What distinguishes Christian libertarianism from secular (or other) forms of libertarianism? Is it mostly a question of motivation, or are there also differences in policy application? Do Christian libertarians sometimes even disagree with one another on policy? In this round table discussion, we explore these and other questions pertaining to what may be considered unique about a Christian perspective on libertarianism.
LCI recommends a lot of books for libertarians. Many of our regular readers or listeners may already be familiar with some of the most influential books amongst libertarian Christians, but in this episode, we're going to discuss some other, perhaps lesser-known books (as well as some of the obvious ones), and explain what relevance they have for understanding political and economic theory in light of Christianity.
Books covered in this episode:
It's not the Old Testament that a Christian often goes to for their theological defense of non-violence. Our guest, Matthew Curtis Fleischer, believes that the Old Testament not only sets the stage for a non-violent Jesus, but also believes Christians will find in its pages the foundations for an ethic of non-violence. A lawyer and a libertarian, Fleischer's approach will feel familiar to a libertarian audience as he explores the Scriptures with attention to important clues as to what God was doing with his people.
You don't have to become a radical Christian to begin changing the world. Our guest, psychologist Richard Beck, has written Stranger God to deal directly with what a Christian is to do when they know they should reach out to strangers – those on the margins. In an effort to get away from mere academic discussions of hospitality and overcoming our personal barriers, Beck sought out ministry opportunities that put him directly in the presence of those on the margins.
In this episode, Beck discusses how important it is to take personal responsibility for one's own actions regarding others and how understanding the main principle of comedy improv helped him say yes to strangers in his midst. He even talks with LCI about how we can relate to those who are our “political enemies” (ideologically speaking).
Constitutions are a divisive topic even amongst libertarians, with the debate often centered on the anarchism v. minarchism issue. But as stateless projects like the Seasteading Institute and others gain more traction, even anarchists and voluntaryists are asking: is there a place for “constitutions” in a fully privatized society?
Joining us to discuss is political commentator and author Trey Goff, who recently wrote a model constitution intended for a privatized, stateless society. We cover some of the various strengths and weaknesses of the concept, how it may be improved or altered, and what role it may have in the developing landscape of stateless society projects.
About a year and a half in the making, the Libertarian Christian Institute is now blessed to present our inaugural volume of Christian Libertarian Review: our new scholarly journal dedicated to the intersection of Christianity and libertarian thought. On this episode, General Editor Jamin Hübner and Assistant Editor Ruth Ryder join us to discuss the mission and vision of the journal, what readers can expect to find in Volume 1, and some plans for the journal's future.
Most people, including most libertarians, have a very negative perception of lobbyists, often because lobbyists seem to represent those who loot the rest of us on behalf of special interests. While this is often the case, there are also some lobbyists who represent liberty. How does someone go about lobbying for more freedom in a formal political capacity, and what does it look like as a career? In this episode, libertarian Christian lobbyist Aaron Day joins us to discuss his take, as well as other potential career paths for those who want to work full-time in the liberty movement.
One year ago, it was widely acknowledged and discussed that for good or bad, 2016 had been truly extraordinary. As we now reflect on 2017, what are we to make of it?
In this episode, LCI contributor and Mimetic Theory expert David Gornoski returns to give a Girardian take on some of the top stories from 2017. Mixing theology, philosophy, sociology and anthropology, David helps us to interpret the past year and prepare for what may await in 2018.
As we celebrate the Advent, economist and friend of LCI Bob Murphy returns to the show to tell us about his Christian testimony. Once a staunch atheist who planned to write (in his words) “the definitive refutation of Christianity,” Bob was converted to Christ in the early 2000’s and has become a leading voice in the libertarian Christian movement. How did he come to know the Lord? Unwrap this episode to find out.
Doug and Norman talk about the birth stories of Christ and how Matthew and Luke both use language and employ storytelling techniques that provide a clear anti-Roman and anti-empire story. This is good news for all because the message of liberation is not only about our personal liberation from the captivity of sin, but the cosmic liberation of captivity from slavery and oppression.
Parabolic interpretation has been seen through many lenses throughout Christian history. While the deepest theological meaning of the parables carry the greatest importance, there are also important lessons which can be gleaned from the historical context in which the parables occur.
In this episode, Jeffrey Tucker returns to discuss principles of economics in the parables of Jesus. By stepping into first century Israel and looking at the parables as stories which, on their surfaces, resonated with the life and times of Second Temple Jews, we can see that Jesus assumes a world of just property rights, freedom of contract, and economic liberty.
It seems that people are no longer able to have a decent conversation with each other about politics or other controversial topics. Social media exacerbates our tribal tendencies and often we get entrenched in our own beliefs. It often takes the wisdom of one who has had years of experience talking to and discussing hot-button topics. There's no better person for to talk to about this than EconTalk host, Russ Roberts.
Russ Roberts joins us for this episode to discuss what it takes to maintain a civil discussion during the holiday season (or any season!). With insight and wisdom from Adam Smith to his experience as host of EconTalk and a professor, Russ shares with us some very important things about life, both in the personal sphere and the social sphere.
No matter where we are in the world, Silicon Valley plays a big role in most of our lives. Much of the technology that we have come to rely on for daily use is either designed in, managed from, or otherwise largely affected by the engineers, developers, programmers and executives who live in the Bay Area. Over the years --- and especially within the last two or three --- Silicon Valley has been increasingly in the spotlight for its politics, particularly how the political agendas of its influencers and executives affect the rest of us.
In this episode, we are joined by Silicon Valley insider and LCI advisory board member Aaron Ginn. Aaron helps us sort fact from fiction in how we think about the politics of Silicon Valley, and to understand what it all means for freedom of speech and other key principles of liberty. We also discuss futurism in a Christian context, and how we should look at technology as a tool given to us by God in order to love our neighbors and advance the Lord's kingdom.
The popular perception of libertarianism is often skewed. While those on the left tend to think of libertarians as greedy and self-absorbed with no concern for the poor, those on the right --- and particularly the Christian right --- often conflate libertarianism with libertinism. What's worse, many libertarians have contributed to this error by mixing libertarianism with other elements of their ethics, giving the inaccurate impression that libertarians must be hedonists, abuse narcotics, or live licentiously, or that at the very least they must not object to someone else's questionable behavior.
As we continue our interview series with the authors of Called to Freedom, Taylor Barkley joins us to talk about the differences between libertarianism and libertinism. What are the different shades of libertarianism? How do the distinctions between 'thin libertarianism' and 'thick libertarianism' come into play? Why do some libertarians mix libertinism into their libertarianism? How should we explain libertarianism to those on both the left and the right?
What is the biblical portrayal of the state? The Libertarian Christian Institute frequently discusses this question; it has bery important ramifications for how we think about political philosophy. In this episode, we continue our interview series with the authors of Called to Freedom as we are joined by Jason Hughey, author of the chapter on the Bible and government.
Jason walks us through the narrative portrayal of the state in the Bible and helps us to see that state officials are sinful people just like the rest of us. As such, they should not be viewed as a special class with some intrinsic ability or right to rule, nor are they exempted from the ethical constraints that bind everyone else. In contrast to political power, the power of Christ is found in the gospel. We also cover some helpful guidelines for thinking about political power and the Bible, some pragmatic considerations, and of course, we get Jason's take on Romans 13.
Mass shootings, gun control
Protest with a football
North Korea, South Korea, Rajoy as Franco
No, it’s not a new Billy Joel song; it’s a discussion of some very important current events in culture, domestic and foreign policy, and international news which have happened during the last couple of months. 2017 has seen a lot of extraordinary developments --- some good, some bad, and some downright evil --- and in this episode we discuss a few which have been prominent in recent news cycles. We start off with the Las Vegas shooting and the left calling for gun control, move into football in American culture and the anthem protest controversy, spend some time going over the escalating North Korean conflict and the Iranian nuclear deal, and close out discussing the Catalonian secession vote and what is currently transpiring in Spain.
The Diocese of South Carolina, once part of the Episcopal Church, seceded from the denomination in 2012 after a complex dispute, and in 2017 joined another Anglican denomination, the Anglican Church in North America. However, the Episcopal Church claims ownership of the diocese's real estate, as well as certain trademarks and intellectual property rights pertaining to its name and branding. What has ensued is an intricate and multi-faceted legal dispute between the diocese and the Episcopal Church. This story illustrates important considerations for handling ecclesiastic disputes and church splits, and what can happen when the state gets involved. Joining us to discuss his take is the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis from the Diocese of South Carolina.
The War on Drugs is one of the most frequently-cited policy issues in modern politics, and it also serves as a clear foil of libertarianism. Whether or not one supports inflicting legislative violence to stop non-violent activity, as happens routinely in the Drug War, is perhaps the most important litmus test of a libertarian. Where one stands on the Drug War also often serves as a firm dividing line between libertarianism and conservatism. Yet despite the relentless evil of the War on Drugs, which is even more destructive to society than drug abuse itself, bad arguments and weak ethics still prevail in most national policy discussions. Thankfully, the tide is turning in recent years.
In this episode, we are joined by Raeford Davis, a former police officer who used to enforce the Drug War, and now is one of its most fervent and piercing critics. Raeford walks us through his own story as a Christian police officer enforcing drug prohibition, what happened to change his mind, why the Drug War is both intrinsically evil and pragmatically ineffective, and why it is incumbent on every police officer, and every citizen, to consider and reject the sin that is the War on Drugs.
Sociology, psychology and anthropology can bring us many important insights into our theology, and 20th century scholar René Girard is a testament to that fact. Diving deep into the root causes of sin and social conflict, Girard helps us to see that much of human strife occurs because of our misshapen 'mimetic' desires to imitate our neighbors (including by destroying them to take what is theirs) and/or project condemnation for our own sins onto others (scapegoating).
We are joined on this episode by Girard expert David Gornoski, a friend and contributor to LCI. David explains the foundations and applications of Girard's insights and their relevance for both Christian theology and libertarian political philosophy. If you like this episode, terrific! If you don’t like this episode, consider that perhaps you’re scapegoating us and should reconsider.
The subject of theonomy (rule by the Old Testament law) and Christian Reconstructionism (rebuilding society with the Old Testament as a blueprint) is sometimes raised in discussions of Christian political theology, particularly from those in the Reformed tradition. Most Reformed Christians would not identify as theonomists, yet interestingly, many who do are also associated with the libertarian movement.
In this episode, we are joined by CJay Engel of The Reformed Libertarian, a longtime friend of LCI, to discuss the history and theology of the Christian Reconstructionist movement. CJay critiques the theonomic position from a Reformed perspective, and explains why the Old Testament law is not meant to be followed by modern nation-states and political bodies.
The Libertarian Christian Institute was a big supporter of the book Called to Freedom, released in February of this year and featuring a foreword written by our own Norman Horn. Doug and Nick were joined at the Young Americans for Liberty National Convention (YALCON) in July by two of the authors, Elise Daniel and Jacqueline Isaacs, and conducted this impromptu interview in the hallway. We discuss their journeys as Christian libertarians, some key themes of the book, their insights on the current state of libertarianism in the Church, and find out how the book is being received. Both theological and warmly autobiographical, Called to Freedom is a great resource for anyone struggling to reconcile what it means to be both Christian and libertarian.
Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Over the last couple of months, we've interviewed three leading foreign policy experts about what has transpired in U.S. foreign policy since that fateful day, what lessons were learned (or not learned), current issues in U.S. foreign policy, and the outlook for contemporary foreign affairs. In this episode, we are joined by:
In July, Doug Stuart and Nick Gausling attended the Young Americans for Liberty 2017 National Convention on behalf of LCI. This episode is our talk from the LCI breakout session, plus some additional Q&A recorded at the LCI booth. We cover some key points in how to engage and reach Christians with the message of liberty, and also answer some common (and some not so common) questions. Though originally delivered to college students who are active proponents of liberty on their campuses, this information is useful to anyone wondering how to better advocate for liberty to Christians.
Nearly every libertarian has heard the classic objection, “But who would build the roads?” This question is so common that it has become a point of ridicule by libertarians to mock weak arguments for why libertarianism supposedly can't work in practice (as if the state's nearly-endless track record of failures hasn't proven its method dysfunctional).
In this episode, renowned libertarian Christian economist Bob Murphy joins us to discuss the economics and practical functions of society in the absence of the state. Beyond roads, Murphy walks us through how anything --- even national defense and the law itself --- can work better when fully-privatized. You might say that where this episode is going, we don't need roads...
As part of our summer lineup, we're revisiting several of the most popular and informative talks given at Christians for Liberty conferences in previous years. Though instead of just reposting those talks, we've filled them with some extensive supplemental commentary, so even listeners who have heard the original talks with get all new material.
In our final Annotated Talk for the summer, we work through Jason Rink's analysis of the ways in which nationalism, hyper-patriotism, and state devotion are forms of idolatry. Pervasive in much of contemporary American Christianity --- and elsewhere throughout Church history at various times --- worship of the state clashes with God's command that we worship Him alone. Yet in our songs, symbols and even reverence for historical figures and documents, a healthy appreciation for ones' country can quickly become an idol. We probably won't be closing out this episode with any karaoke to Lee Greenwood music.