On Being Christian and Libertarian

facs_conflictMonikers and adjectives are troublesome. Meant to name and describe, they often confuse—having one meaning to the writer and others to the reader.  Telling someone I am a Christian is as unclear as telling them I am a libertarian. My mid-year resolution is to use them less; it’s better that I tell others what I believe and how I believe I should, therefore, live.

Liberty.me is filled with plenty of good material as to the variances and flavors of libertarian belief, so I see no need to try to add another shade of paint to the mix. But the area of Christianity perhaps needs more. Not all Christians are libertarians. And libertarians possess a range of religious beliefs. So I hope to clarify it a bit, if for no other reason to lay out what I believe to be is a Biblical position, as I continue my writing.

To say one is a Christian is not to convey anything with clarity, other than to classify oneself as somehow influenced by the teachings or life of Jesus of Nazareth. Perhaps it means that one sees Jesus as a wise teacher or philosopher. Or a social or political figure whose teachings and actions were profound, at least enough to change the views of those professing to follow them. Or it may mean that the person sees Jesus Christ in accordance with his claims, that he was God.

Much depends upon how a person views the Bible. Some see it has a flawed document, but nonetheless containing some truth, which they seek to sort out and extract. On the other end are those who see the Bible as the very inspired word of God in which all is truth which suffers from no error which would impair or subtract from it—that highlighting the words of Christ in red serves only as a editorial enhancement, for every word written in black or red are the words of God himself.

Oh were it there that the confusion ended, but it goes on. Some proclaim inerrancy and inspiration but arrive at very different conclusions as to interpretation and meaning. One one end are those who adhere to an orthodox understanding, drawing their position with the help of two millennia of fathers of the faith who have dutifully studied and recorded their understanding. They would insist that the Bible is a closed and complete message, that God has conveyed all that he intends to directly convey to man. Others leave the book open, believing that God still speaks to man and reveals new and further messages.

Even within those who adhere to the general pale of orthodox understanding, there are serious divisions over key Christian doctrines. Some would include the Roman Catholics in this mix. Others the Eastern Orthodox, and related groups. And various shades and divisions of protestant Christianity.

In my growth as a libertarian, I have found that the differences in underlying Christian belief critically and definitively influence one’s views towards liberty. In that my views are in the minority among that group, I sometimes find myself not unlike the unfortunate man that upsets a nest of wasps. Attacked from all sides, it seems, primarily over my belief that the Bible clearly teaches that God has established rulers on the earth and clearly defined the relationship of Christians to those rulers. Such a view provokes most objection from those that are of an anarchist persuasion. But it also does not sit well with those that believe that there is a place for rulers as long as they are righteous. Where we find a righteous man, I have yet to figure out.

Discussions and debate invariably end up as battle of exegesis of key scriptures such as Matthew 22, Romans 13, and 1 Peter 2. They rarely lead to any clarity due to the very different views related to the interpretation of the entirety of the Bible. Rather than being based upon variances in libertarian views, they suffer from unvoiced disagreement over doctrines concerning the nature of man, the nature of God, and overall message and intent of the Bible. I’m finally learning that it is senseless to battle over final libertarian application when a unified understanding of these key areas is missing.

Liberty.me is one of the few forums that I have found that is still very much characterized by an openness to thought. Perhaps it is the spirit of Jeffrey Tucker, and his confidence that most men share common beliefs that are easily buried under disagreements. That perhaps the best way to advance the cause of liberty it to therefore approach issues positively, recognizing these shared beliefs in each other.  Alas, it is a considerable challenge, as any area that delves into politics and religion is not unlike juggling dynamite, at times. But it is working. Or so I believe.

For my brothers in faith, I would hope that we, of all people, can show the same spirit, and take advantage of this very unique forum in which to do explore and discuss the differences that we may have in the Christian beliefs that underly our libertarian views. And for the non-Christians who are spectators, I can only hope that they see we are evidently human. Unworthy of the love of God and proof that we need the Savior that we profess.

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