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First we must define what a Libertarian is?
A Libertarian is someone who believes that coercion and/or violence cannot be the basis of a political compact, business, or personal relationship. This is called the Non-Aggression Principle. For the rest of this article, we will just refer to it as NAP. The NAP in business and personal practice means that we should keep our word. If we enter into a contract together to perform certain tasks for one another in exchange for a set price, then both of us should keep our word… our contract. Government, which most Libertarians accept as needed in limited ways, therefore exists to make sure that contracts are enforced. If one does not keep their word, then they are liable to civil suits, fines, and judgments as a means to rectify the broken contract. Libertarians that believe in limited government are called “Limited-Statist Libertarians.” They believe that one submits oneself voluntarily to a government, and that in fact all good government is voluntary in nature. The Founding Fathers were, for the most part, “Limited-Statist Libertarians”, and the Constitution of the United States is a document written to secure the rights of man by forming a very limited state, or government. The Founding Fathers believed, for the most part, that the role of the Federal Government should be very small, and the liberty of the individual should be very large.
What does a Christian Libertarian believe and why the designation Evangelical Libertarian?
A Christian Libertarian then is one whose understanding of the NAP is informed by nature and Scripture.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
A Christian Libertarian believes as all Christians believe, that there are two books of revelation, nature AND Scripture. While standard Libertarians of all varieties lean heavily on natural law theory in regards to discerning ethics and crime, Christian Libertarians filter their understanding of natural law through God’s Special Revelation to human beings in the Bible. As an Evangelical Libertarian then I am just more specific in what I believe concerning the nature of Scripture. I believe the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and all sufficient, providing everything that I need to understand, giving me sure a foundation for what I should believe, and how I should live in and interpret the world that I inhabit.
Not all professed Christians place the Bible on such a pedestal. This understanding of Libertarianism brings me close to paleo-Conservatism on many fronts. But, in my opinion, the conservative moniker has been so tarnished by neoconservatives that I can never wear that badge again. The modern Republican party is made up of as many aggressive statists as the modern Democratic Party. The difference being that Republicans make some attempt to hide their real plans and Democrats do not. Generally, when neoconservatives do use the term smaller government, what they really mean is slower rate of growth. So I choose to place myself among Libertarians, since they are at least not public liars, and make some attempt to be honest about their views.
Another name I will often use to describe myself is, “Limited-statist Libertarian”, as used previously in this article. Meaning that I believe that there is a very limited sphere in which the state should operate. Ludwig Von Mises and Fredrich Hayek, the two most brilliant economists of the twentieth century, are claimed by both paleo-conservatives and right leaning libertarians as heroes. The reason that they are claimed by both camps is because they were economic libertarians but tended to be social conservatives. Both believed the state had a limited role to play in public life. They were not “anarcho-capitalists”, who believed in a state-less world without borders, that is made up of unfettered individuals, and absolute free markets. I often state in my blogs the distaste I have for Utopianism. Anarcho-capitalism and libertinism are Utopian ideals, pure fiction in my estimation, and I do not dabble in fiction. The world is as it is, and so we must meet it as it is, not as we wish it to be. The three questions I ask myself often are,
- What is the proper sphere of the State?
- What is the proper sphere of the Church?
- How can human liberty be properly maximized in the individual in order to benefit human flourishing economically, culturally, and spiritually?
Look for my new weekly segment, “Ask The Evangelical Libertarian“, that will be posted on Thursday evenings for your reading pleasure, where I will provide a liberty oriented view of major topics from a Christian perspective.