Similarities Between Christianity and Libertarianism

Madeleine's picture
Submitted by Madeleine on Fri, 2008-10-24 04:56

This was taken from a blog entry on MandM here.

I am clearly in the small 'l' libertarian camp. Does that mean I can be both Christian and libertarian? Well not if my approach to the role of the state is to simply hold the single absolute principle "that nobody should initiate force against another." However, yes if the outworking of what I do hold puts me closest to the libertarian perspective than any other position.

As a Christian I find the non-initiation of force principle to have no basis in divine or natural law. However, something close to is definitely there and I believe that it is the closest secular position to the correct application of Christianity to the role of state for the following reasons.

Scripture teaches that it is wrong to kill an innocent human being. This prohibition on killing can plausibly be extended to a prohibition against violence and force in general. This is the heart of traditional Christian positions on war, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc. The idea is that the state can use retributive force against guilty people but it can never threaten the life, liberty and property of an innocent person unless they engage in unjustified aggression against another. In both situations there are important limits further still, for example, retributive force can only be used by a lawful authority after a impartial trial has found the person guilty the force must be proportionate to the offence and cruel and degrading punishments are illicit. Similarly, with defensive force. It can be used only when it is necessary to stop the aggression and again the force used must be proportionate to the perceived threat.

A government that limited its use of force to these functions and only taxed its citizens to ensure that these functions were carried out would be severely limited and would look like no current government anywhere, yet this is the Biblical picture and you can see that it does look a lot like the libertarian non-initiation of force principle (and nothing like the strawman-caricature that Rand paints in her books).

The key passage on the role of the state is Romans 13:1-7:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been stablished by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

This passage spells out the reasons why we are required to obey the government and why we are required to pay taxes. Paul states that governments act as God's agent, that is on his behalf, to perform a specific function, namely, to punish wrong-doing. Paul emphatically states that the state does not bear the sword, have the power to use force, for nothing but to act as an agent of retributive punishment. It is because it is an agent of God in carrying out this function that it can legitimately demand obedience and financial support. Nothing in this passage provides any basis for claiming that a government that did other things apart from these basic functions and used force to back it up would be acting as God's agent (in fact the opposite is suggested in 1 Samuel 8:10-22 - any government that taxes its people more than 10% and undertakes functions outside its legitimate mandate is corrupt). If a government steps outside this mandate then it is acting unjustly. The passage states that the government is God's servant, it is under God and therefore subject to the same laws as its people. In Revelation, written in the latter part as opposed to the earlier part of Nero's reign, the same ruler is no longer described at God's servant but as Satan incarnate because he sought to be God, he stepped outside the mandate of legitimate government.

In summation, if you are a Christian you should either be a libertarian or a classical liberal. You might end up as a conservative if you throw some pragmatism in but if you end up as a centrist or left wing you have failed to understand Scripture, you are placing government in the role of God.

One of the biggest problems New Zealand faces is the same the world over and was the same at the time of Samuel; the people want a government in the place of God, they want the government to provide welfare, health, education, families commissions, art, television (well maybe not that one at the time of Samuel but you get the picture). It feels and seems easier if we don't have to take our responsibility to love our neighbour personally.

Biblically speaking, the state's role essentially boils down to law, order, justice and defence. Do we then get to forget about all the rest? No.

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

This means that looking out for others is our responsibility but, contrary to the picture Rand paints, this is strictly qualified. We do not have an obligation to give to everyone who has their hand out. If their own choices and refusal to help themselves has led them to the dire situation they find themselves in then unless they are prepared to get off their buts and help themselves and learn from their mistakes we owe them no charity. If people refuse to help themselves then we are justified in not helping them. The scriptures are full of examples, if people refuse to work then they don't get to eat (2 Thess 3:10), you left the corners of your crops un-gathered so the poor could come and work and feed themselves - you did not hand them the fruit of your day's labour while they sunned themselves all day, they had to work for it (Deut 24:19-22), families had to take responsibility for their own, the needy only receive private assistance if they could not work and had no family who would provide for them and were not idle people (1 Tim 5), etc.

So in summation, libertarianism is the closest secular worldview to Christianity. Libertarians essentially secularise the Christian idea that individual human beings are made in the image of God and as such have a dignity that transcends that of the collective. They take the idea of a natural/divine law which binds people objectively regardless of what the individual collective subjectively think and they place the state under that law. We have more in common that one might think (though most of you are inconsistent in applying the initiation of force against the foetus).


( categories: )

Guilty of Mockery, Not Guilty of Cursing

jriggenbach's picture

"I didn't define anarchists the way Riggenba'ath defines anarchists, nor probably the way Billy Beck defines them.
Notice that this grumpy troll never explicitly states what anarchism is
. . ."

Actually, for those who can read, I did. An anarchist is one who believes that all human social relations should be voluntary and that the State should therefore be abolished.

". . . nor why the Oxford English Dictionary got it wrong too."

Because dictionaries tell us how words are used by most speakers and writers of a given language. And most speakers and writers of any given language know about as much about political philosophy as you do - which is to say, nothing at all. Thus, they tend to use terms from that discipline very loosely and imprecisely, just as you do.

"Thank you for narrating Economics in One Lesson, it's a welcome diversion during my 1.5 hour commute to work."

You're quite welcome, Robert. (You do know that was an ungrammatical sentence, don't you? That sentence in which you thanked me?)

"It's also probably the first time you've ever addressed me without cursing me... I bet you regret missing that opportunity."

So far as I can recall, I've never cursed you. I've demeaned you, ridiculed you, mocked you, etc., etc., etc. But I don't believe I've ever cursed you. Check the record.

JR

Atlas Shrugged been read by 8.1% of Americans

HWH's picture

Had to plonk this somewhere, and where better than here?

Considering only 8.1% have read it, it's doing a damned fine job having become the "de facto" set of ideas being quoted by all those promoting individual freedom, and opposing statism.

 

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

And welcome to Mr. Flannagan

mvardoulis's picture

...just realized he's only been around SOLO little more than a week... with a name like "Flannagan" I'd almost think he's located in Ireland rather than New Zealand... though according to Reed's guess he is now a resident of New Jerusalem instead, leaving us behind to face the Obamanation.., er, Abomination in the last days, etc.

Welcome, wherever ya ahre, good suur...! Eye

Reed

Kasper's picture

oh no... You mean we were left here. That means......

Kasper - M & M appear to

reed's picture

Kasper -
M & M appear to have been raptured. I'm still here but this discussion is a mile wide and an inch deep.

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Hello!!!!!!!!

Kasper's picture

Have the christians piked?

And Olivia...

mvardoulis's picture

...you are about as far from senility as I am from sobriety... Eye

Madeleine

mvardoulis's picture

In case no one has said it, WELCOME TO SOLO, and to (either small or large 'l') libertarianism. Christians can be (l)Libertarians, and even Objectivist-friendly to an extent. One of the more prolific US "Christian" Libertarians from the 1990's was Jacob Hornberger www.fff.org/aboutUs/bios/jgh.asp - Cached who is still active as founder of the Future of Freedom Foundation. Many North American Objectivists take issue with (l)Libertarians for a variety of reasons, but I am not one of them. Your post raises a lot of really interesting points which I would like to address but haven't the time right now, so I thought I'd at least toss this up for now. Smiling

Ok...

Olivia's picture

and I'm getting senile.

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

deleted

Olivia's picture

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Giuseppe...

Olivia's picture

you are getting so bossy in your old age! Eye

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Guys

Kasper's picture

There is another thread dedicated to anarchism. Lets keep this thread on christianity and Libertarianism.

You know it's Halloween

Robert's picture

when Jeff Riggenbach rises from his crypt and starts swinging his intellectual pen knife around. And as usual his most cutting remarks barely break the skin.

So what have we learned from this latest Riggenbark SOLO Sortie:

(1) I made a typo. [Off with his head! - JR]
(2) I didn't define anarchists the way Riggenba'ath defines anarchists, nor probably the way Billy Beck defines them.
Notice that this grumpy troll never explicitly states what anarchism is (in his opinion) nor why the Oxford English Dictionary got it wrong too.

(3) I generalized when I referred to Libertarians. So I apologize by not opening that sentence with the word some.

Interesting that Riggenbatty damns every member of SOLO based the opinion of one individual. An over generalization of his own I think. One might even detect a whiff of collectivism there. But then again, Jeff Riggenfathead has never admitted a mistake in his time on SOLO, so we shouldn't expect him to do so now.

Stick to something you are good at Jeff. Producing audiobooks for example. Thank you for narrating Economics in One Lesson, it's a welcome diversion during my 1.5 hour commute to work.

It's also probably the first time you've ever addressed me without cursing me... I bet you regret missing that opportunity.

Nor Has the Ignorance Abated Appreciably

jriggenbach's picture

(1) Outside "Robert's" fevered brain, there is no such thing as the "NOIF principle."

(2) I've been involved in the libertarian movement in the United States for forty years, and I've yet to meet a libertarian who doesn't understand where the NIOF principle comes from.

(3) Anarchists believe in government; they do not believe in the State.

JR

I See There's Been No Decline in the Illiteracy Around Here

jriggenbach's picture

"The sadist thing about investing your essence in religions and mysticism is that you leave your id to rot."

Oh? And what's the masochist thing about investing your essence in religions and mysticism?

". . . you end up as a bag of bones chanting words like 'reason,' in the same way a parrot imitates what it hears but has no brain to comprehend the meaning."

Oh! You mean you end up as 21st Century Objectivist?

JR

The problem with NOIF principle...

Robert's picture

Is that it is a floating abstraction to many libertarians.

They have no idea where from what it is derived nor whether there are any practical or moral limitations to it. And if some limitations are applied, how can you prove that they aren't arbitrary or immoral (wrong)?

On its own it is an effective (if primitive) argument against statists of every political hue. But what sort of an basis is it to argue against anarchists: they who do not believe in government?

As Kasper says, unless you understand how the NIOF concept was derived, how are you supposed to apply it effectively in the furtherance of your own life?

In fact how can you define 'initiation of force' without first having accepted the force is a concept based on a moral code which isn't explained by the NIOF?

Back one step more, how can you be sure that you have the capacity to perceive and understand force when you see it?

These are philosophical questions pertaining to metaphysics and epistemology. You can't avoid philosophy.

What you can do is consciously strive to adopt one that is integrated, and bereft of crap. And when you do, you will see whence the NIOF sprang from and why it is important. Moreover you will be able to tell the con-men who only quote the principle from those who actually live it.

Richard I don't think I am articulating this one well......

Kasper's picture

Libertarianism applies its restriction on government based on the non-initiation of force principle, yes, but it is also a lot more. Freedom to be free, to own, to think, to value, to be productive, to choose and to pursue your own happiness is the hall mark of libertarianism. The entire reason for this is so that people can do those things which I mentioned.

Libertarianism was not set up so that you can choose to be a slave, chose to be told what to do and have your property taken from you to be distributed away by a third party. Nor was it set up with the intention to piss on your individual rights. Of course under libertarianism you can chose this but it most certainly is not the intention, reason or result of libertarian principles.

The political stance of libertarianism is based on philosophical principles which have concluded that the end resulting necessity in order for man to live those philosophical principles is for him to operate in a free society. I see libertarianism as being the mere political extension to egoism in ethics, reality in metaphysics, reason in epistemology and lasseiz fair capitalism in economics. Libertarianism really is the concrete expression of those philosophical principles laid out in a political ideal. For it isn’t a god or some mystical text that your rights depend, nor is it a system that creates arbitrary legislation which expropriates your property or individual rights. It is a system of individual rights based on ‘reason’ which was essential to evaluating ‘reality’. That reality is that in order for man and his mind to live gloriously he must be free.

Mark - I'm sure Reed has a

reed's picture

Mark -
I'm sure Reed has a viewpoint on this, and I'd be interested to hear it.

The scope of this blog is huge. Is there something specific you'd like my comment on?

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Kasper, surely you are

Richard Wiig's picture

Kasper, surely you are raising Libertarianism up to be something that it's not? It is the NIOF principle. All kinds of people can adhere to that principle and support it without necessarily valuing in a rational way. Christianity mightn't endorse any of the things you mention, but then neither does libertarianism.

 

How can you be a libertarian if you are not concerned with earthly values? Values such as:
Self love for self-esteem.
Love of another human being in a profoundly selfish way.
Your own pursuit of values and happiness means to be productive and grow in wealth to better your life here on earth. Christianity does not endorse any of this.

Yes. But does it force

Richard Wiig's picture

Yes. But does it force anyone to accept God, or does it only offer this non-choice, to the believer?

Thats not a choice. Christianity wouldn't know the meaning of freedom in its central tenets and theology if it smacked it in the balls. Look at the presentation of freedom that Christianity presents.

I'm giving you an A for this

Mark Hubbard's picture

I'm giving you an A for this Kasper. (It was an A+, but you dropped the + for spelling and grammar deficiencies.)

KASS Kas

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You go, boy! Smiling

God is not a man who changes

Kasper's picture

God is not a man who changes his mind Numbers 23
I the lord your god do not change Malachi 3:6

This unchanging God has one set of rules in the old testament and then new ones in the new. And don't you start giving me some bullshit about change in covenant either. I have been a student of the bible and Christianity for 10 years and I am well aware of what a generic, intellectually incomprehensible explanation that is.

This unchanging God promotes genocide and sadistic activities in the old but is a lovie dovie 'father' in the new.
This unchanging God presents freedom and choice as being eternity in heaven or hell with the only choice being the transaction and ownership of your soul and life versus you keeping it and being condemned to hell. Thats not a choice.
Christianity wouldn't know the meaning of freedom in its central tenets and theology if it smacked it in the balls. Look at the presentation of freedom that Christianity presents.

Are we getting biblical enough for you sunny?

Original sin, either interpreted as, your a sinner the moment you are born or you have a natural tendency to commit sin and at some point you most definitely will. You there for have a moral black mark on yourself and need salvation. Christianity sees it fit that if you commit a moral crime not of own volition but because you simply are wired to, or have a tendency to, like a loaded dice, your still liable. As Ayn observed this is the biggest slap in the face for morality and I am not going to turn my cheek to that!!!!
You are not free under the totalitarian in the sky. That isn't a caricature. It is merely interpreting what the basic message is on its word.

Matthew

Kasper's picture

“Kasper - you object to Madeleine’s citation of Romans 13 suggesting it commits her to supporting Nazism and fascism. Unfortunately, you failed to read both the rest of the passage and Madeleine’s (fairly orthodox) exegesis of it which is that the State is God’s servant in so far as it carries out its limited, legitimate functions”

“The state is God’s servant.” Bible speak.
“Limited legitimate functions” is a libertarian principle. Don’t steal concepts from others and claim them your own. They aren’t.
Any concordance about this passage will tell you that the question to whether you should obey all authorities or not is a resounding yes, accept for one vital clause. Only if that authority contradicts the law of God is when that authority is deemed not from God. Not the law of freedom, not the law of individual rights.

Also there is no critiquing tool anywhere near accurate enough to apply to an authority to actually measure or ascertain whether they are of God or not. How very convenient for you libertarian Christians. Also very convenient for the Nazi-Christian too I might add. Central government economic planning, welfare state, wealth distribution vs lassez fair government, the Christian could justify either.

“Quoting a person out of context and attacking a straw man is hardly a rational rebuttal”. It is you who is out of context and it is you and Madeleine that take concepts from elsewhere to justify your statements.

“As a commentary on the passage would tell you, this is a hyperbole, slapping on the right cheek does not refer to a physical assault but is a colloquial reference to being insulted.”

You haven’t refuted my point. My point was that someone should submit to an aggressor. You have just confirmed that interpretation.

Aquinas did not only come from a Christian point of view. He was an Aristotelian philosopher and highly respectable. If you want to take out the church, the leaders and the philosophers so that you can see what the bible preaches on its own merit, that’s fine, it would be easier.

“After painting a straw man, your basic argument is to assert that Rand got it correct, assert that Madeleine is being selective and then assert claims about what people are taught in Theological colleges, concluding with standard Objectivist assertions about Christian morality”

Since it is you who proposes a straw man please identify what this straw man is…..

Michael,

Robert's picture

Normally I would agree. But I know these reprobates - at least by reputation.

They are both possessed of an implacable, indomitable, and indefatigable spirit. That is something I admire greatly. They have crossed swords with a couple of the most odious personalities ever to haunt NZ politics. Something else I admire.

Yes, they may be irretrievably devoted to worshiping the invisible celestial dictator, but I feel that I should cut them some slack. After seeing how many are ready to elect Obama -- just because -- it occurs to me that apathy may be a bigger threat to civilization than socialism or religion.

As Lincoln said of Grant when called upon to fire him after Shiloh: "I can't spare this man. He fights."

Their hearts do appear to be in sort of the right place politically. So I thought that they might be worth debating with for a while at least. If for nothing else, it will make a change from listening to airhead Sierra Club members sing the praises of Obama... (I work at a University, need I say more?)

 Robert and Olivia, May

Newberry's picture

 Robert and Olivia,

May I take you both to task with love and care? You are being altogether reasonable. 

 Michael

 

www.michaelnewberry.com

Matthew...

Olivia's picture

The reason the Church and State were in conflict was because the Roman Emperor claimed to be divine and demanded worship. The Church rejected such absolutism on theological grounds.

So tell me, why was it okay for this Jew called Jesus to claim equality with god and to be worshipped, but not ok for anyone else... including the Emperor?
(And don't give me an answer from Scripture which is subjective at best, give me one from Reason.)

I don't think you understand Hellenism and the Cult of the Emperors which was a long standing feature of the Roman Empire from Julius until Constantine. The Scriptures, mainly St. Paul, "copied" those features and created an extremely successful new religion based around Christos which was a form of gnostic Judaism that succeeded in the Gentile world... hence the name Judeo-Christianity. Christianity was Judaism melding with Hellenism - nothing more.

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Can Christians be Libertarians?

Robert's picture

Yes.

Libertarianism is a political movement that springs from objectivism. You can be a libertarian without being an objectivist - but you will be someone who takes libertarian doctrines on faith.

And this can be seen in your attempt to prove that libertarinanism is a natural derivation of christianity - itself anchored in the faith that some supernatural being exists somewhere beyond man's ability to know.

Might I suggest that you consider the following as a better justification of your libertarian faith than referencing the bible? That is that you ground your argument in the nature of man, not the contents of the scriptures.

Man's tool of survival is his mind. That is true regardless of whether you choose to invoke god or not to explain the creation of that man or that mind.

From that fact flows the rest. The fact that to survive man must (1) be able to use his mind freely and (2) be able to claim possession of that which his mind has created. creations of his mind. And for that state of affairs to exist when man lives among other men, governments are instituted etc. as stated poetically by the Delcaration of Independence.

But you cannot be an objectivist and a christian. And as a christian, you will have trouble providing an irrefutable moral justification for the non-initiation of force principle. The moral justification for that - say objectivists - is rooted in the fact that existence exists and man possesses the man to know it.

As a christian, you believe on faith in the supernatural - that there is something beyond the real world and that man has limited means to perceive it. If you attempt to attach any moral justification to that supernatural world, you are leaving a chink in your moral and ethical armor...

Why? Because who is to say that your perception of God and his supernatural realm is correct? That is the basis for the profusion of different confessionals of Christianity, to say nothing of the other faiths in supernatural beings.

My 2c worth. And no, I do not class myself as an objectivist yet. So any flaws in my logic are my own. This declaration is almost mandatory these days on SOLO: certain people get their noses out of joint so easily even though they rarely join such debates...

Matthew: "Newberry - there

Newberry's picture

Matthew: "Newberry - there is no real argument from you at all except a string of ad hominen..."

Matthew,

You and Madeleine have my sincerest and deepest sympathy due to that you have apparently dedicated your lives based on a mystical premise. With that basis, there simply isn't a way to achieve the startling, brilliant luminosity, and confidence in yourself. You will remain tied, in servitude, to a non-existent god.

Michael

 

www.michaelnewberry.com

Some responses:

Matthew Flannagan's picture

Some responses:Newberry - there is no real argument from you at all except a string of ad hominens and then praise for Kapsers unsound reasoning. Marcus - You state that “Christian philosophy is not inherently anti-Government or pro-Capitalism at all.” However your reasons for this conclusion are weak:Your first reason is that Rand says so that’s hardly a compelling argument.Your second is to note that Christians oppose those who “'worship money' or are too 'greedy' or 'materialistic'. Therefore they often approve the application of Government that often promises to curb or restrain these sinful feelings.” But this does not follow. The fact that a person opposes something does not logically commit them to making it illegal which is something Christian thinkers have acknowledged for centuries. Augustine and Aquinas, for example, both noted that the mere fact that something is wrong does not mean that the State should always prosecute it.Finally your assertion that “The Christian church was originally born of political power and likes to think it still wields it.” Is simply historically false. The Church actually began as a voluntary sect persecuted for 300 years before it gained any political power. The reason the Church and State were in conflict was because the Roman Emperor claimed to be divine and demanded worship. The Church rejected such absolutism on theological grounds. Citing an authority with no real expertise in Theology, making a non-sequitur that Christians have recognised was fallacious for centuries and postulating false historical claims does not cut it.  Kasper - you object to Madeleine’s citation of Romans 13 suggesting it commits her to supporting Nazism and Facism. Unfortunately, you failed to read both the rest of the passage and Madeleine’s (fairly orthodox) exegesis of it which is that the State is God’s servant in so far as it carries out its limited, legitimate functions.  Madeleine stated that “Nothing in this passage provides any basis for claiming that a government that did other things apart from these basic functions and used force to back it up would be acting as God's agent”. Quoting a person out of context and attacking a straw man is hardly a rational rebuttal. Also if you read the interpretations of numerous theologians such as Aquinas, Calvin, Knox, Rutherford, Locke, etc you would find that they did not interpret the passage to teach that every government, no matter what it does or how much power it appropriates, is acting as God’s servant. You would find they said something close to what Madeleine said. Nor was their only response to victims of tyranny to say “its God’s purpose and plan even if you don’t understand it just have faith and follow Christ.” Actually most of the above encouraged civil disobedience and resistance to such authorities. Your post actually highlights Madeleine’s point about Objectivists attacking caricatures. This is further reiterated by your citation of “If someone slaps you one, turn the other cheek!!!” actually this is a mis-citation it says if some one slaps you on your right cheek, turn him the other. As a commentary on the passage would tell you, this is a hyperbole, slapping on the right cheek does not refer to a physical assault but is a colloquial reference to being insulted. After painting a straw man, your basic argument is to assert that Rand got it correct, assert that Madeleine is being selective and then assert claims about what people are taught in Theological colleges, concluding with standard Objectivist assertions about Christian morality.

 

 

www.mandm.org.nz

So much to even start with you

gregster's picture

Anyone saying she has the sole interpretation of the bible I will state once is not to be trusted.

Don't waste your young life Madeleine. (think Michael Caine there, accent-wise)

Hi Madeleine...

Olivia's picture

They fail to understand what their central documents actually teach. When Churches and Christians adopt socialist, statist mentalities they are in error with the Scriptures and the teachings of the faith and they totally miss the point. [Madeleine]

Not true.

They are actually consistent with the metaphysics of the Bible when they do this. The notion of God or a Heavenly Father or whatever, is the same as a Dictator who watches and judges your every thought, word and action. He is the ultimate Statist in the Sky from which there is no escape, not even when you die. Some christians will say; Dictator? Yes, but a benevolent one. I would disagree... the idea of any consciousness being able to invade my life and privacy is deeply vexatious to me and sits well outside the boundaries of benevolence.

I might just add that under the directorship of the Apostles, socialism was practiced by the early church and so was tithing to support those in the ministry... a practice left over from Old Testament times. Not socialism? Pretty close considering in socialist regimes you're also taxed to support the Ministry! Eye Jesus was one of the first major Pinkos if you really think about it... "whosoever does these things to the least of these my brethren, does so unto me"..... note that he makes no distinction between himself and another. A very pernicious, collectivist idea and consistent with "love your neighbour as yourself."

Regarding the Romans passage you quoted about God instituted authorities; just before it in Rm 12:20... "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not overcome evil with evil but overcome evil with good."
This is basically what we have going on today when it comes to our enemies, Islamic Jihadists. They are appeased left, right and centre - instead of fighting them with swift, forceful, destruction which they deserve, we try and be the good guys and the likes of the next President, Obama, has promised unconditional sit-downs with their psychopathic leaders. Can you not see the Bible's socialistic ideology tainting even how we face our enemies today? (This is the pragmatism and contradiction of conservative Christianity in politics under the Republican banner - and the Democrat actually). Basically, socialism is where altruists have to end up if they apply their philosophy, but there will always be a contradiction because it is an unlivable doctrine. One cannot be constantly considerate of others and also be selfish at the same time and in the same respect. One just cannot. This is what Rand clearly identifies and illuminates within the "ethics" of Christianity and Altruism. One is either selfish or selfless, no two ways about it... and if one is selfish, that is incongruent with Christianity, for the christian must repent and ask forgiveness for this egregious evil.

According to Scripture, Jesus submitted to Roman authority but not to the Jewish Senate, so was he wrong or right given that they're both God instituted authorities?

In Revelation, written in the latter part as opposed to the earlier part of Nero's reign, the same ruler is no longer described at God's servant but as Satan incarnate because he sought to be God, he stepped outside the mandate of legitimate government. [Madeleine]

All Caesars were worshipped as gods in those days and sought to be divine. Even in the Jerusalem Temple was a statue of whichever Caesar reigned which the Jews had to pay a tax to as they went on their way to worship their own god. The Egyptians had to do the same in their temples on their way to worship Isis. Gods half men and half divine were a chronicly common feature throughout the Hellenistic world.

This "Christos" who cropped up in the East and follows exactly the same pattern, that of a man claiming to be a god incarnate, born of a (vestal) Virgin, with special powers etc etc... can you not see that there is absolutely nothing original or unique about Christianity in the context of the first century? Why use just another dubious form of ancient superstition to determine what is real, right, good and true for your life?

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Madeleine

Kasper's picture

“I merely hold that they are wrong. They fail to understand what their central documents actually teach.”

This is beginning to sound like the “old generation was wrong/missed the point” argument. Every new generation of Christianity writes the old one off. Whether it was Catholicism, medieval ages, socialism, conservatism, fascism, or some other trendy ideology that is has been ascribed to.

“The point”? Please elaborate from your point of view what the current theological position of today is…………….. Don’t worry the next generation will say you got it wrong anyway……

“Christianity teaches what I argued it teaches and no I do not selectively read the Bible omitting the bits that do not suit, rather the Bible simply does not teach what Rand, some of the commentators below and those in error in the church say it does.”

We will get to that soon…….

That will teach me to write a blog entry before a long weekend!

Madeleine's picture

So much to respond to.

As a starting statement I think some people are conflating Christians with Christianity.

I maintain that Rand's depiction of Christianity is a strawman. If she had studied the Scriptures instead of observing the practitioners she might have discovered the truth.

So, yes there are Christians and even churches and church organisations that fit Rand's description to a T. I don't deny they exist for a second. I merely hold that they are wrong. They fail to understand what their central documents actually teach. When Churches and Christians adopt socialist, statist mentalities they are in error with the Scriptures and the teachings of the faith and they totally miss the point.

Now before you say - Aha! and assume I have conceded your point stop for a minute and imagine if one assessed Objectivism purely on the conduct and behaviour of those who profess to be Objectivists and then drew conclusions on Objectivism from the worst examples instead of going to the central documents, the most robustly argued theses.

Christianity teaches what I argued it teaches and no I do not selectively read the Bible ommitting the bits that do not suit, rather the Bible simply does not teach what Rand, some of the commentators below and those in error in the church say it does.

I am legally trained with a background of some analytical philosophy. As such I hold that any apparent ambiguity which may be caused by translation from another language or the passage of time and the shifting of cultural references must be interpreted in the context of the surrounding words that do have a plain meaning and in the context of the document as a whole with a view to the intent of the author. Further, words must be accorded their plainest meaning and that meaning must be ascertained by looking at the original language they were written in and with an understanding of the genre and the audience.

Like reading any text written in another language with cultural influences that are not our own there is an art to understand what it means - try reading Shakespeare in the original english. This does not mean one gets to read what one likes in some post-modern, decontextualised, reader-centric way and it is possible to get at truth of the text in an honest way without butchering what the author meant.

I wrote my piece above because I am sick of both Christians and non-Christians caricaturing Christianity out of ignorance. If you are going to criticise and write something off then understand what you are criticising and writing off first.

 Excellent posts

Newberry's picture

 Excellent posts Kasper.

 

Michael

 

www.michaelnewberry.com

Further

Kasper's picture

Christianity: Government is God’s servant
Libertarianism: Government is there to defend the rights of the individual. Servants of individuals.

Madaleine wrote:
"One of the biggest problems New Zealand faces is the same the world over and was the same at the time of Samuel; the people want a government in the place of God, they want the government to provide welfare, health, education, families commissions, art, television (well maybe not that one at the time of Samuel but you get the picture)."

When did God ever provide, welfare, health, education, art and television. Human beings created that. God, a pacifist, would let everybody be brain dead and starve. Go and look at third world countries of who don’t get any government support. I don’t see God on the front line there……

Madaleine wrote:
"Biblically speaking, the state's role essentially boils down to law, order, justice and defence."

Who’s law? What justice? And defense of whom, under what circumstance and for what purpose? Because if it is God’s law I don’t see how a christo government would resemble anything like a libertarian government. Perhaps this is why the split of church and state was so important……..

Madaleine wrote:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Why would you do that? What would loving God actually mean other than the values that I denounced in my other post. What is the purpose, benefit and result of doing this versus not doing it. Heaven versus Hell? No thanks!
Perhaps you would like to tell me what God actually is in the first place?

Madaleine wrote:
“Ayn Rands caricature of Christianity was a straw man……”
Actually Madeleine it wasn’t. She took Christianity at its word, discovered its premise of altruism and also asked herself what Christianities principles would look like if consistently held and put into action. She was right. You would get a St Augustine sense of life. One of self-loathing, pity and worthlessness. An honest straight picture of Christianity taken at its word and consistent with Christianities values only looks like a straw man to you because it exposes what you do not admit about Christianity. Is it uncomfortable for you Madaleine?

It appears to me, Madaleine, that you have picked out all the parts you like from the bible which you find liberating and agreeable to your rational faculties and have omitted the rest. You appear to be attracted to the principles of libertarianism and try to come up with some kind of compatibility with your founding values. This process of synthesis is one of sophistry. An honest synthesis of these ideals cannot be done honestly or rationally.

Part of the psychosis of Presbyterian and Baptist churches is that they are unaware of how much they loath themselves. It’s like dealing with people who surround themselves with the parts of the bible they like and choose not to spend time on those they don’t. They are in a bubble. Here is an example: You’re fundamentally a sinner, you need salvation, Christ loves you and has died for you, and only through accepting this gift can you go to heaven.
Sinner: So I am a sinner unworthy to a god on my own merit and worthless unless I have Christ.
Christian: No, no, no, I didn’t mean that, Jesus loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. Everybody is imperfect you know, even you are, so we need Christ’s perfectness and sacrifice to cleanse us of our imperfections so that we can be made holy and go to heaven.

This is the state of the sugar coated dumbed down dribble coming out of theological colleges today.

Madeleine

Kasper's picture

I don’t believe Christianity is able to be put along side libertarianism. I also think that it is incorrect to treat the bible of 66 books as 1 book. It isn’t. It is written from differing cultures, times and languages.

Madalene quotes the Christian position: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”

To be blunt the above makes me feel sick. I don’t think the Nazi regime, or fascist Italy can be compared to the individualism that occured in the birth of the United States. How can you hold these in the same regard under the excuse that they're established by God? The only bromidial, evasive and ludicrous comeback that the victims under those totalitarian regimes got was “its God’s purpose and plan” even if you don’t understand it just have faith and follow Christ.

Libertarianism is a principle based on reason and a standard. That standard is human life. Its principle is one of freedom, individualism and the pursuit of happiness.

The so called ‘authorities’ put in place by God for your obedience are in place of an unknown whim from a supernatural being whose ethics change faster than a person who changes his underwear. I ask you to examine the authorities in place in the world at present.

Morals: Christianity is un-conditional love, in fact it goes further, and it endorses acts of altruism. If someone slaps you one, turn the other cheek!!! Go look at the beatitudes in Matthew, or the self-abnegation so strongly preached by Paul and Jesus, that earthly values were ultimately unimportant and that heavenly values were most important. A value is something to gain and keep. In order to gain ‘heavenly treasures’, one has to give up earthly values here.

How can you be a libertarian if you are not concerned with earthly values? Values such as:
Self love for self-esteem.
Love of another human being in a profoundly selfish way.
Your own pursuit of values and happiness means to be productive and grow in wealth to better your life here on earth. Christianity does not endorse any of this.

What is the point in being a libertarian which means to believe in freedom, individualism and the pursuit of happiness when you don’t want any of it. Why involve yourself in a system orientated to the concerns of mortal lives here with the standard of life as a value, when the system of Christianity is anti-life, anti-self, anti-freedom in its ultimate drive of eternal life. Christianity is wired throughout for slavery. Obedience to God from spiritual, ethical and active purposes is equivalent to communism, not libertarianism. Swap the communist state for a God and you have a far larger similarity.

A Christian

atlascott's picture

who does not find it to be their duty to preach, keeping it to themselves, and who has a strong work ethic and a strong sense of personal responsibility and expects the same of others will, in practice, get along just fine with an Objectivist and a Libertarian. Obviously, there will be disagreement on abortion, and what laws should be passed and enforced.

In other words, what other people think is not anyone else's business.

That is about all I have to say about this article. I think Marcus does a nice job of saying what needs to be said.

Scott DeSalvo

www.desalvolaw.com
FREE Injury Report and CD Reveal the Secrets You Need to Know to Protect Your RIGHTS!

"Teacher, which is the

Newberry's picture

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

The sadist thing about investing your essence in religions and mysticism is that you leave your id to rot. The real you becomes untended, undirected, undetected, un-nourished, and unfulfilled.

Instead of taking on the magnificent potentiality of being a unique human being, you end up as a bag of bones chanting words like "reason", in the same way a parrot imitates what it hears but has no brain to comprehend the meaning. 
Or you become a fucking hypocrite, trying to develop yourself on the sly by using art, psychology, physical skills, productive work, and your mind, but never giving those things or yourself credit. 

With what exactly are you left with to love your neighbor?

 

www.michaelnewberry.com

Christian & Libertarian- cool

gregster's picture

woudn't that be nice?

Mark, it's time you caught up. Read the books before they're caved.

Reed
Left-leaning Christian - still a retard.

Reed, anymore of that talk lends me to believe you will have psychological instances.

Hi Madeleine, Well said. IMO

reed's picture

Hi Madeleine,
Well said.

IMO left leaning Christians feel an obligation to give (ie. not love driven). If they're motivated, and not driven by love, they'll "share the burden" somehow. I don't think this mistake is limited to Christians.

My own Christian beliefs are similar to libertarianism. How would you describe a "Conservative" and what do you consider is the pragmatism that leads a Christian to it?

Will you be voting Libertarianz?

Cheers,

Reed

webhost101.net - Websites made easy.

There is a strain of Christianity...

Marcus's picture

...that is Libertarian in flavour. We see this quite strongly in the USA amongst the evangelicals.

Unfortunately, as Rand and others have pointed out the Christian philosophy is not inherently anti-Government or pro-Capitalism at all. Actually Christians have a huge problem with those who 'worship money' or are too 'greedy' or 'materialistic'. Therefore they often approve the application of Government that often promises to curb or restrain these sinful feelings.

The main reason there has been (and sometimes still is) a conflict between Christianity and the state is that the Church resents the fact that the State is taking away their business. The Christian church was originally born of political power and likes to think it still wields it.

For that reason, in those countries such as USA where there is a legal separation of Church and state, Christians are especially resentful of increased state power.

In those countries such as the UK, where the Church and state are in bed together, the Church has no qualms in revealing themselves as out and out socialists.

This is even happening to an ever greater extent in the Catholic Church, who have very reluctantly ceded their former power to the state, as they grow ever more comfortable with the symbiotic relationship they have with Governments.

Madeleine

Mark Hubbard's picture

This is a thread that interests me, it's that little chink that makes it through: I suspect it 'might' be possible to be a Christian and Libertarian, but not an Objectivist, as you say.

However, we have our granddaughter staying this long weekend, I'm tired of work, so I'm going to have fun and watch movies for three days. Busy schedule when I get back from that, but I will try to post, even if it is not for the next three weeks. So stay tuned, I'll resurrect the thread if no one else enters.

In the meantime, I'm sure Reed has a viewpoint on this, and I'd be interested to hear it.

Please note ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

My blue-stickying of this does not constitute endorsement. It does constitute an invitation to debate, in response to a very thoughtful contribution from Madeleine. My position is that abortion should be illegal from the time of the third trimester, when the thing is hooked up for conceptual thought. Prior to that, of course, it should be mandatory.

Linz

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