Liberty and license
Acton Institute Powerblog

Liberty and license

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.