He preached the Gospel in its fullness, and thus religious liberty became a political reality and a point of necessary contention in the life and development of the Thirteen Colonies turned United States of the America.
He understood the difference between the Old and New Covenants.
His partner in the faith, Anne Hutchinson, understood the need for the grace of God, not law, to make us righteous and holy.
Of course, the Puritans were not big fans of this revelation.
Like many church people today, and despite the growing number of people learning about the grace of God, there are still so many people looking to be led by the letter of the law rather than the spirit.
Even academics who study religious freedom and write about Roger Williams' influence on the American political culture misunderstand the understanding and foundation of religious liberty. I remember reading one account about Anne Hutchinson, which painted her out as a lawless rogue who had no regard for God's Word.
|Anne Hutchinson on trial|
Yet in the same passage, the author referenced the numerous Bible studies she conducted with her fellow Puritan friends - all women.
The Bible, the New Testament fully, reveal the loving heart of God, who gives grace to the world through His Son Jesus, establishing us in His righteousness and granting us His life.
God was never interested in giving man a set of rules and commands to keep.
He gave us the law so that we would be dead through the law and live through His Son. Paul the Pharisee of Pharisees, explained what the law did for him and for all who lived under law:
"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God." (Galatians 2:19)
"19Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.21Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." (Galatians 3: 19-25)
The law was the schoolmaster which showed everyone of us our need for a Savior, for our need for life.
Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson understood this revelation, and for that reason they were branded heretics. Paul faced the same charges once he preached the Gospel:
"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," (Acts 13: 38-39)
"42And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." (Acts 13: 42-43)
Later on, the Pharisees would accuse Paul and other Christians for preaching against Moses. The same charges were railed against Williams and Hutchinson.
Such is the blessed fate for all who preach the Gospel:
"1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin." (Romans 6:1-7)
From the moment men and women preach the forgiveness of sins and full justification from all things, the first charge that men will rally against the Gospel: You are giving people license to sin! Yet the righteousness of God takes us from death to life, and the grace of God teaches us to say no to sin and yes to godliness (Titus 2:11-14)
To fleshy man stuck in his self-effort, he will hear an invitation to live in sin.
Yet through death to sin, we are alive in Christ. We are set free from sin because there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8: 1). The freedom we have in Christ spreads throughout our life because of His Spirit now free to live in us:
"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Corinthians 3: 17)
This fusion of life and liberty defines the American experience, written in bold letters in the Declaration of Independence. This liberty is not an invitation to lawless license, but grace and peace produced in the regenerated hearts of man who believe that they have been forgiven of all their sins through the blood of Christ Jesus.
|State Flag of Rhode Island|
This is the Gospel, one which glorifies God not man, which makes everything of what Jesus did, and not want man does.
This is the message which Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson believed and preached, and why Rhode Island has a special place in the heart of this California conservative.