Archive for Christianity
The Internet has no lack of passionate writers opining about the Arizona bill that would have allow businesses to deny service to gay people based on the religious beliefs of the business owner. Though the Arizona governor vetoed the bill, many Christians are still talking about it because similar legislation is brewing (pun intended) in other states. The overwhelming majority of proponents of such laws come from the Religious Right, so below I offer some links that I have found helpful in processing what I believe on such matters. The first three are my favorite.
Keep three things in mind:
- The following articles were written by Christians; some will be more aligned with your flavor of Christianity, and some will challenge your beliefs.
- Not all viewpoints provided agree with one another or with any authors of LCC.
- Do not assume that you are absolutely, positively, 100% correct in your view. Be willing to adjust your thinking, even if only in minor ways.
Rachel Held Evans: Walking the Second Mile: Jesus, Discrimination, and ‘Religious Freedom’
ReKnew.org (ministry of Greg Boyd; it is unclear if Boyd wrote this article): In the Aftermath of the AZ Anti-Gay Bill
Jonathan Merritt and Kirsten Powers: Conservative Christians Selectively Apply Biblical Teachings in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate
Merritt and Powers received plenty of criticism, to which they responded here: Does the Bible prohibit providing services for same-sex weddings? Theologians weigh in.
[UPDATE: I also came across this article after posting. Enjoy!]
Yesterday I wrote about the ISFLC panel on 5 reasons Christianity and libertarianism are compatible. Here are 5 more reasons you can be confident that libertarianism is the most consistent expression of Christian political thought.
1. Christianity affirms the libertarian emphasis on private property. The libertarian theory of private property rights is perhaps its most distinguishing feature. Although you cannot find a single narrative that explains such a theory in full, you can find example after example of how private property and self-ownership are central to the kind of world God intended. Even the classic objection of “holding things in common” in the book of Acts assumes private ownership and a voluntary contribution of that property.
2. The God of the Bible consistently sides with those who are oppressed by government. The people of Israel were slaves, called “the least of all peoples”, and yet God specifically chose to rescue them and make them into a blessing for all men. A major narrative of all of Scripture is that it is good news for the least of these, and especially for those oppressed and downtrodden by those in power.
3. The Bible, from beginning to end, depicts the State as an enemy of God and vehicle of evil. The Tower of Babel narrative is our theological origin of the state, Jesus Christ is tempted with power that comes from it, and its final destiny is depicted in Revelation. Nowhere in the Bible is statism and institutionalized aggression given approval.
4. Christianity proclaims that all men are equally bound to the moral law. Everyone is accountable to it in the same way, and no one gets a special pass because they wear a uniform or have the privilege of being called “The Honorable” or “King” or “President” before stating their name. If anything, those with power are judged more strictly, and God does not take “I did evil so I could do good” for an answer.
5. Christianity recognizes that you cannot make people moral through the institutionalization of force. As Ron Paul has said, “The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous… God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.” The Christian way of life is not wielding power over others so they conform, but rather displaying even greater power through service that shows God’s love. We call that wielding power under and we believe this is the way God himself works with us.
In conclusion, consider these words from Jacques Ellul:
But why freedom? If we accept that God is love, and that it is human beings who are to respond to this love, the explanation is simple. Love cannot be forced, ordered, or made obligatory. It is necessarily free. If God liberates, it is because he expects and hopes that we will come to know him and love him. He cannot lead us to do so by terrorizing us.
So, can a Christian be a libertarian? Of course! Libertarianism is, in fact, the best political position a Christian can take. Christian libertarianism is not about voting just the right way or explaining every jot of public policy, but rather about fundamentally changing our view of power and the institutions that wield it.
What is the most compelling reason for you? What would help you to understand the intersection of Christianity and libertarianism even more? Let us know in the comments, and help LCC out by sharing this article wherever you can.
Last week at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C., Elise Amyx of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics (TIFWE) organized a panel on libertarianism and Christianity. Astoundingly, this session was even covered by the Christian Post. The Acton Institute also posted about the event. I had the distinct pleasure of being at the ISFLC and this discussion.
The panelists presented five excellent reasons why libertarianism and Christianity are compatible.
1. Christianity celebrates voluntary action and creating value. Quoting the Christian Post:
Jacqueline Otto Isaacs, a blogger at Values & Capitalism, explained that the Christian worldview also supports libertarianism. ‘The message of the Gospel, the good news, is that salvation from our sins is offered through Christ — this salvation is voluntary and individual, and this is the core message of Christianity, Isaacs declared.
2. Big Government does not solve poverty. The panelists explained that even neglecting that governments must steal resources in order to be “charitable,” free markets are still the best way to solve the problem of poverty.
3. The Biblical role of government is very limited. They cited 1 Samuel 7 as an example of what happens when government gets out of control. Additionally, the Christian Post said:
[Jason] Hughey then pointed to the gospel of Mark, where Christ describes what it means to serve others. ‘I think it’s very interesting that the model of service that Christ points to for the church is stated in direct contrast to the way the political authorities rule and lord it over others,’ the speaker declared.
4. The Welfare State Harms Christian Charity. The Acton Institute noted:
The panelists argued that the Christian model of charity is personal, and when the government steps in, that personal link between people is broken. Government redistribution of goods also enhances the feeling of entitlement, which Christianity downplays.
5. Wealth Is Not Inherently Sinful. Panelist Leah Hughey suggested that there are many commendable wealthy individuals in the Bible, commendable not because of their wealth but because of their character. Even Jesus was not interested in attacking the rich, but delving to the deepest heart issues that every human faces.
Each point they made was excellent, but I think there are quite a few very important reasons that they did not cover. Granted, limited time means limited discussion options, but tomorrow I will post five additional reasons Christianity and libertarianism go hand in hand. In the meantime, what do you think? What reasons do you give to your fellow Christians for why Christianity and libertarianism work together? Let us know in the comments.
Finally, my compliments to Jason and Leah Hughey, Jacqueline Isaacs (of the Values and Capitalism blog), Elise Amyx, and Taylor Barkley for a great panel discussion.
Review of Daniel K. Williams, God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (Oxford University Press, 2012), ix + 372 pgs.
According to the majority of conservative Christians, the GOP is God’s Own Party. Voting for Republicans on election day—any Republican no matter what he believes—is an article of faith in the creed of many Christians. Voting for Democrats is a great sin. Voting for a third party is wasting your vote. Voting for Libertarians is unthinkable. Voting for no one is un-American. “Vote Republican (even if you have to hold your nose to do it)” is the great conservative Christian refrain every election season.
“Republicans, in general,” says Texas governor and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry, “believe in low taxes, low regulation, less spending, free-market health care, constitutionalist judges, protecting innocent life, enforcing our laws and borders, peace through strength, empowering the states, and generally advocating principles closer to limited government than not.”
Just the opposite is true, of course. The Republican Party is the party of lies, hypocrisy, crony capitalism, regulation, the drug war, war, torture, empire, foreign aid, the welfare/warfare state, and police statism, as I have documented in many articles over the years. The GOP, as my friend Tom DiLorenzo describes it, is nothing but a Gang of Plunderers. Read More→
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV 1984):
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the coming of Christ. He already had done so in chapter 7, speaking of the Christ-child as a sign, born of a virgin. Instead of a sign in chapter 9, however, we see the child coming as a gift of grace.
Some people seem to interpret the next phrase as a kind of theocratic proclamation. On the one hand, such a view is not altogether wrong. Christ is indeed Lord of all, and even now we ought to echo that classic mantra, “No King but King Jesus.” However, the “government [being] on his shoulders” is not some sort of “Jesus takes control of the state” like Atlas bearing the weight of the world upon his shoulders. Rather, the insignia of kingly office at the time of Isaiah was placed on the shoulders, and, thus, declares the kingly nature of the coming Christ-child.
Still, what kind of king is he? What we understand from Jesus saying that his kingdom is “not of this world” should cause us to reinterpret this passage as prophesying the coming of the Kingdom of God itself – God’s active work in the world that he calls us to join. The rest of verses 6 and 7 show the character of that kingdom-work.
The four names he shall be called ought to frame our thinking, since naming in the Bible is intended to be character-driven. All of the names describe Jesus, of course, but I would speculate that the first three could also be interpreted as allusions to the Trinity. “Counselor” names the Holy Spirit (John 14:16,26), “Everlasting Father” obviously names the Father, and “Mighty God” intends to reference Jesus. Perhaps “Mighty God” is significant for two reasons. First, it demands accession to Jesus being fully divine yet fully man. Second, it declares the entirety of his work as mighty. Why is it mighty? True power is not found in power over others, but power under. Jesus’ power is displayed through his unconditional love and service. This makes him powerful. “Prince of Peace” further describes his work of reconciliation of God and man, and of course reminds us that our joining his work brings us peace and requires us to be of peace as well.
In the coming of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God is “at hand” (Mark 1:15), and Isaiah says that his work, bringing peace, shall see no end. The fulfillment of the throne of David is not in a worldwide empire but in a cross that serves the entire world. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the focal point of the Kingdom work and message. Justice is thusly satisfied, and righteousness is thusly displayed, from that time on and forever.
God the Father, the Lord Almighty, is zealous for his Son and works to accomplish everything. The excitement in the words of this proclamation is palpable, and for me always brings to mind the glorious Messiah oratorio of George Frederic Handel. These two verses foreshadow our Savior’s work, and how different it shall be than any of the earthly kings and kingdoms that Isaiah experienced in his day. While those who desire earthly power shall pass away, Jesus’ incredible Kingdom is established “on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.” (Hebrews 7:16) God has graciously called each one of us into this work, giving us dignity and making us mighty as well, when we live in submissive synergy to his call.
This post is written in honor of my grandmother, Frances Horn.