Picture courtesy of NBC News

Picture courtesy of NBC News

This guest article is by Joel Poindexter. Joel is a Christian libertarian, OIF veteran, and part-time writer focusing on economics and foreign policy. His work has been featured at Mises.org and Antiwar.com, among others. Follow him on Twitter.

With the savage violence being reported daily from the Middle East, and with news of the recent Christian martyrs in Libya, what to do and how to respond has been a hotly debated topic. In most conversations, the only points of debate are how much military power needs to be exerted and how swiftly these powers should act. While this is expected of mainstream political players which are essentially characterized by their use of force, such attitudes are becoming increasingly more common in Christian circles.

How Christians ought to respond to persecution is clearly outlined in scripture, see Matthew 5:38-40, 1 Peter 3:14, and 1 John 3:13 for examples. Nevertheless, even devout believers are tempted to eschew these teachings and give in to militaristic tendencies for a variety of reasons, among them pragmatism and expediency. This ungodly mentality is not only dangerous in the short run due to the often unexpected and brutal consequences of militarism, but it also brings trouble for the church in the long run.

Take for example the Crusades, which have long been used as a cudgel against Christianity. President Barack Obama recently mentioned them at a prayer breakfast. As one might expect, he was quickly criticized for bringing them up.

Some Christians were offended he would reach so far back into history to dredge up stains on the church. They said that, after all, the Crusades in no way represent their faith, and clearly run counter to the gospel. They resented being lumped into one group, indistinguishable from the murderers and plunderers of Medieval Europe.

Still, if Christians resent this characterization, how can they turn around and conflate crucifiers and cannibals with everyday Muslims who neither engage in, nor condone, the practices of the Islamic State? Whatever the Koran tells followers must be done with infidels, it’s telling that of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, so few actually engage in terrorism.

Other Christians were indignant because such statements about the Crusades seemed to draw a moral equivalence between Islamic terrorists and Christians repelling invaders and retaking the Holy Land. They argue that such a comparison ignores key distinctions between the groups and their motives. Sure, the Crusaders sinned, but it was not as bad as what Islamic terrorists do and thus the Crusaders are justified. We know from scripture, however, that any such distinction is irrelevant in God’s eyes, that none are blameless, and indeed there is a moral equivalence regarding sin. See Romans 3:9-20 and Romans 3:23. This is why His grace is extended to all who accept it, regardless of their past life. Can a Crusader repent and be saved? Yes, and so can a terrorist.

A third group of Christians was outraged because they see nothing wrong with the Crusades, and in fact consider them something to be celebrated and repeated. This is reprehensible. There can be no reconciling the Crusades with any part of Jesus’ teachings. Endorsing such brutality against innocents denies the Lordship of Christ and overturns the whole of the New Testament’s witness to Jesus.

A misconception pervades these debates regarding so-called “religious violence” wherein only “The Other Religion” engages in atrocities. Islamic terror groups such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and the Islamic State come easily to mind. But so too should certain Irish militias, and undoubtedly the groups now marauding through the Central African Republic are considered “Christian” terrorists.

Worse still, most methods of combating terror groups are in fact indistinguishable from terrorism. This is especially evident when innocent civilians are targeted – wittingly or unwittingly – by military forces. In the past six years, more civilians have died in drone bombings than died on 9/11, not to mention the estimated one hundred fifty thousand Iraqis killed during the last war. Commonly referred to as collateral damage, this euphemistic term devalues the lives of those it affects, in direct contradiction to scripture.

Millions live in horror of US weapons. Adults are paralyzed by the stress, and children long for cloudy days when the drones do not fly. Many Christians describe the United States as being a Christian nation, founded upon Christian values. If this is true, how should the US be perceived by those who are targeted, other than state-sponsored Christian terrorism?

Such violence does not reflect true Christianity, but that fact does not negate the perception others might have, and promoting more conflict only reinforces the idea that it is acceptable and desirable for Christians to wage war.

Supposing the Islamic State’s armies are bent on exterminating all Christians everywhere, we can be confident in scripture this will not happen. Still, the attempted genocide of early Christians quite literally built the church. Persecuted Christians introduced the gospel across Europe and Asia, and persecution reinforced how Christ’s death and resurrection was to be the Church’s one foundation.

This does not mean things will be easy, far from it. Nevertheless, Brian Zahnd explains that “as Christians we persuade by love, witness, Spirit, reason, rhetoric, and if need be, martyrdom, but never by force. Christ followers are called to embody the peaceable kingdom of the Lamb.” Christ did not come to condemn the world (John 3:17), and neither should Christians.

Categories : Articles
Comments (10)

Photo by Paciarotta

You do not have to smoke marijuana, inject heroin, or understand The Wire to realize that the War on Drugs is unconstitutional and immoral. Indeed, the drug war is anathema to individual liberty, and the thinking Christian should reject it on every level.

Occasionally, there are even thinking Christians in office like Ron Paul, or my friend in the Texas House Representative David Simpson (keynote speaker at the first Christians for Liberty Conference last August). Yesterday, Rep. Simpson introduced legislation (HB 2165) that will completely decriminalize marijuana and make it the equivalent of “tomatoes, jalapenos, or coffee” in the eyes of the law.

Read More→

Categories : Articles
Comments (1)
Feb
24

Sniper Theology

By · Comments (15)

There came out of the woodwork after George W. Bush’s immoral, unjust, and unnecessary invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq certain groups of Christians—many of whom wear cross and flag lapel pins or American flag lapel pins in the shape of a cross.

I have identified them as Christian armchair warriors, Christian Coalition moralists, evangelical warvangelicals, Catholic just war theorists, reich-wing Christian nationalists, theocon Values Voters, imperial Christians, Red-State Christian fascists, bloodthirsty Christian conservatives, nuclear Christians, and God and country Christian bumpkins.

With the advent of the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History in 2012 and the movie American Sniper in 2014 — both about Chris Kyle, “deadliest sniper in American history” — there has arisen another class of Christians that many in the previous groups have joined as well: sniper theologians.

Read More→

Categories : Articles
Comments (15)

It has been a while since we posted a video from the Christians for Liberty 2014 Conference, but that is primarily because my videographer is… well, let’s just say he has taken a great amount of liberty with the deadlines! :-)  Really, editing is a big job, and I truly appreciate Jason Rink taking the time to do it for us.

Today’s excellent talk comes from Mike Maharrey, Communications Director of the Tenth Amendment Center. Mike takes us through American history and his personal history to suggest why it is important for the Christian to stand up for liberty in the modern age. The stories he tells are exiting and emotionally moving, and you cannot miss his passion for freedom.

Please share on your favorite social network, and get ready for the announcement about our 2015 conference very soon!

Categories : Media
Comments (0)

I received an excellent question today from a new reader whom we will call D., and I thought it was so great that it would be worth sharing with you:

Thank you for this website. I have read some of the topics and they are very interesting.

I have just started looking at whether a Christian can be a libertarian. I used to think I was a social conservative, but after watching Senator Rand Paul, I started searching for more information on libertarianism. I found the website libertarianism.com, produced by the Cato Institute.

I reasoned much like them, however, they seem to imply that religion is evil or at least incompatible with reason. Hence my search for more information on libertarianism.

Dr. Horn, what is your religious background? Why doesn’t social conservatism (or conservatism in general) satisfy your biblical and philosophical worldview?

Besides your website, where can I find more information for some one like me who’s just beginning to look for a libertarianism from a biblical point of view?

What is your objective/goal of your organization?

–D.

My response:

Greetings D.,

I’m really glad you emailed me. Thanks for your questions.

My background is in the Churches of Christ (Stone-Campbell tradition, to be clear). It’s a very theologically conservative denomination, but often leans politically conservative as well. I found upon reading economics and political philosophy that I could not reconcile why political conservatism was a good thing. I became increasingly aware of the pathological lying that politicians do, and I realized that conservatism (and, thus, most conservatives) did not actually believe in the things that I knew in my heart were good and right.

Libertarianism was the only logical conclusion. The more I studied, the more I thought that libertarianism was the most consistent expression of Christian political thought. Sure, I still held to most, if not all, the social/moral teachings of the church, but what right did I have to use FORCE against people with whom I disagreed? If a person is not acting in an aggressive manner, I may not raise my hand against them to do harm. Is not my Christian witness the better means of convincing them to change anyway? In this way, we see a convergence of the proper view of Christian tolerance with a libertarian principle of tolerance in the social arena.

Additionally, everywhere I looked in Scripture it was clear that the State was not only NOT the Kingdom of God, but the State was moreover the enemy of God throughout the Bible! Whether you’re looking at the Tower of Babel or Revelation, statism clearly positions itself in opposition to God. You’ll find lots of information about this topic on LibertarianChristians.com, such as my recent talk on the topic.

There are a variety of websites out there that discuss liberty and Christianity, but few that do it as frequently and as thoroughly as LibertarianChristians.com. I would check out the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics and the Acton Institute, although both of those organizations focus more on explaining economic issues than explaining libertarian philosophy. They are good orgs, though, and I highly recommend them. There are also a few other Christian libertarian blogs out there too, such as The Reformed Libertarian and Food For Thinkers, but they do not quite have the same reach as LCC. Of course, you can find articles about Christianity and Liberty at major org websites like FEE.org, Mises.org, Cato.org, the Independent Institute, LewRockwell.com, and many more I imagine. However, they take a more general approach toward libertarianism, whereas LCC is much more specifically targeted for Christians.

It’s funny you would ask about the goals of the organization, because we are going through a major growth phase right now. Last year we hosted the first Christians For Liberty Conference in Austin, Texas and we are hosting another this August. Furthermore, we have begun a new small groups program in which we are connecting Christian libertarians together for fellowship and learning. It’s still very early right now for this, but I hope you’ll join one of our groups when we start one in your area. Of course, our overarching goal is to demonstrate why libertarianism is the natural political philosophy for the Christian, and create more Christian libertarians in the process.

Thanks again for your questions.

Categories : Articles
Comments (1)

Who is behind LCC?

Norman Horn is the creator and primary writer for LCC. Learn a little bit about him in the About Page. You can write him a note or ask a question at the Contact Page. Follow him on Twitter.
×

Join our new Small Groups Program!