Open Door, Freedom, and the Law of the Pledge

“Behold I stand at the door and knock! If any man will hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him”

Our country, our natural world is at war.  What do we do in wartime? We seem to be forced to take a side.  In past World wars between countries people took the side of their country, unless they saw the evil of their country’s motives and defected, like the “Sound of Music.” (The Word tells us to love our country but if we disagree with our country we must do it no harm even if we enter civil disobedience in not adhering to its unjust laws cf Daniel in Babylon)

In civil wars fellow country men are up at arms against their neighbours, and sometimes their own family members.

In some conflicts protesters against what they consider to be the unjust decisions of their country are assassinated by their own civil leaders.  Canada has stood as a beacon of light and freedom to the enslaved people from the south as well as those 50 years ago who did not agree with the conflict taking place in South East Asia.  Draft Dodgers entered the portals of our country to find help.

Today our war its not against another country, social group or subset of society, it is against a micro organism causing a potentially deadly disease among our selves, those we love, those we know and those we do not know.


Today the hells are having a heyday!  They conspire to increase fear, their most powerful weapon to enslave people to their kind of life.  The hells are kept in order by fear, its the only thing that works, fear and pain, suffering, anxiety.  Devils and Satans have innumerable weapons in their arsenal to use against us.  One of the best is EMNITY,  coupled with contempt, followed by hatred, anger, cruelty, persuasion.

Enmity is seeing others as your enemy.  Anyone who does not agree with your position on some subject, or your choice in some matter.

The Hells wish for people to take sides and hate each other, to hold others in contempt for not seeing things the way we do.  They desire to bring out their weapons to force others to take a side and start a fight against their neighbour.   This tactic has worked wonderfully in the past in splitting the church over doctrinal, legal, medical and moral issues.  And it is hard at work today, all across the globe in large and small societies of the New Church.

Historically the vaccination issue has been with us a very long time.  Many good new church people a hundred plus years ago were homeopathic practitioners, as many still are today. Congregations protested the enforced imposition of vaccines as a conscientious affront to their freedom of choice, as they did decades later to the laws of prohibition against alcohol.  Just because the government makes up its mind to force some mandate does not make it right! We know this in our own modern discovery concerning Residential Schools and the sad murder of many children as a result of government mandates.

In the case of vaccines, the leading priests and laymen of the church choose to resist the mandates on spiritual and conscientious grounds.  It was not until the real threat that the Academy itself would be shut down that the Executive Bishop capitulated against his own personal convictions and persuaded to leading laymen and financial backers to do the same.

Those leaders continued to live in harmony together, with the leading layman continuing his vaccination crusade outside the sphere of the local congregation. He made important strides in the freedom of choice and freedom of bodily medical decisions on the national level. (For more info. See here.

In discussion of these issues in relation to freedom of choice two more modern bishops speak of the “Law of the Pledge” in some of the quotes from the rest of this sermon.

RT Rev Louis B. King, 1975: See Here.

Freedom of choice is the image of the Divine in man. Nothing is more sacred to him or distinctly his own than the ability and the will to respond to life's forces as of self. A free and reasoned response is the pledge of human character, of the will and the understanding united, which man (by regeneration) brings out of the house of his human mind to return freely to the Lord.

When we share with our fellow man an idea based on some truth from revelation, (church doctrine, civil, social, scientific, medical or (MKC))… and nature, we are acting as a medium through whom the Lord upbuilds the character of another. All that the Lord gives to man He gives through man. But in so giving let us guard zealously the recipient's freedom to accept or reject. It is our right to present the truth forcefully, to reinforce it with every reasoned conviction of the rational faculty; but never are we to trespass upon the domain of his free election. His sacred right is to consider and reconsider our offering. He must decide for himself, and such a decision involves not only reasoned reflection but conscientious willing. Love is the life of man. It resides in his will and we, no matter how convinced of the truth and goodness of our offering, must not intrude our convictions upon another's will or try in any way to control his choice.

The ancient law of the pledge given by the Lord through Moses to the children of Israel illustrates the regard we should have for the freedom of others.

The lender (the benefactor) was not to set foot in the house of the borrower to obtain a pledge for his loan. The borrower was to be in complete freedom to accept or reject the terms of the loan and he was guaranteed the privacy of his home to so consider. If he decided to receive the loan, he would bring out to the lender a pledge, a verbal or written contract, or perhaps a valued article as collateral.

So do we in our own age become spiritual lenders and borrowers to each other' "Here is the truth as I see it" we say to our fellows. "This, I would suggest, is the right action in your situation. Think about it! See if it is not the way of use and hence in keeping with the Lord's will."

So should we lend our counsel to our friends. And if they consider and accept it, their will's consent becomes a pledge, a pledge of love, of life and, therefore, a pledge to be made in utter freedom in the privacy of their own heart.


The necessity of making a choice and the direction of that choice we may urgently, advocate to another. With skill, perception and the most unselfish motive we may implore the will of another and woo his reason. Yet we are not to enter the house of his will. We are to stand patiently, sympathetically outside and receive his pledge at his hand.

"Behold I stand at the door and knock! If any man will hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with Me.”

RT REV Willard D Pendleton 1957:

(All bold = mkc)

The spirit of persuasion is an evil thing. This is the meaning of the text. This is why it is that in our relations with others we must await the pledge.  If it be given we may press our claim to the truth: if withheld, it is not to be forced by subtle reasoning or an appeal to self-interest.

As the Writings observe: "One should not bind or incite another to confirm one's own truths, but should hear him and take his answers as they are in himself. For he who binds and incites another to confirm his own truths, causes the other not to think and speak from himself, but from him" (AC 9213: 6). So to incite another is to possess his mind-to take by persuasion that which is not freely given.

This is the sin of the zealot-the sin of him who seeks to excite others to the religious way of life. To preach the Gospel is one thing; to excite states of religious enthusiasm is another. The one is an appeal to the self- evidencing reason of truth: the other is an emotional persuasion. This is the fundamental reason for the slow growth of the church.

In the law of the pledge we are warned of the debtor's right, and we are not permitted to enter the house of another to take his pledge. The man of the church is to be a free man-a man who is free from all external compulsion in matters of doctrine and faith. Neither the priesthood, nor any other human authority, has the right to exact recognition of a spiritual debt.

When doctrinal differences arise, or when through ignorance or seeming indifference others are unmindful of their obligations to the church, we are not to insist. Our only recourse is to the Divine Law. We must "stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge unto thee." We may plead our cause, but we are not to force him against his will. This is the reason that the confessional is not included in the rites of the church, and that penitential practices are not observed among us. No man, be he priest or layman, is to require of another that which is not offered in freedom.

The appearance is, however, that the end justifies the means-that if our cause be righteous, persuasion is permissible. Yet the purpose of permissions, wherever they apply, is that freedom may be preserved. Hence the teaching that the Lord permits what He does not will, and this for the sake of freedom. If, then, through the exercise of a permission, a man is deprived of his freedom, it is not a permission of Providence, it is a thing of evil. So it is that he who instructs or advises another, he who in one way or another seeks to lead men to the good of life, must speak the truth.

If the truth does not convince we are not to enter his house, for the spirit of persuasion is an evil thing.

The purpose in all instruction should be to lead men to the good of life by way of truth, yet the man of the church is not to be bound by such instruction as he receives. If in conscience he cannot accept the doctrinal interpretations of priests and leaders of thought, let him go to the Word and plead his cause. He is the debtor, and as such his is the right to question what is taught. Before the Law he is a free man-free to determine for himself what is true. So it is said in the Arcana: "He who believes differently from the priest, and makes no disturbance, must be left in peace; but [it is added] he who makes a disturbance must be separated" (no. 10798). To disturb is to insist upon our own interpretation of doctrine-to require of others that which we are not willing that others require of us. This is the sin of the unmerciful debtor spoken of in Matthew, who, when his lord forgave him his debts, demanded payment of his debtors.

Let those, therefore, who feel that they are being deprived of their freedom by the pressure of human opinion go to the Word. Here there is no persuasion, no false emphasis which impels belief. Note well the teaching of the Writings that the "Lord never compels any one; for he who is compelled to think what is true and do what is good is not reformed (AC 1947). Wherefore it is a law of Divine Providence that the understanding and will of another is not to be forced, for that which compels takes away freedom (AE 1150: 3). It is added, however, that man should compel himself, for to compel one's self is from freedom" (ibid.).

...that which is truly rational never compels. It is the way of the Lord who in the supreme sense of the word is the creditor of all. He it is who stands abroad and awaits the pledge-that affirmative response which is the sign of faith in Him. All wisdom, all knowledge, all truth are His. Even the house in which we dwell is of His building. Yet the Lord does not enter the house and force acknowledgment of the debt; for: "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man will hear My voice and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3: 20). If, therefore, the Lord does not require satisfaction of us, wherefore should we, who are His debtors, require satisfaction of those who have borrowed of us?

A respect for the freedom of others is the highest form of charity. In all human relationships it takes precedence over every other good. This is why we are not to place others under a sense of obligation to us, and where such obligations are incurred we are not to insist upon a recognition of the debt. It is a grievous thing to bind others with a sense of personal indebtedness-to require of them what they would not do were they left in freedom. Thus it is that we are permitted to stand abroad and call upon our neighbor, to remind him of his responsibilities to the church and to society at large, but we are not to enter his house and force his conscience. 

A man's conscience consists of such truths as he possesses, that is, those truths which by way of regeneration he has made his own. In the Word they are likened unto raiment which clothes the body-the body representing the good of life. Hence it was that among the Israelites, particularly the poor of the land who had few possessions, garments were used as pledges. Because of their representation they served as a sign of good faith, even as we accept a man's word as an ultimate expression of moral integrity. Yet a man's word is not to be forced. We are not to exact a promise of another, either implied or expressed, which in conscience he cannot keep. So it is said in the text: "If a man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge. In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord."

The reference here is to the hyke, a coarse blanket which the nomad nations of the East used as a cloak by day and as a covering by night. It was an all-purpose garment and an essential of life. According to law it could be used as a pledge but if the man was poor it was to be returned by the going down of the sun. So it is said in Exodus: "If thou at all take thy neighbor's raiment to  pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: for that is his covering only it is his raiment for his skin; wherein shall he sleep? And it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious" (Exodus 22: 26, 27).

The outer garment of the spirit is woven of natural truths-those truths which are drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word and form a social and moral conscience. In states of spiritual obscurity, that is, when the sun goes down, it is, as it were, our only possession. It is in such states that we lose the vision of the spiritual ends for which we are laboring, and we perform our uses from a sense of duty rather than from delight. It is a time of spiritual recession in which the mind is not responsive to the appeal of interior truth. Like the debtor we hear the voice of the creditor as He calls upon us from without, but "hearing we hear not." 

Yet the Lord does not force our states. At no time does He compel a recognition of our spiritual debts. His mercy is upon us when the sun is up and when it goeth down, "For I [the Lord] am gracious." 

In remembrance of His mercy we, too, must extend to others that spirit of understanding when they will not hear us. In matters of life, as well as in matters of faith, we must not force their hands. When men are apparently unmindful of their obligations to society and the church, the temptation is to force their conscience, to gain by persuasion what we cannot accomplish by a presentation of use. The appearance is that the end justifies the means, yet the truth is that the end is not served where freedom is impaired. If, therefore, a man is beholden to us, if he is under a moral or social obligation to us, we are to return his garment to him before the sun goeth down; "and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord."

To return the garment is to return to the neighbor the full use of his own conscience in the application of doctrine to life; or, where differences exist, to desist from dispute when it is apparent that the mind of another is being forced. Especially is this true when men come into states of uncertainty regarding doctrines and principles. In such states instruction is needful, and this is the creditor's right. He may stand abroad and call upon the debtor, but he is not to enter his house… In the recognition of his spiritual obligations he is to be left in freedom, for this is the debtor's right. Amen.