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Is there a difference between “libertarian Christianity” and “Christian libertarianism”?

All-I-Am-Is-Yours asks:

I am trying to better understand the intellectual foundations behind the similarities of both libertarianism and christianity, however I came across a Wikipedia entry that suggests a difference between “Christian libertarianism” and “Libertarian Christianity.” Is there any essential and significant difference between both terms?

Great question! The Wikipedia entry you mention suggests that “libertarian Christianity” comes from a specific blend of systematic and biblical theology. They suppose they are distinct from “Christian libertarians” because of their “Bible-based legal philosophy using biblical hermeneutics that are different from those used by Christian libertarians.” (That’s a Wikipedia quote.) To me, this sounds more or less like theonomic reconstructionism, a view I respect but with which I very much disagree for a variety of reasons.

In contrast, “Christian libertarianism describes the synthesis of Christian beliefs concerning human nature and dignity with libertarian political philosophy.” (Also a Wikipedia quote.) Christian libertarianism looks for the congruence of libertarian political thought and Christian theology because of a firm belief in the harmony of natural law with sound theological principles. I have written a few essays that take this approach, including an article for the Washington Post.

This is fundamentally why you will never hear me describe what I believe as “libertarian Christianity.” As it is, the terms comes a bit too front-loaded for me. However, I have no problem calling myself a libertarian Christian OR Christian libertarian. In fact, I’ve written a bit more on that topic in this blog post.

This has been included in the FAQ of LibertarianChristians.com. Have a question? Ask away.

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Dr. Norman Horn

Norman founded LibertarianChristians.com and the Libertarian Christian Institute, and currently serves as its President and Editor-in-Chief. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Austin Graduate School of Theology. He currently is a Postdoctoral researcher in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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