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One of the greatest attributes of libertarianism is its focus on the notions of power and control, especially in the hands of the state. Libertarians do not entirely oppose institutions that can justly govern specified areas of responsibility. But when a governing institution takes on a life of its own and dominates those under its purview, we libertarians rally quickly to condemn it. We are known for rejecting top-down, centralized governments because those who hold the reigns nearly always use their status to their own advantage. The concentration of power in the hands of a few is dangerous business. Greed is even more of a problem for those at the top of government than it is for those at the top of private firms, because in politics greed can masquerade as good intentions.
Michael Hardin, a theologian friend of mine, wrote an article outlining the dangers of power due to a misunderstanding of the kind of power God favors. “‘Power’ is one of those slippery words that gets tossed to an fro without examination,” he writes. Hardin, as an expert in Rene Girard’s mimetic theory, is well-equipped to write about how the New Testament deals with power dynamics. Hardin addresses how Charismatic Christianity understands the notion of power, his remarks will seem familiar to libertarians and will parallel our observations about the State.
This guest post is by Jeff Wright.
Political engagement shapes us. It forms us. Politics affect, not just our thoughts, but the inclinations of our heart. Political engagement is a type of spiritual formation.
I mean “politics” in the common sense as when someone says, “I hate politics.” “I enjoy watching my political shows on Sunday mornings.” “My grandfather and I always talk politics when we get together.” Politics, generally speaking, is that which deals with government, public policy, and things that affect the community as a whole.
Since most of us are not elected officials, politics is a spectator sport. It’s something we hear about in the news, listen to talk-show hosts discuss, or pay attention to when it’s time to vote for a president every four years. Political engagement is typically a passive affair. We pay attention to the more important issues of the day, form some sort of opinion on the matter, and hope that our side prevails.
Last Friday evening, the Christians for Liberty Austin Chapter met to watch Wait Till It’s Free, a documentary produced by Colin Gunn of Indoctrination and Captivated. Running with the catch-phrase from P.J. O’Rourke, “If you think health care is unaffordable now, wait till it’s free,” Colin exceptionally presents the terrifying landscape of government-regulated health care. Of course, the focus is upon the United States, but Canada and the United Kingdom are mentioned as well. Well-known experts are interviewed, as well as lesser-known doctors and organizations including multiple Christian-run clinics and non-profits.
Hopefully without ruining the film for you, here is a list of some of the critical points that might catch your interest…
Christians throughout the centuries have always communicated the good news of the Kingdom of God in the vernacular of their surrounding culture. They have engaged those around them by making use of their culture’s shared experiences so that the gospel is heard in a way they will understand. To be effective means to infiltrate and influence society so that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Those who communicate the gospel effectively are agents of change in the world. One of the challenges for Christians is to avoid letting a culture’s influence dilute the message of the Kingdom of God so as to become ineffective or irrelevant.
The constantly evolving nature of cultures and the inescapable reality of a global pluralist society have become major challenges to the Church in the West, and to Protestantism in particular. The past century has witnessed an unprecedented rate in the change of cultural motifs and the increasing accessibility to these diverse cultures from the foreigner. In centuries past only the wealthy could explore the far regions of the world. Today even the poor can spend a few hours on the Internet to glimpse a foreign cultural experience.
To meet the challenges of a changing global community, a new generation of Christians are diverging from the standard political, social, and theological views they inherited. Although this movement involves the global Christian Church, my experience has been largely within the evangelical community, a relatively recent phenomenon within Christianity’s twenty-century lifespan. Cultural shifts are always a mixed bag, but it is prudent to notice the promise such shifts provide as well as the challenges.