Matthew T. Phillips

Religion and Freedom

Semester at Centenary
Centenary United Methodist Church
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Semester at Centenary is a Sunday morning academy-type lecture series for adults of all ages. For information about Spring 2006 offerings, click here.

Religion and Freedom is a four-part series outlining the meanings of freedom in theology and politics and tracing the development of individual, congregational, and denominational freedom of faith and practice.

Recommended Reading

Find books used in these presentations and recommended for further reading on the Semester at Centenary Religion and Freedom Recommended Reading List.

Class Recordings

Semester at Centenary classes are recorded by Centenary United Methodist Church. Go to the Semester at Centenary page on the church’s website to see a list of available lectures or click below for a Religion and Freedom lecture recording.

Google Video is also hosting video recordings of the series, which include the audio recordings above as well as a low-resolution version of the PowerPoint slideshow used in the presentation.

Class Summaries

February 12: Theological Freedom

The word freedom conjures up images of flags and fireworks, but it also has a theological meaning regarding our ability to act as we choose in God’s world. Are there bounds to our freedom? How is freedom connected with sin? This is the starting place for understanding connections between patriotism in a free society and our faith.

February 19: Freedom Within the Church

While focus is often placed on church and state issues, more conflict is created by tension regarding the beliefs and excercises within churches: which hymns do we sing; do we believe the Bible is literally true; do we have a flad in the sanctuary; and which baptisms will we recognize? Churches handle these questions differently, and our own denomination is a great case study because despite relatively rigid doctrine, it is regarded as a theologically flexible and open church.

February 26: Freedom of Belief and Practice

We have a gut feeling about the separation of church and state, but the development and meaning of freedom of religion in our society is far more rich than a clean-cut “wall of separation” implies. We’ll look at the original concept of separation and talk about the current trends in constitutional law.

March 5: Church and State in American Life

Special Guest: The Rev. Dr. James M. Dunn
Professor of Christianity and Public Policy
Wake Forest University Divinity School

Dr. Dunn has spent much of his professional life on the front lines of the effort to secure the separation of church and state, and he will talk from his considerable experience about the vested interest of the faithful in protecting religious freedoms for all and discuss the ways increased connections between religious conservatives and political leaders affect those freedoms.