Larry Kirkpatrick

A Positive Place on the Web for the Third Angel's Message

Liberty of Conscience and the Common Good

Someone said, if you want to know the value of freedom, ask those who only dream of having it. Thousands of conscientious and perfectly healthy people—this is happening today—are being jettisoned from employ through newly imposed vaccination requirements. Across the Western world, millions, who, until now, have been beneficial employees, are being subjected to coercion. Those conscientiously choosing not to submit to bodily invasion are having their employment taken from them for the “common good.”

This is no small philosophical dislocation. For 500 years the principle of religious liberty has existed at the roots which frame the Western world. The present order of representative government and freedom of conscience is linked inescapably to the immortal words of a lowly monk who dared tell the emperor to his face,

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen. (Jean-Henri Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, b. 7, ch. 8)

As generations pass liberties come to be taken for granted. Close fought battles for the highest principles hundreds of years ago, seem strangely distant to new generations who have never suffered for higher things. An instant gratification mindset combined with short attention span creates new risks. Is the safety for which our civilization is presently exchanging personal liberty, real safety? Or, are precedents being formed which are destructive to personal conscience?

We want to assume that those in authority truly care for us; that their motives are pure and their intention is to make the best decisions for us. Is that a justified assumption?

In reality, government officers and big tech entrepreneurs constitute a very small group of very fallible people. Yet they enforce their will upon masses under their control. Their agendas may truly be for the common good, but it is also possible that their goals are not in the interests of those they are enacting them upon.

We pause now to look together at religious liberty and the common good, but a look that occurs in the frame of 2021 and a global attack on personal liberties.

The “Common Good” Argument and the Papacy

What is this argument for “the common good”? It is the proposal that one group of people should take a certain action because that action is claimed to be beneficial to a larger group. To benefit others we should act unselfishly; we should give up something individually for the good of many others.

This argument has a special appeal to the Christian. He believes the Bible. The Scriptures teach us that Jesus, who never sinned, died for us, to satisfy the penalty for our sins, so that we might be forgiven, transformed, and granted eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”(John 3:16). One dies for the many. We are copying Jesus by giving up something or suffering something in order to help others.

Even the evil want to give good gifts to their children (Luke 11:13). Here is a lever which God or Satan can use to appeal to the converted or even the unconverted mind.

God has designed into humans an appreciation for order. We like it when we know how something works. Order promotes civilization. We like it when we can reason through a matter and understand it. Hierarchy is a phenomenon of order.

These aspects of the human psyche have not escaped the notice of the “prince of the power of the air”(Ephesians 2:2). The Roman Catholic Church founds its exposition of the common good on Romans 13:1-2:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

From this foundation, Rome teaches that human governments are links in a chain of authority stretching from heaven to the Papacy to human governments and to the individual. Thus, church and state act with God-given authority. Even when they misuse that authority, it is said that we are to obey.

The Roman Church declares that the “role [of the state] is to ensure as far as possible the common good of society” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1898). In the Catholic view, God hands authority directly to the church and to the state. The prominent feature of the Papal insignia is crossed silver and gold keys of authority. The silver key symbolizes the power to bind and loose on Earth, and the gold key the power to bind and loose in Heaven. They claim an enormous authority for themselves.

Some who have studied Bible prophecy hold that the Papacy fulfills the prediction of an end-time power which, rather than representing Christ, is antichrist in its essence. Then, rather than standing for the common good of humans, agents of this power would be working toward the moral destruction of as many humans as possible.

Many have been influenced by the current pope’s advocacy of vaccination as a moral duty. One person emphasizing this is California Assemblyman Richard Pan. In 2015 Pan was instrumental in ending California religious vaccination exemptions. Pan comments on forced vaccination in The Washington Post:

The country’s founding motto, ‘E pluribus unum,’ or ‘Out of many, one,’ defines our sacred civic duty to love others as much as ourselves. As Pope Francis has said of the coronavirus vaccines, ‘It is the moral choice because it is about your life but also the lives of others.’ Getting vaccinated is a patriotic act. (Richard Pan, February 28, 2021, The Washington Post, “Opinion: Anti-vaccine extremism is akin to domestic terrorism”)

Another voice is that of Allison Daintree Gross who pleads for forced vaccination to be made “the global standard”:

Why should vaccination be compulsory? Because it’s the right thing to do. The private sector took the first initiative. Some U.S. government agencies are following, but this piecemeal approach will never provide the safety that is required. I hope that highly respected global organizations, such as the United Nations and the World Economic Forum, will work together to pressure all governments to step up and do the right thing. Compulsory vaccination should become the global standard by the end of 2022. Like it or not, this will be the only way for the global economy to recover, the only way forward to ensure the best possible health for global populations.(Allison Daintree Gross, “Why Vaccination Should be Compulsory,” Aug 16, 2021,

Is a choice not to receive a vaccine akin to terrorism? Is saying yes to this command a religious duty? Should the global standard be that nations violate the conscience of those who object, and inject every human being inside their borders? Is it a sacred duty to violate the conscience of another?

Kings of the Earth United Against Jesus

When we see human governments and religious leaders uniting in common purpose, we should be especially alert. How quick they are to prescribe to us what our civic and religious duty is! But the Bible has more to say about religious and civil liberty than the Pope’s or Adolph Hitler’s favorite interpretation of Romans 13. An important Bible fact about human governments is seen in Psalms 2:1-3:

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.

Psalm two says that the kings of the earth stand in rebellion “against the Lord and against His anointed.” Even America, the one and only nation represented in Bible prophecy as sometimes operating under Christlike principles (Revelation 13:11), is foretold in Bible prophecy as shifting finally to the employment of dragonlike coercive powers against its own people.(Revelation 13)

God warns us that the leaders of human nations act in opposition against Him and against His purposes. Luke tells us how the early church viewed Psalms 2:1-3 at Acts 4:25-30. They saw human rulers as combined in acting in rebellion against Jesus. This is why Daniel 2:44 foretells the complete elimination of all human kingdoms. All are immoral. Revelation 18:3 reminds us that all—not most—nation are polluted with the wine of Babylon. Revelation 18:9-19 describes the sorrow of the united state/church/merchant conglomeration when God judges Babylon.

Who Constantly and who Never Forces the Will?

The Western world is framed on the separation of church and state and respect for the conscience of the individual. We have somehow assumed that deep into the final crisis liberty of conscience will be respected. But remember how Satan works:

God never forces the will or the conscience; but Satan’s constant resort—to gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise seduce—is compulsion by cruelty. Through fear or force he endeavors to rule the conscience and to secure homage to himself. To accomplish this, he works through both religious and secular authorities, moving them to the enforcement of human laws in defiance of the law of God.(The Great Controversy, p. 592)

Satan’s constant resort—not his occasional plan but his continuous plan—is to compel, to force, and to control humans, through those religious and governmental agencies he is able to employ. When people submit to force, he is ruling their conscience. Then Satan receives worship to himself.

Satan also knows that his work of deception will be most effective by working in stages. Those who might resist if their freedoms were removed in one swoop, are more easily deceived through the policy of incremental change. Big changes are made by stealth, introduced via many smaller changes.

We should understand that what Luther said about his conscience as a monk holds true for the consciences of all people; conscience is not given only to monks. Every human being is given a conscience. Every human being is given free will. God wants every human being to be true to his conscience. God’s Holy Spirit works on every person’s conscience. When we choose what is right, we are making moral choices. When we choose to go against conscience, we are making immoral choices. The outcome of it all is an ultimately moral or immoral person. Every day, and in every act, the morality of every citizen is, in some measure, being shaped.

To state the matter as plainly as possible, when governments use force to make people engage in certain acts, they are shaping consciences. Then governments have become agents forcing the will. God never forces the will. Then who are those governments agents of?

We are all in training to receive the mark of the beast, or, we are in training to receive the seal of God. Day by day we are making our choices.

Is Their Common Good our Common Good?

We are at present passing through a rare global moment. Something is happening on a global scale to shape human consciences. A significant portion of all the human beings presently alive in the universe is being especially pressured morally.

When has there been a similar time when the earth’s dominant government and industry leaders have shared in common so many concerns about human impacts on the environment? Many of these persons propose that because of overpopulation, the earth is undergoing climate change that is harming the planet. It takes energy to feed, clothe, house, transport, and care for every human being. Many, from a secular, not a religious, standpoint, state they are concerned for the common good because there are too many humans.

But no human leader or group of leaders is intelligent enough to understand whether or not their many assumptions about theoretical climate change and its causes are correct. And what about motivations?

The Bible tells us that 2000 years ago several elite groups (Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians) combined to fight against and even murder an innocent. Their motivation? “It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that this whole nation should perish” because “If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”(John 11:50, 48)

Caiaphas advocated that Jesus be killed so that these groups might continue to exercise their power and influence over the people. These leaders preferred to use force against a man of faith to achieve their self-serving goals.

Today there is a convergence of elite groups—big tech entreprenuers, governments, big pharma, media companies, teacher’s unions—each segment with its own self-serving goals. Money, power, politics and influence have a lot more to do with the force that is squeezing people than the common good. Large pharmaceutical corporations are acquiring enormous wealth. Every forced vaccination means profit for these megacorporations.

Are the goals of these merchants and leaders selfless and benevolent? Should we be assuming they are acting in good will? The Bible tells a consistent story; governments force conscience but God delivers the faithful.

Daniel one shows Daniel resisting putting the unclean into his body although required to by the government of Babylon. Daniel three presents believers in God as refusing to bow down to a golden image in spite of a government decree. Daniel six tells the story of Daniel resisting a governmental law requiring him not to pray to God—a law actually written specifically to bring about the death of Daniel. Revelation 13 foretells a time when none will be permitted to buy or sell if they refuse to obey a government decree.

In all these incidents God sides with the faithful who honor the rights of the individual who refuses to bow down to illegitimate force.

Man’s relation with his God is above human legislation, and his rights of conscience are unremovable. Those rights are innate to us as humans made in God’s image. This relation cannot be changed. Duty to God is superior to human enactments. Man can exercise no legitimate authority over the consciences of other men.

The rise of atheism three centuries ago exemplified in the French Revolution and the murder of millions by totalitarian regimes since then offers nothing in support of the legitimacy of fake collectives. Stalin’s torture and murder of many millions in the Soviet Union was not the exercise of benevolence for the common good, nor Mao’s millions murdered in China. Nor do their atrocities qualify those governments as “not a terror to good works but to evil” (Romans 1:3). Few who present themselves as our leaders today actually represent us or demonstrate interest in our good.

The Real Common Good

The real common good, the true greater good, is that every person would have a conscience sensitive to the leading of the Spirit of God. What would our world be like were every believer in Jesus responsive to the movings of the Holy Spirit? The “common good” would immediately come into being. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”(Romans 8:14) The common good is served best with a population more, not less, sensitive to conscience.

Your Decisions

Your decision individually to vaccinate yourself or not vaccinate yourself is your decision. If you weigh the facts as you understand them and determine that you should vaccinate yourself, then please do so and do so with the blessing of the church. If you weight the facts as you understand them and determine that you should not vaccinate yourself, then please refuse to do so, and refuse with the blessing of the church. The question of whether you choose to be vaccinated or not is your own decision, and every brother and sister in Christ should love and respect you regardless of which decision you make.

Conscience is being formed. We are each responding to the claims being made to us about what action we should undertake. For many this is a question of conscience. And if it is a question of conscience, it is a question of morality. Then it is a question of doing right or doing wrong. Force is being used, coercion is being applied. God never forces the conscience, but Satan constantly resorts to force to rule the conscience. If it is a question of force then it is a question of liberty. If it is a moral question then it is a religious question.

History tells us God’s people can lose their way and join with the world. Bible prophecy foretells a final crisis, and yet to many who profess belief, it is never time for the final crisis; it’s never quite a plain of Dura or mark of the beast moment. Those moments are always conveniently future. It is true that the present is not the prophesied mark of the beast crisis. But when in our lifetimes has the planet faced a question so similar? The Vatican is provoking agents of force to overrun individual conscience, and most churches are doing nothing for their members.

The church should defend and support the decisions of those who through conscience are led to refuse vaccination at this time. This is a religious liberty question. American founder James Madison would, it appears, agree. Madison said that the Religion

of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him.(James Madison, A Memorial And Remonstrance, On The Religious Rights Of Man, written in 1785)

The axe is being laid to the root of the principles upon which western civilization is built. Fake collectives are at work to remove individual liberty. The baseline is shifting. Soon we will not remember what it was like to have the freedoms we once did.

If you allow the government to force you to be injected now, even if it is with something that turns out in the end to be OK, you are setting the precedent that, in future, the government can force you to be injected with anything they want to inject you with. We are in this moment deciding whether humans will continue to be regarded as possessing the right to bodily autonomy.

Choose wisely. Resist firmly. Be God’s church faithfully.


Religious Liberty Congress, Internet, 2021-10-15 via Streamyard