CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Christianity or Libertarianism?

Feb 19, 2014

Yes, to my mind, this is almost an either/or, rather than a both/and, situation. I have said it before and I will say it again: those who are rugged libertarians cannot at the same time claim to be true biblical Christians – so take your pick. I have stated my rationale for this often before, so I won’t repeat all my reasoning here.

But let me say that just as I have almost zero tolerance for a whole range of perverse, immoral and unrighteous activities, so I have almost zero tolerance for those so-called Christian libertarians who spend all their time trying to justify all those lousy activities – at least in terms of foolishly claiming that governments should have absolutely no involvement with them, in the sense of prohibiting them, outlawing them, or seeking to constrain them.

I think this is sheer bunk, and I cannot in the slightest go along with it. Indeed, I think these “Christian” libertarians are fundamentally wrong. I will explain this more in a moment, but let me first say that when push comes to shove, most of these folks demonstrate what an oxymoron this term in fact is.

I have debated them for decades now and have found two main outcomes when they are heavily challenged. One is this: when I keep pointing out how inconsistent their libertarianism is with basic Christian truths, many of them will back down somewhat, make numerous qualifications, offer corrections or adjustments, and so on. In other words, when pressed, many of them come to see they are not so much Christian libertarians but actually Christians who are conservatives.

They will backtrack and say, ‘no I don’t believe this or that’, demonstrating that they in fact are not really true libertarians, but just small-government conservatives, much like I am. But there is a second group I have encountered far too often.

When push comes to shove, many of these folks reveal that they in fact prefer to let their secular ideological libertarianism trump their Christianity. Their biblical faith always ends up taking a back-seat to their political ideology. When the two clash, they will side with their libertarianism over biblical truth.

I have wrangled with far too many of these folks, and I have little patience for them. They are often just as belligerent, ornery, argumentative and troll-like as many angry atheists or homosexuals. And worse yet, anyone who allows a foreign ideology – no matter how good it may seem in itself – to trump clear biblical concerns is no ally of mine. Indeed, he is an opponent.

These folks have a rabid hatred of the state, and thus are also shaking their fists at God, since the State is an institution ordained by God. Sure, as I have said millions of times now, it must be limited and itself constrained, but many of these radical Christian libertarians on the right end up being indistinguishable from radical anarchists on the left.

Let me remind everyone what is really at stake here. We all know – or should know – what the two great commandments are which Jesus made so very clear: love God and love our neighbour. I am convinced that radical libertarians cannot readily keep either command. Loving God fully means agreeing with him about his desire to see righteousness and godliness prevail, not just in individuals, but even in societies.

There are so many verses which speak to God’s desire to see real justice and righteousness reign even in a fallen world, even on a social and governmental level. As but one representative verse, Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people”.

The Christian duty to be salt and light is not just a privatised affair, but is to include the political and social arenas around us. And that leads to the second great commandment, loving our neighbour as ourselves. The radical libertarians are ultimately interested only in naked individuals, not the community good.

Loving our neighbour means working to prevent great harm befalling them. And in a fallen world, God has ordained the state to be a part of the process. But the radical libertarians think the state should have nothing to do in so many of these areas: it should just be open slather, with no government interference on things like pornography, prostitution, drug use, and so on.

That of course is not loving one’s neighbour. That is an attitude which effectively says, ‘the hell with my neighbour – the only thing that really matters is my own personal freedom and autonomy.’ The social or community good is largely overlooked or treated contemptuously by the radical libertarians who think personal freedom is the greatest good, trumping all other considerations.

So as I say, I have very little patience indeed for “Christian” libertarians. As just one example of their bizarre mindset, I had one recently actually try to make this case when it comes to drug policy: “Our laws must reflect the Law of God (Matt 5:17-19), not what we think could be harmful if used excessively. Some things are sinful or harmful and should not be legislated against. Hemp is one such substance. Nowhere does God give the civil government the authority to outlaw this substance.”

I was utterly gobsmacked by that one. I hear that sort of sophomoric foolishness from atheists and secularists all the time. Indeed, when I was a heavy drug user in my radical youth, I actually used the same stupid argument: “Like hey man, don’t panic, it’s organic. The Bible nowhere condemns this.”

Indeed, I replied as follows, “The Bible also does not proscribe arsenic, poisons of various descriptions, and a whole range of dangerous substances. For that matter, the Bible does not proscribe Internet porn, IVF for lesbians, or the use of Sarin nerve gas. By your appalling logic, these should also be fully legalised and endorsed and championed by Christians. You are not pushing biblical Christianity here but moonbat libertarianism.”

And even more incredibly, I had another person defending this guy, and actually suggesting this: “Perhaps you should try reading some Greg Bahnsen to learn about Biblical standards.” I just about fell out of my chair reading that one! That really left me flabbergasted.

Not only do I likely have more of Bahnsen’s works than all these guys combined, but trying to defend this moonbat libertarianism by appealing to a theonomist is about as bizarre as it gets. I assured this person that not only have I read plenty of Bahnsen, but he certainly was no libertarian.

Indeed, I pulled out just one of his volumes, his 1978 book on homosexuality, and simply started sharing a few passages. Let me offer just four such passages from chapter 5 which discusses the response of society. In it he in fact takes head on the libertarian philosophy, or the “liberty ideal” as he refers to it. He specifically mentions John Stuart Mill and others as he contrasts this with the biblical Christian perspective:

“The Christian must attempt to bring society into conformity with Christian standards for human interaction and with justice as defined by God. The values of believers in the area of political ethics are not set by a rebellious world bent on destruction, nor are they molded by secular humanists striving for increasing tolerance of public immorality.”

“We can appropriately ask what the moral grounds are for this qualification on a man’s freedom. If liberty is of such high value as this theory purports, why should a man who is strong enough to get away with it (or even a man who thinks he is that strong) not ride roughshod over the liberties of others? Why should the state ever interfere with the actions of men? To believe that the state is morally unjustified in such interference is to turn men over to totalitarianism, where individual strongmen tyrannize others. To hold that the state is merely a voluntary association, in which case there should be competing governments (each with respective services, laws, courts, etc.) to which men freely submit or change their loyalties, is to reintroduce totalitarianism in the form of a warlord society. And thus the defense of freedom as the ideal for civil legislation or social relations ironically results in the loss of that very freedom. The tolerance of absolutely all opinions in a society will lead to relativism and to the destruction of the society as a body of men who relate by recognized laws to each other; for that reason the government requires its teachers to vow that they are not committed to its overthrow and passes laws against sedition.”

“God’s law is to be promoted publicly and not simply in our own private lives. Indeed, His law is to be advanced among kings and nations. Christians are obliged to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness with the light of God’s law; when they do not, they share in the guilt of sins committed through consent. The moment believers become complacent toward the perverse sins of their society, they have begun to relax their grip on the sanctity of God’s will.”

“All civil law will be legislated morality, in some sense infringing on someone’s freedom. The civil law does not aim to regenerate men but simply to restrain their outward behavior. Such laws are necessary to a social order, establishing the limits of liberty and the public standards to which all members of the community must conform.”

I suggest that not only this person but all Christian libertarians get his book and read it carefully. He is absolutely right to claim that the state has a God-given right and responsibility to help promote public morality, at least in part by prohibiting or curtailing public immorality.

In sum, let me make this quite clear: those who somehow think it is their Christian duty to defend every form of public perversion, unrighteousness, and selfish hedonism in the name of freedom and autonomy are not my allies. They are not the allies of Scripture either.

Those who think we must legalise/decriminalise drugs, prostitution, pornography, homosexual marriage, and so on, in the name of individual liberty, are not pushing biblical morality but secular libertarianism and moral anarchy. I want absolutely nothing to do with it.

If we claim to be Christians, at the bare minimum we must keep the two great commandments. We do neither by pushing such immoral and ungodly activity. Christianity is greatly concerned about the social good, not just rugged individualism and human autonomy. And God created government to help keep evil in check in a fallen world. I find this social antinomianism just as harmful and destructive as any unhelpful legalism.

And if these folks object, and claim they are not in favour of such immoral activities, the response is simple: “Of course you are. By telling God that he is wrong in ordaining the state to keep evil in check, you are in fact siding with all the immoral activities here, and allowing the open slather of evil in the public arena.”

So as I said, I have almost zero tolerance for these “Christian” libertarians. If they want to push their skewed and jaundiced agenda, that is fine. They can do it to their hearts’ content elsewhere. But I most certainly will not give them a free platform here to push their harmful and unbiblical agendas.

[1903 words]

29 Responses to Christianity or Libertarianism?

  • Bill

    I too have had frustrating conversations with libertarians on issues like abortion and same sex marriage. Most of them have absolutely no concept of binding moral community standards or the basic sanctity of life. Many have just absorbed the secular naturalistic view of the world with individuals like atoms bouncing around with no inherent need for community or moral standards.

    Having said that I don’t see a problem with their take on drug legalization. The implications of your view would be that we prohibit individuals from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or smoke excessive amounts of cigarrettes or limit the sugar and trans fat content in food. Now how do we propose we do that?

    What do you say about the rampant crime and the unregulated toxins that get into these drugs because they are operating outside of the law and there is no grounds for legal recourse?

    You also assume that because a Christian believes in legalising certain activities then they are “championing” that activity. That is terribly sloppy thinking. I don’t believe drugs and porn should be banned by the government because it will only go underground anyway!

  • And with all due respect, your comment is a perfect illustration of the very thing this article speaks to. In your first paragraph you nicely think and speak like a biblical Christian, not a libertarian. Yet sadly and inexplicably you then do a complete backflip, and in your last three paragraphs you think and speak like a libertarian, and not a biblical Christian.

    Indeed, you simply demonstrate how very inconsistent you are as a Christian and how very inconsistent you are as a libertarian. In fact, just take your latter remarks and apply them to your former remarks: “I don’t believe abortion and homosexual marriage should be banned by the government because it will only go underground anyway!” Why am I reminded of the biblical injunction, ‘Choose you this day whom you will serve’!? As I said, I always want to be 100 per cent consistent with biblical Christianity, and not let secular political theory trump it at any point.

    And I am guilty of no “terribly sloppy thinking” at all here. That honour in fact goes to you. Your latter remarks are just like those of former New York governor Mario Cuomo: “I am personally against abortion, but I support a woman’s right to choose”. You say the exact same thing when it comes to porn and drugs: “I am personally against these things, but I think we should have open slather here with both, with the government having absolutely no moral obligation at all with any intervention for the public good.” That is simply a counsel of despair and the white flag of surrender approach which effectively sides with the drug and porn pushers. I want nothing to do with such an ungodly and unbiblical attitude.

  • And not to belabour all this, but since your objections are representative of those of so many others, let me speak to this yet once more, and thereby hopefully answer the concerns of many others. Indeed, I hate to keep repeating these things, since I have already written so many articles on all this. But as a final answer to your objections, the simple truth is this: all governments must juggle the public good with individual liberty.

    The biblical view of government in a fallen world seeks to do two, at times contrasting, things: maximise individual human freedom, but also promote the public good. These two will often clash. We can go too far with human liberty, and end up in a moral freefall and anarchy, and we can go too far with government intervention, ending up with the nanny state, or worse yet, totalitarianism. So there are always trade-offs and give and take here.

    And Christians can and do debate how far we should go with each emphasis. As to alcohol and tobacco use, we of course already do have plenty of government intervention. We may not have out-right banning, but we have plenty of constraining activities. Sin taxes are a major case in point. People do not need tobacco or alcohol to live, so governments tax both heavily to deter usage, at least excessive usage. Again, we can debate if and how much governments should be involved in all this, but it is already happening, and there may be good reasons for it.

    But the biblical position is clear, as I have already said. Governments are ordained by God to keep evil in check in a fallen world. So things like the prohibition of deadly drugs, or porn, or baby killing seem to me to be perfectly acceptable and moral actions for governments to undertake. Again, how much and to what extent can be debated. But I want to see the public good championed, not ignored and trivialised, as most libertarians do. I cannot go there, because I am a biblical Christian. There are always competing claims which have to be weighed up and compared. Absolute personal liberty should not trump all other considerations. That is why I cannot be a Christian libertarian. Indeed, I think it is a contradiction in terms.

    But thanks for your thoughts.

  • Oh man, if only the government would ban all porn!! And if only people didn’t think porn was always the choice of those who make it, or who watch it (addiction is a choice but also an awful enslavement). Allowing these things like drugs and porn and and abortion to be ‘chosen’ is not loving, it’s like seeing someone about to float along a river into shark infested waters and not warning them or outlawing entrance into the river with big gates and signs.

  • Bill, I’m shocked, if you are as much a biblical Christian as you claim to be I would have expected you to have a much better understanding of the VERY LIMITED mandate of the state, biblically speaking.
    I find your faith in legislation frightening and bordering on Idolatry
    We are precisely in the jackpot we are in because as time went on, as Christians in government allowed government to vastly exceed its mandate they have been removed from it
    I humbly suggest that its time to reread your copy of “the Institutes of Biblical Law” by Rushdoony
    Much of what you are advocating governmental intervention on is actually family and church jurisdiction

  • Thanks Hans. No need to be shocked. I am not a libertarian, and I am not a theonomist. I just try as best I can to be a biblical Christian, faithful to the whole counsel of God. If you want to stone me for being a heretic, a Christ-denier, and an idolater for that, well, so be it. Bless you too.

  • Hi Bill

    There is a cycle I’ve heard of that seems to put things into perspective. The cycle is found in the book called the fourth turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. History has a cycle from Individual freedom to community focus. We are in a period of crisis where we are reaping the price of individualism. We see the impact of the sexual revolution in the sixties which was influenced by the research of Alfred Kinsey and the spiritual awakening of the 1960’s mostly without God.

    There is a general trend towards a more moral society, but the situation we face today is a crisis period where we are seeing a repeat of the depression and the new deal in America. Wars are total and are fought with finality. There is a sense of growing morality among our community but it isn’t complete. Our situation is the similar to the 1930’s.

    After the crisis (assuming we survive and still maintain our liberty) the country will be led by people who do what works. The ABC will probably be privatised after the war when it is seen as unworkable by someone like Margaret Thatcher. It will be seen as a time of innocence. Now is the time to do the groundwork to lead to the next spiritual awakening. If this is the last days is in this cycle it won’t matter. If not we don’t want to lose the next 80 year cycle.

  • I’m totally with you, Bill as far as governments having a responsibility to protect the people through righteous legislation. How else can a Christian think? Do we not care about the fate of the children of our society who will be destroyed as more and more evil is legislated. For example, if pedophilia is legalized, what’s the hindrance to pedophiles any more? If marijuana is legalized, what’s to stop young people to go and blow their brains on it? For years, we didn’t know what marijuana was capable of doing to the brain of someone with a predisposition towards schizophrenia. Thank God, our leaders had enough brains to keep it illegal at the time! We don’t yet have the Biblical precedent of Christ reigning on earth, but the Bible commends those kings of Israel who led the people in righteousness rather than idolatry. Yes, the government does have a mandate to protect and sustain human society. If not, what on earth is it there for?

  • I think governments should butt out if I want to steal stuff
    Also if I have a legitimate grudge against someone and I want to kill them, I should be able to. Its to enhance my personal freedoms while I’m stoned
    Governments should really only be there to increase taxes and hand out parking fines

    Back to reality – – –

    Pick up a bible people!! Learn whats inside please, before its too late for you
    We’ll see how many libertarians are crowing for your freedoms in front of Gods throne

  • Dear Bill,
    Thank you for this article. I read it with great interest, as I have been, just recently, engrossed in an essay of a friend of mine written in the 1970s dealing with this problem of “freedom” or libertarianism. He sent it to me as he feels it so very relevant to much of present day discussions. The essay is:
    “The Dilemma of Freedom in the Novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky” by Raymond J. Laird.

    It is a lengthy article (more than 10 pages) in which Ray Laird analyses the struggle of freedom in the reality of a fallen world of fallen human beings. All the characters in Dostoevsky’s novels get smashed on the rock of seeking absolute freedom in a fallen world.
    It is a fascinating article and I leave only one quote from it towards the summing up:
    “Freedom unless based upon and disciplined by the moral values which derive from and are given their authority by Christian faith degenerates into the horrors of self-destruction or unlimited despotism”.

  • Hey Hans… Theonomists like Rushdoony PROMOTE big government intervention… but only on the condition the government is run by the church… This is what creating a theocracy is all about… the only difference between Bill and the theonomists is that Bill is discussing the world in which we leave the theonomists are talking about a world their eschatology leads them to believe will appear sometime in the future…. just saying…

  • Bill, I think you are right on the money here and have the right balance between individual freedom and the public good. I’m of the view that the common good is best served when a society structures its laws in accord with the Biblical moral standard. Maximum liberty is achieved for the maximum number of individuals when God’s moral precepts are followed in society. God knows best how to order human society. Why would any Christian doubt that?

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Bill

    How can you compare drug legalisation to abortion and Same Sex Marriage? Outlawing abortion doesn’t drive it underground to anywhere near the same extent and the same can be said re SSM.

    I used to be of the view that drugs should be illegal but in the current permissive culture that we inhabit making federal or state laws against the practice just drives it underground and causes drug turf wars. You must remember the 30+ deaths a decade ago during the Melbourne gangland war? That was all over drugs.

    And so are you in favour of sin taxes on tobacco? What about prohibition? That stopped a lot of people drinking too. Are you in favour of that?

  • Thanks Damien. I take it you have not even bothered to read the four articles I suggested above where I answer all your criticisms. I am not going to repeat myself here.

  • Hans made some good points. A lot of what bill is advocating should be the jurisdiction of the family and local communities. Burke’s “little platoons”. Obviously Bill campaigns for stronger families but campaigning for tough laws in the place of these other decentralised authorities will only make matters worse. This isn’t so much libertarianism as traditional conservatism and very much biblical Christianity.

  • Sorry Damien, but wrong again. Please show us all where I ever said anywhere on this website that only the government and laws should be involved here, and churches, families, community groups and voluntary societies should not be. Setting up a straw man and shooting it down adds absolutely nothing to proper debate. And in my four articles I have many dozens of facts, statistics, pieces of data and evidence. You have provided none. I will stick with the evidence here thanks.

  • Damien Spillane #

    “…..You must remember the 30+ deaths a decade ago during the Melbourne gangland war? That was all over drugs….”

    I’d say it was really over money and greed, but anyway Damien far more people have died because of drugs in Melbourne than just 30!
    And far more again are suffering because of useing drugs. And the suffering by children and parents of the drug users far out number them again. Legalising drugs will not change that. Talk with your GP.

    Pot in the ’60s was naturally grown. It was taken by the young. No one suffered psychosis. Bill is evidence of that. Nowdays pot is grown hydroponicly or under lights aided with chemicals, and it is much much stronger, and psychosis in the young is the result. But lethargy, lazyness, joblessness, financial ruin ect come before that. Most other drugs have the same effects.

    Burke’s “little platoons” are not volunteers but social “subdivisions” into which we are born. The drug induced Libertarian subdivision of your patchwork quilt society that you speak of will then need to be mended with a type of fabric that you fail to mention. I take that more libertarianism will be the ‘medicine’?

    Very very good artical Bill.

    “…..the simple truth is this: all governments must juggle the public good with individual liberty….” Fine work. God Bless.

  • I also completely agree with you, Bill. It does appear that Damien has been seduced by the Libertarian argument…more pragmatic than biblical. I think it would be a good thing if all of the currently controversial social evils (drugs, porn, homosexuality) should go ‘underground’, where they belong.

  • The Christian does not subscribe to the Enlightenment philosopher’s claim that “man is born free but everywhere in chains”. Holy Scripture plainly tells us freedom comes at the hand of the divine Redeemer, whose blood was the price of true liberty from sin, the world and the clutches of the evil one. The premises of the civil libertarian notion of liberty as centred in the individual human being’s alleged rights to maximum personal autonomy tends to deny the freedom that is found by choosing to be bound inexorably in true love and righteousness to the only wise God and to our human neighbours.

    Bunyan’s City of Mansoul had to be liberated from the clutches of Diabolus.

    Poet John Donne says to God:

    Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
    Except you enthrall me, never shall be free

    Holy Sonnet XIV, ll.12&13

  • I’m not sure where you, personally, draw the line. Surely the whole reason for democratic debate should be to try to come up with the best moral outcome. The system fails, usually, because of greed or ignorance, both of which we have to battle with a huge effort, to overcome, especially at the moment. The homosexual “marriage” debate is a tough one because the thinking is so determined by the condition itself. They simply cannot allow that there is any other view as this would necessitate opening their mind to what is wrong with homosexuality and cause an unresolvable internal conflict.
    We have one problem with democracy in that the role of a Politician largely consists of agreeing with as many people as possible to maintain ones position and this is not conducive to high moral standards and certainly not to implementing them, hence the problem with a “conscience vote”.

    To take one example you push the abortion line pretty hard but even the Old Testament law does not treat the loss of a foetus as murder. (Ex 21:22). Yes late term abortion is obviously about as close as you can get to murder without it actually being considered murder and is surely horrific but is there no room to look at the consequences of a pregnancy to a woman or a family at an early term in the pregnancy? After all, about a fifth of early term pregnancies abort naturally with very little consequence. Sometimes the woman doesn’t even know. Most political parties understand that a hard line on abortion is never going to get up in a democratic society but the DLP’s hard line on it, for example, has meant the demise of an otherwise very good political party, with a subsequent loss to the community plus the disenfranchising of Christian influence.

    My personal view on marijuana is influenced by Proverbs 31:6 “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” Because, if we don’t take that sort of view on drugs how else can we, as Christians, justify palliative care? Sometimes we just need the “wisdom of Solomon.” My brother accidentally killed himself as a result of marijuana induced schizophrenia and drinking, promoted by his time at university and my view is that any government that does not take these sorts of things into account is remiss in its duty. Likewise the promotion of homosexuality by many government members does not take into account the psychological and health problems with homosexuality. Blaming Christians and saying that the effects are simply a result of discrimination and bad luck is simply accepting the homosexual’s own rationalisation at face value and certainly does not fit with my experiences with homosexuals or any reasonable assessment of the facts but assessing the facts is something our present crop of politicians seems extremely reluctant to do. Hence we need the debate and we need Christian influence. What we see, however, in Australian politics is similar to what Germany saw prior to the rise of Nazism. The Germans learned their lesson and formed the CDU which is possibly the most successful government in the world today. I just wish we could do the same.

  • Thanks Michael. This post is of course not directly about abortion, but most of what you have said on the topic happens to be quite wrong. You are certainly wrong on the Exodus passage. I spend a lot of time on that one here, showing rather conclusively that abortion most certainly is regarded as murder in this passage: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/11/11/difficult-bible-passages-exodus-2122-25/

    And confusing miscarriage with the deliberate killing of a child simply demonstrates confusion of moral and mental reasoning. And you might as well say (a few centuries ago) that a hard line on slavery is never going to get any political party up. That is quite a bizarre thing for any Christian to say. If something is clearly wrong, as is the murder of babies, or the enslavement of fellow human beings, then mere pragmatic concerns should never determine the course of action we take.

    And respectfully you are even more confused about the drug issue. You cannot even seem to discriminate between legitimate drugs for health reasons – be it an aspirin or (if one day it is proven to be effective for medicinal reasons) medical marijuana – with the obvious mainstream use of illicit drugs, for the simple purpose to get high or get wasted. Apples and oranges here big time. I am really surprised anyone could not make such very basic differences. But you might read this where I go into much more details with evidence and stats: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/02/16/marijuana-madness/

  • Bill, I have no intention of stoning anyone, but how can you claim to be a biblically based Christian, believing in the whole council of God and not be a theonomist. As I understand a theonomist is basically one who believes in the law of God.
    The problem with government is that Christians that don’t know better have a great track record of building and supporting institutions that get subverted and taken over by humanists
    We need to marry the “Thy Kingdom come..thy will be done” part of the Lords prayer with “Today is the acceptable Day of the Lord”
    When the Bible talks about not moving the boundary stones its very much referring also to judicial jurisdiction
    Sorry for not being more clear in my crack regarding idolatry, its just that despite how much the Bible talks about it , our society tends to disregard it , thinking its all to do with antiquity, and we don’t understand how much of it is going on, even in church circles, its very subtle, and never gets taught about

    At Joel…no where have I ever come across Rushdoony promoting big government,on the contrary , and what you are referring to as theocracy is really ecclesiocracy and Rushdoony is dead set against that as well.
    Not sure I understand the second part of your comment…..

  • Thanks Hans – but you seem to be unaware of some very basic terminology here. Theonomy of course refers to a very specific group, also known as Christian Reconstructionists, spearheaded by folks like Rushdoony, Bahnsen, North, DeMar, etc. This is a very recent and very specific theological movement. I introduce it here in some detail: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/01/09/on-theonomy-part-one/

    If that is what you are referring to, then you really are off to say one can only be a biblically-based Christian if one is a theonomist. In that case probably 99.99 per cent of a Christians over the past 2000 years have not been biblical Christians because they have not been theonomists. If that is what you mean, then I can say that such arrogance is really the thing that would disqualify a person from being a true biblical Christian.

    However, if you mean by theonomist anyone who has a high regard for the law of God, well then that includes perhaps most believers throughout church history, except for the obvious candidates, such as the antinomians, etc.

    So it really does behove you to first make clear just what you are talking about and clearly identify your terms before you go rather wildly lashing out at people.

  • Hi Bill – you raise important issues here – good for you. I find it annoying that the libertarian Institute for Public Affairs is apparently almost the only “authorised” voice for the centre-right and right of politics in much of media, particularly on the ABC. While other conservatives, including conservative Christians, may agree with them on some things, on others we certainly disagree.
    John Wigg – good stuff – how about George Matheson’s great hymn?
    Make me a captive, Lord,
    and then I shall be free.
    Force me to render up my sword,
    and I shall conqueror be.
    I sink in life’s alarms
    when by myself I stand;
    imprison me within thine arms,
    and strong shall be my hand.

  • What did Jesus say would set us free? The truth? He is the truth. Within that truth we know we are nothing without Him by virtue of creation and redemption. We need more Heb 5:14 Christians. Of course the state has the responsibility to punish evil, but where the individual already obeys the law of God, no action will be taken by the government if they are on the right track that is. So it is a constant interplay between what individuals do and what the disciplinary action of the family church and government will do if the individual doesn’t get it right. In a sense governments as well as church and family act like a safety net for the acrobat, only go into action when the acrobat sets a foot wrong and is in danger of falling.
    But since we love and obey the good God, we should trustingly follow His definition of good and evil and not try and make up our own.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • This is how Dr Gary North Puts it:

    “…There is going to be a crisis of Keynesianism that is comparable to the crisis that Marxism had between 1978 and 1991. Keynesianism is going to produce a gigantic catastrophe economically, and then the question will be this: “Who has a clear, comprehensive, all-encompassing program that can be used to rebuild the economies of the world from the ground up, through voluntary action, through contract, and through education?”

    You cannot beat something with nothing. I keep coming back to this slogan. Lew Rockwell understands it with respect to Austrian economics. But there is an inherent division within Austrian economics. That division is between Mises and Rothbard. Mises believed in civil government; Rothbard did not. There is a major division right down the middle of the Austrian economics camp …”

    www.garynorth.com/public/11252.cfm?sd=135
    “After Keynesianism, What?”

    He “identifies libertarians” as: “… It is like a demolition expert who has a plan blow up a dike in the Netherlands. He will drill into it, insert an explosive, and detonate the explosive. Somebody replies that this would let water flood the community. The demolition man says: “That’s not my department.” …”

  • Bill, while you make a good point about libertarians ignoring God’s law you make just as big of a mistake when you promote adding to His law.

    O when will Christians return to the ONLY Lawgiver and Judge?

    Isaiah 33:22
    For the Lord is our judge, The Lord is our lawgiver, The Lord is our king; He will save us—

    James 4:12
    There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

    For you to claim there should be civil laws outside of what God has given because we deem them evil or that we feel we can judge even if God has not given us judgments for is claiming man should play God.

  • Thanks Roman. Sorry mate, but not buying it for a moment. By your twisted reasoning here, every law on the book dealing with things like speed limits, housing standards, computer specifications, train track gauges, and electricity usage are all evil and satanic and should be taken no notice of and/or disobeyed, because God did not specifically command them.

    O when will Christians start using their brains for a change? God has given us all sorts of freedom to move in all sorts of areas. He does not tell us how many books to read, how exactly to build a factory, which airline to fly, what sort of headlights we must have, or what time to have a shower. You are the one putting us under a new legalism with this “what God does not command, we cannot command” foolishness.

    And any Christian who knows even a little about all this knows that we are speaking here about ‘things indifferent’. But I have penned an entire article explaining what that entails. I suggest you go have a read of it:

    billmuehlenberg.com/2013/11/15/on-adiaphora/

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