are not confident of where you stand that you try to block engagement and silence those who disagree with you.
One of the examples I give comes from my home state. The Declaration of Rights of the Maryland Constitution shows the beautiful balance of belief in a God that can be known and religious liberty:[I]t is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice …
So notice how the “duty” of every man to worship God actually demands religious liberty for all, including the non-believer. Religious liberty is a Christian principle.
There is much more to be said…
But let me wrap it up, by going back to where I think many of you wanted to go when we asked about Truth, so we can come full circle. The “other” answer to what is truth in Scripture comes from John 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Here, again, some people get frustrated with the Bible and say, “see, first the word is truth, now Jesus is truth, which is it?”
And of course, the answer had already been given by John in the first chapter of the gospel.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
Jesus is the Word; that is truth; that makes us free.
Verse 14 caps it all:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The truth will make you free. God’s Word is truth. Jesus is the Word. He will make you free.