Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
By

Our friends over at AEI have a wonderful website—Values & Capitalism—devoted to many of the same topics we cover here at Acton: faith, economics, poverty, the environment, society. Values & Capitalism, which is capably managed and curated by my buddy Eric Teetsel, is an excellent resource that I recommend to all liberty-loving, virtue promoting Christians (i.e., all good Acton PowerBlog readers).

Being a huge fan of their work I was therefore grieved to read that one of their bloggers, Jacqueline Otto, took offense at my recent post on religious conservatives and libertarians:

While I found this line of discussion very interesting, and even in part, compelling, Carter’s argument was rather insulting to a key demographic—Christian libertarians.

I have to admit, that’s a fair complaint. In critiquing libertarians (a favorite pastime of mine) I’m often unsure how to apply it fairly to Christian libertarians. The reason I struggle with addressing Christian libertarians is because I don’t really understand what it means to be a Christian libertarian. In this regard, I’m in good company. Last September, Ms. Otto wrote a blog post in which she asked:

Is it contradictory to be a Christian and a libertarian? As Penn Jillette would say, I do not know. But it is certainly a question worth asking.

I agree that it is a question worth asking, and I hope that those who self-identify as Christian libertarians will offer their thoughts on the matter.

In the meantime, I’d like to present an outsider’s view of both the term and the ideology. I think there are five ways that people use the term Christian libertarian:

Type #5 Those who are Not-all-that-Christian and/or Not-all-that-Libertarian — Some people are simply confused about one or both terms, yet insist on self-identifying as a “Christian libertarian.” They hold views that should not really be associated with Christianity (e.g., antinomianism) or that should not be associated with libertarianism (e.g., libertinism). Not too many people fit this description, which is fortunate because those that do are very annoying.

Type #4 Christians who are really conservatives, but don’t like the label conservative — It used to be that if a person called themselves “libertarian” it was a reliable indicator that the person was a bit, well, unusual. As my friend John Coleman, a self-identified Christian libertarian, once explained, the reason people think that libertarians are crazy is because libertarians are crazy:

Most became Libertarians because they have some social quirk that disallows them from participation in normal society—picture excessive drug use, Dungeons and Dragons play or fascination with the word “metrosexual,” for instance. They are strange. You can’t take them home to your parents, unless, of course, your parents are members of some druid cult. They frighten small children.

He is joking, of course (except for the part about how they frighten small children. That’s completely true.). But that was the perception many people had of libertarians before Internet made libertarianism mainstream.

The web radically transformed the popular perception of libertarians. Online culture allowed people to let their freak flags fly, and so when many displayed the banner of libertarianism, many politically inclined folks found it attractive.

If it is true, as Coleman says, that libertarians have a social quirk that disallows them from participation in normal society, that was even more true of early adopters of the Internet. Perhaps that is the reason there was such a significant overlap between the two groups in the early years of the Web. Because they were so closely aligned, when net culture became cool, so did libertarianism.

The result, which is still in effect, is that some people want to be associated with the political view even if they hold mostly non-libertarian beliefs. Many young people (especially Young Republican types) think the terms “conservative” and “libertarian” are all but interchangeable. If they’ve attended Sunday School their entire lives and have one or two libertarianish views, they assume they are “Christian libertarians.” Or at least they prefer to use that term to describe themselves since “Christian conservative” smacks of Jerry Falwell-esque Religious Rightism. And what young person would want to be associated with that?

Type #3 Those for whom the “Christian” in Christian libertarian is a weak modifier – Think of a noun, any noun. Chances are that someone somewhere has at some time slapped the adjective “Christian” in front of it in order to “transform it for Christ.” My own tribe (evangelicals) has made an art of such adjectivalization.

People who use the term Christian libertarian in this way tend to be libertarians until it conflicts with their Christian values—and then they let the modifier do the heavy lifting. In essence, it’s a way for inconsistent libertarians to be able to be both libertarian and Christian based on their political needs.

Type #2 Those who mash the two words together. – This type of Christian libertarian, which is similar to Type #2, thinks that because they considers themselves to be both Christian and libertarian that the two terms must be compatible.

This is a common type of thinking in a country where we can choose our own traditions. Many people think that if they can say “I believe X” and “I believe Y” that X and Y must therefore be compatible. Since internal consistency is not something they’ve ever considered as a requirement for a belief-system, they’ve never given much thought to whether Christianity and libertarianism are compatible. Indeed, since they are able to hold both views without their heads exploding, they assume the two views must be compatible.

Type #1 Those who have developed a consistent philosophy in which libertarianism and Christianity are fully compatible. – Although I’m not sure I’ve ever met a Type 1—and I’m not sure it’s even possible—I believe this is the ideal use of the term.

Of course no one is going to be have a perfectly consistent religio-political worldview. But this should be our goal. And if we find that it’s nearly impossible to resolve the tensions between the two (as with Christian Marxism), then the intellectually respectable choice would be two abandon one or the other.

The trouble with being a Type 1 Christian libertarian is that it appears to limit the types of Christian views you can hold. For instance, I’m not sure it’s possible to be a politically consistent Catholic and politically consistent libertarian since the social doctrines of the Catholic Church are often antithetical to libertarian doctrines. (But I could be wrong.)

The most obvious possibility for integration is a form of Two Kingdoms theology. If I were a libertarian trying to integrate my political views with my faith, that is where I would start.

But that leads me to a primary complaint I have with most libertarians: They often work backwards from a desire or grievance to the development of their core principles. Christians, on the other hand, must start with principles derived from the Bible and/or Christian tradition and work their way forward toward a coherent political philosophy. Again, I may be wrong, but I don’t see how starting from Biblical principles you’d end up with any political philosophy that resembled American-style libertarianism.

I’ll admit that I’m intrigued by the idea of Christian libertarianism. But so far I haven’t seen any strong arguments for the philosophy. For instance, in order to be truly Christian, the Christian libertarian would have to resolve the tension between libertarianism’s focus on the individual rights and Christianity’s emphasis on communal obligations.

Some Christian libertarians attempt to do this, of course, but it is often at the expense of their libertarianism. For all its faults, libertarianism is an internally coherent self-contained political ideology. That is one of its chief selling points. Yet when you try to incorporate an alien worldview (such as Christianity) into the system it waters down the philosophy and short circuits its internal consistency. The result is that you have a form of libertarianism that is ad hoc and confused.

And why would you choose that when there are better political alternatives available?

(Note: In her post, Otto also raised the question about legislating morality. I plan to take up that topic in a separate post tomorrow.)


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Haley/100001416724883 Robert Haley

    Interesting post..I’d like to hear your feedback on this site:

    http://libertarianchristians.com/ 

    I consider myself a Christian Anarchist…how does that grab ya!!  LOL

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      I consider myself a Christian Anarchist…how does that grab ya!!  LOL

      While I am still on the fence about Christian libertarianism, I think it is safe to say that a Christian Anarchist is an oxymoron. ; )

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Haley/100001416724883 Robert Haley

        http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+8&version=NIV
        Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen …

        • MiddleAgedKen

          This. See also Psalm 146:3.

          Neither libertarianism nor anarchism means “no law;” the latter, at least, means “no archon.” I do recognize that Romans 13 raises an issue in my mind that I have not resolved.

  • CitizenClark

    I became a libertarian because I believe that collateral damage in warfare is reckless murder or worse, and as Randolph Bourne said, “war is the health of the state.” Relying on state warlords for a feeling of security is equated to idolatry in 1 Samuel 8. 

    I am not, however, a pacifist. I think the distinction between how Jesus treated  property rights violators (e.g., money-changing cheats at the temple) and individuals who are engaged in mere immorality (e.g., the woman caught in adultery) is clear in scripture. We shouldn’t use violence against people for what they take into their bodies–rules like that are based on human teachings and do a lot to allow the outwardly pious to show off but don’t actual restrain sensual indulgence (Col. 2).

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      I became a libertarian because I believe that
      collateral damage in warfare is reckless murder or worse

       

      As I mentioned in a previous comment, there is no reason a
      libertarian could not have supported both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As
      for opposing collarteral damage in warfare, that is more an issue of just war
      ethics than with libertarianism. 

  • http://libertarianchristians.com Norman Horn

    Have you ever heard of LibertarianChristians.com? Just curious.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      I
      read their FAQ and it certainly seems to be the case that when the
      libertarianism and Christianity come into conflict, they side with
      libertarianism. A primary example is their exegesis of Romans 13.

      Here
      is what Paul says in Romans:

       

      Let
      every person pbe subject to the governing authorities. For there is no
      authority except from God, and those that exist have been
      instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what
      God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are
      not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who
      is in authority? Then do what is good, and you rwill receive his approval, 4
      for she is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he
      does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, tan avenger who
      carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in
      subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also ufor the sake of conscience.
      6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of
      God, attending to this very thing. 7 vPay to all what is owed to them: taxes to
      whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect
      is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

      And here is
      what LibertarianChristians says about that passage:

      The problem with
      saying that Romans 13 proves there is “a role for government” is that
      it is conflating government being within God’s plan with
      government being sanctioned and declared inherently moral
      by God.

       

      That view simply cannot be derived
      from Paul’s statement that “there is no authority except for God, and those
      that exist have been instituted by God.” I’d have more respect for their view
      if they merely said that they didn’t care what the Bible said and that Paul was
      wrong. 

      • Daniel Surman

        I wonder here if there may be translation issues, because Paul’s statement seems too broad to coexist with the Gospels on the subject of government. After all, Jesus actively worked against the government of his day. The Bible is full of disapproval of various states throughout history, and treats oppression by other governments (by Paul’s statement as presented, also legitimate) not named Israel as similarly unjust (remember, Paul is speaking of Rome in his own epistle). We cannot simply assign blanket legitimacy onto all states; otherwise, it seems war would be illegitimate in all cases unless explicitly approved by God. 

        What is necessary then is a theory of political legitimacy to mediate this tension, something that is not discussed in the Bible for obvious reasons- it contains divine revelation, not political theory. At what point has a state been ‘instituted by God’ and remain legitimate enough to demand taxes. We do not have prophets or Jesus to consult at every turn on every issue, at least not directly. That which is ‘Caesar’s’ would be within the sphere of a legitimate state, while an illegitimate state would conducts its affairs infringing on the turf of God. But what exactly is the turf of God? When is it just to reject a state, whether as a citizen of said state or as a representative of another state?

        There is a place for political theory, and I think this is a good place to start.

  • Isaacmorehouse

    I fail to see how it is possible to consistently apply Christian values without being a libertarian.  Every other political philosophy endorses the initiation of violence to achieve ones goals.  They only differ on the goals.  Christianity is the antithesis of violent.  Violence is the tool of the kingdom of this world.  Love, peaceful persuasion, forgiveness and service are the tools of the Kingdom of God.  i have never heard a consistent argument for how a Christian can advocate the initiation of violence to obtain a a goal.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      Every
      other political philosophy endorses the initiation of violence to achieve ones
      goals.

       

      Tell
      that to the Anabaptists. ; )

  • ShawnMMiller

    Why is this difficult to grasp?  “in order to be truly Christian, the Christian libertarian would have to resolve the tension between libertarianism’s focus on the individual rights and Christianity’s emphasis on communal obligations.”  That’s a ridiculous statement.  I do not believe that I have read anywhere in the Bible that says thou shalt form a huge central government which should tax by multiple means and redistribute that money per the opinions of a few legislators and administrators in order to care for our ‘communal obligations.’  I’m completely confident in the ability of local Churches and our partners in ministry to better serve local social services needs than the grossly overgrown and terribly ineffective Federal Government. I’m also completely confident in the ability of Christian people to earn significant personal income and by their own personal choice to hand over a significant portion of that income willingly and generously to serve others rather than have it extracted from them by Government Agency with the authority of the barrel of a gun. Gosh, I’m not even sure where to even start with all of the ways I disagree with this Post…

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      That’s a ridiculous statement.

       

      Are you saying that we do not have communal obligations?

       

      I do not believe that I have read anywhere in the
      Bible that says thou shalt form a huge central government which should tax by
      multiple means and redistribute that money per the opinions of a few
      legislators and administrators in order to care for our ‘communal obligations.’

       

      No, the Bible doesn’t say anything about that. Who said it did?

       

      I’m completely confident in the ability of local
      Churches and our partners in ministry to better serve local social services
      needs than the grossly overgrown and terribly ineffective Federal Government.

       

      Me too. Which means you side with me (a social conservative)
      against the hero of libertarianism, F.A. Hayek. ; )

       

      I’m also completely confident in the ability of
      Christian people to earn significant personal income and by their own personal
      choice to hand over a significant portion of that income willingly and
      generously to serve others rather than have it extracted from them by
      Government Agency with the authority of the barrel of a gun.

       

      Me too.

       

      Gosh, I’m not even sure where to even start with all
      of the ways I disagree with this Post…

       

      Well, so far you haven’t mentioned any ways at all that you
      disagree with what I wrote.

      • Daniel Surman

        I think you are confusing FA Hayek with Ayn Rand. Rand, an objectivist, disapproved of altruism, whereas Hayek was much more of a consequentialist in his reasoning. While Hayek was not religious and never discussed religion, he only railed against obscurantism in relation to ‘mysticism’ not religion in and of itself. I don’t see him disapproving of private institutions, including churches, taking up the mantle of social justice.

        Incidentally, in The Constitution of Liberty Hayek does provide an interesting argument where it would have been moral to legislate against homosexual relationships in biblical times b/c there was a perception that allowing such activity would have brought catastrophic consequences upon the community at large, but that today knowing such a consequence would not happen objections to it should be dropped.

      • http://www.facebook.com/eddiegilchrist Eddie Gilchrist

        We have minimal CIVIL communal obligations.  This is the critical distinction that leftists miss continuously.  You may not assert the moral demands of community and then run straight to the need for a civil structure to enforce such demands.  Again, this is the habit of the left.  To say that there is a social obligation and an awareness of social responsibilities is NOT the same as saying there must be a political order to enforce it.  That is sort of the point about libertarianism in the first place.

        • Martial Artist

          Eddie Gilchrist,

          You write: “To say that there is a social obligation and an awareness of social responsibilities is NOT the same as saying there must be a political order to enforce it.

          BINGO!

          Pax et bonum,
          Keith Töpfer

    • nashfisher

      I think you’re dead on. The important thing to understand that these “communal obligations are to be handles through the Church. The government is NOT a venue for the Church… and should not act as a political arm. That will only hurt the Church in its’s mission to help those in need, it will cripple the Church’s incentive.

  • Njrod

    Hey buddy, Type 1, right here

  • Amyrlyn

    This is libertarian philosophy from a Christian
    perspective.

    I hold this truth to be self-evident, that the entire human race is equally
    created in the image of God, and that we have been endowed by our creator with
    certain unalienable rights. We, the entire human race, have the right to our
    lives, liberty, and our property. With this statement, it should become evident
    that my secular libertarian views are firmly laid on the foundation of my faith
    and belief that we are created.

    On life

    As a Christian, I believe that ALL human life is sacred. God’s commandment,
    “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) is a law that applies to all. I believe
    that the only being in all of existence with the moral authority to take human
    life is the author of it. Therefore, I am opposed to abortion, unjustified war,
    and the death penalty. While I do believe that we have the right to defend our
    lives with violent force, if necessary, I do not believe that it is morally justified
    to take a life for any other reason. If it is immoral to take human life, then
    it follows that it is equally immoral to support a government that engages in
    the immoral act of murder.

    On liberty

    I believe that the only being in all of existence with the moral authority to
    govern the lives of man is man’s creator. This understanding has led me to the
    conclusion that neither I, nor anyone else, is morally justified in dictating
    to another how he or she may live. How one chooses to live is a decision that
    is between that individual and God, and God Himself has given us free will that
    we may be free to choose to accept Him or not. As C. S. Lewis states in Mere
    Christianity,

    “God created things that had free will. That means creatures which can go
    either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature, which had
    no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good, it is
    also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then,
    did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible,
    is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth
    having. A world of automata-of creatures that work like machines-would hardly
    be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is
    the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in
    an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love
    between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that,
    they must be free” (52).

    Some argue that because man is imperfect it is necessary to use coercion,
    backed with the threat of violent force, to ensure a stable society. However,
    there is a hole in this argument. Arming human beings and granting them the
    authority to use coercion and violence does not magically transform them into
    morally superior beings. In fact, the historical evidence proves just the
    opposite. It is in the nature of man that once having gained power, he seeks to
    expand it and will not stop at oppression, violence, and tyranny in violation
    of our God given rights to achieve that goal. Because I believe that the only
    being in all of existence that has the moral authority to govern the lives of
    man is man’s creator, I cannot support a government of men, who will always
    seek to violate the right to life, liberty, and property of other human beings.

    On property

    It is one of the tenets of my faith that theft is immoral. I believe that it is
    self-evident that there is no one who is exempt from the commandment “Thou
    shalt not steal,” (Exodus 20:15) whether they are in a position of power or
    not. Theft will always be theft regardless of who engages in the activity and,
    it will always be wrong. When the threat of aggressive violence is used to take
    from someone that which belongs to him to give it to someone else, it cannot,
    in any way be justified. Even when theft has been legally sanctioned, it is
    still theft, and in fact, as the threat of violence is used, it is worse; it is
    robbery! Everyone has the natural right to be the sole decision maker regarding
    what will, or will not be done, with the fruit of his labor. As God is the only
    being in all of existence with the moral authority to govern man, He is the
    only one with the right to require us to part with the fruit of our labor for
    the benefit of others. No state can exist apart from the exploitation of the
    people. Government must be funded to exist and government does not produce
    anything to fund its own existence. The argument in support of government is
    that it exists to protect the rights of the people that it governs. However, as
    government cannot exist without violating the property rights of the people,
    the existence of government actually contradicts the stated purpose for its own
    existence. Therefore, it would be immoral for me to support the existence of
    government that can only exist by exploiting the very people that it governs.

    In my relation to my fellow man, I believe that I am completely sovereign over
    my own life and the only being who has any sovereign authority over my life is
    God. As I believe that only God has the moral right to govern our lives, I am a
    firm believer in the sovereignty of the individual. No human being has the
    right to require anything from another human being. The only morally just
    expectation that anyone may have of another is that he NOT violate the rights
    of life, liberty, or property of anyone. Beyond that, it is God’s to govern.

     
     

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      I
      hold this truth to be self-evident, that the entire human race is equally

       

      created
      in the image of God, and that we have been endowed by our creator with

       

      certain
      unalienable rights.

       

      That’s
      a conservative view, not a libertarian one.

       

      I
      believe that the only being in all of existence with the moral authority to govern
      the lives of man is man’s creator.

       

      That
      may be a libertarian view, but it’s not a Christian one. As the Apostle Paul
      said,

       

      “Let
      every person be subject to the
      governing authorities. For there is no
      authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities
      resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
      (Romans 13:1-2)

       

      This
      understanding has led me to the conclusion that neither I, nor anyone else, is
      morally justified in dictating to another how he or she may live. How one
      chooses to live is a decision that is between that individual and God, . . .

       

      Again,
      that may be a libertarian view, but it is not one that can be supported either
      by the Bible or by church history. The Bible says that God gives us free will, but
      it does not support the idea that how we choose to live is solely between us
      and God. The Apostle Paul is pretty clear that that is not the case.

       

       

       

      Therefore,
      it would be immoral for me to support the existence of

       

      government
      that can only exist by exploiting the very people that it governs.

       

      Again,
      your view is antithetical to Christianity. Jesus made it clear that we are to
      pay taxes to the government. And Paul made it clear that the God establishes
      the authority of governments.

       

      In
      my relation to my fellow man, I believe that I am completely sovereign over my
      own life and the only being who has any sovereign authority over my life is God.

       

      This
      view is antithetical to libertarianism, since a libertarian form of government requires
      that people give up complete sovereignty over their own life in order to have a
      system of contracts that can be enforced by the rule of law.

       

      No
      human being has the right to require anything from another human being.

       

      Again,
      this view is antithetical to Christianity.

       

       

      • Zaya

        Yes, Jesus made it clear that we are to pay taxes where taxes are due. This does not mean that Jesus thinks taxes should actually be imposed.

  • Tfehler

    Paul said if you could gain your freedom, do so. Thus, the desire to be free is condoned in scripture. Jesus disn’t try to change the political scene, but He dis challenge all authority and explain how it is/should be in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus gave us the Golden Rule, libertarians yearn for non aggression and non coercion.

    Honestly, i can’t see how Christians can avoid being libertarian as well.

    But then maybe i’m just socially quirky :)

    • SirDrAaron

      ^This.I think the point is being missed that the liberty that Christian Libertarians are seeking is liberty from secular authority so that we don’t have to divide our allegiance to God. This article represents what I have come to see as a core republigelican idea: that the attempt to free ourselves from the slough of worldly authority is somehow anti-Christian, and we should content ourselves to sink into the stinking mire with everyone else for fear that, once free of our captors, we would then want to be free of our savior.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

        ***This article represents what I have come to see as a core republigelican idea: that the attempt to free ourselves from the slough of worldly authority is somehow anti-Christian,***

        Are you saying that the Apostle Paul was a “republigelican?” After all, he was the one that said, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

        I don’t know if trying to “free ourselves from the slough of worldly authority” is “anti-Christian” but it certainly goes against the teachings of the Bible. 

  • http://MikeZentz.com Mike

    Its really really simple.  I believe god created men free and capable of choosing to do what they want.  I believe the purpose of government is to protect the life, liberty, and property of the governed.  It is not necessary to legislate my Christian beliefs on anyone else.  The only laws that need exist are ones that protect life, liberty, and property.  It is my responsibility to educate and convince others of my own Christian values.  I have no right to enforce my social beliefs on others through violence or coercion.  In my opinion the only proper form of government that a Christian should advocate is a libertarian one.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      I
      have no right to enforce my social beliefs on others through violence or
      coercion. In my opinion the only proper form of government that a Christian
      should advocate is a libertarian one.

      If
      that’s the case, then why do you think that no great Christian thinker has ever
      advocated for a libertarian-style government?

      • http://MikeZentz.com Mike

        I’m not relying on great christian thinkers, although I would consider Tom Woods and Ron Paul to be great great Christians.  Many great christians have advocated socialism and theocracy, my insistence upon libertarian government does not come from great Christian thinkers.  My belief in a libertarian form of government comes from a personal study of the New Testament.  I find no part of libertarian government to be in opposition to libertarianism.  I can find plenty of reasons to oppose authoritarianism in Christianity.

      • http://MikeZentz.com Mike

        Before you ask me a question I would appreciate it if you would answer mine.  Why should a Christian have a right to enforce their social beliefs on others through violence? 

        Asking me why Christian thinkers don’t support my position is simply asking me to go looking until I find someone that I consider “great” to agree with me.  I do not see why that is necessary, can’t we just talk about the principles?

        • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

          ***Why should a Christian have a right to enforce their social beliefs on others through violence? ***

          I don’t believe that Christians—or anyone else—have an absolute right to enforce their social beliefs on others through violence (you probably should have said coercion since it is the more common method used). But it’s not as if libertarians do not believe in using the power of the government to enforce their social beliefs. For example, libertarians have a “social belief” that contracts must be enforceable, so they believe that the government should use its power of violence and/or coercion to enforce legal contracts. So the question is not whether such force should be used to enforce certain social beliefs (everyone agrees that should be), but rather when its legitimate to do so.

    • http://profiles.google.com/wingleberry Larry Wendlandt

      So, along comes an 18 year old freedom lover who believes that they should have freedom to utilize any part of the Earth and not be bothered in doing it.  Yet the laws you mention… protect land that is your property, and you call the cops when you see this 18 year old “trespassing” and using “your” piece of God’s Earth as a bathroom.  Did you not just use “enforcement” to coerce YOUR beliefs of property ownership upon this young person, and take away their freedom to treat the Earth as an un-ownable thing?  Did you not just hire a police gun to impose the threat of violence… all because YOU believe ownership is somehow normal, even though not a single fence, nor trespassing sign, nor entitle of ownership existed when mankind arrived on the planet?  Something is wrong with your theory.

      • http://MikeZentz.com Mike

        I’m not sure why you begin by attacking my age, and incorrectly I might add.  Now I’m gathering from your post that you are either an anarchist or an environmentalist.  I’m not sure which.  I do not advocate the use of violence except in defense of violence against the three natural rights of life, liberty, and property.  You have the right to be alive.  You have the right to do what you want so long as you do not prevent others from doing what they want.  You have the right to keep the fruits of your life and liberty.  This is the philosophy of liberty.  Just to clarify are you attacking the philosophy of libertarianism?  If so why do it here?  My comment was in the defense of the coherence of Christianity and Liberty not a debate in the validity of libertarianism.

        • http://profiles.google.com/wingleberry Larry Wendlandt

          I was using an 18 year old as an example of a person who is trespassing on your land.  Calm down, defensive one. 

  • Self-identified

    I’m a Catholic who identifies both as a libertarian and as a
    conservative, so I’ll take you up on your invitation to share my thoughts on
    the matter.

    You identified five ways people use the term “Christian
    libertarian.” I must have come across ten thousand ways people use the term “libertarian.”
    The Objectivists, if they use it at all (Ayn Rand did not), mean a rationalist,
    materialist worldview that encompasses a minimal state. Some folks mean “anarchy
    without labels,” where corporations and communes will live alongside one
    another in non-aggression. Capital-L Libertarians mean their reformist
    political party.

    I mean it in two different ways: One is as a general
    preference for a move towards less, smaller government. One is as a distinction
    from what most Americans associate with conservatism simply understood. Both are
    rooted in my (admittedly young and still schooling) understanding of what my
    Christian beliefs about society demand of me as an American in the twenty-first
    century.

    I believe in libertarianism economically for many of the
    same reasons Christian conservatives (like my good friends at Acton) believe in
    free markets: they foster virtue, provide liberation of the poor through
    opportunity and entrepreneurship, and ensure just principles in economic relationships.
    I trust we’re on the same page thus far. But I do distinguish between
    libertarianism (at least the leftist-informed strand I’m into right now) and
    conservatism economically. I think the libertarians have consistently criticized
    bailouts, subsidies, regulation (which leads to capture), and corporate welfare
    much more so than most conservatives have, pace Sen. DeMint. I also think the
    libertarian toolbox has all kinds of non…bourgeois arguments for free markets
    that conservatives don’t have. I’ve heard libertarians attack the minimum wage
    because it keeps women and the poor out of markets, not just because it’s
    inefficient. I’ve heard libertarians endorse laissez-faire trade because it
    will promote Third World development, not just because it maximizes wealth. I’ve
    heard libertarians advocate for freer markets than we have today, for reasons
    that comport well with my beliefs about a preference for the poor and
    solidarity, much more so than I’ve heard conservatives, who seem all too
    enamored with utilitarianism. There are, of course, all the arguments for
    federalism and localism, too. But I think a conservative knows them fairly
    well.

    On social issues, I’ll admit that things are more
    complicated for a pro-lifer who believes in traditional marriage. Chalk two up
    for the conservatives there, although preferring a federalist approach to
    marriage is a smidge more libertarian in the age of the Federal Marriage
    Amendment. But for those two issues where I think conservatives are spot-on,
    there are plenty of others where I feel like libertarians have a more humane
    and decent understanding in line with my Christian conscience. Like William
    Buckley and Ross Douthat, it troubles my heart that the government breaks up so
    many families and communities by incarcerating people for minor drug offenses,
    rather than getting them into rehab. The conservative line on immigration,
    which Catholic bishops have strongly pressed against, also seems to me like a
    slap in the face of what I believe about the dignity of every person. There is
    also a whole world of national security and civil liberties policy where I think
    the government militarizes and brutalizes our society. It isn’t a exclusively Christian
    judgment (none of my political beliefs are based solely on dogma; I’m sure you’re
    exactly the same in that regard), but the idea that the government has the
    capacity to extraordinarily rendition prisoners to Asia for torture, and to
    indefinitely detain citizens without bringing charges, cuts against what I believe
    about peace and justice. I’m not a pacifist, but I am troubled.

    Foreign policy, then, seems like another area in which
    libertarians have so much more to offer a Christian than the folks America
    knows as conservatives. I believe that we are currently locked in three wars,
    four if you count Pakistan, that are endangering this country and taking the
    lives of innocent people. I believe that we are sustaining a global network of
    military bases that seems to be a way of living by the sword. Again, I’m no
    pacifist, but I think there are plenty of Christian reasons for finding all of
    this to be contrary to Christian social teaching.

    Admittedly, there are Christians who identify as conservatives
    who believe a lot of the things I just listed. I read The American Conservative daily and get a lot of that stuff from
    their paleo slant. I read Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk like any other
    Christian traditionalist, and it all sits very well with me. But I also find a
    noble and good view of human society (albeit an incomplete one) in Friedrich
    Hayek, Ron Paul, and Markets Not
    Capitalism (http://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=230).
    I get it at Acton and the Federalist Society, and at the Institute for Humane
    Studies. It would be dishonest for me not to identify with my fellow
    libertarians when I owe them such an intellectual debt and see them as my
    fellow fighters in so many battles.

    I don’t presume to be your type #1, but I hope that at least
    serves as a cogent defense. If you were looking for something less policy and
    more philosophy, it would basically be a hodgepodge (like any political
    philosophy, I think, for a Christian) of subsidiarity, localism, freed markets,
    peace, virtue ethics, tradition, and the dignity of the human person. It’s in
    the means we use to get there that I find my libertarianism making itself distinctly
    felt.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      One
      is as a general preference for a move towards less, smaller government. One is
      as a distinction from what most Americans associate with conservatism simply
      understood.

       

      While
      I understand your position I don’t really understand this
      position. I get why people think that “conservatism” doesn’t stand for what conservatism
      has historically stood for. But I don’t understand why it leads people to embrace
      a political view that they likely would not fully agree with simply because they
      like the fact that it is antistatist.

       

      It’s
      a bit like a Christian saying that because they don’t agree with Catholicism
      that they’ll start saying that they are Muslim since Islam is monothestic).

       

      I think the libertarians
      have consistently criticized bailouts, subsidies, regulation (which leads to
      capture), and corporate welfare much more so than most conservatives have, pace
      Sen. DeMint. I also think the libertarian toolbox has all kinds of non…bourgeois
      arguments for free markets that conservatives don’t have.

       

      Again, I have to say that I understand
      that the current political climate makes libertarianism more attractive. But I
      think that conservatives not only have better arguments for the free market,
      but that we are the only ones that can prevent free enterprise from leading to
      an increase in the welfare state. Because of human nature, I think that a
      libertarian approach to free markets inevitably leads to the greater economic
      statism
      .

       

      I believe that we are
      currently locked in three wars, four if you count Pakistan, that are
      endangering this country and taking the lives of innocent people. I believe
      that we are sustaining a global network of military bases that seems to be a
      way of living by the sword.

      Whether these wars are prudent is
      certainly debatable. But they are not inconsistent with libertarianism. A
      libertarian could have been consistent and supported preemptive war as an act
      of self-defense. Ron Paul’s isolationist views are more consistent with
      paleoconservatism than with libertarianism.

       

       

       

  • DK

    I am a libertarian, not some Randian Objectivist.  And I am a libertarian not because I see liberty or “neutrality” as some political ideal.  I am a libertarian, rather than a conservative, because I thoroughly distrust man’s will to power over other men.  Therefore I want to neuter the instruments by which that power is exercised.  Liberty is not an end in itself, but a condition that allows greater things to flourish.  My libertarianism is primarily a political and historical judgment, not a spiritual one, and I see much mischief in those who seek a divine imprimatur for their (necessarily) worldly political agenda.  But I do find much support for my skeptical attitude toward worldly power in the religion of my Lord and Saviour. 

  • http://increasingmu.wordpress.com/ Ryan Murphy

    Can you be more specific by what you mean in contradictions? The contradictions that are clearest are when pone interprets “libertarian” to mean “philosophical libertarian,” but you are criticizing a political position. For a number of social issues, I do not want state involvement because I don’t believe it would be prudent. By itself, the fact that this is reflected in my positions on both drugs and war makes it far more accurate to identify as a libertarian than as a conservative.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      For
      a number of social issues, I do not want state involvement because I don’t
      believe it would be prudent.

      While
      that is a respectable position to hold, I’m not sure it qualifies, strictly
      speaking, as libertarian. A consistent libertarian would say that whether
      government involvement was prudent or not, government should not
      be involved if it hinders individual liberty. 

      • http://increasingmu.wordpress.com/ Ryan Murphy

        I would consider such a person a Rothbardian or a very small tent libertarian. I think it’s far more fruitful to define the word in terms of political positions held (basically, quartering off a section of the Nolan Chart) than to tie it to an obscure deontological position.

  • http://www.jordanballor.com/ Jordan Ballor

    I’m curious, Joe, how you would categorize a thinker like Lord Acton? As a conservative in the classical sense? A classical conservative? Or a classical liberal? Or a libertarian? (I’m hoping the “Christian” modifier wouldn’t be seriously in doubt in this case.) Do you see a difference between “classical liberal” and “libertarian”?

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter


      how you would categorize a thinker like Lord Acton?

      If
      we’re judging him by his own time, I’d say he was a conservative classical
      liberal. If he were alive today, I think he’d be considered a conservative of
      the Kirkian type.

      Do
      you see a difference between “classical liberal” and “libertarian”?

       

      Most
      definitely. Classical liberals believe that liberty is not a moral end in
      itself but rather a means toward a higher end. Libertarians think that liberty
      is an end unto itself.

      The difference
      between classical liberals and libertarians (at least the populist sort) is now
      so great that a classical liberal like F.A. Hayek would be condemned as a “statist”
      because of his views on the welfare state and the social safety net. 

      • Roger McKinney

         Hayek disagreed with you about Lord Acton. See his “Why I am not a Conservative.”

        On Hayek, the small wing of libertarians called anarcho-capitalists who follow Rothbard would consider Hayek a statist. But mainstream libertarians would not.

        • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

          *** Hayek disagreed with you about Lord Acton.***

          Why do you say that Hayek disagreed with me? I said that he was a “conservative classical liberal.” That is essentially what Hayek says too. As Hayek says, “Conservatism proper is a legitimate, probably necessary, and certainly widespread  attitude of opposition to drastic change.” Does that not describe Acton?

          ***But mainstream libertarians would not.***

          Have you not read this comment thread? I suspect most of the commenters here consider themselves “mainstream libertarians” and would think that Hayek’s views would qualify him as a statist.

          • RogerMcKinney

             Read Hayek’s essay “Why I am not a Conservative.” He explains that though he doesn’t like the term “libertarian” because it seems “made up”, he says that modern libertarians are the inheritors of classical liberalism such as Acton’s. Hayek prefers to call himself a Whig, but he identifies Whig policies with libertarians.

      • http://www.jordanballor.com/ Jordan Ballor

        We may be at a point where the terms and categories used are not all that helpful, since people are employing them in many different ways. It strikes me that your definition of libertarian that is working in this thread, Joe, is rather different than that of many of those who self-identify as Christian libertarians.

        Does it matter that many libertarians today (not to mention the connection posed by Hayek) self-identify as classical liberals, or that they take the two terms to be interchangeable?

        It seems to me there is a kind of libertarianism that is compatible with Christianity and a kind that is not, and it comes down roughly along the lines of the distinction between libertarianism as a political philosophy and libertarianism as a world-and-life view that I have outlined previously. This seems to align with your distinction between libertarianism and classical liberalism.

        The case of the anarchists is interesting, because I think we have to be careful in saying there can’t be a coherent Christian libertarian that we don’t mean simply a “Christian who agrees with my understanding of Christianity to a particular specificity.” After all, the Anabaptists were denounced by the magisterial Reformed and Roman Catholics as “anarchists.” (There are great varieties in Anabaptism, of course.) Does that mean they weren’t “Christian”? Can you be a Christian anarchist? Many who say yes are the same who would identify libertarianism with anarcho-capitalism or some such.

        What if by “libertarian” you simply mean “liberty-loving,” or one who promotes religious, economic, and political liberty, or one who defines the highest political good as liberty and leaves open whether that liberty is oriented to and penultimate with regard to other social goods?

        • RogerMcKinney

           Joe is making the mistake of identifying libertarians with what Hayek called false individualism in his essay “Individualism: True or False.” Lord Acton, Burke, Adam Smith, et al, who were classical liberals held to the correct definition of individualism as do libertarians today.

          Socialists and leftist anarchists hold to the false view of individualism. Joe needs to get that straight.

        • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

          ***It strikes me that your definition of libertarian that is working in this thread, Joe, is rather different than that of many of those who self-identify as Christian libertarians.***

          I get that impression too. ; )

          I think part of the problem is that there is a tension between the way that people self-identify with whatever label they choose and applying the historical and contemporary meanings of the term. Too many folks seem to think that the term “libertarianism” can be completely divorced from the most common (read: bad) variations and that they can keep the term and throw out the negatives. I’m not sure its possible.

          It’s similar to the way that Andrew Sullivan calls himself a “conservative.” The fact his views would not be considered “conservative” by the common denotation of that term doesn’t seem to stop him (or his followers) from using it in a confusing manner. I think such mislabeling hinders political discourse. Words mean things. We can’t just decide for ourselves what terms like “conservative” and “libertarian” will mean and then get upset when people understand their usage in the common parlance (which, I think, many of the commenters are doing). 

          ***Does it matter that many libertarians today (not to mention the connection posed by Hayek) self-identify as classical liberals, or that they take the two terms to be interchangeable?***

          Indeed, I think it matters a great deal. I don’t think the terms are interchangeable, nor do I believe they are there is much connection between the two. To use Sullivan again, it’s like saying a “conservative” can support a radical proposal like same-sex marriage. Not only can that not fit the definition of conservative, but it renders any connection to the past usage of the term. If conservative is so broad that is can apply to both those who support radical ideas and those who oppose them the meanings have become meaningless.

          I think it is the same for libertarianism. The common usage of the term has no real connection with classical liberals. I suspect even John Stuart Mill would not think the term libertarian (as used today) fits with classical liberalism. 

          ***It seems to me there is a kind of libertarianism that is compatible with Christianity and a kind that is not, and it comes down roughly along the lines of the distinction between libertarianism as a political philosophy and libertarianism as a world-and-life view that I have outlined previously.***

          I completely agree. But there are two caveats I would add. First, classical liberalism is closer to what we would now call conservatism than it is with libertarianism. Second—and I think this is the key difference I have with most others on this issue—I do not believe that libertarianism as a political philosophy can be divorced from libertarianism as a world-and-live view. 

          Libertarianism is an ideology (I mean that in the neutral, rather than negative, sense) and ideologies are inherently forms of world-and-life views. Once libertarianism stops being an ideology, it stops being libertarianism. That is why Russell Kirk said that a lot of people who support conservative ideas seem to think they are supporting libertarianism. 

          ***Can you be a Christian anarchist? Many who say yes are the same who would identify libertarianism with anarcho-capitalism or some such.***

          You’re right about being cautious in saying that “X can’t be Christians.” This gets back to the usage of terms and applying them correctly. For all the disagreements I have with them, I’m not sure how Anabaptists could be considered anarchists. I was thinking only of anarchists who think that government in all forms should truly be abolished (as opposed to those who’d prefer a night-watchman state). I don’t think the abolishment of government can be squared with Paul’s writings in Romans

          ***What if by “libertarian” you simply mean “liberty-loving,” or one who promotes religious, economic, and political liberty, or one who defines the highest political good as liberty and leaves open whether that liberty is oriented to and penultimate with regard to other social goods?***

          If the first part, then I think we are really talking about Type #4s. If the later (liberty is the ultimate end unto itself) then I think we are talking about a type of libertarianism that has no real connection with classical liberalism. 

      • Martial Artist

        I openly identify myself as an Austrolibertarian Catholic, and by no means would I consider that liberty is an end unto itself. Rather, liberty is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition if I am to be able to live the commands of Christ in my life. I became libertarian because of the Gospel. If I am going to obey the Church’s injunction to respect the dignity of every human person, then it is not within my authority to dictate how my neighbor is to live out the requirements of the Gospel. Voting for a politician who promises to increase the tax burden, even if only on others, would not be following Christ’s injunction to me to “feed the poor and orphans, visit the prisoners, and heal the sick,” Rather it would be using that injunction to coerce (through the state) my neighbor to comply with Christ’s injunction. The fact that I may be unable to accomplish that by means of discourse and example, is not grounds to use coercion. God has given to me and to my neighbor as God sees fit, I need to focus on my obligation to be a good steward of what God has given me and to meet the needs God places before me.

        I am not a pacifist, and as a retired Navy Lieutenant Commander (hence—in part—the nom de blog), and never was, and my understanding is that one of the responsibilities that God places upon me is to defend those unable to defend themselves (as the circumstances dictate). But the Church has also provided guidance to us as to the circumstances and conditions which must prevail in order to justly the employment of deadly force, whether war or self-defense.
        Over the 22 years since I retired, I gradually came to understand the foregoing as key principles that I needed to embody in my life if I was going to be a faithful follower of Christ. Please do note that, in accord with standard English usage, the Austrolibertarian is an adjective and Catholic is the operative noun. I was received into the Catholic Church in 2010 from a Protestant denomination, so I have not yet worked through all of the questions about my libertarian beliefs in light of the teaching of Holy Mother Church, but should I find something incompatible between the two, I will reevaluate the proper application of my libertarian principles. If they are incompatible I will conform to the teachings of the magisterium.
        Pax et bonum,
        Keith Töpfer

  • Ken Hamilton

    Joe Carter wrote, “For instance, in order to be truly Christian, the Christian libertarian would have to resolve the tension between libertarianism’s focus on the individual rights and Christianity’s emphasis on communal obligations.”

    For this Christian Libertarian those “communal obligations” do not mean that I want the government to enforce them at the point of a gun.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      ***For this Christian Libertarian those “communal obligations” do not mean that I want the government to enforce them at the point of a gun.***

      Sure they do. What libertarian does not think the government can use its coercive power to enforce “communal obligations” in the form of contracts?

      • http://mutedog.freesand.com/ Mute Dog

        Contracts can be enforced only if the contract was agreed to by both parties free from any form of coercion. If both parties agreed to the terms of a contract and one party does not hold up its end of the agreement then enforcement can be pursued. In libertarian utopia land, I’d imagine that contracts would also lay out the valid means of enforcement if the contract terms are not met by one of the parties. If one party does not want enforcement to be used against them if they don’t hold up their end then they should not have freely agreed to the terms of the contract. 
        In effect, both parties agreed to hold up their ends of the agreement and they ALSO agreed that coercion should be used against them (or some sort of consequence should be enforced) if they do not hold up their end of the bargain.

        I’m not sure what you mean by enforcing “communal obligations” in the form of contracts. Unless someone agreed to some sort of communal obligation in a contract then communal obligations can not be forced upon them.

        • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

          ***I’m not sure what you mean by enforcing “communal obligations” in the form of contracts. Unless someone agreed to some sort of communal obligation in a contract then communal obligations can not be forced upon them.***

          Here’s an example of what I mean: I believe men have a communal obligation to wear pants when we go out in public (or at least some clothing that covers our nakedness). 

          A libertarian nudist might disagree. Since they aren’t violating the NAP with their nakedness and since they have not signed a contract saying that they will wear pants in public, they think they should be free to go pants-less if they so desire.*

          If I understand your position correctly, you are saying that the nudist is correct. Since we cannot enforce non-contractual communal obligations, there can be no law against nudism in public. Am I fairly representing your view?*That is why I say that libertarians scare small children. ; )

  • http://www.rssronaldreagan.blogspot.com/ RSS Ronald Reagan

    I sometimes describe myself as a Christian libertarian.  Fundamentally, this is because there are certain public issues that I would like to see addressed in a particular way, but which I believe are appropriately the sphere of the Church rather than the State.  As an example, let us take a very specific issue–legalization of marijuana.

    I do not support the recreational use of marijuana, but I do not believe that the State ought to be entrusted with the powers necessary to curb its use.  Though drug prohibition was  promoted with the purest of intentions, it appears to me that the “cure” has been far worse than the disease.  Now, not only do we still have rampant drug use:  we have neighborhoods effectively turned into war zones, and we have economically incentivized the creation of ever-more concentrated and dangerous drugs.  I just can’t call this “success.”  Nor do I wish to live in a police state similar to Soviet Russia’s wherein drug use might have been largely curbed…but at what cost?

    It seems to me that the most effective opponent of drug culture is renewed churches that make their business the inner spiritual transformation of people.  It seems to me that to legitimately honor the doctrine of Imago Dei, necessarily means that I respect the right of the other to freely choose the path of sin (so long as it is not destructive of the rights of others) even as God has granted me the right to freely to choose to follow Him or not. 

    This is a fascinating question, and I thank you very much for raising it.  I look forward to reading what others have to say…and am open to being “converted” by a well-reasoned and consistent argument.

  • wakeus_com

    I think you are lumping all of the various forms of Christian theology together here.  Taken individually, many Christian sects could align quite smoothly with libertarianism.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      ***Taken individually, many Christian sects could align quite smoothly with libertarianism.***

      Perhaps, I am unfairly lumping them together. Which sects do you think are a natural fit for libertarianism?

      • http://www.jordanballor.com/ Jordan Ballor

        The anarchist, libertine, Anabaptists of course!

        • http://twitter.com/jurisnaturalist Nathanael Snow

          You rang?

  • http://www.facebook.com/becky.chandler1 Becky Chandler

    This is a divisive and unnecessary discussion, and I am disappointed to see it on a web site dedicated to the principles of Lord Acton

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      I’m not sure I understand your objection. Do you think it is unnecessary to host disagreements between Christians about the proper role of political philosophy?

      Also, Lord Acton once went to Rome for the purpose of organizing a party of resistance to the proposed definition of papal infallibility. He doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would object to disagreements among Christians.

  • Roger McKinney

    I am a type 1 Christian libertarian. So is Ron Paul and many other people with whom I converse on libertarian blogs.

    I am a Christian and a libertarian because I liberationism agrees with the Biblical perspective on government better than other groups.

    “I don’t see how starting from Biblical principles you’d end up with any
    political philosophy that resembled American-style libertarianism.”

    I think you should read more of the writing of the Catholic scholars at the 16th century school of Salamanca. Many Christian libertarians consider them to be the forefathers of modern Christian libertarianism.

    Yes, Paul tell us in Romans to obey the ruling authorities, but Paul often did the opposite. Was Paul a hypocrite? No. He simply didn’t take the command as absolute. Any time the government commanded any of the apostles to act in a way inconsistent with God’s commands they obeyed God and disobeyed the ruling authorities. They all died horrible deaths for defying the ruling authorities.

    Christian libertarians see different roles for the state, church and family and don’t think one should intrude on the sphere of the others. For example, it would be ridiculous to have the church rounding up criminals and jailing them in the church basement. Christians should consider it just as ridiculous for the state to attempt to replace the church, such as taking care of the poor.

    The only state that God ever created was the nation of Israel in the Torah. Scholars divide the law of the Torah into case law, religious law and moral law. Priests enforced the religious law and God enforced the moral law. In writing his Torah, God limited the power of the state to enforcing the case law which deals with the protection of life, liberty and property, not helping the poor and not enforcing religious law. The Torah is a constitution for libertarianism.

    Hayek’s essay “Why I am not a Conservative” says it all and says it better than anyone. No Christian would have a problem with Hayek’s libertarianism. Yes, he would make room for some state spending on safety nets, but he never required it as conservatives do. Libertarians won’t always agree on everything any more than conservatives will.

    And if you read about the Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists you’ll find that they embrace government, just not a state. There never has been and never will be a libertarian who denies the need for the rule of law. Anarcho-capitalists want private judges to apply natural law with private enforcement agencies. The system is not much different from God’s government in the Torah.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      ***I am a type 1 Christian libertarian. So is Ron Paul and many other people with whom I converse on libertarian blogs.***

      While there may be Type 1 Christian libertarians, Ron Paul is not one of them. Rep. Paul is more often concerned with adherence to federalism and his reading of the Constitution than he is with respect for liberty. Although Paul admits that the federal government has a responsibility to protect human life, he inexplicably does not believe the federal government should be involved in protecting human fetal life.
      When you are more concerned about adhering to some self-imposed rules than you are with protecting life, then you are failing in your duties both as a libertarian and as a Christian. 

      • RogerMcKinney

         Out of all I wrote that is all you can comment on? Seriously?

        “Ron Paul is not one of them. Rep. Paul is more often concerned with adherence to federalism and his reading of the Constitution than he is with respect for liberty.”

        You have built a straw man of what you think libertarianism is and compare everyone with that straw man. You need to learn what real libertarianism is. The US Constitution, interpreted according to original intent, is the most libertarian document ever written by men. Only the Torah is more libertarian.

        If as you say he doesn’t support a ban on abortion, then I think he is inconsistent on one point. But being inconsistent on a single point does not disqualify one from being a libertarian any more than being inconsistent on minor doctrines disqualifies one from being a Christian.

        Do Catholics consider Protestants to not be Christians because we disagree on a lot of points?

        Ron Paul is a devout Christian and the most consistent libertarian I know of. He is even more consistent than Hayek was, as you have noted.

        • http://www.facebook.com/pjmerc Pam Mercier

          Ron Paul has said that it isn’t the business of the Federal government to be involved in approving or banning abortion. He said that it should be up to the states. Now quite few states are requiring a waiting period or that the woman has a sonogram before giving a final decision on having an abortion.

          • RogerMcKinney

            Thanks! I didn’t know that. Historically, the life and death issues of citizens were handled by the state until the federal power grabs.

  • Roger McKinney

    PS, consider the only government that God every created, the nation of Israel in the Torah. It had no legislative branch or executive branch or standing army or police force. The ruling judges were more like supreme court justices who settled disputes. They became executive only in war time to lead the all volunteer military and gave up that power in peace time. Families acted as policemen arresting criminals and taking them to court. Families and citizens enforced court decisions. The only taxes were tithes to the priests to support the priests and help the poor, but no state agency collected them or enforced them. God’s government was about as libertarian as once can get. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    ***(1) The Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 is very similar to the non-aggression principle (the non-aggression principle is the basic statement of libertarianism in general, that people should be allowed to do whatever they wish so long as it they do not execute aggression upon another person. Aggression is defined as the initiation of force against another person.***

    It takes an incredible leap in logic to go from “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” to “people should be allowed to do whatever they wish so long as it they do not execute aggression upon another person.” There is simply nothing in the Bible—and certainly nothing in the Law and the Prophets, the books that Jesus says the Golden Rule comes from—that supports the idea that people should be able to “do whatever they wish” so long as they are not executing aggression against someone. It is this sort of shoehorning of Scripture to fit your political ideology that makes it hard to take Christian libertarianism seriously. 

    Consider, for example, a person who is intent on committing suicide. What if the only way that you could stop them is by forcibly restraining them? This certainly violates the libertarian’s nonaggression principle. But would Jesus say that in order to fulfill the Golden Rule we should let them kill themselves? Would that be what Christian love demands of us?

    ***(2) Scripture is consistently skeptical toward power concentrated into the hands of rulers (cf. 1 Samuel 7). ***

    Whether this is true or not, I’m not sure how the chapter you cite supports your case. The authority (“ruler”) over the Israelites at the time was Samuel. Nothing in that passage expresses skepticism about his concentration of power. 

    ***(3) The “Kingdom of God” is never characterized with the aggression of the State.***

    True. But when did anyone ever say it was?

    ***(4) God, although he holds ulitmate soverignty over the universe and has complete power of all things, freely allows us to accept or reject him (and his offer of salvation) though he could certainly do so – in order for us to make a real choice, he does not intervene but does make clear the ulitimate consequences for the choice to reject him.***

    Um, as a Calvinist, I’m not sure I’d phrase it that way. ; )

    ***But besides Scripture, libertarianism has more or less emerged from the Western tradition, which is tied very strongly to historical Christianity.***

    Marxism has also emerged from the Western tradition.

    **So, we have an interesting historical argument as well supporting libertarianism from a Christian perspective.***

    Classical liberalism and modern libertarianism are poles apart. 

    ***Besides all the positive reasons that support libertarianism, one of the greatest rejoinders to statism***

    This seems to be a recurring theme, that libertarians are the only ones that oppose “statism.” This has never been true. If the only reason someone supports libertarianism is because it opposes statism, then they need to consider what else they are buying into when they sign on. 

    • Bcmi1602

      “the idea that people should be able to “do whatever they wish” so long as they are not executing aggression against someone. It is this sort of shoehorning of Scripture to fit your political ideology that makes it hard to take Christian libertarianism seriously.”

      Where in the Bible does Jesus advocate the use of violence to restrain people from doing things contray to his teachings? Answer: nowhere! I would submit that you are the one “shoehorning” scripture to fit you politcal ideology that using violence and coersion by the State is justified so long as you claim it to be a “value”. In your hypothetical arguement about “preventing suicide”, I would submit the matter could rightly be dealt without out of Christian love and an individual level – it in no way cries out for intervention by the state.

      ” I’m not sure how the chapter you cite supports your case. The authority (“ruler”) over the Israelites at the time was Samuel. Nothing in that passage expresses skepticism about his concentration of power.”

      In whole context of 1 Samuel chronicles the transition of political authority from a decentalized confederation of tribes into a world kingdom under a single ruler. Essentially, as a confederation, the Isrealites had no central government and thus were ruled by the leading of God himself. From time to time, God would rise up a leader called a “Judge” who would lead the nation thru time of great danger. Not satisfied with the leading of God and wanting to be “powerful” in the worldly sense like surrounding nations, the Isrealites petitioned Samuel (a spritual leader not a politcal one as you imply) to as ask God for a King so they too could be a powerful worldly state. In 1 Samuel, God clearly warns them of the dangers of concentrating power in the hands of a single ruler but grants them their request thus setting in motion the ulitimate destruction (and subsequent exile from the promised land) of the nation of Isreal. Under Centralized rule by Kings, the people disintigrated into corruption, idolatry, oppression of the poor, and subsequently defeat and exile as God’s judgement. For every “Good King” such as David or Hezikiah, there were far far more numerous “Bad Kings” like Ahab. This is a very clear Biblical lesson in the evils of Statism and centralization of power.

      “Classical liberalism and modern libertarianism are poles apart.”

      Wrong – period. You obviously have little understanding of either. In particular, you create your own caricuture of what modern libertarianism to suit your personal biases. From what I have read here, you state few things other then factual inaccuracies and personal insults.

      “This seems to be a recurring theme, that libertarians are the only ones that oppose “statism.” This has never been true.”

      To plagarize your own words, who said that? I didnt. However, its very hard to oppose Statism when you essentially agree with the basic premise of Statism like you do. Its very hard to argue for economic liberty (as you do) when argue for the use of State power to impose arbitray restrains on personal behavior that is not harming anyone else or violating anyone elses rights. You cannot consistently argue for freedom in econmic matters when you deny it other spheres of life. The quentisential Statist arguement is that the use of force/coeresion can “solve” problems and that only a few “enlighted” people should given the power to wield that force. I would submit to you that the use of force is really only a “solution” to counter the use of force by other intent upon violating our rights. By agreeing that the use of State power can “solve” problems in society you are basically buying into the premise of the left. Libertarinism (properly understood) is the only ideologically consistent position to take thus the only moral one.

      “If the only reason someone supports libertarianism is because it opposes statism, then they need to consider what else they are buying into when they sign on.”

      What you would be “buying into” is something called a “free society” which is somewhere where the God-given rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness are truly respected. If you think that “buying into” too much Freedom and Liberty for people is a bad thing, then I would suggest again that your ideology lines up fairly well with the so-called “progressives” you claim to be opposed to in economic matters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    ***Namely, protecting a citizens natural rights from being infringed upon by either another citizen or an outside force. I don’t see how these basic views, often associated with libertarianism, are at odds with the Christian worldview.***

    They are not at odds. But that is because protecting a citizens natural rights from being infringed upon is not unique to libertarianism. If that was all there was to libertarianism, it wouldn’t be objectionable. 

    But libertarianism doesn’t just think that the government should be limited in protecting *natural rights* from being infringed upon. It believes that adult human beings are sovereign over their lives, actions, and belongings and that the government should protect that sovereignty. As long as the nonaggression principle is being followed, then people are free to do what they want.

    For example, if Larry Flynt were to buy CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX, and turn them into 24 hour free porn channels, the libertarian response would be that he not only had the right to do so but that the government should make sure that no one interferes with that “right.” 

    Obviously, this is incompatible with the Christian worldview and the idea that there are “moral commons” that can be polluted. 

    ***The idea that a libertarian is inconsistent in his philosophy because he freely chooses to associate with a group that demands certain communal obligations of its members seems to be a non sequitur.***

    The Christian view is that humans have moral obligations to the community whether they want to accept them or not. The libertarian view is that as long as they are not being aggressive toward another citizen, then they essentially can shirk any moral obligations they choose. 

    A person could stand outside a elementary school holding up a video screen showing porn and the consistent libertarian would have to admit that its none of the governments business. 

    ***If you are correct it would seem also reasonable to conclude that libertarians could not participate in any voluntary yet legally binding contracts.***

    On that point, I was only pointing out the reductio ad absurdum of claiming that people should never be forced to do something against their will and that voluntary contracts should be enforced by the state. 

    ***So in effect a libertarian who took issue with any necessary communal obligations associated with Christianity wouldn’t be a Christian. Or, a Christian who believed in forcing people to serve others as they do wouldn’t be a libertarian.***

    There are communal obligations that we have as Christians and communal obligations that adhere to us because we are humans living in community. As I pointed out above, it is not a matter of forcing someone to serve their fellow man, but a matter of them forcing them to refrain from activity that pollutes the moral commons. Most libertarians would agree that forcing someone to stop at a Stop sign on a lonely road is not a violation of the sovereignty over their own lives. But they do think that preventing them from distributing porn or drugs is a violation of their sovereignty. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    ***Just three reasons off the top of my head why the current wars are anti-libertarian.***

    But none of the things you listed are inherently anti-libertarian. If the war is one of self-defense, libertarians would have no problem forcing people to fund wars with which they disagree. Similarly, there is nothing inherently wrong, according to libertarianism, with killing civilians if they are using aggression against you. And it is certainly not inconsistent with libertarianism to send soldiers to occupy the property someone, either foreign or domestic, if the act is done to prevent aggression. 

    • http://fledgepress.com/ Edward Lee Macfall

      “If the war is one of self-defense, libertarians would have no problem forcing people to fund wars with which they disagree.”

      Oh yes we would. The forceful taking of someone else’s property is robbery, no matter who is doing it or for what reason.

      A civilian who picks up a rifle to defend his family against an invader is NOT an aggressor; he is using defensive force. This is true whether he lives in America or Iraq.

      Aggression is not permissible, even if it is supposed to prevent aggression. If I think you might one day shoot my dog, that doesn’t mean I can come into your house and keep a rifle trained on you to make sure you don’t do it. In theory, anyone could be an aggressor; and so there can be no limit on the just power of the government to send troops to wherever they want, kill whomever they want, at any time they want.

      A threat is a the exhibition of the means an intent to do harm. The so-called “insurgents” in Iraq and Afghanistan never posed a threat to any American until Americans with M16s started patrolling their streets, kicking in their doors and supporting corrupt regimes in their own countries.

      I’m not sure where you get these ideas of what is and is not consistent with libertarianism. Take it from someone who actually IS a libertarian – you really don’t know what you’re talking about. But you sure do have an impressive array of strawmen set up there.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

        ***Oh yes we would. The forceful taking of someone else’s property is robbery, no matter who is doing it or for what reason.***

        So does that mean that Ron Paul is not really a libertarian? He voted for the war in Afghanistan and seems to have no problem expecting people who oppose it to pay for it.

        ***Aggression is not permissible, even if it is supposed to prevent aggression. ****

        How do you square this with the principle of self-defense? If someone is threatening to pick up a gun and shoot you, at what point does it count as “aggression?” When he pulls the trigger?

        ***The so-called “insurgents” in Iraq and Afghanistan never posed a threat to any American ***

        So by your standard, Ron Paul is not a consistent libertarian then, right?

        ***I’m not sure where you get these ideas of what is and is not consistent with libertarianism. Take it from someone who actually IS a libertarian – you really don’t know what you’re talking about. But you sure do have an impressive array of strawmen set up there.***

        From Randy Barnett, a scholar on the libertarian theory of law (who is himself a libertarian).

        ——

        Other libertarians supported the war in Iraq because they viewed it as part of a larger war of self-defense against Islamic jihadists who were organizationally independent of any government. They viewed radical Islamic fundamentalism as resulting in part from the corrupt dictatorial regimes that inhabit the Middle East, which have effectively repressed indigenous democratic reformers. Although opposed to nation building generally, these libertarians believed that a strategy of fomenting democratic regimes in the Middle East, as was done in Germany and Japan after World War II, might well be the best way to take the fight to the enemy rather than solely trying to ward off the next attack.

        Moreover, the pro-war libertarians believed there was “legal” cause to take military action against Saddam’s regime–from its manifold violations of the ceasefire to firing on American planes legally patrolling the “no fly” zone and its persistent refusals to cooperate with weapons inspections. Saddam’s regime was left in power after its unprovoked invasion of Kuwait on these and other conditions that it repeatedly had violated, thereby legally justifying its removal by force if necessary. Better to be rid of Saddam and establish an ally in the war against Islamic jihadists in the heart of the Middle East, the argument goes, and then withdraw American troops.

        ——-

        Of course, despite his credential as a libertarian Barnett, like Ron Paul, must not be a *real* libertarian since they both supported preemptive wars.

  • http://tonyescobar.org/ Tony Escobar

    I don’t see how adapting Christian principles to libertarianism makes things any less Christian or libertarian. By me being a libertarian, does that mean I must believe everything the other libertarian next to me believes? I’m pretty sure I can be my “own” libertarian. For me, it’s simple: the purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, and property.

    I also think St. Paul’s comments (which you refer to a couple times in these comments, Rom 13:1-2) on governing authorities cannot be applied to every single authority out there (Communism?). The Church’s teachings are often understood best assuming everything is the way it should be. But everything is not always the way it should be (mankind is fallen).

  • http://twitter.com/jurisnaturalist Nathanael Snow

    My response, before reading the thread (I use Newton, Mill, Carlyle, Bonhoeffer, Wilberforce and others to make an illustration): 
    http://www.failuretorefrain.com/naturalaw/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=543&message=6

    Post-reading the thread:
    If you take Rothtards to be “libertarianism”, oh well.
    Romans 13 is pivotal.  I like Greg Boyd here.  The state exists.  We are not to overthrow it politically or through force, even if the state==Nero (which it did at the time).  We are to speak prophetically to it.  If we disobey conscientiously we must accept the full consequences without resistance.  This is one method of speaking prophetically.  Personal sacrifice is the usual cost.  This is in imitation of Christ.  All such action shows equal concern for the salvation of Nero as it does for other Christians.  It is completely unselfish.
    Unregenerate souls should behave however they want.  They might erect a state for themselves.  It might be a good-ish one.  Common Grace is very common indeed.  But it can never be good.  That is the task of the Christian.
    All social welfare type responsibilities belong to Christians only.  Long-run selfish altruism may motivate some unregenerate activity here, but it contains no virtue.
    The only legitimate collective is the Church.  Power enters into all other human relations, but mutual self-sacrifice is the working out of one’s baptism.  That power enters the church as well is a tragedy, but only regeneration makes baptism and legitimate collective action even a possibility.
    Hayek was sometimes a socialist, and sometimes an anarchist.  You can read both in the Constitution of Liberty.
    The use of the legislature by evangelicals generates coalitions which last beyond their purpose which morph into special interest groups and seek rents like the rest.  The state cannot be used for positive good or positive justice even by the most well intentioned.  The thing itself is the beast.
    Christian justice does not correct an injustice by creating another injustice, even if it is lesser by Kaldor-Hicks standards.  Through sacrifice Pareto Improvements are possible.
    Nathanael Snow

  • Anna Christa

    Libertarianism is compatible with any other philosophy or system that does not impose itself violently on others and only requires voluntary consent – christianity would be a perfect example. Furthermore, christianity is not only compatible with libertarianism, it is also based on the same basic principles like the NAP or the golden rule.

    The article mentions “communal obligations”. Communal obligations would create a tension with libertarianism only if the penalty for defying the obligation would infringe on the rights of the offender. However in christianity the worst punishment you can get is being ostracized by others – which is coincidentally the preferred punishment for non-violent infractions of “communal obligations” in libertarianism.

    So I don’t see any problem between christianity and libertarianism. In fact, I don’t understand how anyone could be a consistent christian and NOT be a libertarian (or a voluntaryist).

  • http://www.facebook.com/eddiegilchrist Eddie Gilchrist

    There are things to hammer out as in any philosophy.  However, to be someone who has studied the issue, the author is surprisingly bereft of understanding when it comes to where liberties come FROM.  Either they are RIGHTS from the God of the Bible, or they are …………”something else.”  My contention as a Christian is that those “something elses” are arbitrary, but that is another issue, as it is a demonstration of my position, not an assertion of it.

    It would be nice for the author to demonstrate that he has some idea of the root issues he is talking about, though, rather than running down the road two or three miles before stopping to take awareness of where he is and say “ok, let’s start here!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1101400 Akil Keepit Real

    @facebook-650435386:disqus, I don’t think @bf92e5889ec981b666613402dc4da66e:disqus was saying libertarians don’t believe people have communal obligations. The point is that libertarians believe that people should fulfill their moral obligations to one another voluntarily rather than being coerced into doing so by a domineering government–or being taxed in order for that government to do so itself. (As Shawn mentioned, the Bible proclaims nothing that suggests a central role for the state in the fulfillment of communal obligations.)

    There is no insurmountable tension between individual freedom and social solidarity; it’s just that the solidarity ought to be voluntary rather than coerced. While there many be areas of tension between Christianity and libertarianism, I don’t think this is one of them.

  • Guest

    I am baffled. I know a great deal of (“type 1″) christian libertarians. Meeting many of them was the highlight of Acton University. Are you new or something?

  • RogerMcKinney

    Several people have commented on the issue of “communal obligations” and I agree completely. No where does libertarianism deny communal obligations. All libertarianism does is prevent the state from putting a gun to our heads and forcing us to meet some bitter bureaucrat’s ideas about communal obligations.

    Every libertarian has the right of association and the moral duty to fulfill communal obligations as he sees fit without the state telling him what those obligations are.

    Joe seems to be doing battle with a straw man version of libertarianism. 

  • ppeter

    The problem with this article is that it simply denies the existence of something that does in fact exist by defining it away. It would be better to engage the really existing proponents of an idea rather than simply annihilating them in your mind.
    You seem to suppose that if Christians as Christians usually see the limitations of libertarianism, then they are not really libertarians. Christians may be libertarians, because of the real abject corruption, from a consistent Christian perspective, of all other political ideologies in the real world.

  • http://www.remnantculture.com/ Remnant Culture

    Thanks for the post, Joe. A few points, given my many interactions with Christian libertarians:
     
    1. The movement is so incredibly diverse, and I’m talking the movement of Type 1s (they are not as rare as you assume). One of the challenges in this type of discussion is that there are many different types of libertarians out there. This is, I think, largely due to that whole Internet popularization thing you spoke to. You’ve got the folks who like Milton Friedman, and those who think he is the devil because he collaborated with Reagan/Republicans and was, um, kinda sorta practical and effective. Likewise, you’ve got the folks who love Hayek, and those who think Hayek was a statist because they actually know what Hayek thought about safety nets, etc. (whoops!). And then you’ve got those who like Murray Rothbard, who don’t really like anyone else outside of Mises, Tom Woods and Ron Paul. Then you’ve got the Randians, who are not likely to attach “Christian” to anything (so just forget I even mentioned them). I think each of these types have all made their own distinct efforts toward synthesis with Christianity, and each have varied in degrees when it comes to success. For me, the most difficult brand to reconcile seems to be the Rothbardian one, which, ironically, also seems to have one of the more robust attempts to reconcile the two. (see Norman Horn & ChristianLibertarians.com for a hub of sorts—Jeffrey Tucker of the Mises Institute, a Catholic, has also made some efforts in this direction)

    2. When it comes to the Rothbardian brand, the biggest oddity I find is their aggressive push toward Ron Paul’s whole “Golden Rule” in foreign policy shtick. The same libertarians who rush to say that Jesus had nothing to say about government intervention in economics are eager to argue that he had *everything* to say about the U.S. government’s foreign policy. This is a major, major problem, in my view, and even Two Kingdoms won’t save them.

    3. The biggest differentiator, I think, between all these types of libertarians and real Christianity likely has to do with more subtle, non-governmental beliefs about non-aggression and authority. Many Christian libertarians think we should leave people alone, regardless (and government aside), arguing nobody should be able to tell anybody anything (not churches, not mothers/fathers, not friends, etc.). Some people think individuals and/or governments should let people destroy themselves, period. This plays out in more complex ways and disguised ways, but I’ve found some “Christian libertarians” who are open to such obligations and some who are not. Many of those who are not, and are opposed to such obligations/submission, seem to be alive and well in this thread, and they are proving your point. I do, however, think the other kind exists and there can be a possible synthesis. Jennifer Roback Morse’s book Love & Economics gets closest to this in a theoretical way (religion aside), which she sells as a new approach libertarianism. That said, when I read it, I read “conservatism,” which might prove
    Type 4 in some fashion.

    4. For me, a more general, abstract inconsistency between the two has to do with conservatism’s skepticism toward change and elevation of eternal truths and human experience, and libertarianism’s blind disregard of social mores, government institutions, social obligations, etc. This area connects with Christianity in more general, abstract ways, but I think there is some sort of disconnect when it comes to general beliefs about how we arrive at truth, how we should arrive at truth, and how we should respond to truth once we have a tiny little hunch that we might just have arrived at something close to it.

  • Pingback: Complaining to Mary: Should Christian Libertarians Defend Blackmail? | @ActonInstitute PowerBlog

  • RogerMcKinney

    Here are relevant excerpts from Hayek’s “Why I am not a Conservative” written in 1960:

    This fear of trusting uncontrolled social forces is closely related to two other characteristics of conservatism: its fondness for authority and its lack of understanding of economic forces. Since it distrusts both abstract theories and general principles,[6] it neither understands those spontaneous forces on which a policy of freedom relies nor possesses a basis for formulating principles of policy. Order appears to the conservative as the result of the continuous attention of authority, which, for this purpose, must be allowed to do what is required by the particular circumstances and not be tied to rigid rule. A commitment to principles presupposes an understanding of the general forces by which the efforts of society are co-ordinated, but it is such a theory of society and especially of the economic mechanism that conservatism conspicuously lacks. So unproductive has conservatism been in producing a general conception of how a social order is maintained that its modern votaries, in trying to construct a theoretical foundation, invariably find themselves appealing almost exclusively to authors who regarded themselves as liberal. Macaulay, Tocqueville, Lord Acton, and Lecky certainly considered themselves liberals, and with justice; and even Edmund Burke remained an Old Whig to the end and would have shuddered at the thought of being regarded as a Tory.

    6. Cf. the revealing self-description of a conservative in K. Feiling, Sketches in Nineteenth Century Biography (London, 1930), p. 174: “Taken in bulk, the Right have a horror of ideas, for is not the practical man, in Disraeli’s words, ‘one who practices the blunders of his predecessors’? For long tracts of their history they have indiscriminately resisted improvement, and in claiming to reverence their ancestors often reduce opinion to aged individual prejudice. Their position becomes safer, but more complex, when we add that this Right wing is incessantly overtaking the Left; that it lives by repeated inoculation of liberal ideas, and thus suffers from a never-perfected state of compromise.”

    In general, it can probably be said that the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not to be too much restricted by rigid rules. Since he is essentially opportunist and lacks principles, his main hope must be that the wise and the good will rule – not merely by example, as we all must wish, but by authority given to them and enforced by them.[7] Like the socialist, he is less concerned with the problem of how the powers of government should be limited than with that of who wields them; and, like the socialist, he regards himself as entitled to force the value he holds on other people.

    What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force.

    Ihave little doubt that some of my conservative friends will be shocked by what they will regard as “concessions” to modern views that I have made in Part III of this book. But, though I may dislike some of the measures concerned as much as they do and might vote against them, I know of no general principles to which I could appeal to persuade those of a different view that those measures are not permissible in the general kind of society which we both desire. To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one’s concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.

    But, from its point of view rightly, conservatism fears new ideas because it has no distinctive principles of its own to oppose them; and, by its distrust of theory and its lack of imagination concerning anything except that which experience has already proved, it deprives itself of the weapons needed in the struggle of ideas. Unlike liberalism, with its fundamental belief in the long-range power of ideas, conservatism is bound by the stock of ideas inherited at a given time. And since it does not really believe in the power of argument, its last resort is generally a claim to superior wisdom, based on some self-arrogated superior quality.

    If liberalism still meant what it meant to an English historian who in 1827 could speak of the revolution of 1688 as “the triumph of those principles which in the language of the present day are denominated liberal or constitutional” [13] or if one could still, with Lord Acton, speak of Burke, Macaulay, and Gladstone as the three greatest liberals, or if one could still, with Harold Laske, regard Tocqueville and Lord Acton as “the essential liberals of the nineteenth century,”[14] I should indeed be only too proud to describe myself by that name. But, much as I am tempted to call their liberalism true liberalism, I must recognize that the majority of Continental liberals stood for ideas to which these men were strongly opposed, and that they were led more by a desire to impose upon the world a preconceived rational pattern than to provide opportunity for free growth. The same is largely true of what has called itself Liberalism in England at least since the time of Lloyd George.

    It was the ideals of the English Whigs that inspired what later came to be known as the liberal movement in the whole of Europe[15] and that provided the conceptions that the American colonists carried with them and which guided them in their struggle for independence and in the establishment of their constitution.[16] Indeed, until the character of this tradition was altered by the accretions due to the French Revolution, with its totalitarian democracy and socialist leanings, “Whig” was the name by which the party of liberty was generally known.

    But it is still true that, since liberalism took the place of Whiggism only after the movement for liberty had absorbed the crude and militant rationalism of the French Revolution, and since our task must largely be to free that tradition from the overrationalistic, nationalistic, and socialistic influences which have intruded into it, Whiggism is historically the correct name for the ideas in which I believe. The more I learn about the evolution of ideas, the more I have become aware that I am simply an unrepentant Old Whig – with the stress on the “old.”

    the most infamous of men, the notion of a higher law above municipal codes, with which Whiggism began, is the supreme achievement of Englishmen and their bequest to the nation”[17] – and, we may add, to the world. It is the doctrine which is at the basis of the common tradition of the Anglo-Saxon countries. It is the doctrine from which Continental liberalism took what is valuable in it. It is the doctrine on which the American system of government is based. In its pure form it is represented in the United States, not by the radicalism of Jefferson, nor by the conservatism of Hamilton or even of John Adams, but by the ideas of James Madison, the “father of the Constitution.”

    In the United States, where it has become almost impossible to use “liberal” in the sense in which I have used it, the term “libertarian” has been used instead. It may be the answer; but for my part I find it singularly unattractive. For my taste it carries too much the flavor of a manufactured term and of a substitute.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Haley/100001416724883 Robert Haley

      I read that essay about every other month.

  • Dry Creek Boy

    I think you leave out an important possibility. The Christian *tactical* libertarian, or libertarian from below. That is, one might be a Christian and favor a libertarian, or mostly libertarian framework for reasons of prudence in a classical sense. Libertarianism in this view provides a good or even the best strategy for perserving or promoting particular goods, individually and collectively, the Christian is already committed to.

  • Teetsel32738

    samantics

  • RogerMcKinney

    A common thread runs through the comments: most people object to Joe’s portrayal of libertarianism. Joe claims he is using the term according to its common usage. I disagree that his definition is the commonly used one, but for the sake of argument let’s say it is.

    In that case, the common usage contradicts what the majority of libertarians think. It might correctly portray leftist libertarians or other small fringe groups. But that raises the question: is it honest to portray a group by its fringe adherents?

    If libertarians don’t hold to the ideas that the common usage attributes to them, then isn’t the common usage dishonest?

    Most of the objections to Joe’s post would disappear if Joe would simply use the libertarian definition of libertarian and not the definition invented by the enemies of liberty. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

      ***Most of the objections to Joe’s post would disappear if Joe would simply use the libertarian definition of libertarian and not the definition invented by the enemies of liberty. ***

      How about we look at some of the definitions of libertarian according to the common usage and then you can show me where I’m in error. 

      From the Libertarian Party platform:

      —-

      We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

      —–

      From the Standford Dictionary of Philosophy: 

      —-

      Libertarianism is sometimes identified with the principle that each agent has a right to maximum equal empirical negative liberty, where empirical negative liberty is the absence of forcible interference from other agents when one attempts to do things.

      [. . .]

      Libertarianism is often thought of as “right-wing” doctrine. This, however, is mistaken for at least two reasons. First, on social—rather than economic—issues, libertarianism tends to be “left-wing”. It opposes laws that restrict consensual and private sexual relationships between adults (e.g., gay sex, extra-marital sex, and deviant sex), laws that restrict drug use, laws that impose religious views or practices on individuals, and compulsory military service. Second, in addition to the better-known version of libertarianism—right-libertarianism—there is also a version known as “left-libertarianism”. 

      —-

      Tibor R. Machan from the Hoover Institute: 

      —–

      Let me first state the most basic tenets of libertarianism. If these are wrong, then so is libertarianism:
      1. Adult human beings (and children derivatively and with proper adjustments) are sovereign over their lives, actions, and belongings. They have rights, among others, to life, liberty, and property.
      2. Human beings have the responsibility in their communities to respect and act in recognition of this fact when dealing with others.
      3. Human beings ought to develop institutions that ensure the protection of their sovereignty, delegating the required powers to agents (governments or the equivalent) for that purpose.
      4. Such delegation of powers must occur without the violation of sovereignty or individual rights.
      5. The agencies to which the power of protecting rights is delegated must exercise this power for the sole purpose of protecting those rights.
      6. All concerns, including the protection of individual rights, must be acted on by members of communities without violating those rights.

      —-

      • RogerMcKinney

         I have no problem with these definitions. I do have a problem with how you interpret them, as do most people who have posted in response to your article. Can you not see the difference?

        For example, the Libertarian Party definition does not include libertinism, nor does it exclude libertarians voluntarily joining churches and civic organizations or having families.

        The Standford Dictionary of Philosophy definition doesn’t mention the rule of law. All libertarians in all times have accepted the limits on their behavior spelled out in the natural law. There never has been a libertarian who did not insist on the rule of law.

        I doubt anyone who has posted on this article would disagree with Machan’s concept of libertarianism. So why do you think there is so much objection to your article? And out of these definitions of libertarian, what do you find that contradicts anything Christian?

        • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

          ***For example, the Libertarian Party definition does not include libertinism***

          Actually, it does: “have the right to live in whatever manner they choose”

          But you are right about the problem of interpretation. The basis of libertarianism is, as the definition I provide show, that people “have the right to live in whatever manner they choose.” I don’t think most of the commenters here have really considered the implication of that idea. Should pornographers be able to stand on the street corner and display their wares? Yep, saith the consistent libertarian, since have “have the right to live in whatever manner they choose”, the government shouldn’t interfere. Should drug dealer be able to stand on the street corner and sell their crack cocaine? Yep, saith the consistent libertarian, since have “have the right to live in whatever manner they choose”, the government shouldn’t interfere. 

          The idea that the government doesn’t have a right to interfere in such activities has no basis in scripture. it may be that scripture does not *require* us to make such laws forbidding such activity. But I’m not sure why anyone thinks that would be a preferable for such activities to be allowed. I don’t understand why a rigid allegiance to a political ideology should trump commonsense protections of the common good. 

          • RogerMcKinney

            “The idea that the government doesn’t have a right to interfere in such activities has no basis in scripture.”

            I disagree completely! Take the example of drunkenness in the place of drug use. Does the Bible say the state should outlaw the sale of alcohol, which is a drug as much as crack or cocaine?

            The Bible warns against drunkenness, but no where in the Mosaic law or anywhere else in the Bible does the Bible suggest using the state to enforce its admonitions against drunkenness.

            At the same time, look at the effectiveness of such laws. They encourage drug use; they have never in any part of history prevented such use. Drug use today is far worse than when Nixon declared his war on drugs. All the evidence points to laws prohibiting drug use as promoters of such use.

            If you are for laws prohibiting drug use, then by the evidence you must be for greater use of crack and cocaine.

            Laws prohibiting drug use follow the principle of the Baptists and bootleggers. Baptists oppose drinking on moral grounds and used the state to enforce their personal morality. Bootleggers support the Baptists because it cuts down on the competition and earns them greater profits.

            Illegal drugs ensures that drug dealers earn exorbitant profits, which encourage dealers to sell more and give away free crack and meth to get weak people hooked. If legalized, the profits would disappear and criminals would have to find another line of work.

            But legal drugs would not increase drug use except by a tiny amount because studies have shown that drug use is highly inelastic to price.

            I guess conservatives haven’t learned a thing from the massive failure of prohibition.

            That’s the problem with conservatives: they know no history and have no philosophy to guide them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

            ***At the same time, look at the effectiveness of such laws. They encourage drug use; they have never in any part of history prevented such use. Drug use today is far worse than when Nixon declared his war on drugs. All the evidence points to laws prohibiting drug use as promoters of such use.*** 

            Good grief, that’s not even close to being true. See: http://www.rwjf.org/files/publications/other/SubstanceAbuseChartbook.pdfThe rate of illicit drug use is less than half what it was during the Nixon administration. 

            You should really check the actual facts rather than relying on left-libertarian propaganda.

          • RogerMcKinney

             The report doesn’t say that at all. Apparently conservatives can’t read.

            The report says “In general, the use of any illicit drug decreased among most segments of the population during the 1980’s and has remained fairly stable for those age 18 and older in the 1990s…Cocaine use peaked in the mid-1980s, and heroin use increased in the 1990s. Methamphetamine and hallucinogen use also increased in the 1990s.”

            “Illicit drug use – particularly marijuana use – rose among youth in grades 8, 10 and 12 from the early 1990s to the mid-1990s, although rates have since declined from these recent peak levels. A notable exception is the rencent sharp increase in ecstasy use among teens.”

            The chart in the report shows declining use of cocaine and marijuana, but recent studies show that the decline in those drugs was caused by falling prices. Abundunt supplies caused prices to fall so low that dealers couldn’t make a profit that matched the risks, so they switched to pushing other drugs. In place of marijuana and cocaine, druggies switched to meth, crack, heorine and prescription drugs. In other words, profits drive the drug trade.

            US demand for drugs didn’t tear apart Mexico in the 1990s. It is tearing apart that nation today. And the costs of fighting that war are bankrupting the nation. Is that progress?

    • http://www.jordanballor.com/ Jordan Ballor

      I’m not sure you can validly extrapolate from the comments in this thread and on that basis assume they represent what the majority of libertarians think.

      Who gets to define “libertarian”? Why not each individual libertarian?

      • Roger McKinney

         As I wrote below, there are web sites and many books on libertarianism, all of which hold common principles. Joe provides many of them below.

        In addition, libertarian thought has a long pedigree going back to the School of Salamanca in the 16th century. The core principles haven’t changed. The application of those principles might vary over time and across individuals.

        Christianity contains core fundamentals that haven’t changed over 2,000 years. People can adhere to those fundamentals and disagree on non-fundamentals and still be considered Christian.

        In the same way libertarian thought has core principles that haven’t changed in 500 years.

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  • RogerMcKinney

    Here is a big reason for not having the state promote small and medium size businesses:

    “it is not so much small firms that drive growth and job creation so much as small and young firms on their way to becoming much larger. Where small firms are most common, as around Europe’s southern periphery, their prevalence is sign of uncompetitive markets and low productivity.”
    http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/central/

    Conservatives have a bag of tricks they promote as being obviously part of the common good, such as discouraging drug use, promoting entrepreneurship and small/medium business. Since they think those tricks are obviously common goods, they want to employ the power of the state to promote them.

    Libertarians understand that what is an obvious common good when provided privately by free people can become an evil and a tyranny when enforced by the state. The laws of unintended consequences, paradoxical intention, public choice (Buchanan) convert good intentions into evil consequences. 

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  • Mr. Magan

    I can’t read all the comments but I feel I am not in the minority in saying that the first four points you make are absolute garbage. Just because there are few people who do not know what they mean by saying Christian Libertarian should not reflect poorly on the many that do. Imagine if you used that argument against Christians in general it would be hard for me to call myself a Christian if I had to be responsible for all those people who want burn homosexuals or kill muslims or something else completely un-biblical.

    Your point about a communal obligations is so absolutely absurd it is almost pointless to respond. However, I hope that you will see the error in your judgement and stop trying to discourage the most consistent Christian world view in your, generally speaking, uniformed blog posts.

    The communal obilgation comes from God just as the option for accepting Gods grace neither should be forced on you by the state also not by Church. The Church is there to spread the good news and help people grow in there faith not beat them over the head with the Bible to accept God and give people their money. That is something personal between you and God. I give back to my church in my time and tithes, to charity and to my friends and coworkers because I have grace of God and I feel that it is the least I can do in reverence to him. Does that mean I am perfect? No. Does that mean that I can work my way in to heave? No. Does that mean that I would legislate this or have my church force people to do it? Most unequivocal no.

    I hope that no one ignores Christian Libertarianism simply because of your own ignorance of its most fundemental principles.

  • Libertarian73

    I hear a lot of arguing going on about technical details here. I am a Christian Libertarian. Being a fiscal conservative, there is no dispute there between Christian conservative people and me.

    My social views are more liberal, but instead of explaining each one to you I can sum it up by saying that people should have the freedom to make personal decisions. That’s really the end of it for me. The Bible says we have a will to decide, i.e. a choice, and that should not be interfered with. I am not pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage PERSONALLY, but I am 100% behind everyone being able to make those decisions without the government making rules and policies about those sorts of things. Each individual should be allowed to make up their own mind about these things, and as a Christian you must be tolerant and fair.

  • Carlos Vega

    Part 1

    Joe Carter. I’ve never visited your site before but God sent me here. The real question is:

    How can someone claim to be Christian and NOT be Libertarian?
    For let us see what the Bible says:

    Everyone has the right to LIBERTY:
    *******
    Galatians 5:13 – New LivingTranslation (NLT)

    13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use
    your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve
    one another in love.

    Galatians 5:1 – New International Version 1984

    1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand
    firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

    Galatians 5:1 – New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

    5 1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm,
    therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

    (GOD IS THE GOD OF LIBERTY:)

    2 Corinthians 3:17 – New Living Translation (NLT)

    17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

    James 1:25 – Common English Bible (CEB)

    25 But there are those who study the
    perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but

    they put it into
    practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.

    Galatians 13 -14
    13You, my brothers, were
    called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature[a]; rather, serve one

    another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command:
    “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Proverbs 19:3 – New
    Living Translation (NLT)

    3 People ruin their lives by
    their own foolishness
    and then are angry at the Lord.

    1 John 4:7-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

    7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.
    Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not
    love does not know God, for God is love.

    Matthew 7:12
    New International Version (NIV)

    12 So in everything, do
    to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the
    Prophets.

    Tobit 4:15 – (Deuterocanonical)
    Good News Translation (GNT)

    15 Never do to anyone else anything that you
    would not want someone to do to you.
    ******

    Love, the Golden Rule, is the core and measuring rod of if one knows God (including Jesus) or not

    and LOVE REQUIRES FREEDOM. Scripture makes this plain and it is self-evident that God gives us

    all freedom, as seen from the power to affect/direct our thoughts/our movements/ourselves, from

    birth. God being Love gives us freedom and absolute authority under Him to choose Him or not, to

    choose and make any decisions we want. But if we choose to draw away from Him who is Life and

    Love and mess up our own lives then we can blame noone else but ourselves (though others

    decisions can affect us) and He will repeatedly try to convince us to choose Love and thus Him.

    GOD is the GOD OF LIBERTY.

    Everyone has the right to OWN THEMSELVES AND THEIR PROPERTY:
    #####
    Micah 4:9 –

    Common English Bible (CEB)

    9 Now why do you cry out so loudly?
    Isn’t the king in you?
    Or has your counselor perished,
    so that pain has seized you like that of a woman in labor?

    (You are a KING over yourself, not others)

    New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

    9 Now why do you cry aloud?
    Is there no king in you?
    Has your counselor perished,
    that pangs have seized you like a woman in labor?

    21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

    9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud?
    Is there no king in thee? Is thy counselor
    perished? For pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.

    Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

    9 Now, why art thou drawn together with grief? Hast thou no king in thee,
    or is thy counsellor perished, because sorrow hath taken thee as a woman in
    labour?

    Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

    9 Now, why dost thou shout aloud? A king — is there none in thee? Hath thy counsellor
    perished, That taken hold of thee hath pain as a travailing woman?

    Psalms 8:3-9 – New
    Living Translation (NLT)

    3 When I look at the night sky
    and see the work of your fingers—
    the
    moon and the stars you set in place—

    4 what are mere mortals that you should think
    about them,
    human
    beings that you should care for them?[c]

    5 Yet you made them only a little lower than
    God and

    crowned them with glory and honor.

    6 You gave them charge of everything you made,
    putting
    all things under their authority—

    7 the flocks and the herds
    and
    all the wild animals,

    8 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
    and
    everything that swims the ocean currents.

    9 O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

    Genesis 1:26-27 – New
    Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

    26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind[a] in our image, according to our likeness;
    and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the
    air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,[b] and over every creeping

    thing that creeps
    upon the earth.”

    27 So God created humankind[c] in his image,

    in the image of God he created them;

    male and female he created them.

    Exodus 20:15 – New International Version 1984
    15 “You shall not steal.

    Exodus 20:17 – New International Version 1984
    17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not
    covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or
    anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

    (note: covet does not mean “desire”, it means “desire to steal”)

    (all the 10 commandments are basically speaking against different forms of stealing: life, wife,

    vows/contracts/word, property, credit, truth (fraud), and even the desire/thought to steal)

    Matthew 20:1-16 – NewInternational Version (NIV)

    The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

    20 “For the
    kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire
    workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay
    them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his
    vineyard.

    3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw
    others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4
    He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you
    whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

    “He went out again about noon and about three in the
    afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About
    five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He
    asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

    7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

    “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

    8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard
    said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with
    the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

    9 “The workers who were hired about five in the
    afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So
    when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each
    one of them also received a denarius. 11 When
    they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last

    worked only one hour,’ they
    said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work
    and the heat of the day.’

    13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being
    unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want

    to give the one who was hired
    last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have
    the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am
    generous?’

    16 “So the last will be first, and the first will
    be last.”

    (Full authority over oneself’s own property, contracts are to be upheld and responsibility for

    good agreement is your own)

    Acts 5:1-4 – New Living Translation (NLT)

    5 But
    there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some
    property. 2 He brought part of the
    money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s
    consent, he kept the rest.

    3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you
    let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of
    the money for yourself. 4 The property
    was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money
    was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t
    lying to us but to God!”

    ############

    Everyone has a right to LIFE, including SELF DEFENSE and MEANS OF SUCH LIKE WEAPONS:
    ————————
    Exodus 20:13 – New International Version 1984
    13 “You shall not murder.

    (You shall not STEAL LIFE)

    Genesis 9:6 – New International
    Version (NIV)

    6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
    by humans shall their blood be shed;

    for in the image of God

    has God made mankind.

    The Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin. 1994. The Schottenstein Edition. New York: Mesorah publications.

    Vol. 2, 72a.
    “If someone comes to kill you,

    arise quickly and kill him.”

    Exodus 22:2 – New Living Translation
    (NLT)

    2 [a]“If a thief is caught in the act of breaking
    into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the
    thief is not guilty of murder.

    Luke 22:35-38 New Century Version (NCV)

    Be Ready for
    Trouble

    35 Then Jesus said to the apostles, “When I sent you out without a purse, a bag, or sandals, did

    you need
    anything?”

    They said, “No.”

    36 He said to them, “But
    now if you have a purse or a bag, carry that with you. If you don’t have a
    sword, sell your coat and buy one. 37 The Scripture says, ‘He
    was treated like a criminal,’[a] and I tell you this scripture must have its
    full meaning. It was written about me, and it is happening now.”

    38 His followers said, “Look, Lord, here
    are two swords.”

    He said to them, “That is enough.”

    (Replace swords with guns for modern times)

    New Living Translation (NLT)

    35 Then
    Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out to preach
    the Good News and you did not have money, a traveler’s bag, or an extra pair of
    sandals, did you need anything?”

    “No,” they replied.

    36 “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s
    bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! 37 For the time has come for
    this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’[d] Yes, everything

    written about me by the
    prophets will come true.”

    38 “Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two
    swords among us.”

    “That’s enough,” he said.

    (Note: Those against God’s people sought to disarm them in 1 Samuel 13:19-22 New Living
    Translation (NLT): 19 There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days. The

    Philistines wouldn’t allow them for
    fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews. 20 So whenever the Israelites needed to

    sharpen
    their plowshares, picks, axes, or sickles,[a] they had to take them to a Philistine
    blacksmith. 21 (The charges were as follows: a quarter of an ounce of silver[b] for sharpening a

    plowshare or a pick, and
    an eighth of an ounce[c] for sharpening an ax, a sickle, or an ox goad.) 22 So on the day of the

    battle
    none of the people of Israel had a sword or spear, except for Saul andJonathan.)

    Esther 8:11 – New Living Translation (NLT)

    11 The king’s decree gave the Jews in every
    city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill,
    slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might
    attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their
    enemies.

    (The Jews didn’t merely look to law enforcement for
    salvation but took their defense into their own hands.)

    ————

    So given what the Bible says, there cannot be a Christian who does not follow the same principles

    Libertarianism follows as Libertarianism is a direct consequence of the Golden Rule especially

    made clear in Tobit 4:15. You would not want anyone taking away your freedom thus you must allow

    others their freedom. To take away anyone’s life, liberty or property would not be something you

    would have done to you and to do it to others would violate the Golden Rule and thus Love, which

    is Agape Love if you see the Greek Text – (does not require feeling, basically help others +

    self, but more important avoid harming anyone).

    Remember again, calling oneself a Christian does not make one a Christian much less knowing God.

    One knows God and is a child of God if one meets the below criteria, not what one calls oneself:

    1 John 4:7-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

    7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.
    Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not
    love does not know God, for God is love.

    I also utterly reject the idea that a Christian (in truth, not name) is Collectivist. God utterly

    abhors Collectivism in Scripture though one does need some Bible knowledge to understand many of

    these passages clearly (like God made us each different as the image of God on stamped on humans

    is uniqueness/individual and precious so stones being each unique represent us [keystone Jesus],

    but manmade creations by governments be it bricks or stamped coins of Caesar are all the same and

    they would like to see us bricks). But from Genesis to Revelation it is condemned. If sincerely

    interested watch these where they speak on The Tower of Babel (the first try at Collectivism and

    One World Government):

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ueiy4ACmjbE
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1GpFYx8awM
    3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfXe_K_gLIM