Monday, August 11, 2008

Christian Libertarianism

Here's an interesting article. Halliday argues that not only is libertarianism compatible with Christianity; that libertarianism is the only political philosophy that is compatible with Christianity. His argument appears to be to be a pacifist, as Jesus was, one must necessarily be a libertarian.

It's certainly an intriguing proposal that pacifists must be libertarians. Unfortunately, Halliday wholly ignores the most statist New Testament passages.


Bryan said...

Maybe he doesn't "ignore" Romans 13. Maybe he takes it in context and understands it. Assuming the the Bible doesn't contradict itself, and reading the passage with consideration to its author, and to whom it was written, and the time, place and political atmosphere it should be obvious that Romans 13 is not a general call for Christians to blindly obey the state. Personally, I prefer 1 Samuel 8.

1And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.

2Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.

3And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

4Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,

5And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

6But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.

7And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

9Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

10And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.

11And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

12And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

13And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

14And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

15And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

16And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

17He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

18And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.

19Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

20That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

21And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.

22And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

John said...

Regardless of how Romans 13 is read (I think of it an effort to sow favorable impressions with Roman spies) the author doesn't even mention the passage, let alone explain his reading of it. A surface-level reading of Romans 13 is deeply statist, and it cannot be ignored in any assessment of a Biblical understanding of government authority.

BruceA said...

Halliday also ignores the fact that libertarianism shares with (classical) Marxism the mistaken belief that humans are essentially good, and that a society can thrive in a state of anarchy. Not only is such a philosophy antithetical to Christianity, it is also hopelessly naive.

Craig J. Bolton said...

Halliday also ignores the fact that libertarianism shares with (classical) Marxism the mistaken belief that humans are essentially good,..


I am curious, Bruce, if you could give us a citation to some prominent libertarian declaring that humans are essentially good. Just one will do [albeit anyone familiar with libertarianism knows that it is an incredibly diverse movement].

Next, maybe you can tell us what Christians believe on that topic. Now not TRUE Christian, Bruce, just plain vanilla Christians....

Michael said...

Having become completely disgusted with the Republican/Democrat trap we've become entangled with, I'm seriously considering libertarian Bob Barr even if it might "take votes" from someone. No third party will be taken seriously until we give them serious consideration!

Considering the libertarian point of view, which is minimalist government including Social Security, is the Church willing to take up the slack? In other words, if we suddenly find ourselves with more take-home pay, will we choose to do the Christian thing with our newfound wealth?

I see the Church and the state inherently in conflict with one another even as "statist" passages call us into submission. However, these passages may do little more than simply acknowledge a state's existence, not necessarily proclaim its goodness even as a central state is the only effective tool against anarchism.

Is man inherently good so much so that we could survive as a society without a central government? I think not because government is the product of man's ideals to prevent anarchy.

JD said...

Michael said:

"Considering the libertarian point of view, which is minimalist government including Social Security, is the Church willing to take up the slack? In other words, if we suddenly find ourselves with more take-home pay, will we choose to do the Christian thing with our newfound wealth?

If, as Christians, we are already practicing the biblical principal of tithing, this point would be moot, but I see your point.


JD said...

Bruce said:

"...the mistaken belief that humans are essentially good"

I was raised Catholic and even as a Methodist now, I do not hold true that man is not basically good. This world twists the creation of our Lord into some sort of perversion that allows for bad things to be, but these were never "created" as bad in their original design.


John said...

Bob Barr is historically statist, so I don't trust his sudden libertarianism.

I plan on voting for the Burge/Goldstein ticket.

JD said...

Unfortunately, Bob Barr is a republican that wanted a little spot light so he pushed his way into the libertarian camp. Ron Paul is more libertarian than Bob Barr.


Brian said...

I appreciated Bryan's comments on Romans 13 and 1 Samuel 8. I find verse 7 of 1 Samuel 8 very informative.

And the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

Israel wanted a king, a new form of government. In rejecting the former government, the Lord said they were rejecting Him. What was that previous form of government?

In Exodus 18, Jethro directed Moses to establish representatives, chosen by the people, who would judge between cases. It was an appellate court. From a human perspective, the entire "government" of Israel was a representative appellate court.

God established three spheres of authority: the family, the Church, and the state. A family is responsible for itself, for training the children, for providing for the elderly and infirm within it. The Church has the responsibilities of the Gospel, the Sacraments, discipline for restoration. The Church is also responsible for widows and orphans - those without families to protect them. The State is responsible for justice.

Statism is alway antichrist. That may sound like a strong statement, but consider the "preamble" to the Ten Commandments:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

The moral law is binding to us, because the Lord is our deliverer, our Savior. Christ has delivered us out of the kingdom of darkness, therefore we are bound to obey Him.

When the state oversteps its responsibility and begins claiming the responsibilities of the other spheres, it operates outside God's established order. When a state assumes the right to train the children, to care for the widows and orphans, it robs the family and the Church of their responsibilities.

When a state steps in to provide welfare, to deliver you from disappointment and provide for your material comfort, the state has assumed the position of Savior. As a savior, the state can demand your obedience.

Consider again Romans 13:1

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.

Ever soul should be subject to the governing authorities, not because the state is their Savior, but because the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

I have the same problem when a pastor wants to take Ephesians 5 and make it a legalistic passage. Wives submit to husbands and husbands love their wives, not because the husband is Lord or because the wife is beautiful and perfect. There is mutual love and respect in marriage because Christ so loved the Church. Ephesians 5 should not be separated from Ephesians 1-3. You love your wife because Christ is your Savior. You submit to your husband because Christ is your Savior. And what you are really doing is loving Christ and submitting to Christ.

And so with the state. In America, we have a government which is of the people, by the people and for the people. It is our duty as Christians, in so far as we are able, to work together to bring the state back into its Biblical sphere of responsibility.

That is why I believe a Christian should be a libertarian, a minarchist, a Constitutionalist.