Wednesday night hundreds of young people rioted at Berkley University over the Universities plans to allow a speaker who holds a certain point of view to speak on their campus. The event highlights the great divide which now exists in our culture. We also see the importance of our freedom of speech and our freedom to think.
We should begin with our freedom to think. While Paul was preaching in Berea they took time to think. Luke recorded the event for us.
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ac 17:10–13.
First we see their great attitude that allowed them to think. Luke described them as being “noble.” The word “noble” from the Greek εὐγενής is defined as:
① pert. to being of high status, well-born, high-born.…pertaining to having the type of attitude ordinarily associated with well-bred persons, noble-minded, open-minded (BDAG), 404.
We should all strive to be “noble-minded” or “open-minded”. The ability to consider all opinions and critique them according to the facts with an open mind is a necessary facet of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth.
We also note the Bereans method of truth investigation. They “searched the Scriptures daily to see whether or not the things they were being taught were so.” We have the Word of God as the revelation of God’s mind and we must be consistent in judging opinions, doctrines, and practices by what God has said. God’s Word must be the standard. If God’s authority exercised in the Scriptures is not the authority for the most important of questions, we will inevitably fall into the vain useless world of relativism.
With the blessing of freedom to think, we also have the responsibility of freedom of speech. While this is rightly seen as a privilege it is also a responsibility to speak ethically, correctly, and truthfully.
Freedom of speech was correctly utilized by the early church who “could not but speak of the things we have seen and heard.” They “went everywhere preaching the Gospel” (Acts 8:4). Let us use our minds and our copies of God’s Word to accomplish great things as we have opportunity. Let us pray for those opportunities to bless our lives.