Acton Institute Powerblog

Liberty and License

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Max Blumenthal over at Arianna Huffington’s overhyped new blog, “The Huffington Post,” concludes that “the struggle for America’s future is not a conflict between political parties, but between two ideologies. One values individual freedom, the other, clerical authoritarianism. True conservatives should choose sides more carefully.”

Blumenthal misunderstands the true nature of freedom, ignoring the moral foundation of freedom and lumping it in with “clerical authoritarianism.”

As Lord Acton says, “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.”

Or, in the words of John Milton, “None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license.”

Blumenthal’s theological relatives would be something like the antinomians who misconstrued Christian freedom in Christ, and against whom the apostle Paul wrote, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:13-15 NIV).

See also Romans 6:18, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

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