Archive for philosophy
By Edmund Opitz, author of The Libertarian Theology of Freedom and Religion and Capitalism: Allies, Not Enemies. This essay was originally published in the December 1972 issue of The Freeman, and continues from his previous article.
Part One of this essay presents a diagnosis of the present malaise in terms of a loss of contact with six vital ideas. The ideas which keep us human may be summarized as follows:
- Free Will. Man’s gift of free will makes him a responsible being.
- Rationality. Man is a reasoning being who, by taking thought, gains valid truths about himself and the universe.
- Self-responsibility. Each person is the custodian of his own energy and talents, charged with the lifetime task of bringing himself to completion.
- Beauty. Man confronts beauty in the very nature of things, and reproduces this vision in art.
- Goodness. Man has a moral sense, enabling and requiring him to choose between good and evil.
- The Sacred. Man participates in an order which transcends nature and society.
It is no secret that a great many philosophers and scientists deny free will and affirm determinism; it is also a fact that no one can really bring himself around to believing that he is an automaton. A philosopher who announces himself as a determinist presumes to offer us a conclusion he has arrived at after observation, after marshalling the relevant evidence, after reflection, and as the end result of a chain of reasoning. Each of these steps reflects the action of a free being, and these free actions can never be pieced together so as to contrive an unfree result. Man’s will is free; it is so free that it can deny this freedom!
Tags: beauty, Edmund Opitz, free society, free will, philosophy, rationality, religion, responsibility
Most people live lives of quiet desperation, Henry David Thoreau told us. If there was truth in that observation, in the pleasant, spacious old New England of Thoreau’s day, how much more truth is packed into those words in these melancholy days! Events have gotten out of hand and the world lurches into chaos.
Things have fallen apart faster than any of us would have dared predict, and we are seized by pangs of guilt and self-doubt. So many promising experiments have gone sour, from the New Freedom of Woodrow Wilson to the latest ukase of the present administration. The statesmen of this era talked peace and sought to outlaw war, but they let the twentieth century break down into the bloodiest period of all the twenty-five hundred years of warfare studied by Pitirim Sorokin. “We live,” wrote this great scholar, “in an age unique for the unrestrained use of brute force in international relations.”
The threat of protracted international conflict is bad enough, but there is also the well-founded fear of domestic violence and crime. And even if we are lucky enough to escape actual robbery, we know that inflation is steadily draining our wealth. We’ve seen the race issue go from integration to Black Nationalism; we’ve witnessed the emergence of the sex and drug cult, the rise of astrology, witchcraft and voodooism; V.D. has reached epidemic proportions among the young; and then there is abortion, homosexuality, the campus crisis, the environmental crisis, the inner crisis in man himself. For is it not true, as Yeats says in a famous poem, that “The wicked act with dreadful intensity, while the good lack all conviction.”
Tags: culture, Edmund Opitz, free society, freedom, ideology, philosophy
Christian philosopher Alvin C. Plantinga has won the prestigious Rescher Prize for contributions to systematic philosophy. David Theroux of the Independent Institute has a detailed account of Plantinga and the award here.
Tags: Alvin Platinga, Christianity, Independent Institute, philosophy, theology
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" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.
Tags: christian libertarian, christian libertarianism, Christianity, libertarian christian, libertarian christianity, philosophy, religion, theology