Libertarianism vs. Theocracy: Is Libertarianism a Christian Political Philosophy?

by Kenneth Gary Talbot, Ph.D.
President & Professor of Theology and Apologetics, Whitefield Theological Seminary
Board Member, American Vision, Inc.

The late Rev. R. J. Rushdoony once wrote, “Few things are more commonly misunderstood than the nature and meaning of theocracy. It is commonly assumed to be a dictatorial rule by self-appointed men who claim to rule for God. In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had.”[1] The term “theocracy” is, indeed, a misunderstood concept even among historic Orthodox and Evangelical Protestant Christianity. The misunderstanding is especially true in the 21st Century with the rise of “radical fundamentalism” among various world religions. Such radical movements have always given rise to “dictatorial” rule.

Theocracy, however, as properly understood in terms of Biblical law within the context of Hebraic and Christian theology denies the right of the dictatorial rule by one or a few men. The context must be understood in light of the Old and New Testament, God alone, as Creator, has given His Law-Word to rule and judge all men and nations. The question might naturally occur to a thinking individual, why did Rev. Rushdoony make a comparison then of “theocracy” with “radical libertarianism?” If one reads his article carefully in which this comparison is given, it will become evident as to his meaning. However, before we clarify this expression, we first need to understand the historical context and the development of political libertarianism.

The Historical Development of Libertarianism

It is helpful to understand the etymological development of a term, its historic context in which it was coined, and the ideology which it represented at that particular time. Yet, it is important that we remember terms eventually come to mean a variety of things, some not so closely associated with their etymological beginning. According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the word libertarian is derived from the Latin term liber meaning free or libertas which means liberty.[2] The term means “pertaining to liberty, or to the doctrine of free will, as opposed to the doctrine of necessity (or determinism).”[3] The term libertarian as it represents a political theory was derived from the French cognate Libertarie meaning anarchist meaning “the absence of governmental authority or the state of lawlessness.”[4] Libertarian political philosophy as we know it today has its roots in the classical liberalism of the European political philosophers. Some of these philosophers inspired the post-revolutionary governments of the latter 18th century in both the United States and France.

The basic tenets of this classical liberalism can be summed up as follows: Every individual person has a right to be left alone, to live out their lives independent of government and other individuals, just as long as they do not interfere or infringe on the rights of others so that they can legitimately pursue their lives independently of other individuals and the state. Thus, the only valid reason for the existence of government is to protect these rights of the individual citizens so that they can pursue, without interference or infringement, their desires and actions in an autonomous manner. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy defines ‘libertarianism’ as a philosophy that, “… advocate[s] the maximization of individual rights, especially those connected with the operation of a free market, and the minimizing of the role of the state.”[5]

The historical context in which this political-economic system is developed is critically important. What needs to be considered is that classical libertarianism must be considered in its historical context. Libertarianism originally was the term coined in 1857 by the Frenchman Joseph Déjacque (born December 27, 1821, in Paris, and died in 1864 in Paris) applying it to himself in defense against Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. The term itself was representative of his libertarian anarchical political philosophy.[6] However, this is not the first time the term libertarian was used. The term itself was used during the final years of the Enlightenment where the term was used philosophically to represent those who held to free will over-against determinism.

Classical Libertarianism: What does it teach?

In classical libertarianism, the main concept that is promoted is that of freedom of the individual over against any and all forms of determinism. Libertarianism, we maintain, contains the idea that man is free from all external constraints be it an over-powering individual or individuals (Dictatorial Rule) or an over-powering state (National Collectivism) or an over-powering church or God (Theocracy). Historically, the term libertarian is used in a variety of ways: first as representing classical liberalism; second as representing libertarian socialism or communism; third, a substitute for anarcho-communist; or as a synonym for anarchism.

The early libertarian movement represented a view that man had the absolute authority over his decisions. His decisions were an extension of his rights to be absolutely free from any form of infringement or constraint that would hinder him from choosing or determining for himself! Dagobert Runes in his Dictionary of Philosophy writes that freedom of the will meant, “The freedom of self-determination consisting in decisions independent of external constraint but in accordance with the inner motives of ideals of the agent.”[7] This type of ‘freedom of self-determination’ is nothing more than humanistic autonomy. It is individualism taken to the extreme. Even in matters pertaining to economics it is unbiblical. Dr. Rushdoony wrote:

Man without God seeks to expand his power exponentially, whereas, man under God seeks to place his entire being under the law of God. Statist power will increase and develop to the degree that the state and its peoples are not Christian. The non-Christian who wants to limit the power of the state will seek then to increase his own. Humanistic libertarianism is an exceptionally good critic of state power, especially in the economic realm, but it then warps its own position too commonly by replacing the power of the state with the power of the individual to be lawless sexually; homosexual freedom has become basic to all too many libertarians. The Marquis de Sade pursued the logic of libertarianism, or anarchism, relentlessly. Total freedom for the individual means total power to do anything; every man as his own god means every man as his own law and judge. Karl Marx understood that this anarchism undermined socialism and communism, which presupposes a common order, and hence his bitter attack on Max Stirner for his radical anarchism. Without God and His law man and the state will expand their powers ceaselessly. Total statism and total anarchy are the outcomes.”[8]

Dr. Rushdoony demonstrates that the classical usage of the term libertarianism is to be rejected because it views man as “god” and promotes “lawlessness.” In this same context he also states: “Thus, libertarian economics, which holds strictly to totally private property, leaves property as rootless as does socialistic economics: it divorces it from the past and the future. Property then becomes existential: its meaning is limited to the meaning the existentialist individual gives to it, and no more. Socialism, and also existentialism, ties property to the existence of the state.”[9]

The point is that libertarianism, in and of itself, which operates with the philosophical ideology that man is to be self-determining with absolute power and authority over his own life and choices (rights) is to be rejected by Christians as being just as horrific as an ungodly statism. Why? It is because both notions are antithetical to biblical law and fails to understand God’s absolute right of ownership and therefore to rule over His creation. Libertarianism in and of its self is not Christian! However, in the right context of a theocracy, that is, where God’s law is properly instituted in our society, there are libertarian concepts that are comparative in principle and if modified by the Word of God, do closely align with the Scripture.

Libertarianism is not Christian

It is in this context that we can now understand the use of the term Libertarianism in Rushdoony’s language when he says “In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had.” It is not that theocracy as expressed in biblical law is libertarianism, not at all! Rather, a Christian theocracy in the context of applying biblical law, where God has, through Jesus Christ’s redemption, freed man from sin to serve God according to His Law-Word (self-government), and restricts the power of government as originally intended by Him. St. Paul says in Romans 13 that all power and authority comes from God alone. Government is under the authority of God and His Law-Word.

The purpose of Government is to punish evil and promote and protect the good, not as the state defines evil and good, but as God defines them in the Holy Bible. In this way man is freed from unbiblical restraints of an oppressive state and yet is restricted from excessive individualism that seeks to free him from God’s rule. Dr. Rushdoony states:

There is another important aspect to God’s law. It may seem to a modern lawyer or judge that 613 laws are too few. The truth is even more radical. As we shall see, of the 613 laws, many are not enforceable by man, but only by God. This means that the jurisdictions of church and state are very limited. We have here a godly libertarianism which severely limits the powers of all human agencies. Biblical law seems oppressive only to those who want freedom to sin. God’s laws have as their purpose our good. In Deuteronomy 10:13, God orders us through Moses: “To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good.”[10]

Now the opening statement by Dr. Rushdoony is in the context of what the meaning of “theocracy” is and he states that most people today do not understand what the term itself implies. They see it as a “dictatorial rule” of a few over the whole. Then he makes a comparison: “In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had.” It has a strong emphasis against an oppressive dictatorial rule by men. In this sense, it is just the opposite! The closest thing to compare a Biblical Theocracy would be a “radical libertarianism.” God’s Word clearly advocates a limited state power and authority. The Bible also speaks to the rights of the people to be self-governing, but only within the context of His Law-Word. What classical libertarianism lacks is “Biblical law” and that is why it is rejected by Dr. Rushdoony, and rightfully so.

Conclusion

Libertarianism today is not Christian. Modern libertarianism does seek “a form” of self-government and seeks “to limit” the power of the state or government, but it does not do so in terms of God’s law, but rather in the declaration of the absolute rights of men. Therefore, both authoritarian statism and authoritarian individualism always eventually leads to tyranny in one form or another; and in relation to God’s law they are both anarchist! Once example of this can be contextualized when Libertarian Ron Paul was asked – what influence would Christianity have on his political decision making? His answer was clearly humanistic. Paul stated: “Well, my religious beliefs wouldn’t affect [my presidency]. My religious beliefs affect my character in the way I treat people and the way I live. The only thing that would affect me in the way I operate as a president or a congressman is my oath of office and my promises that I’ve made to the people.”[11]

While I have a great deal of respect for Rep. Ron Paul, and hold too many of his recommendations about changes that need to be made in our country, his Methodist “semi-pelagian” theology is bankrupt as to how, as professed Christian, he should govern our nation if chosen to be President. This is the problem. This kind of libertarianism has no biblical world and life view which sees all things under the absolute power and authority of Jesus Christ our Supreme King. I doubt that Rep. Paul has any idea that he is promoting a humanistic political-economic theory. However, if he does, then he is simply advocating the “pretended autonomy” of man and while it is conservative, it is not Biblical. While much of his ideas would be pragmatically helpful, they are not the biblical solutions to solve our nation’s problems. For the Christian, the answers to America’s problems cannot be found in an unbiblical statism or individualism, but only from the Law-Word of God.

The warnings are given to us in Proverbs 14:34: Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people; and in Psalms 9:17: The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. The blessings of God cannot come when a nation refuses to follow the Law-Word of God. The blessings of God only come when those who honor Him and His Law-Word are being implemented into our society. The Wise King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 29:2: When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan. As Bible-believing Christian we desire neither a humanistic libertarianism nor humanistic statism. Rather, our desire is for a Christian Republic where true justice is rightfully understood in light of the “crown rights of King Jesus” that is, where all men stand equally before the Moral Law of God and where that Law is rightfully enforced.


[1] Roots for Reconstruction, pg. 63, Chalcedon Position Paper No. 15

[2] An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, Foundation for American Christian Education

[3] An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, Foundation for American Christian Education

[4] Merrian-Webster On-line Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anarchy

[5] The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Second Edition, Simon Blackburn, Oxford University Press, 2005

[6] Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE-1939). Montreal, Canada: Black Rose Books

[7] Dictionary of Philosophy, Dagobert D. Runes, 16th Edition, Revised, Philosophical Library, Inc. Copyright 1960

[8] Institutes of Biblical Law Volume III, Rousas John Rushdoony, pg. 156, Ross House Books, Copyright 1999

[9] Institutes of Biblical Law Volume I, Rousas John Rushdoony, pg. 392-393, Ross House Books, Copyright 1982

[10] Op Cit, pg. 157

[11] http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/resources/quotes/ron-paul-on-the-influence-of-his-religious-beliefs-on-his-office-at-the-cnn-florida-gop-debate

Consider partnering with us

108 comments
Patriotrocker
Patriotrocker

I have friends who are libertarians.  Yet the say they are Christians.  I always wondered how that can be.  They seem to not be able to be discriminate about ANYTHING.  They remind me of liberals-and I guess in a way they are what's considered "classic liberals".  They don't believe that ANYTHING should really be labeled "illegal" or "wrong".  They place more value-it seems- on man's rights than on the laws of God.  I think its because they are so fearful of what an all-powerful government can -and usually will-do.  I'm a conservative who has never fully been able to get on board with libertarianism.  I was just never able to explain why-or even really KNOW why-until I read your article here.  Thank you.

RRR#3
RRR#3

After reading through most of these comments I can only come to one conclusion and that is that all of you are knit-picking. You are all basically saying the same thing. Funny how this all played out. It reminds me of the tower of babble.

Peter
Peter

This is an interesting article, but it is wrong on its face. All Laws are man's law, because man is the agent who will enforce them. Things will happen that are neither black nor white. Unless God plans to govern by lightning bold, some man must determine whether or not the situation is black, white, or gray, and then what to do about it The situation gets worse when you address the needs of a modern society far more complex than the bronze-age one to whom the Laws were given. What does Leviticus say about the laws and regulations governing the safety of passenger vessels at sea? What does it say about the laws and regulations governing the conduct of physicians and Registered Professional Engineers, both of whom daily take into their hands the safety of a trusting public. This is not to say that Biblical Law could not be interpreted to cover these things. Perhaps it could, but the critical word is "interpreted." The Law may come from the Hand of God, but it is interpreted and executed by the hand of man. In that interpretation and execution the Light of God's Law is refracted through the prism of man's faith and intellect. It is that refraction which transforms the Law of God into the law of man.

E Harris
E Harris

Although we may be a "narrow slice" of christianity, the details that we are discussing here are in the hearts of the majority of Americans and people in general. They just don't know it. When we find ways to PROPERLY ARTICULATE the truth, and then all rally around that as we are persuaded, more people will see the Light and come.

Cromwell
Cromwell

Rothbard, the founder of Ron Paul's "Libertarianism" or rather "Anarcho-Capitalism" during the 1960's "revolution" explaining why he REJECTED Classical Liberalism. He was asked that if the Social Contract of Classical libeeralism is the rationale for "Limited Government"....then.. "“why can’t society also agree to have a government build steel mills and have price controls and whatever? At that point I realized that the laissez-faire position is terribly inconsistent, and I either had to go on to anarchism or become a statist.” - Murray Rothbard" Lew Rockwell has the Tag-Line "Anti-State" and markets a red "Anarchist" logo for "Anarcho-Capitalism". None of this is remotely Biblical or sane. Ron Paul knows exactly what it is he promotes and believes in and knows its the rejection of "limited Government" altogether, dressed up in the rhetoric of "liberty" "constitution" and sometimes "limited government".

Cromwell
Cromwell

Its not accurate to call the Ron Paul/Murray Rothbard/Lew Rockwell clique, "Libertarians". They are "Anarcho-Capitalist" or "Libertarian Anarchist", they are most definitely NOT classical Libertarians and far removed from Classical Liberalism and Conservatism. Rothbard rejected Classical Liberalism altogether, there is nothing Biblical about it and based in raw Humanism and the Glory of Man.

E Harris
E Harris

Correct. Only Christian Libertarianism can even function. Right? Christ must come as a first principle and direct foundation, or it's destructive and encouraging to evil everywhere.

Cromwell
Cromwell

Romans 13 among other parts of the Bible makes its pretty clear Anarchism isn't Biblical concept, yet that is what is at the heart of the Rothbardian movement. Rothbardianism isn't any better, or sane, than Communism. Applied it would lead to a War Lord society.

Isaac
Isaac

Thanks to Dr. Talbot for this excellent critique of the philosophical origins of libertarianism. However, I think we need to be careful not to commit the genetic fallacy when it comes to the specific ideas of Ron Paul. It’s one thing to criticize Classical libertarianism, but it’s another thing to extend that to Paul himself. This article does a great job with the former, but as to the latter, no clear line has been drawn from the anarchist ideas of the classical libertarians to the positions held by Dr. Paul. Biblical Law holds to limited civil government that rests on other forms of government, which all rest on the law of God. Rushdoony wrote in his “Institutes” vol. 2 – “In the Kingdom of Man, true government means self-determination in an autonomous rather than responsible sense. Responsibility means accountability to someone; the self-determination desired by autonomous man is an irresponsible one; it involves a denial of responsibility because man is his own god, accountable ostensibly to no one. The goal of the Kingdom of Man is a world of total self-predestination in which all controlling institutions, including the state, disappear… Anarchy is the father of statism and totalitarianism…” This is very similar to Dr. Talbot’s description of libertarianism. Autonomy from all human government, not merely the state. Yet, while Ron Paul’s ideas come in the libertarian trappings of “self-determinism,” his ideas do not amount to espousing anarchy, and align more with the Biblical model that Dr. Rushdoony also wrote of: “A civil order rests, as far as law and order are concerned, less on the state and more on the faith and conscience of the people… Moreover, the major part of part of all government rests on non-statist institutions, the family, church, school, vocations, social pressures, friends and relatives, traditions, and much more… Not too many years ago, a large percentage of Americans could live and die without ever seeing a statist official, a sheriff or his deputies, a judge, or any like statist officer. Crime was remote, and local non-statist institutions blanketed man with their government… the modern humanistic state, applying the logic of the fall, works to dissolve all traditional forms of government in favor of its own.” In contrast to the autonomous anarchy of the Kingdom of Man, a Biblical view of government has accountability and law order. Dr. Paul has stated: “We endorse the idea of voluntarism, self-responsibility, family, friends, and churches to solve problems…” Rather than autonomy from all traditional forms of government, this sounds very much like the idea of “local non-statist institutions blanket[ing] man with their government.” Ron Paul is a champion of limited *civil* government, not of limiting the other forms of government within society, which he acknowledges as necessary. If libertarianism means autonomous, irresponsible anarchy than Ron Paul is not a classical libertarian in the fullest sense. In fact, the word “responsibility” is a word he uses often. As to the charge of lawlessness, Ron Paul is one of the most steadfast politicians in terms of abiding by the law of the land, the constitution. In his book “Liberty Defined” Dr. Paul denounces the idea of democracy – as did Rushdoony – because majoritarianism “undermines the rule of law,” opting instead for the republic our Founders gave us, an “Empire of Laws, and not of men” in the words of John Adams. As to his answer about how his faith affects his politics, I believe that, while unfortunate, it is more of an epistemological problem than a matter of practice. Certainly, while we may find statements made that we disagree with him on, his actual record in Congress is solid. He self-consciously bases his foreign policy on Christian just-war theory, which Augustine developed based on Scripture. He affirms that America was founded as a Christian nation. Writing in a Christmas article in 2003, “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders' political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government's hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life. The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation's history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility… many devout people put their faith in God before their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation's Christian heritage.” Ron Paul is not, obviously, a full-fledged theonomist, and therefore he doesn’t have a 100% biblical worldview, but he leans that direction more than not. As Nathan Barnes put it in a recent debate: “The greatest threat facing America today is the totalitarian, out of control, federal government… you have to get out of Egypt first… The idea that man should be free to do whatever he wants as long as he doesn’t hurt anyone else is doctrine straight from the pit of hell. It is evil, it is wicked, and it should be opposed. However… [it is incorrect] to say that Ron Paul is a libertarian, fully. Ron Paul holds many positions that many libertarians do not, including being 100% pro-life. There is a difference between libertarianism and libertinism. Libertinism is the idea that we can do whatever we want. I would further ask, which pagan doctrine or ideology actually preaches liberty? None. Individual liberty is a biblical doctrine. Ron Paul, while he is flawed, his view of the role of federal government and individual liberty is most closely aligned with that of Scripture. And consequently, I believe that, while he is flawed, and while he has weaknesses – as do all of the candidates – he is the most biblically qualified and constitutionally consistent candidate that is currently running.” I agree.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

"I would further ask, which pagan doctrine or ideology actually preaches liberty? None. Individual liberty is a biblical doctrine." This is where Nathan Barnes (as in many of his other arguments for RP) is wrong. The humanists of the French Revolution believed in complete individual freedom. I quote from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen: "Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law." If this doesn't sound like non-aggression principle held by libertarians, I don't what does! The only way we can have a Christian society is by having limited government AND limited rights and freedom.

Cromwell
Cromwell

and Rothbard, an Anarchist, is an Heir of the French Revolution. They are cousins of the Hard Left

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

Some pro-libertarianism commenters on this page have argued for Christian libertarianism, which supposedly shares some things in common with secular libertarianism (such as its strive for less, or rather, no government intervention in society). In other words, a "Christianized" form of libertarianism. However, let me ask you guys an honest question: all of us believe in microevolution, but disagree with macroevolution. Would you call yourselves Christian evolutionists then, and try to use some parts of Darwin's writings to backup your belief in microevolution?

E Harris
E Harris

As Christ's direct personal government over every individual increases - the need for external government decreases. One day, in the distant future, we may not have to use guns or swords or coercion at all (in the conventional sense). It will all be handled spiritually. And people will understand how severe of a judgment that can be, without a sword or a gun.

Arrow
Arrow

If someone is taking your stuff, how do you stop him spiritually?

Arrow
Arrow

Can you see that there is a difference between "less government" and "no government"? And if so, why would you present them as the same thing, other than to set up a straw man and knock it down? I'd bet that there are no...ZERO...zilch...zip...participants here who advocate NO government. So the point is almost as meaningless as the one about "Christian evolutionists...what difference does it make what one "calls" oneself...getting hung up on labels again.

Adrian Nielsen
Adrian Nielsen

Brother Talbot confuses the difference between and ideology and a worldview. Atheism is not necessary to an ideology, but it is necessarily a worldview. Historic anarchism is anarcho-communism. If any libertarians promote any form of anarchism, it is anarcho-capitalism (the only workable for of anarchism), or basically looking to the free market to solve problems instead of an institution that operates on the principle of theft and coercive monopolization apart from the individual contract. Since libertarianism is not a religion, but an ideology, it does not say anything about personal morality. All that it speaks on is negative morality. What does this mean? No violation of property (8th commandment). The is means that violations of property against person (6th commandment), theft (8th commandment), and fraud and violation of contracts (9th commandment) are all crimes. The question isn't, Should we criminalize immorality? The question is, Should we criminalize all immorality? A tyrant's favorite citizen is one who subscribes to the latter. A tyrant's least favorite citizen is one who does not subscribe to the latter. The question is, Are you a puritan (one how holds to the Non-Aggression Principle and personal holiness)? Or, Are you puritannical (one who is against the NAP and for personal holiness). Yes, I know, the latter is hypocritical.

E Harris
E Harris

Good question, Arrow. We have a CHOICE of whether to defend ourselves or 'turn the other cheek'...and what verbal/social/spiritual tactics we use in either course. This applies individually, as well as with choosing to defend your neighbor. As christians, we should not be trying to cobble together an involuntary association, whereby we physically punish people who transgress. So any sword that I would approve of (as a christian) would be nothing larger than a voluntary militia capable of financing its own way and raising its own funds via non-coercive means. Also, in the distant future, when all humans alive are overwhelmingly christian (as postmillenialists tend to believe), there will be almost no need for any weapons at all. Hence, plowshares. You have a problem with my quasi-almost-pacifism? Take it up with the Bible. Also, in such a distant future, where christians are both more numerous (and more holy, in Biblical standards)... we will be more in-tune with a POWERFUL GOD. He is very capable of working miracles. And we will be visited with such graces, in the future...even more numerous than we are now or have been in the past. Jesus healed the soldiers ear that was smitten by the sword (one of his apostle's swords, no less). There was once a testimony I heard of: George Washington had muskets aimed at him, at very close range. The Indians shot. But he never went down. All the other generals on their horses went down, and people were dropping left and right, but Washington didn't go down. He stayed on his horse. After the battle, there were 4 bulletholes in his clothing, but none on his person. When he was in office, an indian chief met with him in the White House- and said that the Great Spirit must have protected him. He was the chief that ordered the generals to be shot down, and watched as his tribesmen aimed & shot at Washington from very close range, repeatedly. He said that Washington was destined to become the chief of nations. In the future, we will have numerous things more powerful than weapons: more knowledge disseminated, more checks and balances, more wisdom, more closeness to God...and far more respect and knowledge of the kingdom of God.

E Harris
E Harris

So how do we merge the negative morality "thou shalt not" with any amount of positive authority? Where is the heart of the negative morality (which is also the same heart as that of positive morality? How do we join JESUS to libertarianism and make that concept workable and whole, as a theory? How do we join JESUS with anarcho-capitalism?? THIS IS THE QUEST OF THIS HOUR, politically. Because Babylon is fallen, is fallen.

Arrow
Arrow

E, I can appreciate your pacifistic leanings, as I have moved in that direction (not wholly...just relatively) over the past few years. So, I'm open to the principle, and agree that Jesus most certainly taught pacifistic principles in dealing with personal enemies. At the same time, God most certainly ordained civil government to bear the sword against evildoers. The use of that sword must be discerned through study of the scriptures, not simply applied to the enemy-du-jour of the Christian Right as some would have it. So in a sense, yes I could just "turn the other cheek" while someone plunders my private property, although I don't think Jesus' teachings require that...see "a strong man armed". At the same time, I also think it is sinful to allow a thief to run free and plunder person after person after person. I'm certain that even pacifistic societies deal with thieves in some way involving force.

seal da zeal
seal da zeal

Amen Dr. Talbot.... Very inspiring article and it get to the very heart of the issue. Godspeed sir.

Arrow
Arrow

"My father called himself a Christian libertarian because he believed a godly society would be a free society with a very limited state." -Mark Rushdoony

Caleb
Caleb

Key word: *Christian* libertarian!

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

That still doesn't answer the question of "would it be a free society BECAUSE of a limited state?" Or would it be a Godly and free society because of obedience to the Law?

Caleb
Caleb

Right, it would be a "free" AND "godly" society in which each jurisdiction -- family, church, and civil government -- functioned properly with obedience to Christ under God's Law. Of course, of tremendously important note, this starts with regeneration, which we won't have without a proper proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone -- with Scripture alone as our rule and authority for all matters of doctrine and practice).

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

Completely agree, Caleb. In fact, the only way that the tyrannical state can appear is because of societal and individual disobedience to the law. The state is not the problem however. Individual sin is. So if we want to get rid of statism (note, statism does equal the state as a civil authority) let's spread God's Law in society first.

Arrow
Arrow

Absolutely. "Libertarian" can mean so many different things. I appreciate that Dr. Talbot has attempted to define it, but in practical usage I think it is impossible...just look at how many different definitions are implied here...among a group of people within a fairly narrow slice of Christianity. It's a useful word, in my opinion, as a general description of political philosophy. Beyond that, discussion and description is needed to understand where a person stands. And it's certainly not useful as a "label". Labels tend toward worthlessness.

E Harris
E Harris

STATIST: worship of the state as almighty, resulting in unrestricted force given to a man (or men) on top. Examples: dictators and god-like images of centralized authority all through history. CONSTITUTIONALIST: believes in the power and authority of a centralized document to effectively hold together, and maintain, a contract between the citizens and a limited government. Examples: Mostly those of christian persuasion in Western Civilization...due to the authority of the truth and the people backing them...attempted to make DEALS with the civil sword, giving it a measure of pro-active authority, out of their own authority. The Council of Nicaea, Constitution. LIBERTARIAN: thinks that individuals and households should be free from any centralized coercive sword. If security is needed: it can be contracted. Just a step above anarchy, leading to anarchy, unless there is a 'natural law' or Jesus Christ to appeal to with some amount of authority. For libertarianism (liberty) to be maintained, in practice, for any amount of time: JESUS is necessary. Examples: Documents which expressly limited centralized swords, but gave no authority to them from the people: Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Etc. But the real examples of this is: people living out their lives. A Christian can (in their hearts) be libertarian, within a statist/collectivist arrangement. CHRISTIAN: sees the Dominion of God through Jesus Christ as Personal. No matter what worldly stature a person has: Jesus calls to them, personally - and deals with them personally. And on their way toward him, while they still have the vestments of worldly authority: they are obligated to make Godly judgements. (Nebuchadnezzar in the Bible. Was Babylon more wicked than Israel? Yes. But it was also under God, even though it was not under Christians or Jews. Believers were just advisors, and were told to pray for the good of their country and land.)

Arrow
Arrow

E, Once again I see a definition (yours,this time) of libertarianism that does not match what the vast majority of libertarians believe. Repeatedly, folks here confuse between libertarianism and anarchy. It's as though you said to me "I'm a big baseball fan", and I went and told everyone that E does nothing with his life except watch baseball. Pleas try to understand what libertarians ACTUALLY believe, instead of redefining libertarianism from what is actually practiced (like Dr. Talbot did) and incorectly stating what libertarians think and say.

Arrow
Arrow

OK folks, how do we live with all this in real-life, daily living (and voting)? As I do have reservations a very few of RP’s statements and outright disagreements with a very few of them, I struggle with some of this. Some here seem to have no struggle at all…he says some wrong things, he’s out, end of story. Easy. That is certainly a respectable position if…IF…the people who take it generally do not vote at all. But there is a REAL serious problem for those who discount Ron Paul, yet would vote for a Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachman, George Bush, etc. etc. On one hand we have a man who makes some questionable (and some wrong) theological statements, yet professes that he “comes to God through Christ” for guidance on his policies, and in the end (imperfectly) promotes Godly civil government with a very large percentage of his actions. On the other hand, we have hypocritical politicians who mouth all sorts of things about Jesus, and about legislating all sorts of Christian-sounding things, and want to base a foreign policy of murder and mayhem based on lies and a false eschatological construct, and promote all sorts of Marxist (communist, atheistic) government programs that they CLAIM to be against (when the other party is in power). You can’t have it both ways; if you set the bar high enough that you cannot support someone like Ron Paul, yet vote for others with much larger problems, it is hypocritical, logically inconsistent, and intellectually dishonest.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

Yet no single supporter of Paul nor Paul himself has ever defined the difference between expenditures for "Militarism" and expenditures for defense.

Arrow
Arrow

Very well said, Mr. Davidson. It's ironic that we can debate the very finest points of theology regarding politics (gee, aren't we smart?) but cannot recognize mass murder staring us in the face. Reminiscent of the Pharisees?

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

"On the other hand, we have hypocritical politicians who mouth all sorts of things about Jesus, and about legislating all sorts of Christian-sounding things, and want to base a foreign policy of murder and mayhem based on lies and a false eschatological construct, and promote all sorts of Marxist (communist, atheistic) government programs that they CLAIM to be against (when the other party is in power)." That's Ron Paul propaganda speaking through you. Why is it that for you guys (Paulbots) honesty trumps all other virtues? Also, why is it that dishonesty is only "blameable" if it's not found in your pet candidate? blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2008/04/ron-pauls-earmark-requests-for-fy2009/

Arrow
Arrow

Well, I'm not sure what a "Paulbot" is. Is it the counterpart to a "Bachmanbot"? Is it like a "Madisonbot" or a "Jeffersonbot"? Anyway, aside from the namecalling, I do not recall ever stating (or thinking) that dishonesty is only bad when it manifests itself in certain candidates. Did I say that?? Show me where, and I'll take it back. Surely if you follow politics you must have noticed a bit of dishonesty here and there... We are all subject to it, but some much more than others. The politicians that I named were just examples, it was not an exhaustive list. As to earmarks, perhaps you were not aware that earmarks do not cause any spending to be originated. They simply direct money already allocated to be spent. It is either directed by Congress by earmarks, or by the President. Did you prefer for Barack Obama to direct the money?

E Harris
E Harris

ANY defense of libertarianism must be THOROUGHLY explained through the lense of Jesus Christ, and THOROUGHLY based/rooted in faith in Jesus Christ. Not merely a mention here or there. Thorough. And it helps our case that when God came to earth, he came as ONE INDIVIDUAL MAN, and he told us to be holy as His Father is holy. He exposed our natural depravity (something Ron Paul doesn't seem to understand) and that is why he had to go to the cross for atonement. The only way we can be one with God and each other, of course, is through God's Spirit - just as God was in Jesus Christ. We need to preach the message of salvation by grace through faith - and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit helping us to govern and control ourselves. THEN, I will be a little bit more on-board with whoever professes libertarianism. We are free, to go toward Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we will quickly stumble and fall. To be in politics, and make it political (and merely critical), and neglect this message: is to entice ENEMIES of the US and Jesus Christ to feel emboldened by our past transgressions and current sorrowful apology. Ron Paul was one of the better candidates: I just wish he had a spine. His lack of spine (and that he was being more political than genuine) is evident in how he attacked Santorum, while trying to stand beside Romney. He didn't attack Romney...but he was relentless on Santorum, and I believe Bachmann as well. When it comes down to it, you need to thoroughly explain your morality on the way to the White House. Otherwise, you're just being political. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/07/the-moral-basis-for-economic-liberty

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

Yes, I know that earmarks are already allocated funds. The question is, what is that money used for? Is it used for specific local pet interests to make your own constituency more inclined to vote for you in the next elections, or is it used for constitutional expenditures of the Federal government (such as DoD, a dreaded hatred of Pauldom)?

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

RP doesn't hate the DoD - he hates Militarism (and its unConstitutional expenditures), which is not the same as Defense.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

Actually, this has been discussed at length in videos, blogs and forums all over the Internet ever since the early debates of this election cycle when Ron Paul brought significant attention to the massive problems caused by U.S. imperialism. In my view, it's simply the practical working out of the differences between Just War Theory and the Bush doctrine of Preemptive War. The idea that we can go to war without Congressional authority, invade countries that never attacked us and never posed a threat to us, kill thousands of innocent civilians, cause massive destruction of vital infrastructure, and dislocate hundreds of thousands of families, not to mention the thousands of our own family members maimed and murdered in these senseless adventures, is anathema to me as both a follower of Jesus Christ and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy.

Cromwell
Cromwell

Paul is a liar and has been called out on it on his "militarism" claims multiple times. He's not the least bit interested in the Truth and facts.

Arrow
Arrow

Cromwell, I was unaware of that. Can you tell us where he lied about militarism?

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

"Ron Paul says U.S. has military personnel in 130 nations and 900 overseas bases." I guess Cromwell decided to cite the WSJ Fact Checker instead of the PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter because he didn't like the latter's conclusion: "On balance, we rate Paul’s statement Mostly True."

E Harris
E Harris

Now we're getting down to the meat of it. Libertarianism without Jesus Christ is anarchy, and unsustainable. This explains why there is so little stability or freedom in lands that are not significantly christian. While humanistic libertarians lean toward anarchy, they are 'exceptionally good critics of the state' because they want THEIR OWN voice/authority to be heard. But what is then heard? Whatever they wish. (Ron Paul is an exceptionally good critic of the state and of others positions. But what is he standing FOR? He should give more constructive voice to that, at least to balance out his de-constructive analysis of the state. Ultimately, the principles of Jesus Christ are the only thing that a person can stand constitently FOR, everything else is an Anti-. A protest movement. A fist raised against authority.) “The freedom of self-determination consisting in decisions independent of external constraint but in accordance with the inner motives of ideals of the agent.” But here's where I seperate myself a little bit from Rushdoony, who stressed law so much. We have freedom in Christ. There is freedom in Christ. Those in the world PERISH in their idea of "freedom" and "self-determination". Their idea of freedom resembles ENTROPY, not edification or true glorification (over time). There needs to be a solid rock, to replace the sand of anarchy. The solid rock is Jesus Christ...and he must be freely accepted and received...and freely given. So, in a christian sense: we treat everyone as individuals, and individual cases. And the only judgement that we can (should) offer should be according to the grace and wisdom found in Jesus Christ and the New. While we may pronounce judgment, we don't punish (beyond cutting off fellowship and returning that person to the status of someone who is outside of the Body and not to be trusted by us). The worldly rulers, the civil sword, who lord it over each other: THEY can punish who they will. They can turn to us for judgment: but our judgements are not for the sake of punishing - but for the sake of salvation. We are not of them. Some may call this a "two kingdoms theology", I don't know. But we are citizens of Heaven, and the Kingdom of God is now on earth. It is ruling and reigning through Jesus Christ who is IN his saints via His Spirit. His kingdom is expanding, as is peace. We are to learn to have the Mind of Christ so that we can consistently fellowship, and judge accurately what is good and evil. Those who are adopted into the flock, via the only doorway (Jesus Himself) are those who we can fellowship with, as brethren. There is absolutely no clergy/laity divide...for we are all budding "5-fold ministers" of the gospel of grace through faith in Jesus. When I first began reading 'Christian Reconstruction' material, I had a steep learning curve. It all seemed way to HEAVY for me, coming from a traditional pentecostal background. The language of law, duty, etc... made me think (by the flavor of the wording) that "these guys are trying to take over! That's really what these guys want, in their heart of hearts!" But we are not trying to take over (we shouldn't be, anyway). We should be trying to live holy lives - and encourage all around us to do the same. That's what it means to be the light of the world. The dynamics of our fellowship provide the city on a hill... it isn't by any overarching human-enforced law structure. JESUS REIGNS, and we are to proclaim this. Our king is not absent! Sure, he is returning visibly - BUT we know by our faith that He is present already. It is foolish to deny God's present reign, through His Son...forming sons and daughters who live holy lives on earth. We don't need to craft laws, we don't need to invent ideas about how we are going to punish someone. It is enough to simply have self-control under Jesus...and to teach our children to have self-control (with the authority that God has invested in fatherhood). We need to embrace the language of freedom in Christ, or we are going to lose this round of the battle. We need to understand the law of God in terms of its purpose in the individuals (and family) life. This is a time of grace. We are children of the day - and those who want to be children of the day must come through the door. Our economy needs to be based on the freedom we have in Christ - and encouraging others (humanists, outside of Christ) to join in our economy. We can do this by keeping our agreements, staying honest, peaceful, loving, kind, and strong. It was difficult for me to digest Reconstructionist "rhetoric" until I began to realize that most of the time that Reconstructionists speak of "law" and "duty" they are speaking in personal terms about the individual and the family. Their heart's desire is to instruct the individual and household (economic units) about how to conduct themselves, freely, as UNDER GOD. I realized that this wasn't a takeover of the "USA" corporation, so much as a gentle weakening or disbanding of it...over time. That our duty is to announce the kingdom of God and the reign of Christ (among the christians) so that as the kingdom expands into more hearts - the desire for statist control or outright freedom FROM Jesus Christ ceases to exist. I began realizing that our citizenship is in a higher place, so our identity is not disturbed by all of these lower machinations - nor are we to lord it over each other in the kingdom of God. Much of our tension is between our desire for stability, safety, and good teaching(we see all of the external threats) -- and our desire for Christ who reigns internally and eternally. God's chosen form of government is inside-out. Fallen men always want it to be outside-in...resting in human power over the self and others. So fallen men always have a tension between individual anarchy and corporate statism. But outside-in is not God's way. God's way is inside-out. It does not resist the individual, only the pride of the outside-in individual. So God's way is a unity between the individual and the corporate/universal - via His Spirit. His Spirit awakens the law in our hearts and makes it sting a bit. His Spirit cleanses our conscience. His Ways begin to be lived out as people are empowered by a force they cannot see or touch or completely explain. The wind exists. It's God's Freedom to act as He chooses. And we are persons more fully... when the Person of God is in direct contact with us via His Son. Without Jesus, we are shells cut off from the Sustainer who still sustains from within, but is unacknowledged. The Constitution of the US is an attempt (like all humanistic attempts) to provide savety and security from the outside-in. It does not work. What we need is the inside-out of the Spirit of God, working in the lives and hearts of men. We need to sound this clarion call: that the nations need the light, peace, joy that is found in the freedom that is in Jesus Christ! Until then, there will be unrest.

Jenelle
Jenelle

I really apatecipred this post! I needed to read such an entry at this time. I feel like this week has been a mixture of blunders but I am so thankful that the Lord is there to pick us up, dust us off and refresh us! Thank you for this constant reminder of how important the tongue really is! Keep up the good work! I'm ready to read Eric Freeman novels!

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

To say that Ron Paul supports sodomites serving openly in the military is a logical fallacy if you are drawing that conclusion from his vote to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Ron Paul changed his mind on DADT when he learned that it was being applied unlawfully, in a manner not intended by Congress. It had nothing to do with his position on homosexuality.

Caleb
Caleb

*understanding

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

Ah, good catch, Caleb. I hadn't considered that aCultureWarrior was lumping all libertarians into a monolithic voting bloc. It should be obvious now...of all the activities he listed: "[a]bortion, recreational drug use, pornography, prostitution, and of course 'free' trade with communist tyrants", I believe Ron Paul would disapprove of all but the last. Concerning free trade with all who wish to trade - including tyrants - it's easy enough to show from history that trading not only contributes to peaceful relations but it also helps lifts people out of tyranny as they put pressure on their government to ease regulation , improve civil rights, and conform to the generally higher standards of less authoritarian trading partners.

Arrow
Arrow

Yes. Can you tell me in which paragraph he addresses Paul's voting record in Congress? All I saw were semi-relevant philosophical comments and speculation of what he would do as president...leading to a likely erroneous conclusion, if 30 years of consistent legislation that largely reflects a Biblical Christian framework is any indication. Surely you can come up with a list of ungodly legislation from his 30-year record...

Arrow
Arrow

Aside from his position on marriage, which of Paul's positions do not square with Christianity?

Caleb
Caleb

As Dr. Talbot shows, Ron Paul's adherence to the libertarian non-aggression principle (rather than God's revealed Law) as the standard for limiting the civil magistrate and protecting individual rights, is unbiblical. It is unbiblical at the foundation, and it leads to many unbiblical conclusions in practice (civil tolerance for sodomy and sodomite marriage, as well as political polytheism, are two obvious examples, but there are other instances in biblical law of "voluntary" actions that count as crimes worthy of death, which would be celebrated under a libertarian regime). Secular libertarianism has no concept of civil enforcement of the First Table of the Law or acknowledgement of Christ as King over the civil sphere. Ron Paul was being consistent when he said his religious beliefs would not affect how he governs (except for his oath of office) because he grounds his standard for the role of the civil magistrate in libertarian rather than biblical thinking.

Arrow
Arrow

So anyway, again, like I said, aside from his position on marriage, which of Paul’s positions do not square with Christianity? He does have a 30-year record as a congressman, surely you can find a list of evil paws that he has promoted...

Caleb
Caleb

Did you read Dr. Talbot's article? :-)

Caleb
Caleb

If you can tell me why Talbot's article is "semi-relevant" or "speculative," I'll listen. And if you can tell me how you came up with your standard for evaluating candidates for civil magistrate (voting records), I'll listen. Voting records are an important form of evidence but not the only form of evidence we use to evaluate candidates. Of course, if you were honest about Ron Paul's political philosophy, its contradiction to biblical law, and how it led him to support having sodomites serve openly in the military; you'd be heading toward understand the problem of how the man's philosophy affects the way he'd govern.

Caleb
Caleb

Here is Ron Paul's statement: "I have received several calls and visits from constituents who, in spite of the heavy investment in their training, have been forced out of the military simply because they were discovered to be homosexual ... To me, this seems like an awful waste. Personal behavior that is disruptive should be subject to military discipline regardless of whether the individual is heterosexual or homosexual. But to discharge an otherwise well-trained, professional, and highly skilled member of the military for these reasons is unfortunate and makes no financial sense." Source: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/right-now/2010/05/ron_paul_constituents_changed.html Does anyone want to make the argument that this is sound biblical reasoning (changing an admittedly bad policy, because of possible abuses/misapplications of the bad policy, and embracing an even worse policy)?

Arrow
Arrow

Caleb says: "If you can tell me why Talbot’s article is “semi-relevant” or “speculative,” I’ll listen" I didn't say his article was, I said that some of his remarks about Ron Paul are. For example: "his Methodist “semi-pelagian” theology is bankrupt as to how, as professed Christian, he should govern our nation if chosen to be President. " That statement is in my mind only semi-relevant. It is only semi-relevant, because I can observe that whatever RP's theology is, it has caused him to make (and even fight for) the right thing the vast, overwhelming majority of the time. RP is by profession, conduct, and all indications a Christian. The Biblical requirements for civil rulers...Does Exodus 18:21 say: "21Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, who are not semi-pelagian Methodists; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: ?? Some here who vehemently reject RP have spoken in favor of a woman for president. I'm all for DEMANDING Godly candidates, and in fact have been criticized hundreds of times for "being so rigid"...I STRONGLY oppose "lesser evil" voting...but this is getting ridiculous, picking apart fine points of theology in a political candidate who clearly meets the biblical qualification. If you want to say that you can't support RP because of his statements on homosexuality, fine. I'm not too far from that myself. But much of the rest of this stuff is nonsense. Yes, I could be wrong. These are deep waters for me. But this is my two cents. ps...funny how people turn on those who are their closest allies.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

I have used that quote in AV forums myself when others have mistakenly concluded that Dr. Paul supports open sodomy in the military, but you're changing the subject. How can he be faulted for correcting an abuse? I'm not defending his "soft" position on the sin of sodomy but the man deserves credit for trying to defend fairness within the existing system. As he also points out while discussing this subject, heterosexual misconduct is so rampant in the military as to make the homosexual problem virtually irrelevant by comparison. Having been a commander of troops, I know exactly what he's referring to. You seem concerned with the speck in his eye for his desire to see everyone treated justly - even homosexuals - while he's trying to point out the beam in the eyes of those who more easily overlook the significantly larger problem of widespread sin in the military through adultery and fornication.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

Looks like we posted simultaneously to Caleb. Also @ Caleb, you say that Ron Paul's political philosophy contradicts biblical law. Please tell me which of these Ron Paul positions contradict the Bible: Honest Weights and Measures Just and Lawful War Parental Authority over Education Human Life at Conception Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy Marriage between One Man and One Woman Strong Private Property and Contract Rights There are more but let’s start with these.

Caleb
Caleb

"If you want to say that you can’t support RP because of his statements on homosexuality, fine. I’m not too far from that myself. But much of the rest of this stuff is nonsense." To clarify, I'd say his candidacy is dangerous (though not all of his positions, statements, or actions are dangerous, of course -- some are quite good, in fact!) because he doesn't have a biblical understanding of the role of civil government, the authority of God's Law, and the Kingship of Christ. Specifically, what else that has been said is nonsense? If you're referring to Dr. Talbot's statement about Methodist semi-pelagian theology, that sentence made me scratch my head a bit, as well. I would have worded that differently or explained it a little more. Where he was going, I think, was to draw the connection between "libertarianism" (as in, so-called "freedom") and "Arminianism." The context was Ron Paul's statement about his religious beliefs, which has to be seen as problematic by any honest standard of evaluation. I openly acknowledge that RP has said and done some great things, and he's more honest than your typical politician. I hope it doesn't sound like I believe he's 100% on the side of devils or that his political opponents are any more acceptable. Another thing I'd observe, regarding your comment on turning against close allies: I have seen this in the public behavior of people on both sides of this issues (including supporters and dissenters of Ron Paul's candidacy). I have not wanted to "turn" on anyone, but rather to shine the truth. I'm sure I've failed at times. Finally, on the subject of libertarianism, Dr. Bahnsen had some great thoughts in his lecture, "Libertarianism vs. Christianity" -- 1) “… The libertarian principle … for social policy is ambiguous and arbitrary and cannot be consistently applied. It’s certainly not a biblically derived principle, which ought to be a fatal defect for anyone trying to do Christian analysis. And not surprisingly the libertarian principle leads Ron Sider to a complete reversal of the explicit teaching of God’s Law. Ron Sider would apply to the state only what is appropriate to the church according to the Bible.” 2) “Ironically, without the moral foundation of Christianity, individualism can easily and dialectically turn into its very opposite.” 3) “… We can be protected from moral relativism, political tyranny and anarchy, and we can provide moral justification for civil punishment and provide the concept of unchanging universal justice and provide a guarantee of individual liberty only by finding the source of civil law in God’s revelation of moral principles that reflect His own holy, unchanging character.” 4) “All law in the end proves to be enacted morality, and thus, neutrality is going to be impossible when it comes to social theory.” 5) “The liberty ideal must be supplemented with a specific and discriminating moral framework. If you do not have a moral framework within which the liberty ideal is propagated, it doesn’t mean anything at all. It ends up being the very opposite of liberty. The liberty ideal must be clarified. What counts as injury or harm or the violation of freedom and a person’s rights? It must be made consistent because every system of social justice eventually advocates at some point the restriction [recording cuts off] … The fact is that there are values beyond liberty which are prized by moral men. And there are values for which men will to some degree forfeit their liberty -- values like justice, or security, or life, or human dignity, or interpersonal integrity. … Men are going to curtail liberty for such concepts as these. … How can the liberty ideal make an exception to freedom of action, that is, you can do what you want except where your actions harm another or jeopardize his freedom, how can it do that without justifying the exception by reference to some moral system? Libertarianism always presupposes some framework of morality, and that’s why the liberty ideal taken outside the Christian framework can be a tool for depriving us of liberty -- either in the form of a totalitarian strong state … or in the form of a voluntary state which creates a warlord society. … Where freedom should be granted and where freedom should be curtailed can be determined, I argue, only by brining to bear the principles of an underlying moral system. And I think Christianity alone provides that. … The fact of the matter is that no social theory can get by without a higher law. If we do not have a higher law by which our society is governed, we are left with despotism because laws become whatever the political sovereign imposes upon us.”

Caleb
Caleb

@Robert Davidson, there's a difference between a "political philosophy" and "positions" on specific issues. Ron Paul is very good, for the most part, on deconstructing the state (this is where libertarianism and biblical thinking have some overlap -- they both call for less centralism). This also happens to be why some consistent theonomists support him. He's good on many of those issues you mentioned, although you must have forgotten that he said it's alright for "gays" to "marry" as long as they don't "force" their definition on anyone else. (Also, regarding life at conception, some of his statements about contraception/morning after pill have been confusing and problematic.) Greg Bahnsen made the point years ago (and Dr. Talbot echoed it in his article) that libertarianism seeks to limit the civil government based on the core principle of non-aggression; that is, it is immoral for the state to use force against acts that do not aggress against others' rights. As Bahnsen and Talbot demonstrated (and Rushdoony would have agreed), if there's such a thing as "biblical libertarianism," this system is rooted in Scripture as the starting point -- not the non-aggression principle, as applied to civil government. Christ is King, and God's Law is supreme. Libertarianism and its adherents arrive at similar conclusions because they, like us, want to limit civil government. But the underlying philosophy is antithetical (autonomy vs. theonomy), and it leads to drastically diverging conclusions on important matters regarding reconstruction (the positive articulation of how civil government should look and behave, which I've alluded to previously).

Caleb
Caleb

My last paragraph should have read: "Libertarianism and its adherents arrive at similar conclusions *regarding deconstructing the state* because they, like us, want to limit civil government. But the underlying philosophy is antithetical (autonomy vs. theonomy), and it leads to drastically diverging conclusions on important matters regarding reconstruction *of a biblical civil government* (the positive articulation of how civil government should look and behave, which I’ve alluded to previously)."

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

Just one comment - I think you're statement of his position on same-sex marriage is not entirely accurate. From an article about a flyer Ron Paul recently distributed in New Hampshire: “I believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” the flyer quotes Paul as saying, expressing his support for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that would “ensure that no state would be forced to recognize a ‘same sex’ marriage license issued in another state.” The flyer also reminds voters that Paul “was an original co-sponsor of the Marriage Protection Act, HR 3313, that removes challenges to [DOMA] from federal courts’ jurisdiction.” DOMA ensures that the authority to regulate marriage remains with individual states and communities, as the drafters of the Constitution intended. Even further, Ron Paul does not believe that civil government should have any authority to regulate/permit/license marriage since it is an agreement between a man and a woman before God, not between citizens and the State.

Caleb
Caleb

@Robert Davidson, I grant that my statement on RP's view of marriage was incomplete, and you're right about his support of DOMA (a good potential example of trying to "deconstruct" the central government's tyrannical, unconstitutional imposition of "gay marriage" nationwide, for which we should commend Ron Paul). However, Ron Paul has made statements to the effect that "gays" should be allowed to marry as long as they don't impose their relationship/definition of marriage on others (this was his position in "Liberty Defined" and several interviews). This might sound nice to politically correct ears -- and we might even be able to recognize a distinction between the "morality" of "gay marriage" (which Ron Paul would probably oppose) and the "legality" of "gay marriage" (which Ron Paul would support, in theory, based on his vision of a libertarian society). Even with this nuanced distinction, Ron Paul's view is not biblical. Rushdoony himself advocated enforcement of biblical laws concerning adultery and sodomy because these acts, he said, are treason against the family. (And how can there be civil enforcement of "adultery" if the civil magistrate doesn't have a biblically derived definition of "marriage"? -- yes, I realize this is a separate question from whether the civil magistrate should actively "license" marriage.) For Rushdoony, treason against the family is also an attack on the basic unit of society, which stewards property, children, inheritance, and the future of godly civilization. Again, Ron Paul's "vision" of a "free society," which tolerates all "voluntary" relationships, is not in line with a reconstructed "biblical society." Helpful source: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/ron-paul-personally-opposed-to-same-sex-marriage-but/

aCultureWarrior
aCultureWarrior

That should be enough by itself to be leary of Ron Paul. But of course Libertarianism doesn't stop there, as it's "self ownership" of one's body. Abortion, recreational drug use, pornography, prostitution, and of course "free" trade with communist tyrants all fall under the Liberatarian philosophy. Check your Bible to see what God says about those things Arrow.

Caleb
Caleb

@aCultureWarrior: Rothbard certainly took the position that you're describing regarding self-ownership, but it's not accurate to represent all libertarians as holding this view. I made that mistake and learned to more carefully define the system in my critiques. You can read my blog post and subsequent discussion with libertarians, and they helped me understand that the essence of the system (as Dr. Talbot described) is the non-aggression principle, as applied to interpersonal dealings and the role of the civil magistrate: http://cshayden.blogspot.com/2006/11/why-libertarianism-christianity-dont.html.

Caleb
Caleb

@Robert Davidson, yes, it's important to try hard to represent people and positions accurately. I strive for this but, alas, sometimes (often?) fail. (It's much easier to build a straw man, and it's hard to maintain the level of intellectual discipline and honesty that allows me to admit when I have done this.) But that's partly why these types of discussions are good: "He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him" (Proverbs 18:17). As a final thought (hopefully), I disagree with the particular brand of "conservatives" who believe in "criminalizing" nearly every "sin," and I disagree with the type of "liberatarianism" that seeks to "decriminalize" the types of "victimless" crimes for which God's Law specifically prescribes a punishment. I do acknowledge the important distinction between sins and crimes, and I recognize God alone as the sole possessor of the sovereign prerogative to define what a sin is and what a crime is, only the latter of which merits retribution at the hands of the civil magistrate. Thus, a man can rightly believe that getting high on marijuana is "sinful" and "immoral" according to God's Law, but for one reason or another (either because of his adherence to the non-aggression axiom, as applied to the civil magistrate; or because he sees no biblical penal sanction for such behavior), he could advocate "decriminalization" of this sin. It would be wrong to say that such a man supports "recreational drug use" or sees no problem with it. Rather, his understanding of the civil magistrate's role is such that this "sin" is not a "crime" worthy of punishment by the civil magistrate. (Once again, this is a potential example of theonomy and libertarianism arriving at a similar conclusion, but for different reasons. And it's worth noting that theonomists are not in complete agreement about whether "sins" like recreationally getting high on marijuana are crimes punishable by the civil magistrate; some would maintain that this type of "sin" is also a "crime.")

Arrow
Arrow

Is part of the problem here that libertarianism is simply a political philosophy, and as such must be informed by our faith; but instead it is being treated as a faith in and of itself? I have no problem calling myself a Christian libertarian; but when doing so I expect that people don't assume that I believe everything that any other Christian or any other libertarian believes. "Libertarian" is a general description; trying to put a hard, exact definition to it, and then hammering people for believing whatever YOU have defined it to be, whether they do or not, is both dishonest and a waste of time.