Is that Rushdoony’s libertarianism, or someone else’s?

Is American Vision contradicting itself?

If you read my article last Thursday, “Theonomy’s ‘Radical Libertarianism,’” but then read Dr. Talbot’s article from this

Wednesday night, “Libertarianism vs. Theocracy: Is Libertarianism a Christian Political Philosophy?,” you may be asking yourself (or us) questions like that.

Let me assure you there is no—or at most an insignificant—contradiction. This does not mean I don’t have any problems at all with Dr. Talbot’s article, which I will discuss in a moment.

What you’ve witnessed in the two articles is one of the tensions inherent in the work of advancing Christian civilization in the midst of a sinful society. There must be an ideal goal at which to aim. That is theonomy. Dr. Talbot elucidates this. But you must also address the question of how to get there from here, and the question of relationships to less pure theologies and ideologies along the way. This is the tougher assignment.

In short, Dr. Talbot was speaking in terms of theological foundations (with which I agree and also stated in my article), while I was emphasizing the working relationship between our theologically pure view and its parallels elsewhere in terms of political power and law. So in these respects, there is no contradiction, only differing emphases.

In fact, for the record, I am friends with Dr. Talbot. I know him, and I know he can be tenacious debater. And I know if there had been any specific point at which he intended to criticize my article, he would have quoted it and done so. But he didn’t, so I don’t think there are any problems there.

Before I make my critical remarks, let me say that I agree with about 90 percent or so of Dr. Talbot’s piece. Yes, we absolutely must make a distinction between humanistic and biblical foundations of liberty. As readers know, I did this in my article.

At their theological roots, secular and biblical libertarianism are antithetical: the former being based on human autonomy, and the latter on the rule of our Creator and Lawgiver Christ.

This being the case, there is no genuine liberty apart from Christ and His Law. Rushdoony wrote about this in a few places, occasionally criticizing the secular libertarians in the process.

So have I, and Bojidar:

Joel McDurmon:

Murray Rothbard on the Kingdom: A Response

Bojidar Marinov:

Can I be a Libertarian Without Christ?

Classical Liberalism Has No Place to Stand

The Only Possible Defense of Private Property

No Other Single Principle but God and His Image in Man

It might have been helpful of Talbot at least to recognize these before posting what several people have seen as a clear critical response to the views of my last article.

Even so, there is still no excuse for suppressing, ignoring, denying, or even not noticing Rushdoony’s working relationship with many of those very “humanistic” libertarians, as I documented in my article (even though he criticized some of them in other places). This must be explained.

Thus, my criticisms are: First, Dr. Talbot’s article detracts from the more important focus for the immediate time.

Second, it obfuscates the issue in the name of clarifying it.

Third, it poisons the well with unnecessary associations.

Fourth, it does not do justice to Rushdoony’s point about theocracy and “radical libertarianism.”

Fifth, in its criticism of Dr. Paul specifically (something I did not bring up), it is selective and thus unfair.

It is this final point which I find most egregious, and if you do not wish to read the entire article for its length (though I advise you should), you would probably be best enlightened by skipping to the information found in the section “Be Fair to Paul.”

Detraction from focus on substantial and acceptable progress

First, Dr. Talbot’s article detracts from what I consider to be the more important emphasis to be had at this time. Yes, the theological foundations are vital, necessary. They must be stated up front (and they have: thus, the articles linked above). But we must not—and Rushdoony did not—hold them as a litmus test for determining with whom and how we work in the course of history.

There are some people who had presented Rushdoony as holding such a standard of purity, and by that implying very strongly that by the word “libertarianism” he meant something entirely different than is understood in the common vernacular. He did not, and I thought it necessary to clear him of that charge and to clear those of us who had been implicated in “equivocation” of that as well. He worked with and sometimes promoted the works of libertarians, some of whom were even agnostics, and even called Nock’s book Our Enemy: the State one of the most important works of the last century.

Rushdoony’s view also reiterates the more important focus here: statism. Yes, humanistic libertarianism can be a problem and can lead to a Statism of its own down the line. But in our historical context, rolling back state power is our main political objective, and if a devout Christian who happens to lack in his Christian political philosophy in a couple of areas can seriously help us achieve this objective, it is enough. And if we have to be labeled “libertarian” in the process, big deal.

And I think it just as necessary that Christians at this juncture have the same emphasis as Rush often did: engaging practical measures that will strip the power of the state, decentralize political power, end unnecessary war, return to honest money, etc. These are vital practical areas in which we can agree with “libertarians” despite foundational differences. And we should work together in these areas now rather than hold out for . . . what? socially speaking.

Purists who hold out like this remind me of the guy whose neighborhood was flooded: he climbed to his roof and prayed for miracle. His neighbor came by in a crude jon boat, but the man refused the ride saying, “I am confident God will send me my miracle.” The next day the water rose and a boat came by again, only to be refused. On a final day the water was to the man’s still-praying chin and a helicopter flew in lowering a rope ladder, but the man held out for his miracle.

After the man drowned, he met God in heaven and asked why he never received his miracle. God replied, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you want?”

And now, some theonomists are missing the lifeboat.

Do not mistake me for what I am saying. I am not advocating “lesser of two evils” voting. Some people say they’d rather have half a loaf than none at all. They miss an important truth: when the whole loaf is rotten to begin with, I think none is better.

So when is it OK to vote for a candidate with whom you may not fully agree? Rarely. But when he is obviously a Christian, his values and platform are obviously informed by the Bible, and his objectives and track record above all are clearly directed at the reduction of the pagan central state power—drastically—then there’s no question, even if he may differ on a few philosophical points.

I will work side-by-side politically with even “libertarians” who share that view—because that view is biblical, and their holding of it means they are borrowing my capital, not vice versa.

And at the end of the day, I would rather argue religion with a skeptic who respects my liberty than with the next Religious Right anointed who thinks the State can take it away whenever “necessary.”

Granted, Talbot would never vote for that latter guy either, thankfully. But there are many people reading his post who will take it as justification for just that.

Obfuscation

Second, in the name of clarifying, Dr. Talbot’s article has the effect of obfuscating the issue by introducing foreign definitions unassociated with Rushdoony’s (or my) context.

Talbot cites Webster’s 1828 dictionary for “libertarian”: “pertaining to liberty, or to the doctrine of free will, as opposed to the doctrine of necessity (or determinism).” This, as he would acknowledge, was a purely philosophical definition and did not denote a particular political theory at the time.

But then it gets questionable. First, check this out. Talbot writes:

The term libertarian as it represents a political theory was derived from the French cognate Libertarie [sic] meaning anarchist meaning “the absence of governmental authority or the state of lawlessness.”

Libertarian political philosophy as we know it today has its roots in the classical liberalism of the European political philosophers. . . .

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.

Talbot’s version of the history is way too close to Wikipedia on “Libertarianism” (without attribution):

The use of the word “libertarian” to describe a set of political positions can be tracked to the French cognate, libertaire, which was coined in 1857 by French anarchist Joseph Déjacque who used the term to distinguish his libertarian communist approach from the mutualism advocated by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.[37] Hence libertarian has been used by some as a synonym for left anarchism since the 1890s.[38] The term libertarianism is commonly considered to be a synonym of anarchism in countries other than the US. . . . During the 18th century, classical liberal ideas flourished in Europe and North America.

Now I’ll be the first to admit Wikipedia is a great source for initial research, but, man!

Let’s be charitable: Dr. Talbot seems to have forgotten a footnote.

That aside, perhaps some usages of the idea did derive from the French cognate, but that hardly means the modern use of the word is tied to that, or that Rushdoony had this in mind when he used it. If cognates and etymology are so important here, why not go back to the original Latin: libertas? Probably because that would reveal that the word has a very broad range of meaning and application, and thus the “the historical context” begins to favor libertarianism as an acceptably Christian term in certain contexts.

In fact, according to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, the first political usage of the word “libertarian” in English did not appear until 1878 and then meant only the general “One who approves of or advocates liberty.” It wasn’t even around in the political context when Webster wrote.

Yes, we know the words “liberty” and “libertarian” have been used by various miscreants, but this does not make everyone who uses the words a miscreant.

Besides, this is no way to argue in general. For example, Talbot believes, I assume, with the apostles’ creed, in the “holy catholic church.” Is he ready to apply this same tactic and say, “before we clarify this expression, we first need to understand the historical context and the development of ‘catholic’.” Would he be ready to load the entire history of the word “catholic” into his own belief? I hope not. Would he pick the most objectionable expression of it and use that? Again, I hope not.

And we shouldn’t treat “libertarianism” that way, either, especially when Rushdoony uses it.

Poisoning the well

Closely related to the last point, Dr. Talbot includes the observation that the French cognate for “libertarian” means “anarchism,” which the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines as “the absence of governmental authority or the state of lawlessness.”

Again, must we really drag this exigent association into Rushdoony’s and my context? No.

In fact, had Dr. Talbot stuck with Webster’s 1828, just a couple words down from where he was at “libertarian,” he would have noted that Webster included the anarchistic idea under “Libertine”—“not under the restraint of law or religion”—which he considered separately from “libertarianism.”

This whole section about “the historical context and the development of political libertarianism” is enlightening, but it doesn’t really touch on the main quotation from Rushdoony. Talbot says “before we clarify this expression, we first need to understand the historical context . . . ,” but if the theoretical and historical context in which Rushdoony was writing (favorably) about “radical libertarianism” is at all different than the repulsive contexts Talbot emphasizes, then the whole point is largely moot. We don’t really need to understand that context at all. In fact, if clarity is the goal, we should probably leave it out altogether.

A response might come something like, “So you think all historical context and development of worldviews is moot, huh?” Of course not. These things are very relevant, when and where they’re actually relevant. And the anarchistic expressions of libertarianism are largely irrelevant to Rushdoony’s and my points about cooperation with “libertarians” in regard to rolling back tyranny.

Rush’s own personal history, relationships, and citations are, however, highly relevant here. And if historical context of ideas and development are so important, Talbot might want to address Rushdoony’s own in this particular case. I outlined several of those connections in my article. He addressed not one of them.

Worse, since Talbot’s history—as correct as it may be—drags in mental associations like “anarchism” that are foreign and derogatory to Rushdoony’s point, then it is a classic case of poisoning the well. It’s a fallacy that was not necessary to bring into this argument.

Sadly, too many Christians today carry the false associations of “libertarianism” with “anarchy” or “libertinism” in their heads. Talbot’s article unfortunately reinforces that. And to reinforce that prejudice in today’s American churches is to reinforce by default also their widespread embrace of Statism, socialism, and war.

Please, don’t poison the well of liberty.

Rushdoony’s Point

Only after this context and much more does Dr. Talbot say “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.’” He continues,

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. . . .

Note two things: first, Rushdoony doesn’t use the term “Libertarianism” with a capital “L”. This sounds pedantic but is important. A capitalized term denotes a particular philosophical position with all of its particular sets of assumptions. Rush used the little “l” which means he was speaking more casually. The meaning of the term was more general, then, and this is reinforced by the indefinite article: “a radical libertarianism.”

Second, Talbot’s “not at all!” is true only if we first assume all that he has loaded into the term “libertarianism.” But in light of what we’ve seen already, and the casual use of the term just argued, it is simply not justified to act as if such a great gulf exists between the political platform of Rushdoony’s theocracy and his “radical libertarianism” generally understood. In fact, Rushdoony was not contrasting but comparing, which Dr. Talbot acknowledges:

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.

Yes it was indeed a comparison, but it was hardly as qualified as Talbot presents. If Rush intended to say as compared to, or relative to “an oppressive dictatorial rule by men,” theocracy could be viewed as a radical libertarianism, he would have said something closer to that. But he did not. He did not say, “The closest thing to compare a Biblical Theocracy would be a ‘radical libertarianism,’” No. He said it is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had. He did not say, “In this sense,” he said, “In reality.”

Now I will be the first to agree that “What classical libertarianism lacks is ‘Biblical law,’” except I would qualify it to say that it does not lack Biblical Law entirely as political expression. Thus, Rush did not “reject” classical libertarianism wholesale in the way suggested. He rejected its philosophical foundations and excesses, usually sexual, to which some adherents take it. But otherwise he believed and practiced that their commonalities were borrowed biblical capital and thus parallel.

So I think we should at least stop being so afraid of the label libertarian, and just use it properly. Liberty is only the result of godly rule, biblical law; only We have it; and we should as Christians take dominion over and reclaim the proper right to the terms libertarian and liberty.

Be Fair to Paul

Let’s be clear, this article cannot be an endorsement or defense of Paul or his campaign. But since his name was brought up critically it is fair game, and I think this will provide an example of how we should treat fellow Christians especially—but even enemies—in representation and debate.

Paul is most often maligned by certain Christians for two main reasons: 1) his stance on homosexuality, and 2) some comments on personal religion and the presidency.

(He is also blasted by Christians on foreign policy for allegedly not “supporting” “Israel”, but I’ll leave that ignorance for another time.)

Take these in reverse order. Dr. Talbot references Paul on his personal view of religion influencing his federal office:

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.”

Sounds a bit soft, honestly, but is this as “clearly humanistic” as Talbot claims? Consider this additional passage:

Why then is there, in the main, an absence of reference to Christianity in the Constitution? . . . There was an absence of reference because the framers of the Constitution did not believe that this was an area of jurisdiction for the federal government. It would not have occurred to them to attempt to re-establish that which the colonists had fought against, namely, religious control and establishment by the central government.

This is certainly correlative to Paul’s view. Is this clearly humanistic as well?

If so then R. J. Rushdoony is “clearly humanistic” in his view of the Constitution, for the quotation is from R. J. Rushdoony.(1) It was Rushdoony’s view of the Constitution that the Federal government had no jurisdiction in regard to religious matters. Ergo, by deduction, a federal official’s religion could only clearly come into play in his personal execution of his office, not in using the office to advance the distinctives of any particular faith, good or ill, beyond what is already expressed in the nature of the Constitution itself.

And that sounds an awful lot like Paul’s personal view of religion and the Presidency—a constitutional office, after all.

Rush goes on to explain that religious establishment by States, as a State’s Rights issue, is preserved by the Constitution, while it is simultaneously prohibited to the Federal government, and I suspect Paul would agree.

Are there important differences, still, between Rush and Paul? Of course, no doubt. But I think we should be a little less quick to build antinomies where they don’t necessarily exist, and a lot more contemplative as theonomists in our understanding of the Constitution.(2)

Besides, do you really think the oft-cited version Talbot implies is the most charitable interpretation of Paul’s statement (given impromptu during a debate)? Do you really think Paul meant his religion would have no influence at all on his presidency? He in fact said that it defines his character. Does that not of necessity mean it would also influence his presidency—at least in procedure and execution if not legal decision, too?

Of course it would. This is why he can write things like,

I am running to Restore America Now, and by that I mean that it’s time to protect and promote the basic God-given rights inherent in the promise of America. . . .

We must stand for life – not allow millions of innocent children to continue to be slaughtered with the government’s approval.

We must follow the Biblical mandate of using honest weights and measures – not printing money out of thin air in almost complete secrecy and then handing it over to oppressive dictators.

In light of this, obviously, his “not influence my presidency” comment has been misunderstood and/or mistreated.

Indeed, rarely searched, found, or reproduced in this context has been Paul speech at the Values Voters Summit, 2011, at which Paul won the straw poll. He placed his view of civil government clearly in terms of biblical law and biblical sanctions:

[S]o the people came and said to Samuel, what we need is a king. We need a king to take care of us. We want to be safe and secure.

And Samuel, although he knew he wasn’t going to be around long, he advised the people of Israel not to accept the king, because the king, he warned, would not be generous. He would undermine their liberties. There would be more wars. There would be more taxes. And besides, accepting the notion of a king would reject the notion that, up until that time, since they had left Egypt, their true king was their God and the guidance from their God.

But the governing body was the family. And they did not have kings, but they had judges. And that’s what Samuel was. But this was the time there was a shift away from the judges and the family into a king. And I think a lot of that has happened to us in this country. We have too often relied on our king in Washington, and we have to change that.

Now compare that view to Rushdoony’s view which I quoted in my last article:

The essential government comes from the self-government of the Christian man. The U.S. was best governed when it was least governed, not because less control from the state was the essential ingredient but because Christian self-government was central in the eras of good government. Without strong, self-governing Christians taking back self-government under Christ in health, welfare, education, and more, we cannot return by politics to less statism.(3)

Is Paul unconcerned about the role of morality in society in relation to government? He continued:

But he also said that if you depend on the king, the morality of the people will be rejected, the emphasis on the people themselves; the morality should come from the people and not from the king. . . .

You know, morality of the people or the lack of morality of the people can be reflected in the law. But the law never can change the morality of the people. And that is very important.

And again, hear this:

If people could be made moral by law, it would be a simple matter for the board of supervisors or for Congress to pass laws making all Americans moral. This would be salvation by law. Men and nations have often resorted to salvation by law, but the only consequence has been greater problems and social chaos.

We can agree, therefore, that people cannot be saved by law, but it is one thing to try to save people by law, another to have moral legislation, that is, laws concerned with morality.

Please note: this is the exact same teaching both times, the latter example not from Paul but from R. J. Rushdoony.(4)

But it is a couple of Paul’s comments on homosexuality that are most quoted in criticism. Many Christians have emailed and messaged me concerning Paul’s interview by John Lofton in 2007. In that interview Paul waffled on answering whether homosexuality is flatly a sin, stating he didn’t see the issue in such simplistic terms.

It sounds soft on homosexuality. It is soft, in this segment. I suspect it is not his whole view. First, is Paul soft on morality and sexual license in society in general? Second, how does his personal view relate to his view of the Constitution and the federal office president?

I simply cannot say fully on the first question, BUT, it is highly interesting that those who quote him from that Lofton interview never quote his general views of the Bible and social mores from earlier in the same interview. Lofton summarizes:

Paul agrees it is not the role of civil government, at any level — Federal, state or local — to feed, house, clothe or educate anybody and that this would also be un-Constitutional.

He believes Scripture is God’s Word and thus inerrant and infallible.

He says: “Defiance of God’s Law will eventually bring havoc to a society.”

He believes our country came together by God’s Providence “just as, Providentially, it may end, by God’s Will.”

Just consider that statement, theonomist: “Defiance of God’s Law will eventually bring havoc to a society.” And why have we not heard this about Paul until now?

Nevertheless, how does Paul’s personal view of homosexuality—should it be so depraved as some suggest—relate to his view of the presidency (again, a federal office)?

You could say that the guy is just terribly inconsistent in his views. Or, you could realize that he believes “If I leave it up to the States, then it’s up to the States,” which was closer to Rushdoony’s view, and was certainly Rushdoony’s view of the Constitution, too.

Rush believed not only in State’s rights, but County Rightsmy focus!—and believed both civil and criminal law, as well as all police power, should reside ultimately at the county level.(5)

In other words, Paul’s personal view of homosexuality would not come into play as President, because he believes it shouldn’t be Federal government’s jurisdiction anyway.

Now, perhaps you disagree with that stance. But from the perspective of theonomy, God’s law and civil government, consider that this is not only Paul’s view, but that of most prominent theonomists, as well as that of the theonomic-founded Constitution Party itself (Mr. John Lofton the interviewer himself a close associate). The CP Platform says on its website under “Family”:

No government may legitimately authorize or define marriage or family relations. . . .

The law of our Creator defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The marriage covenant is the foundation of the family, and the family is fundamental in the maintenance of a stable, healthy and prosperous social order. No government may legitimately authorize or define marriage or family relations contrary to what God has instituted. We are opposed to amending the U.S. Constitution for the purpose of defining marriage.

Again, not an endorsement. Just note the dual aspects of 1) affirming the biblical doctrine and biblical law, while 2) denying the Federal government should be involved in it.

So tell me, again, why this view of the issue as a political issue is so bad?
Endnotes:

  1. The Nature of the American System, 1978, 3.()
  2. Personally, I have different views than Rushdoony on the Constitution, but that is a contemplative discussion for another time.()
  3. Systematic Theology, 2:1142; my emphasis.()
  4. Law & Liberty, 1984, 3.()
  5. See Nature of the American System, pp. 8–11, 158–166.()

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Joe_Thomas
Joe_Thomas

excerpted from "Liberty Defined", full chapter showing uh, Paul's thinking: --------------- RELIGION AND LIBERTY Atheist are fond of saying that radical religoius beliefs and doctrines are the source of all that is wrong with the world. They argue that wars result from strong religious beliefs and that the various religions have never succeeded in caring for the poor and the sick, thus justifiying the call for authoritarian government to forcibly redistribute the wealth and provide care for the needy. They resort to socialism, not free markets, in their attempt to accomplish these goals. They cite the Christian Crusades and abuses of the church driven Spanish Empire as an example. The Old Testament is filled with stories of Jewish violence, and to this day the violence in the Middle East is associated with various biblical interpretations that stir conflict among the thousands who hold current deeds to land and homes taken from them. Blaming the wars waged by kings who claimed their title by divine right is not unusual. Yet if one looks at the history of the 20th century, the mass killings carried out by the fascist and communist atheist reveal a slaughter impossible to conceive of. Estimates are that the godless dictators of these countries killed 262 million of their own people, far surpassing the estimated 44 million military personnel killed in war. Clearly secularism is not always about peace. Though it is true that throughout history much harm and killing was carried out in the name of religion, this has always reflected a distorted understanding of official religious beliefs. Within nearly all the great religions, we find extremist who promote violence in the name of God. All Christians are not Christian imperialist who endorse preventitive war in the Middle East. All Jews do not endorse the violence used to displace the Arabs and Muslims and steal their land in the Middle East. All Muslims do not endorse senseless killing by suicide terrorists. It appears that when killing and war are carried out in the name of a particular religion, they are done by distorting the religion and following a false doctrine. It should not be assumed that it was the religion itself that prompted the violence. Instead of religious beliefs being the cause of war, it is more likely that those who want war co-opt religion and falsely claim the enemy the enemy is attacking their religious values. How many times have we heard neoconservatives repeat the mantra that religious fanatics attack us for our freedoms and prosperity? Neoconservatives deliberately use religioun to stir up hatred toward the enemy. Not only do some distort religious orthodoxy to gain support for war, reaction to aggressive secular attacks serves as an incentive for religious extremist to recruit defenders to fight off the invaders. The Soviet occupation spurred the growth of the religion-driven mujahedeen (later to become the Taliban). The United States financed and encouraged the teaching of radical Islam to fight the Soviets. What we didn’t understand was that this radicalization of religious beliefs would one day be directed toward us -- as it was on 9/11. Islam does not teach that the mass killing of innocent civilians is moral, yet foreign occupation can serve a tremendous incentive to radicalize religious beliefs. Christian imperialism that endorses preventive war in the Middle East should not be allowed to destroy the message delivered by the Prince of Peace. It’s a far stretch and a great distortion to use Christianity in any way to justify aggression and violence. Christianity, instead (from my point of view), emphasizes the importance and the dignity of the individual and how the lowliest in all of society are equal to those who rule over us regardless of the overwhelming force and power they wield. The Christian message is that no tyrant can destroy the dignity and self-worth of any individual, regardless of circumstances. Christ death with spiritual matters, not temporal or political. Salvation for believes was the message, not drawing future geographic boundaries in a small portion of the world. Just think of the energy spent and fighting that has gone on over a relatively small piece of land in the Holy Land compared to the amount spent dwelling on the message of love and peace. The temporal world must have rules that protect private property ownership and allow for the eternal disagreements regarding religion. These can be contemplated intellectually without the use of force to impose one person’s views on another. The Founders were right to reject the notion that the federal government be permitted to establish an official religion, without being hostile to those who express their spiritual views in private and public places. Neither evangelical atheist whose goal it is to abolish any public expression of religious belief nor promoters of a theocracy should be able to force their views on others. A free society with freedom of expression protects the rights of both. Some believe that the Golden Rule should bring all factions together. This means all religions and nonbelievers. Violence indeed has been sanctioned by the great religions, but without theological justification. The principle of the Golden Rule has been endorsed by all the great religions. This was known as early as the time of Confucius. Calls for love, forgiveness, and the Golden Rule have been expressed in some form since ancient times. Following is a list that comes from RaceMatters.org. Love....in the World’s Great Religions Christianity: “Beloved, le us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love.” Confucianism: “To love all men is the greatest benevolence.” Buddhism: “Let a man cultivate towards the whole world a heart of love.” Hinduism: “One can best worship the Lord through Love.” Islam: “Love is this, that thou shouldst account thyself very little and God very great.” Sikhism: “God will regenerate those in whose hearts there is love.” Judaism: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.” Jainism: “The days are of most profit to him who acts in love.” Zoroastrianism: “Man is the beloved of the Lord, and should love him in return.” Baha’i: “Love Me that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can no wise reach thee.” Shinto: “Love is the representative of the Lord.” The Golden Rule....According to the World’s Great Religions - Christianity: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matthew 7:12) Confucianism: “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udana-Varga, 5:18) Baha’i: Blessed is he who preferred his brother before himself.” (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, 71) Islam: “Hurt no one that no one way hurt you.” (Muhammad, “The Farewell Sermon”) Judaism: “That which is hateful to you do not do to your fellow.” Humanist and atheist do not condemn the Golden Rule. Peace in the World’s Great Religions Christianity: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Judaism: When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Buddhism: There is no happiness greater than peace. Hinduism: Without meditation, where is peace? Without peace, where is happiness? Islam: God will guide men to peace. If they will heed him, He will lead them from the darkness of war to the light of peace. Shinto: Let the Earth be free from trouble and men live at peace under the protection of the Divine. Baha’i: War is death while peace is life. Sikhism: Only in the Name of the Lord do we find our peace. Confucianism: Seek to be in harmony with all your neighbors....live in peace with your brethren. Mahatma Ghandi’s opinion on this issue: “Like the bee gathering honey from different flowers, the wise person accepts the essence of the different scriptures and sees only the good in all religions.” The Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments are traditionally known to be part of the foundation of Christianity and Judaism. The Qur’an in different places essentially repeats the Ten Commandments, indicating that Muslims do not believe that this message has been corrupted from their divine origin as other provisions of the Torah and the Gospels have. The Qur’an endorses the following: One God; No idol worship; Do not take God’s name in vain; One day a week for special prayers; Honor our parents; Do not murder, Do not commit adultery; Do not steal; Do not withhold testimony; Do not covet what others have. These great religions represent billions of people who agree on love, the Golden Rule, and the Ten Commandments. We are brought together by believing in one God, supposedly the same one, yet we fight and hat and lack tolerance and understanding. The positive truth is perverted and replaced by arrogant enforcers willing to initiate war and aggression for selfish interest while distorting religious belief. Modern Machiavellians, the neocons, admit they diligently use extreme religious beliefs not to promote love and peace, but to galvanize people to fight and supposedly to preserve the true religion. It is this influence by antireligious nonbelievers that incites hatred between the different religions and that leads to so much violence and hatred. A better understanding and greater tolerance would provide the courage for believers of different faiths to resist the political demagogues who for their own selfish reasons use violence as the tool for the managing their tyrannical governments. Too many wars are fought claiming God’s blessing--on both sides. It’s “your God against our God, yet the same.” For wars to be diminished, this attitude must change. The mass slaughter of the twentieth century was not a result of religious conflicts. Even today, the hostility in the Middle East, though seen by many Muslims as a modern Christian Crusade against Islam, religion is used by some to justify geopolitical goals, such as control over the world’s oil supply. This in turn, motivates others to radicalize those injured by such a policy in the name of Allah. Bad foreign policy is more the culprit than radical religious views. Bad policy invites extremism in religious activities--on both sides. Though most religions and most people accept the basic premise of the Golden Rule--Do unto others as you would have them do unto you--there are some who could not care less. There are those who have no self-esteem and are self-haters and naturally self-destructive. Why would they care about treating others better than they treat themselves when they don’t place any value on their own lives? Put a person like this in charge of other people and trouble results. Its not to infrequent that individuals like this find a way to the top of the political heap. Being insecure and hateful, participating in violence to bring about good things to compensate for a sense of inferiority is not unusual. A guilt complex in proponents of big governments has been recognized for some time. The masochist gets pleasure in dominating others and doesn’t care about the Golden Rule. The more power, the greater the sense of superiority that nourishes the masochist’s ego. Ignorance of how humanitarian government programs do harm rather than good fuels the efforts of do-gooders to justify and relish the power that they use over others. I have been told, in serious discussions with other members of Congress, that the people are too ‘stupid’ to care for themselves and need smart, generous, and caring public servants to take care of them. These individual actually believe they are not violating the Golden Rule but rather serving God’s purpose. It’s not unheard of for ‘intellectuals’ to claim that free markets are the destructive and the Golden Rule mandates an authoritarian state to right the wrongs of uneven distribution of wealth. One would not think that a “rule” asking all to treat others as they would like to be treated could be used to condemn free markets--the only system ever to alleviate famine and subsistence living. Yet this is what has been done. Even something as concise and clearly understood for centuries as the Golden Rule can be twisted by human beings to serve the opposite goals. War becomes peace, love becomes violence, and the Golden Rule is used to destroy the wealth of the world and thus impoverish the masses. If we conclude that the age-old Golden Rule is of value in how we should treat others (and other countries as well), it cannot be left standing that free market capitalism is its greatest enemy. A Golden Rule attitude merely facilitates a market economy. Even if the Golden Rule is not named as a guiding policy, free markets, private property, contracts, sound money, and self-interest would always promote the system that is sought by the Golden Rule proponents. It is the moral principle of individual liberty that is vitally needed to achieve the fairest and most prosperous society. As precious as religious values are when properly applied, a society that agrees on the principle of liberty makes personal religious and social beliefs less threatening. Atheist, believers, the selfish individuals--even when annoying--can all interact with and not threaten those with whom they disagree. All benefit by practicing a tolerance that they would choose for themselves. The basic moral principle of individualism emphasizes not only an absolute right to one’s own life but the opposite as well: that no one has a right to another person’s life or liberty or property. This principle clearly states no one has a right to initiate violence against another. There can be no individual aggression and no national aggression either. This is what the Golden Rule should mean. It’s a basic political position that has been endorsed by all the great religions of the world as well as most moral secularists. It’s crucial to grasp that a flawed misunderstanding of what the Golden Rule means can be used to justify violent redistribution of wealth and wars of aggression and must not go unchallenged. It’s bad enough that history has been filled with thousands who find themselves in positions of power and don’t even pretend to endorse the basic Golden Rule principle. There are too many--and I have met quite a few of them across the political spectrum--whose working premise is that the masses don’t deserve the right to their life or property and must be cared for by their benevolent masters. This rationalization is used so the authoritarians can enjoy exerting power over others just for the sake of power. Because we no longer have a moral compass to guide our political system, we now face the prospect of economic and social upheaval. Without a moral foundation to our political system its a free-for-all, and those who understand how to use government power benefit the most. Government is driven by envy and avarice, not the self-interest that drives free markets and is condemned as selfish by the enemies of liberty. A system of government without limit, if unchecked, will destroy production and impoverish the nation. The only answer is to better understand economics and monetary systems, as well as social and foreign policies, with the hope that they will change once it becomes clear that government policies are a threat to all of us.

Arrow
Arrow

For all the anti-libertarians here...given your stated complaints about Ron Paul...I have a question: If the Apostle Peter were running for president, given what you know about him, would you vote for him?

Mitchell Powell
Mitchell Powell

Well done, Joel. You are doing a fantastic job of carrying the torch of theonomy in your generation.

Southron American
Southron American

At this point in history the term libertarian has become so poisoned, I fail to see where it benefits theonomists to adopt it. Putting aside for a moment attempting to interpret Paul's own political positions, the far plainer reality is that the bulk of his supporters are radically antinomian and support him on that basis. Right now, Presidential politics is just a waste of time and resources because we haven't reconstructed society to the point where even a perfectly theonomic Christian in the position could make any real, lasting difference. Until we have a nation where at least a significant minority holds to a consistent Christian worldview and directs their lives on that basis, any freedoms reclaimed from the government will simply be abused, and until we reach a point where for an entire generation at least 10% of the nation's children are receiving an explicitly Christian education we're not going to have a chance at that sort of minority.

alex alexander
alex alexander

Hmmm. 114 comments. And all male. Shame that not a single sister (or brother) has said: "Wow! I now realise I must homeschool my kids." Not one in 114. From my limited perspective — the UK — this looks like a little internecine skirmish about how many angels dance upon the head of the Ron Paul needle. I'd vote RP; but, as we say in the Mother Country: "What's that got to do with the price of fish?" Alex A UK (Bo — You're European. You'll understand...)

Caleb
Caleb

Please see this latest article posted by Stephen Halbrook, which pertains to the controversy at hand: http://theonomyresources.blogspot.com/2012/04/some-comments-on-present-controversy-to.html. I thought it would be helpful to step back and consider what I believe to be the core point of controversy between libertarian and biblical political ethics: By what standard do we discern the role and limits of the civil magistrate, as well as the punishments for crimes? Libertarianism gives us a clear answer, but I argue that it is not the biblical answer. To the extent that the libertarian principle (which I explain and critique in this article) influences a candidate's political philosophy and platform, we must be critical.

Make Men Free
Make Men Free

Excellent debate. What I don't get is how we are to create a "Christian" nation. It cannot be forced on people by any government, which Dr. Talbot seems to suggest. So for the time being I consider myself a Christian libertarian.

Make Men Free
Make Men Free

This is a critical debate. Dr. Talbot makes a strong argument that Christians are not (humanistic) libertarians. OK, fine. But he makes some statements to the effect that we need a "Christian" government. What I am currently unclear on is how that could possibly occur. Any government that can enforce Christianity on its citizens is powerful enough to force any other worldview on them as well. And who would we be to complain if it did? If that's the government people vote for, then they should get what they voted for. So at this point I consider myself a Christian libertarian. Truly "live and let live." I want to live in a Christian society, but people have to VOLUNTARILY choose to be Christians. They cannot be forced to be Christian by the government, and I do not want to be subject to a government that can force a different worldview on me. So right now I consider myself a libertarian until I understand a better way for a Christian society to come about.

John Hendrickson
John Hendrickson

Joel, if RP truly believes God sets the standards and that God’s Word takes priority over all then he would not have answered as he did about marriage or homosexuality. That the limits of government authority are to be great does not obviate its duty to, at the very least, speak to matters of ethics. So, if one believes the Bible teaches marriage is to be between one man and one woman or that sodomy is wrong, it is incumbent upon those in authority to say so as the magistrate. To say that because the Constitution precludes jurisdiction in these areas and so it can express no opinion is misguided, at best. If RP believed in the authority of the Bible as it speaks to the duties of the magistrate then he would have at least indicated that those matters are to be addressed according to it at the proper jurisdictional level. He did not. I do not get why those who want to support RP and the Libertarianism he believes in for pragmatic reasons seem compelled to defend both as not being what they clearly are. RP lacks a biblical understanding of the role of government. This is why he answers as he does. It is not that he is a closet theonomist and will act accordingly in spite of his public declarations. Neither will the fact that because he is a conservative Christian make him any more successful at advancing Christ’s cause than was the last guy elected just because he was a “born again Christian”, Jimmy Carter. Likewise, neither will adherence to the Libertarian party’s goals advance the Kingdom unless it is convinced it must redefine its core commitment from the autonomy of man to submission to Christ and his Word. Unless the Christians who want to support RP for pragmatic reasons remain self-consciously aware that neither he nor his governing philosophy are the end or even biblically based, they will end up just as little biblical progress as did Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority and the Judeo-Christian movement of the 1980s. That is, they must openly work to challenge the Libertarian movement to accept biblical foundations for their cause and to reject their present premise, something Falwell, et al expressly avoided doing. They, just as Intelligent Design scientists do now, denied the Lordship of Christ and the Bible was their ultimate desire. Now, to be clear, I am not one of those who makes the perfect the enemy of the good. That is because I am not convinced God teaches us that without the perfect we are to remove ourselves from any influence we make effect. Thus, I will be voting for RP in NJ’s primary. If he is not on the ballot for the general election then I will not write him in. Why? Because the libertarian philosophy he represents is not biblical and, thus, not something to take a principled stand upon. Just because there are coincident points between the limited government of RP’s Libertarianism and the Bible does not justify the former. No more than would an atheist’s governing philosophy command a principled vote just because they believe in the biblical form of marriage, are for the death penalty, restitution for theft, etc. We are not interested in merely form. In Romans nine, Paul spoke to that being the downfall for Israel. We want Christ as the King and lawgiver and for Him to be the authority for governing all of life, not just personally and privately.

Micah Martin
Micah Martin

Joel! You should have waited 35 minutes to post this. It could have been a happy 4/20 day present for all of us libertarians. I can't believe I missed that this morning. Oh well... Maybe next year? Micah

john cummins
john cummins

As usual an excellent job. I am a steady reader of John Lofton but have to part ways with him on Ron Paul and on being seemingly totally against being involved in govt. (at least that is the way I perceive him). I love Lofton's writings but think he needs to read his mentor, Rushdoony, perhaps a tad more carefully. Thanks Joel for the clear thinking.

JoelW
JoelW

Good article Joel. Although Paul's lack of strength in his statements on homosexualty give me concern, in a Paul presidency it wouldn't matter anyway, for it is not the constitutional or biblical role of the elected Federal Executive to guide us in such matters. Anti-Paulers here are expressing fear in the effects of a not-sufficiently-anti-homo presidency, but that is because the current paradigm teaches us that the Federal Executive actually holds such powers; but the libertarian ideal is a Federal Executive that is so lacking in power that his or her personal views on such matters would have little effect on states (or counties) anyway. And btw this is not the first time I've found the good Dr. Talbot's opinions to be slightly off the mark.

Arrow
Arrow

One of my favorite commentators was Alan Stang. He died a few years back, but I encourage people to read his stuff, if nothing else for his tremendous wit. He endorsed Ron Paul in the last election, and asked everyone to send him $100.00. Here is a column where he expounds his relationship with Ron Paul, which gives some insight into Paul's background and politics. http://www.etherzone.com/2007/stang051407.shtml Here is another good article that he wrote after attending a Ron Paul rally, where he gives a witty insight into the political scene around. I was particularly amused by what he said about the Christian Right and James Dobson in particular: http://www.newswithviews.com/Stang/alan32.htm Happy reading.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

"If people could be made moral by law, it would be a simple matter for the board of supervisors or for Congress to pass laws making all Americans moral. This would be salvation by law. Men and nations have often resorted to salvation by law, but the only consequence has been greater problems and social chaos." So the opposite extreme which we must go to, according to RP, is that of almost no law at all (except what absolutely necessary to enforce the sacred idol of liberty). Social chaos only occurs when a society abandons reason for madness in thinking that it can survive with a "minimal" law, the law of the individual, or any law that does not come from God's Word.

Cromwell
Cromwell

Ron Paul's godless view of the Marriage Covenant, wrote LAST YEAR in "Liberty Defined" the cover of which Joel actually used in his previos posting: n a free society,…. all voluntary and consensual agreements would be recognized. ….But look at where we are today, constantly fighting over the definition and legality of marriage……..I’d like to settle the debate by turning it into a First Amendment issue: the right of free speech. Everyone can have his or her own definition of what marriage means, and if an agreement or contract is reached by the participants, it will qualify as a civil contract if desired. - Ron Paul, Marriage – “Liberty Defined” He has many godless views articulated, LAST YEAR, in "Liberty Defined" and he CLEARLY is TOTALLY AGAINST GOD's LAW. American Vision loses credibility, when its main members are defending a Secular Cult, the ugly twin cousin of the Obama cult.

Caleb
Caleb

Southron American: I tend to agree with much of what you wrote! The reason I persist in this present discussion/debate/controversy (whatever you want to call it) is for discipleship purposes. I don't want people to be led astray into the antinomian/secular type of libertarianism that you're describing. I also agree that we have many other priorities besides national/presidential politics on which to focus, such as explicitly Christian education. Well said!

E Harris
E Harris

We gotta get back to Biblical TERMINOLOGY. Precise wording, as it is defined IN THE BIBLE. A nation is not a country. A nation is a people group, often defined by heredity (I think). How do we "create" a Christian nation? There already is one. "Royal Priesthood, Peculiar People, a Chosen Nation, set apart unto God." So all those RP fanatics (if you're offended I used that term, you probably are one)...we already have an RP. It's already been set up. There is an old song... "old" by my standards... "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full into His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the Light of His glory and grace." This doesn't mean that we ignore what is around us...but we start seeing how terribly mundane and powerless it is. We have much more power and adventure available to us in Christ, than anywhere else. This is foolishness to the world, who trust in chariots, horses, and cannons.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

What is the job of the government then, if not to enforce the Law of God? The only "job" left for it is to act as nanny state, which is what liberals want. "What I am currently unclear on is how that could possibly occur. Any government that can enforce Christianity on its citizens is powerful enough to force any other worldview on them as well. And who would we be to complain if it did?" The morality of a government reflects the morality of the people. The only way the government can change is if the society changes. And also, from your argument, it can deduced that there can never be any true Christian government, if one is to go to the logical bitter end with this argument for freedom. "Live and let live" is a form of moral relativism. It assumes that all worldviews are equal to each other, including the Christian worldview. It also assumes that all others will "live and let live" like you, which is a utopian dream. It is the idea that if you leave a bully alone he won't bully you. "I do not want to be subject to a government that can force a different worldview on me..." That is an impossibility. Any government by enforcing any set of laws is enforcing a worldview, like it or not. It's why minarchist libertarianism is an inconsistent form of anarchism. It believes in anarchism but sees government as a necessary evil.

E Harris
E Harris

It is clear that Jesus Christ comes first. He represents us, both individually and collectively. Nobody else (no "government") represents us - but He can and does. Since he chooses (for now) a government by voluntary association, then we should as well. As a result of this: we should not be constructing large monopolistic civil swords. But since we live in a world that already has them: it is ok to speak truth "to force". For this reason, our voice, we must be articulate and accurate in every word we say, because we claim to represent Truth on this earth (as ambassadors). Because the truth is represented in a person, no piece of paper can permanently capture all of it, in a defining way. We must live and act, and work out our salvation. This process cannot be "done" by a piece of paper or an agreement - IT was accomplished at the cross. We must live and continue to speak. Our voice includes our voting and critiquing...as well as any wisdom that we may have to offer. The world is a perpetual battleground. There is no safe spot, no "well of liberty" down here. It is in God who is Ultimately eternal and so-much-more-than tangible. The more people become christians, and learn to walk in maturity - the less need we will have of a centralized sword-bearing bureaucracy. As we go about the work of rolling back and disbanding country-wide, state-wide, and even local sword-bearing monopolies, the same logic that we use to do this, will be useful anywhere. And by our impartiality, it should appear to all oppressed and/or honest people everywhere - that we are standing for what is in their best interests. Hopefully, as our own centralized bureaucracy shrinks - theirs will as well...and nations will turn to us (christians) for honest guidance on how to best advance the free, private sector. I think it would be obvious that private sector security forces can do just as adequate a job as a sword-bearing monopoly. However, they would need to recognize their subservience to REAL natural/divine law. That means, most likely, that leaders of large corporations and anyone holding a gun would have to be christian, or at least recognize the foundation of Christianity. Those who framed America's Constitution were limiting what they saw as a "necessary evil". Either we would be "in control" of this "necessary evil" or the British king would be. What mattered is that the Truth was recognized. This is why they recognized that a christian citizenry is necessary to keep their "necessary evil" from becoming a "greater evil." What matters is the gospel message and how it is lived out. That matters far more than the structure of 'government'. What matters is that people obey God, listen to God, relate to God. And the only way to do that (with any sufficient amount of honesty or stability) is through Jesus Christ. We christians must reclaim the language of christian government. Not civil government. CHRIST'S direct reign over every individual, and all that entails. He represents us, and we are his ambassadors. The world is a virtual reality (a copycat) when compared to the truths in scripture. Someday we will be able to welcome Jesus back, visibly - when we are ready and mature to walk as brothers, without fear. We may talk about how much fear the Dispensationalists have...but sometimes it is fear driving our own conversation. We want stability and security and freedom. Well, look to the Bible: it says that we already have access to maturity (in the place of stability), our security is eternal when we trust God to save us from ourselves, and we have freedom in Christ that we can explore forever. America existed, to give us a window of time, to spread the gospel message worldwide. We did so. But we could have done much more. Worldwide peace will not be brought about by a military stale-mate. The military stale-mate exists so that the gospel can spread, bringing peace into every heart. But if the stale-mate breaks down...and war or violence ensues... the spread of the gospel will continue. We continue our mission either way, whether the world heeds our advice or not. We have a God more POWERFUL than the largest cannon. And yes, I do believe He still works miracles as well. I've heard way too many testimonies (including those related to George Washington himself). Though war may not be a Christian way, I believe that God does take the side of those who are merely defending themselves and their neighbors - above the side of the aggressor (unless it is a brief period of judgment). God may prefer perfection, but He is not a moron: He works in history, often siding with those who would accomplish "His Will" over those He wants to correct. Mercy, Grace, and Power interact with this world through Jesus Christ. In other words, I don't believe that the American Revolution needed to be a prelude to the War for Independence. We have independence already (freedom in Christ). It would have been a hard road to travel, being persecuted by a tyrant like King George...but change is possible (I believe) through peaceful means. That being said: I believe that the War for "Independence" was a defensive war. It was families defending themselves, and banding together as neighbors to expel an extra-local force from their midst. God was OBVIOUSLY on their side. He works in a multitude of ways. And there is nowhere we can hide from Him; no choice we can make in which He doesn't have a preference. Well, after we took up arms against the foreigner (soldier) in our midst, centurion-like tyrant as he was... we had some time to think about how to comport ourselves. America's framers evidently didn't place a lot of faith in fallen fleshly nature, they didn't trust kings, but they did trust the corrective capacity of the human mind if it could be kept free from vices. How to do that? Jesus Christ! (But America's framers got bogged down in statist legalese at that point... trying to form and perpetuate the best system that they could. They knew that God was a Person, but they didn't know precisely what to do with Him other than acknowledge His Presence and ask for His aid in their endeavors. And endeavor they did. You see, they framed a governing heirarchy that placed a lot of trust in the authority of people to keep their earthly representatives accountable. But wolves are clever, and 'the people' were taught to respect them. Over time, churchmen lost ground because of their trusting nature...and heathen wolves gained ground because they knew American government for what it was: a perpetual battleground. The way our country was framed, there was never a destination point in the system. It would (theoretically) go on FOREVER. To where? To what end? We christians believed in our 'christian' government for too long, not understanding that it was framed AS a war-zone. In one system, there were both regenerate and unregenerate. A perpetual war-zone of passions and kingdoms. The "USA" corporation was never one kingdom. It was always two. And so long as it attempts to be 'representative' and 'fair' it always will be two kingdoms locked in one war. The way to win this war? Personally, on the ground, as witnesses in a courtroom where Jesus is on trial.

Arrow
Arrow

Mr. Hendrickson, You say: "I do not get why those who want to support RP and the Libertarianism he believes in for pragmatic reasons seem compelled to defend both as not being what they clearly are." I respectfully suggest that the reason that you "don''t get" this is because it is not entirely accurate. While some may do logical gymnastics to defend RP, many of us who support him simply disagree with him and think he is wrong on this point. Also, you make the assumption that Christians support him for "pragmatic reasons". You mistake us for the supporters of Bush, Sanitarium, Romney, Gingrich, Huckabee, etc. etc. There is nothing pragmatic about the Paul world...we actually believe this silly stuff about liberty and responsibility, just weights and measures, not murdering people, etc. But some may sincerely believe he is entirely right on the homosexual issue (I believe he is right in a small portion of it), although from a Christian perspective this would be difficult. Then of course some simply twist arguments for political purposes. This is always a temptation, especially in the face of the other choices forced on us by the corrupt party bosses aided by the corrupt "Christian" "right".. You go on: "Unless the Christians who want to support RP for pragmatic reasons remain self-consciously aware that neither he nor his governing philosophy are the end or even biblically based, they will end up just as little biblical progress as did Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority and the Judeo-Christian movement of the 1980s." Aside from you mis-characterization of Christian Paul supporters as "pragmatic", I have a few comments: 1) Paul and his governing philosophy are not the end, and have flaws. Surprise, surprise...we are so accustomed to flawless human beings?!? 2) How do you judge whether Paul's philosophies are biblically based? If an atheist says: "2 plus 2 equal 4", and a Christian says "2 plus 2 equal 4 because that's how God made it", are they not both equally correct? Therefore, if RP (or anyone else) says "we should not have a foreign policy that kills people without justification", are they not speaking biblically? If he says "the federal reserve is an unjust monetary system", and does not cite the scriptural references (which by the way he has, I believe) is it any less scripturally true? (Note that I am not advocating non-Christians for civil government.) 3) You are absolutely correct about the moral majority, and on a larger scale the "Christian" "right". The Christian community as a whole has been made into a political prostituteof the GOP, with the blessing and leadership of men who should know better but don't. The GOP has done the same thing to the Tea Party movement. The GOP ruins everything it touches. Which makes me wonder why people around here get so worked up about "libertarianism" but seem perfectly comfortable with the rotting cesspool of the Republican party. It really baffles me.

Caleb
Caleb

Very good thoughts, Mr. Hendrickson. In addition to what you wrote, I will point out that one cannot hold to the supremacy of Biblical Law while arguing that it is only enforceable at the state level. Why? For one thing, our system of governance has an appeals structure, and the Supreme Court sets precedents that are acknowledged to be binding on lower courts (including every state court). Thus, if the state courts tried to enforce biblical law and the Supreme Court had a contrary position, the whole matter would be moot. Some will say that Ron Paul wants to limit the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts, but this strategy is tenuous. For example, on "Roe v. Wade," if Congress passed a law to strip SCOTUS of jurisdiction to hear any abortion cases, this would freeze "Roe" in place as it relates to lower courts (don't ask armchair internet commentators, but rather attorneys -- such as Mike Farris, with whom I have lots of disagreements, but I trust his legal insights on such matters -- if this is so). On a more fundamental level, Gary North's insight is appropriate here: "A national oath is not enough. God's covenant is a package deal. It is not sufficient to restructure only one part of the U.S. Constitution and leave the rest of it in its present form. It is not enough to make Jesus Christ its Lord without making the Bible the final standard of all court appeals. God is not impressed with a formal commitment to Him without public obedience to His revealed civil law and the enforcement of His required civil sanctions" (North, "Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism," p. 58). Based on how I understand his political philosophy, Ron Paul has no intention to acknowledge Christ as the highest political authority on any level, let alone the supremacy of His Law in governance on any level. I do not understand how Ron Paul's support of DOMA overturns his statements (made in various contexts, not in the form of carefully crafted campaign propaganda) that his political philosophy would permit "gays" to marry as long as they don't "force" this definition on anyone else.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

"...if RP truly believes God sets the standards and that God’s Word takes priority over all then he would not have answered as he did about marriage or homosexuality." RP: "I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and must be protected. I supported the Defense of Marriage Act, which used Congress’ constitutional authority to define what other states have to recognize under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, to ensure that no state would be forced to recognize a same-sex marriage license issued in another state." "If RP believed in the authority of the Bible as it speaks to the duties of the magistrate then he would have at least indicated that those matters are to be addressed according to it at the proper jurisdictional level. He did not." RP has repeatedly stated that those matters should be addressed at the State level, which is the proper jurisdictional level within our system. When RP makes such statements, does he also have to add, "according to biblical duties of the magistrate", in order for you to approve of his wording?

E Harris
E Harris

In all of the focus on legalities, we have ignored the PSYCHOLOGICAL sway & impact a president's words and image can have. It's foolish, but true. Of course Paul would have been better than Romney, hands down.

E Harris
E Harris

The law that we must be seeking, is the law in people's hearts, revealed by their consciences. How do you wake up their consciences? Through speaking the truth, and spreading the gospel message which encourages people to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance. It is the Spirit that empowers people to obey. Ron Paul minimizes statist law, but then does not back up his positions with sufficient moral force. He should be OVERTLY relying on Jesus and the Spirit. Otherwise, he isn't just encouraging the TEA Party, he's also encouraging the OCCUPIERS and their antics to tear down this-and-that. Ron Paul's logic lacks the boldness (and backbone) of Jesus Christ. JESUS must be the PRIME motive... or people will see right through it, and it will encourage them to go in a WRONG direction with it.

Cromwell
Cromwell

Ron Paul, who went on Iranian STATE TV and lied to the Iranian Mullah's for Propaganda that the Israelies were in Paul's words, "Running a Concentration Camp" in Gaza.....in Liberty Defined said idiot statements like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYNLXYLM44c But hey, why would a Libertarian be skeptical and go on IRANIAN or RUSSIAN State Propaganda TV Channels???? Its only the American version to be feared, we should Pander to actual Tyrants and be their Useful Idiots!!! The man is a Coward and a Fool ---- The Liberal party in Israel often raises questions about apartheid conditions that Palestinians are subjected to…Former President Jimmy Carter is now persona non grata for raising the question in his most recent book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. - Ron Paul, Liberty Defined – Zionism chapter World ignores Israel’s 200 nukes yet pressures Iran’s 1 nuke Today, the Israeli political lobby is a powerful political force. Two to three hundred nuclear weapons, under Israel’s control, make Israel more powerful than all the Arab and Muslim countries put together. But that’s not where the real power lies. The UN can labor tirelessly in “controlling” one nuclear weapon (in Iran) that doesn’t exist while the international community does not put pressure on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In contrast, the world community rarely even admits that Israel’s nukes exist–and at the same time Iran has never been ruled in noncompliance with the NPT. The fact that Muslim nations become annoyed with this policy is written off by most in the West by charging anti-Semitism. Source: Liberty Defined, by Rep. Ron Paul, p.317 Apr 19, 2011

Cromwell
Cromwell

“The definition of marriage is what divides so many. Why not tolerate everybody’s definition as long as neither side uses force to impose its views on the other? Problem solved! It doesn’t happen because of the lack of tolerance on both sides.” - Ron Paul, Marriage – ‘Liberty Defined’

E Harris
E Harris

Yea... I guess you could say Stalin was right about that. And that's probably the last time I say that. Many nations in the Bible days existed without things that make up a 'country.' And even many countries today, house a few different nations. Christians, however, don't need to worry about any of that (by necessity). Our identity is anchored in a higher nation-hood, a higher priest-hood, and we invite everyone to join this better way.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

That's just about Stalin's definition of a nation: "A nation is an historically constituted, stable community of people formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make up manifested in a common culture."

Caleb
Caleb

Arrow wrote: "Too often people think that just because God instituted civil gov’t to 'punish evildoers' that means that any sin is fair game for civil punishment." That is a good point. God's Law defines what "sins" count as "crimes" (i.e., punishable by the civil magistrate). I have been accused by an anarchist recently of teaching that all "sins" are "crimes" that are punishable by the magistrate, yet no theonomist I have ever read maintains this. (Incidentally, this anarchist tries to say that God's Law is "vague," contrary to the explicit words of Deuteronomy 30.) Dr. Bahnsen, in his incisive critique of libertarianism, takes great pains to establish the very important distinction between a sin and a crime. The Scriptures alone define this distinction for us, and we must not veer to the right hand or to the left.

Arrow
Arrow

Brother of the King, Yes, absolutely without question. That is what I meant when I said "It is the job of civil government to enforce civil laws as defined in the Bible." The key here is that civil government is limited in scope, as are the church, family, and individual. So, we have to be careful in what we give to the civil ruler. Too often people think that just because God instituted civil gov't to "punish evildoers" that means that any sin is fair game for civil punishment. That is not true.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

@Arrow: Civil laws are an expression of morality. The ten commandments, all of them, define what morality is. When the government is enforcing civil laws, it is enforcing a moral code.

E Harris
E Harris

Amen Arrow!! Insofar as heathen "governments" exist... they should stick to Old Testament code. But the church is not living in the old testament. We have the grace and empowerment of the new. Hence the church (ekklesia...which includes everyone redeemed by Jesus Christ) should not be preoccupied with the civil sword - nor distracted by it. We have a mission! And the faster/better we accomplish it... the more lives we save (in every way). The civil sword would be wise to stay out of our way: for we bring peace, civility, stability, productivity... everything that makes the world WORK. We also bring the Prince of Peace who is no threat to their lives, just to their sense of self-importance.

Arrow
Arrow

Brother of the King, It is the job of civil government to enforce civil laws as defined in the Bible. It is the job of the church to spread Christianity and teach morals. I think things are clearer if we keep these distinctions in mind.

E Harris
E Harris

Correct. Many christian reconstructionists are attempting to cobble together something that JESUS never cobbled together for himself while on earth - nor expected his disciples to cobble together through the power of the Holy Spirit. It's time we progress from Moses to Jesus. They are not the same ministry. Jesus said be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. This is only accomplished through the dominion of the Holy Spirit. "Live and let live" isn't moral relativism. It's agreeing to disagree. It's tolerance, patience. We try to testify, witness, persuade in all manners rhetorically possible (except lying). When that doesn't succeed, we are commanded to walk on, and wipe the dust from our feet - because God WILL judge them.

Arrow
Arrow

Good point...a battle in the mind which we all face from time to time, I guess.

Caleb
Caleb

Arrow, the problem you're describing (which I've also observed) occurs when people primarily think emotionally rather than biblically. You're right, this behavior shouldn't be coming from Christians.

Arrow
Arrow

Caleb, while I may disagree with a very small amount of what you say, I appreciate your consistency. What bothers me most about so many political discussions is a double (or triple or quadruple...) standard. This is to be expected from moral relativists but not from Christians.

Caleb
Caleb

Arrow wrote: "Which makes me wonder why people around here get so worked up about 'libertarianism' but seem perfectly comfortable with the rotting cesspool of the Republican party. It really baffles me." Count me out of that! I can't stand the "rotting cesspool" of any political party, platform, or philosophy that seeks to truncate Christ's Lordship or the supremacy of His Law as the sole and sufficient standard for the civil realm. Without God's Law, what other standard can we use to tell the magistrate: "Here, and no further"? No one, including the magistrate at any level (local, state, or national) may stray to the right hand or to the left of God's perfect Law, although each must keep its proper jurisdictional authority in mind. Please see: http://theonomyresources.blogspot.com/2012/04/some-comments-on-present-controversy-to.html.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

One of the commenters below quoted him from Liberty Defined on marriage. He clearly states that it is okay for homos to do anything they want. This whole thing shows that he is actually way more inconsistent than his campaign manager would have us believe.

E Harris
E Harris

Well, amen to RP then! He's got some teeth!

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

Missing? I've lost track of the number of times RP has attacked Romney in his ads. Just because they act more like gentlemen when debating doesn't mean that Paul has given Romney a free pass. One can only conclude from those ads that Ron Paul thinks Romney is a flip-flopping, liberal, business-as-usual, big-government, bought-and-paid-for, draft-dodging warmonger.

E Harris
E Harris

(But Ron Paul's words were not quite inspirational. They could have been much, much better. Especially if he took a proactive moral stand, without being overbearing or executive about it. And it is possible to do this. Obama does it all of the time, for the other side. And look at what effect Obama has had, in areas in which he has done nothing (officially speaking). Tons of impact: because of his word choices. Paul is not as careful with his word choices, and how he inspires people, as he is with his critiques...and even then...certain critiques (like a critique of Romney) were missing.

E Harris
E Harris

Absolutely. The motive for wanting to keep God's Law is to LOVE Him first. There must be some attraction there. How does this attraction find us? Through God's grace in our lives: a kind word, neighbors, questioning, going through life's turmoil, God healing and providing for us. We love him, because he loved us first.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

"JESUS must be the PRIME motive or people will see right through it, and it will encourage them to go in a WRONG direction with it." If Jesus is to be the prime motive, then why don't we seek God's Law first? Jesus told us "if you love me, you will keep my commandments." This applies to both the individual and society in general.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

"Ron Paul minimizes statist law..." To him any law is statist or corrupt if it is enforced by the government, except when it is a law defending his definition of liberty.

E Harris
E Harris

Robert, he was IN CONGRESS. He often got to vote for things, while speaking out of the opposite side of his mouth. As an executive (THE highest executive position in the "USA") the buck would stop with him. That is NOT the same as being a member of the senate or house. That is an altogether different position to be in. Where you may say one thing, and then... be forced, in front of everyone, to say "well..."

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

"I think if he ever got in office, he would be MUCH less consistent than his rhetoric." His rhetoric has been the same for 12 terms in Congress over 30 years. How much more consistent does he have to be? "When the pressure comes, and compromises have to be made… That’s why it’s important to look for solid BACKBONE" His nickname in Congress is "Dr. No" precisely because he doesn't compromise if it means violating his oath to uphold the Constitution. When the vote is 434-1, you can bet your last nickel the "1" is Ron Paul standing his ground against those who under pressure are willing to compromise their integrity and our Republic. His voting record proves he's got more backbone than anyone else in the House of Representatives. Also see the article by Joel McDurmon, "Liberals terrified: Paul 'most conservative in modern history'" http://americanvisionnews.com/1048/liberals-terrified-paul-most-conservative

E Harris
E Harris

@cromwell, Well, I did say he was a hippie! He's just more intelligent, accurate, honest, and stable than the AVERAGE hippie. Because he embraces christianity, and at least is open to using the Constitution the way it is meant to be used: as a sledge hammer! (But really, I think if he ever got in office, he would be MUCH less consistent than his rhetoric. When the pressure comes, and compromises have to be made... That's why it's important to look for solid BACKBONE.)

cromwell
cromwell

Harris - in Liberty Defined Paul says for young people to "make love not war'

E Harris
E Harris

I did say that he was a hippie with conservative tendencies. Ron Paul is a libertarian who doesn't know how Jesus fits into the public picture (making him vulnerable to pandering to anarchists) - and who supports the constitution (making him vulnerable to statism). He is where most of us are, actually. The only difference is: he doesn't really have as firm of a grasp of human nature, and as solid a picture of public faith, AS WE WOULD LIKE. I'd still vote for the guy over Romney or Obama...in a heartbeat! At the same time, I am aware that he does NOT represent me - nor does any politician represent me!

E Harris
E Harris

*hippie with conservative tendencies (conservative: supporter of the constitution). He may really be a libertarian, and value a more free structure than the Constitution itself permits, but ya gotta start somewhere. Dialing it back to the Constitution is a hard enough battle, and a worthy one. Then we can go on from there. (But make no mistake about it: In Paul's mind and mannerisms: he's a hippie, and pandering to hippies.)

E Harris
E Harris

All of this pressure on Israel (which is one of the best run countries in the middle east) is stupid. The UN has passed more sanctions against the state of Israel than I think any other country in its history. I'm not sure, but it's close. Ron Paul is PANDERING to the hippies, if he isn't sorta hippie himself. (That would explain the lack of energetic evangelical backbone. He's not really "all in" in a faithful sense. He's straddling the line, trying to get the best of both worlds - but when it comes down to it: he's a hippie with conservative tendencies.

cromwell
cromwell

The Feds have had a bounty on bin laden head since before 9/11. At least after 9/11 it was the militaries duty. Paul is a pacifist idelogue and will say and lie about anything related to anything foreign policy related.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

Okay, I suppose I was wrong, he did write a bill for a marque and reprisal. However, England's track record should concern us. The argument you make is the same one that socialists make about socialism: why should we look at the USSR's track record, when they didn't even implement socialism right?

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

You seem to have an awful lot to say about Ron Paul without actually studying his positions carefully or the legislation he has sponsored. See H. R. 3076, dated October 10, 2001. Why look at England's track record when we have our own? See http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/fisk5.html

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

Private law enforcement (except for personal arrests within the country) has historically led to barbarism, piracy, and other crimes. Look at England's history. They used privateers for law enforcement on the seas. At first it worked, but later the privateers began using their power for their own personal interest and gain. Also, who would have actually gone out into Pakistan to arrest the man without some military protection? And I have yet to hear Ron Paul say that he would have issued a letter of marque and reprisal for the capture of OBL.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

The U.S. Constitution permits Letters of Marque and Reprisal for dealing with international criminals. RP attempted to use this method for the capture of OBL. Had his legislation been approved we would likely have solved the "War on Terror" many years ago for less than 1% of the current cost and saved thousands of American lives as a bonus. In addition, adjudication of actions taken through Letters of Marque and Reprisal would be the responsibility of maritime courts with supervision by federal district courts. Thus, instead of condemning RP you would be thanking him for ensuring that jurisdiction for any trial would belong to the military.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

The problem with RP's thinking is that it is so "compartmentalized" that he can't see beyond national boundaries. How do you arrest an international criminal and his gang? The only way is to track him down in whatever country he is. If that country's is not actively seeking him to arrest him, the only answer to that is that they're on his side. "...and he was tried in a civilian court." (quote from the video) Tried in a civilian court?!?! You call that justice? A non-citizen, who committed obvious treason against the United States, should be tried like a citizen? Come on. I understand people have some rights. But not murderers and traitors.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

Twisting Ron Paul's statements in that interview into something favoring "WORLD LAW" (whatever that is) makes you look even more foolish than you already do. The U.S. Constitution doesn't grant our federal government the authority to invade the sovereign territory of another nation and Congress has not declared war with Pakistan. Ron Paul made his point clear by substituting London for Pakistan as an illustration. Try sending military helicopters with combat troops on a raid into London and watch the predictable blowback for violating England's sovereignty.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

It should not only be your personal moral code, you should also judge society through it.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

I measure every area of morality against the revealed Word of God. Or put another way, my moral code is the Bible.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

That's a real interpretive stretch, just like I've seen it stretched the other direction by a pastor who endorses Ron Paul because he believes that under a Paul presidency the states would be free to enact Levitical laws and bring back the death penalty for sodomy. You and I had this same discussion at length last December in this thread: http://americanvision.org/5404/separating-politics-from-ethics/

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

"Why not tolerate everybody’s definition as long as neither side uses force to impose its views on the other?" An approval of moral relativism is an approval of all pagan views.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

Nowhere in that quote or anywhere else does Ron Paul approve of homosexuality. He has also been widely accused of being homophobic and very uncomfortable around homosexuals or even discussing the subject. I guess people see in him what they want to see when they're not interested in doing careful research.

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

You can't be serious. Please cite where Ron Paul has stated that he approves of homosexuality.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

I am not talking about the government here. What Ron Paul is saying is that MORALLY it is okay to have homosexuality! And Christians flaunt him as theonomist!

Robert Davidson
Robert Davidson

So you want the federal government to have the power to define marriage? That's just peachy until the bureaucrats decide one day to change the definition to include three men, two women and a dog. That way we can all live under even more federal lunacy for at least a generation, just like we still live under Roe v. Wade because some people thought it would be a nifty idea to give the feds authority to decide the abortion issue for all of us instead of leaving it to the individual states where we could have saved half the murdered unborn to date.

Brother of the King
Brother of the King

More proof he isn't theonomic at all. If he says a few theonomic things, it's just to look good in front of non-libertarian Christians.