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The Christians for Liberty 2014 Conference has come and gone, but now we get to post the videos from the conference for everyone to see.

Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) gave the evening keynote of the conference. For our readers who have never heard of him, I like to call David “the Ron Paul of the Texas legislature” for the heroic stands he has taken in the defense of personal liberty, such as our fight against the TSA and against corruption. David is also an entrepreneur and a life-long Christian – and there’s nothing phony about him.

In this talk, David discusses the implications of being a liberty-minded Christian in today’s political climate. He additionally explains his reasoning for his recent stand against mistreatment of immigrants fleeing the terrible circumstances of their countries of origin. It was an honor to have him participate in the conference!

I hope you agree that David is one-of-a-kind. Share this with your friends and family, especially if they are in Texas!

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Three weeks ago, we hosted the first ever Christians for Liberty Conference at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Now that we have had a chance to breathe a little bit, I want to give you a brief report on what happened.

On Friday night, August 1st, we hosted a panel discussion and ice cream social at the University Avenue Church of Christ. (UA Church is the congregation where I attend and am a part-time minister.) The panel consisted of Lauren Daugherty, Patrick Dixon, Jason Rink, and myself. We discussed how our Christian faith informs our libertarian activities in the local community, and we took questions for about 40 minutes from the attendees on a variety of topics, from dealing with social issues to left-libertarianism!

Saturday was our main event. Although never explicitly stated, the schedule for the day was divided into three “sessions.” The morning session had a “fundamentals” focus, and included talks such as my Biblical Foundations of Christian Libertarianism and Jason Rink’s American Idol presentation.

After lunch, we had our first keynote talk from David Theroux, President of the Independent Institute, about C.S. Lewis and “mere liberty”. Then, the first afternoon session dealt with targeted issues about liberty and Christian faith, such as the drug war and poverty.

The final series of talks focused on practical issues. You might say these were of a more “activist” nature, and included LCC author Doug Stuart’s presentation Stuck in the Middle. It culminated with Rep. David Simpson discussing the practical implications of being a liberty-minded Christian. After an incredible barbeque dinner, we heard from Students For Liberty president Alexander McCobin about why he believes it is so important for Christians to understand libertarianism. We then had a splendid social time afterward for those who wanted to stay late and keep the discussion going.

On Sunday, we convened again at the University Avenue Church of Christ in the afternoon for an open discussion on whatever was on our minds after such a great Saturday conference. We even discussed the upcoming plans to start a regular meetup in Austin for Christian libertarians and encouraged visiting from out of town to prayerfully consider starting their own as well.

All in all, it was an absolutely incredible weekend and rivals some of the best experiences of my life. Conferences are big commitments for both organizers and attendees, but a well-put together event has a huge payoff. I think all attendees would agree that this first-ever conference was just what we needed to take our movement to the next level. Now, we look forward to putting together the CFL Leadership Team and continuing to build the Christian libertarian movement. Click here for more information about the CFL Leadership Team.

Here are some of the photos taken from the conference that we have posted to our Facebook page. Please “like” LCC on Facebook as well!

On behalf of all the organizers, I want to say THANK YOU to all our attendees and our sponsors. We couldn’t have done it without you! I especially want to thank my wife Katelyn for all of her support and for organizing all the food for Saturday. Special thanks as well to my brother Dustin for stepping up and helping the whole way through, Doug Stuart for being our Emcee, Jason Rink for video support, and Andy Fernandez for managing so much of the facility reservations and all of the sound on the day-of.

We will continue to post videos from the conference (minus the Q&A) to LibertarianChristians.com for all to see, and I hope you will avail yourself of these great resources.

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Aug
20

Stuck in the Middle

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The Christians for Liberty 2014 Conference has come and gone, but now we get to post the videos from the conference for everyone to see.

Talking to Christians about libertarianism can be challenging at times. Doug Stuart says we often feel “stuck in the middle” between liberal and conservative Christians. In this presentation, Doug discusses conversational strategies Christian libertarians can employ to reach out to Christian conservatives and liberals.

Have you had successful (or not successful!) experiences talking to Christians about liberty? Tell us about it in the comments, and let us know which of Doug’s strategies you are going to use next.

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This entry is part 42 of 42 in the series Christian Theology of Public Policy Course

cobin_christian_theologyI have long respected the work of Dr. John Cobin in the field of Christian libertarianism. His two books Christian Theology of Public Policy and Bible and Government have influenced my own exposition of Romans 13 and have affected many others in the Christian libertarian movement. You can read LCC author Doug Stuart’s review of Bible and Government here.

I occasionally receive emails from people trying to find his books for sale. Ordering one from Amazon.com or your local bookstore is rarely easy. However, I am very pleased to extend an offer from John Cobin himself to order these two incredible books at his main website. Right now, you can get a copy of Christian Theology of Public Policy (hardback) for $14.99, and a copy of Bible and Government (paperback) for $6.99 – and those prices include shipping to the continental United States. Plus, LCC readers can get a discount on any of his other materials as well.

Cobin’s works I consider nearly essential to a Christian libertarian’s education, as I have stated in various book lists. You can also read some of Cobin’s essays here at LCC in the Christian Theology of Public Policy short course. The article series covers some of the material in the book with less detail. The full book, as you might imagine, is even better.

Christian libertarians do not have quite as vast a literature to draw upon than the general libertarian movement. Add these books to your library and you will not regret it.

Click here to go to John Cobin’s website and order Christian Theology of Public Policy and Bible and Government.

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This article was jointly written by Doug Stuart and Jessica Hooker.

In Stoker’s original article, she outlined three objections to the compatibility of Christianity and libertarianism, with subsequent expansions in later posts. Our previous posts addressed her first two points, and this article addresses her third point. Read our first post here, and our second post here. A substantial amount of time has passed since the aforementioned posts were originally written, so we encourage you to review them for additional context.

The first biblical story about humans is about human action and consequences. Whether one takes the story of Adam and Eve as historical-factual or non-literal, the narrative in Scripture functions as more than a mere explanation of why sin exists or where humans come from. This origin story frames the questions about divine-human relationship: “How shall we relate to God?” and “What are God’s expectations?” (among others). Far from playing the part of Divine Puppeteer,  God bestowed Adam and Eve with the dignity of choice.  God had spent six days creating the good world in which God placed God’s crowning creation—mankind—and from our perspective God would have been justified in thwarting any attempt to mar that world.  If God was willing to give them such a level of freedom that could—and ultimately did—result in cursing a perfect world, how much more freedom are we then given in the small things? We may even wonder why God placed a tree in the garden whose fruit could bring such sadness and destruction into the world.

3) Libertarians value freedom so heavily because we believe in non-aggression; that is, that peaceful action is the only permissible way to treat others. The common good can never be reached through violence or coercion. 

In the freedom to choose right or wrong, good or evil, humanity has a considerable amount of freedom in both big and small. Stoker is right in that the explicit freedom spoken of in Scripture is about freedom from sin and freedom to righteousness. But this far from negates libertarian free will! Throughout the Scriptures we see God imploring humanity to choose the way of life. Israel was beckoned at the beginning of Joshua, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” They were free to reject God’s covenant, free to reject God’s justice, and free to reject God’s blessings for doing it “God’s way.” It is here that we find an inherent integration of our Christianity and our libertarianism. God did not create us puppets on a string, controlling our every move, making us do right. Nor did Jesus implore us to preach the gospel, and—if people reject it—declare ourselves, by proxy through the state, masters of their morality. We are never called to make Jesus Lord of other people’s lives. One of the aspects of Jesus’ Parable of the Sower is that absent the story is the forceful “plowing under” of the seeds, a common and expected practice in his culture. Jesus was saying (in part) God’s Kingdom comes peacefully, not forcefully. We can not force it to happen!

This is where we believe Stoker ultimately misses the mark.  Throughout her series on Christianity and libertarianism, her arguments have hinged upon using force to coerce people to behave a certain way—her way.  She has stated that “Justice in the world actually occurs when people engage with others in a just way,” yet has failed to illustrate how it is just to forcibily take from those who have to give to those who have not.  Coerced charity is not charity at all.  Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is no better than doing the wrong thing for the right reason—it’s just the words that are reversed.

The prophet Micah tells the people of Israel, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NIV).  Challenging words, indeed.  But here again we see the same thread we’ve been following through our previous two posts: the freedom to fail, to mess up, to choose wrongly or irresponsibly.

It is nearly impossible to read the narrative of the New Testament without considering the backdrop of the Exodus narrative in the Old Testament. Being released from bondage in Egypt was more than just slavery per se, it was—and still is—imagery that characterized the whole of human existence: bondage to powers that enslave us. Most Christians consider sin that which enslaves all of us. In this sense, the meaning of the Exodus narrative is fully captured in the climactic event of the entire Christian story: resurrection of Jesus. God has freed humanity from the bondage of sin through a new exodus, a new creation. We are thus freed from sin and the effects of sin. The Truth—Jesus—will set us free. We are set free for freedom. Stoker would rightly point out that the biblical writers were probably not thinking of what we call “Enlightenment freedom,” but there is no escaping that the gospel according to Jesus is freedom from all that enslaves, not simply our sinful nature or eternal destination. While this connect far from “proves” libertarianism, it certainly demonstrates compatibility with it.

Stoker concluded her first post with explaining why the state is the best means by which our collectively pooled resources are able to render help to those in need. It’s truly ironic, because where the Bible describes those who need rescue from oppression and slavery, it is from oppressive empires, which is exactly the type of institution which enslaves those whom God cares most about! God heard the cries of God’s people in Egypt, and responded by mocking, shaming,  and ultimately demolishing the Egyptian gods as they knew it. Stoker herself even recognizes the inherent power-over nature of the State, giving further credence to the libertarian claim that power easily corrupts! She cannot have both the State monopolizing the distribution of resources while at the same time chastising the institution of private property as “participation in state power.”

Comments on Stoker’s website have been disabled, but she is reachable on Twitter or via email. Please be kind and respectful if you write to her.

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