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Bahnsen and Wilson on Ron Paul

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David Bahnsen and Douglas Wilson have engaged in a fascinating conversation about Ron Paul. To follow the threads of critique and concern on either side, first read Bahnsen’s “The Undiscerning and Dangerous Appreciation of Ron Paul.” Then read Wilson’s “Bright Lights and Big Bugs.”

Much of the conversation focuses on the role of government (or lack thereof), from a biblical perspective (or lack thereof), specifically with regard to foreign policy. As Bahnsen puts it, “As I got older and wiser, I began to realize that the heir of Friedrich Hayek was Milton Friedman, not Murray Rothbard, and that this ‘Austrian economics movement’ was a front for an extremist form of anti-war zealotry. Every single conference break was filled with the most radical of conspiracy theorists you have ever heard, and the political intentions of the major brains behind their operation were not hidden: Utter anarchy.”

A critical component of Bahnsen’s argument is the connection he draws between Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell: “Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell are joined at the hip.” Read the whole thing to see the implications that Bahnsen draws.

Wilson’s response is worth looking at closely as well. In discussing the implications of a “guilt by association” approach, Wilson writes, that “all these concerns come to a practical head when you think about the reconstructionist movement.”

Thus, concludes Wilson,

a lot of the associational difficulties that attend Ron Paul’s crowd are exactly the same as those which attended the recons. We are talking in many cases about the very same people. I believe that if we were to cross check the subscription lists for the various newsletters concerned, the results would be informative and edifying. Gary North writes for Lew Rockwell, and Gary North also worked with Jim Jordan, who has worked with Gary Demar, who worked with Peter Leithart, who works alongside me, who is friends with David Bahnsen, who works with Andrew Sandlin, who was a successor to Rushdoony, who was North’s father-in-law, who worked on Ron Paul’s staff, and on it goes.

One of the few scholarly treatments of the engagement between Christian Reconstruction and libertarian political and economic thought appears in the Journal of Markets & Morality. Read “One Protestant Tradition’s Interface with Austrian Economics: Christian Reconstruction as Critic and Ally,” by Glenn Moots and Timothy Terrell for some worthwhile background to the conversation between Bahnsen and Wilson on Ron Paul.

As Moots and Terrell write, “Christian Reconstruction is in no small sense the gateway for libertarianism and Austrian economics to make its way into the thinking of the religious right. While there are clearly points of disagreement, libertarianism’s link to Christian Reconstruction is much stronger than its link to other groups within the religious right.”

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.


  • Dwight Johnson

    David Bahnsen: “I asked [Lew Rockwell] why they never have Thomas Sowell speak at their conferences …; he informed me that Sowell was an American propogandist who was a puppet for the war machine and an economic ignoramus.” My head spun around when I read this! There is an archive page for Thomas Sowell on LRC ( ), and his latest article was published there today!

  • Dwight Johnson

    The Banhsen article is just more name-calling. Ron Paul stands in front of large so-called Christian groups (more accurately called militarist fundamentalists) and gets jeered when he refers to Jesus as the Prince of Peace. Yeah, what a lunatic! Why does the defense of America cost more than all the rest of the world spends on defense? THAT is lunacy.

  • Rmckinney

    Terrell and Moots: “To these and many other Protestants, justice is not
    defined by an evenhanded application of procedural rules but by an evenness of
    outcomes.6 Disparities in wealth then become moral
    failings, which may be resolved by state coercion.”


    You won’t ever get libertarians to go
    along with that!


    The theology that the recons reconstruct
    is just bizarre to most evangelicals. And the critiques of Rothbard, Hayek, and
    Mises are way off base. I see no way that the recons can co-exist with anyone,
    let alone libertarians.


    Besides, the government that the Torah
    establishes is about as libertarian as possible.


  • American to American we are on the same side. Bi-partisan voting is draining everything from America. Is anybody 14.3 Trillion Dollars better?? ARE YOU?

    There is never a Right or Wrong vote. Vote Your conscious otherwise you maybe inadvertently destroying something great. You never want to be on the losing side of a “what if everybody thought like me idea.” Vote who covers Your personal issues, in accordance with the Constitution, and let that be Your light :)

    I am a Ron Paul Republican.

    Ron Paul for 2012 Republican Nomination and President
    Thank You

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