Saturday, April 9, 2016

None of the libertarians I know go to church. . .

I must confess that I have never been enamored of libertarians.  Oh, to be sure, I am no fan of government intrusion into the lives of people but neither am I a fan of the invented rights of privacy and of the idea that it does not matter what people do as long as they do not harm others.  Rights are always a balancing act -- hence the problem we have with the threat of terrorism and the rights of the individual.  Personal liberty is a common cause of libertarians though there is no doctrinaire position to which all libertarians hold.  Some are more concerned about government than behavior and some insist upon liberty in everything or nothing is free.

The preamble of the Libertarian Party begins:  As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.  I fear it sounds too much like everyone doing what is right in their own eyes and this, according to Scripture, is not noble morality by the abyss of sin.  The complaint I have is thoroughly theological.  Individual sovereignty is a nice sounding idea but the results of this have left us mired in sin, captive to death, competing with the creation we were formed to exercise dominion over, and fighting over exactly where the line is drawn between freedom and responsibility to one another.

If I could find some hope that statistically libertarians were church going folk, I might be more encouraged.  In fact, I find it more typically the opposite.  None of the libertarians I know go to church.  I certainly do not want to live under an omnipotent state but I fear the path of libertarians is one that ultimately minimizes both church affiliation and Christian piety.  The cross is the supreme expression of the opposite of libertarian ideals -- the sacrifice of rights and self for the sake of those completely unworthy of Him and of His suffering.  It seems that most of the libertarians I know, if they are religious at all, are Unitarians -- not Lutheran.

Libertarians insist upon the right of the individual over all other rights and such would inevitably lead to a pro-abortion society in which the individual is free to decide and to follow through with whatever is determined to be good, right, or salutary for his or her own life.  Libertarians insist upon the right of privacy and in the protected legality of whatever consenting adults decide to do.  Libertarians insist that definitions of family be left to the individuals who choose to make the family.  Again, personal liberty is the sole sacred tenet of libertarian thought and the only caveat is where that personal liberty abridges the right of another perfectly sovereign and free individual.

Ultimately, my complaint is the libertarians are naive.  If there were no speed limit we would of course all drive at a safe speed.  If there were no drug laws, we would of course all consume drugs responsibly (just the way we have alcohol).  If there were no abridgment of our individual freedom and liberty, we would of course use it to be as moral and noble and virtuous as possible.  Like that has ever happened.  No, I am not willing to make government my nanny but neither am I willing to cast off all constraints.  I guess as a Lutheran I am left with the also unsatisfying idea of the two kingdoms. 

For a pretty good Lutheran view of things, you might want to read this....


Kirk Skeptic said...

This LCMS church-going libertarian responds: the party erroneously bearing the name of libertarian is more libertine, or it would support the individual rights of the unborn. No serious and informed libertarian believes in casting off all restraints, but rather objects to encroachment upon our God-given rights - by government, individuals, corporations, etc. PJ O'Rourke once quipped that the difference between liberals and conservatives is what they expect big government to do; ie you trust government too much as if total depravity's effects disappear in the aggregate.

Carl Vehse said...

No, I am not willing to make government my nanny but neither am I willing to cast off all constraints. I guess as a Lutheran I am left with the also unsatisfying idea of the two kingdoms."

An interesting conclusion for an admitted monarchist member of the CCM.

BTW, an interesting paper on Luther's Two Kingdoms theology is "The Challenge of History: Luther's Two Kingdoms Theology as a Test Case" (Concordia Theological Quarterly, 71:1, 2007, pp. 3-28) in which CTS Prof. Cameron A. MacKenzie concludes:

"For Luther, temporal rulers who promoted true religion even to the point of punishing heretics were not mixing the kingdoms but those who took measures that inhibited the gospel were. In our times, therefore, we cannot really use this instance of historical theology very effectively as a model for structuring our relationships between Church and state. Luther and the Confessions help us to identify the essential functions of each [of Church and state] but do not permit us to draw the conclusion that we must rigorously separate them. While clergy must preach the gospel and administer the sacraments, they may also exercise temporal power by human arrangement. While rulers must use their power to punish evildoers and to protect the lives and property of their people, as Christians they should also use their authority to establish and care for the Church in their lands. If then we wish to use the two kingdoms theology as the first Lutherans conceived it, we must do so very modestly. We can be clear about what both Church and state must do. Depending upon circumstances and institutional arrangements, however, each may do a great deal more."

Anonymous said...

Dear Pator Peters:

I assure you there are many devout Christians who are also libertarians and even anarchists.

I would encourage you to visit The website is anti-state, anti-war, and free market. Many excellent essayists are posted there who are also deeply devout Christians. In particular, I recommend reading Tom DiLorenzo, Bob Murphy, Gary North, Laurence Vance, and Tom Woods, as they are the most openly Christian (but not the only ones).

Ron Paul is a libertarian. He is also an obstetrician who is surely as pro-life as you are. Although today he is Baptist, he was raised Lutheran. Moreover, two of his brothers are Lutheran pastors today.

Charles Featherstone is a Lutheran pastor (ELCA) who is also libertarian. He has kindly conversed w/ me via email over the years.

Finally, I'd like to recommend that you get to know Pastor Heath Curtis and Pastor Larry Beane. Both are LCMS pastors. I've been following both for many years. I appreciate very much that they are both very catholic and libertarian. Before accusing me of being naive, please reach out to them. I know they will be patient w/ you.

In my dual pursuit of seeking freedom from both the wages of sin and from tyranny, I have found that the two are not unrelated.

Collectivism is slavery (von Hayek).

There are men today who intelligently speak out against collectivism (i.e., against the state), in the way Wilberforce spoke out against slavery centuries ago. Many pastors stood opposed to Wilberforce much like pastors today stand opposed to Ron Paul, etc.

Solomon said, "And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment -wickedness was there, in the place of justice -wickedness was there." I don't think he would have retracted this if he personally knew Ronald Reagan.

I wish you God's mercy and peace -even while in the ballot booth.

Ken Runstadler, Jr.
St. Paul's-Livonia, MI (WELS)

Ted Badje said...

I believe Christians should promote pro-life, and free religious expression agendas for our federal and state governments. I am wary of Christians being tied to one party, be it Republican, Democrat, Nationalist, Old New Deal, or Libertarian. I think many churches got tangled in the mechanics politics, so that is why there is such backlash from the millennials.

Anonymous said...

Why is freedom scary? Conservatives and Deomocrats want to control other people. Libertarians want people be the free that God made us to be.

Kirk Skeptic said...

@Anonymous: "Why is freedom scary?" Because slaves love thier chains.

Carl Vehse said...

Anon: "Libertarians want people be the free that God made us to be."

That's just not true!

Libertarians want people to be free to butcher persons in the womb based on their own personal views.

Libertarians support legalized prostitution.

Libertarians support same sex "marriages".

Libertarians favor the legalization of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and PCP.

Libertarians are against capital punishment.

Libertarians support euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Anonymous said...

@vehse drugs: prohibition has cost working people their jobs. What we put into our body is nobody's business as long as we are not hurting anybkdy else.
Abortion: it is hurting someone else.
Capital punishment: christian freedom. Not required by scripture.

Carl Vehse said...

"What we put into our body is nobody's business as long as we are not hurting anybkdy else" is, besides being false statement in most cases, is another libertarian notion contrary to what God made us to be and do.

"Capital punishment: christian freedom. Not required by scripture."

But Libertarians oppose capital punishment because it is something done by government. Scripture states that the government has the authority to carry out the death penalty. Again, libertarian views oppose what God has stated in Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Vehse:

Pastor Peters stated that libertarians are naive. The reality is that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. Despite the state's claims, it cannot resolve the ills you've listed. In fact, the state always makes matters worse.

"Is not the state an idol? Is it not like any graven image into which men have read supernatural powers and superhuman capacities? The state can feed us when we are hungry, heal us when we are ill; it can raise wages and lower prices, even at the same time; it can educate our children without cost. What cannot the state do for us, if only we have faith in it?" ~ Frank Chodorov

My plea to the Lutherans and the bourgeois who may be reading this, stop believing.

Ken Runstadler, Jr.

Carl Vehse said...

"Despite the state's claims, it cannot resolve the ills you've listed."

Red herring. No one on this thread has claimed that the state (i.e., We, the People through our elected and appointed representatives) can resolve the ills of abortion, prostitution, same-sex marriage, legalization of drugs, and assisted suicide, etc.

But Christians, as members in the Kingdom of the Left, should expect and demand that We, the People and our elected and appointed representatives do much better than Libertarian positions that support these evil ills.

Frank Chodorov's rhetorical questions may be applicable to leftist Demonicrats entitlementists, and Lufauxran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIaRS), but such alleged views are not those of constitutional conservatives. They are not the views held by Lutheran Christians, which is not surprising since Chodorov was an ethnic (but largely irreligious) Jew. Furthemore, Chodorov died years before SCOTUS treacherously legalized abortion and same-sex marriage, and before some states similarly legalized assisted suicide.

What Libertarians propose is not quite anarchy, but it is based on the delusion of free will, and such libertarian positions would lead to a situation where "every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Vehse:

By simple observation, the state always makes matters worse. I am referring to abortion, prostitution, same-sex marriage drugs, assisted suicide, etc.

As I listed previously, there are a number of devout Christians who are also libertarian. Ron Paul is one of them. I've listed several Luthearn pastors, including two from LCMS. They undoubtedly share Chodorov's view of the state. My assertion is Lutheran Christians who are also constitutional conservatives are also easily prone to idolatry.

A situation where "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" is indeed sin. However, the state -in all its manifestations, including "We the People"- always increases sin. In the way of a crude analogy, Jack the Ripper could never hope to kill as many innocent people as any state ever has.

We know that we are the children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. ~1 John 5:19

My prayer is that all Christians at least consider ceasing in their belief in the state.

Sincerely, Ken.

Unknown said...

I'm a libertarian myself, and after growing up in baptist/non-denominational churches, I've met more fellow libertarians in the LCMS than I ever have anywhere else.