Al Mohler: Should Christians become Libertarians? Episode 1345

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21 Responses to Al Mohler: Should Christians become Libertarians? Episode 1345

  1. Truth2Freedom says:

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  2. Richard Storey says:

    1. Rand didn’t invent Libertarianism any more than Michael Moore invented Socialism.
    2. Libertarianism has its roots in Christianity and historians of Libertarianism like Rothbard would happily admit this.
    Conclusion, extremely disappointed by the ignorant response.

    God made a covenant with Noah to establish civil government for the sole purpose of judicial punishment for harm to the person and property of others and Paul confirms this role in Romans 13. Christian Libertarians do nothing but affirm this simple truth and point out the problems which occur throughout Scripture and throughout history from the government which involves itself in anything more.

  3. Nathan Armstrong says:

    Richard, I’ve seen many young men and women – and I count myself among the young, so bear with me – latch on to Christian Libertarianism, only to get swept away in the politics; before long, their view of Libertarianism becomes their focus, not a desire for Biblical government, and it carries them further and further away from Scripture and their local Church until, eventually, they remove themselves from the Church entirely and wind up in the extremes of Libertarianism: a position that has startling similarities to extreme Liberalism, and errs frighteningly close to Anarchism. This, I think, is what they’re responding to.

    I do agree that the Bible does set a boundary for how a government should operate. But, as we live in a fallen world, we simply will never have a government which follows God’s perfect structure. Too many libertarians try to push themselves to overthrow the government, which is absolutely contrary to Scripture. We are to be subject to the governing authorities, who God has placed there to rule, whether they are operating as they Scripturally should or not.

    Since we are in a government which allows us to lend our voice in its direction, we can and should speak out for government that honors God. But it is not for us to be on a crusade for Godly government; that’s not a mission given to us by Christ. Our mission statement is clear: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

    • Christos Anesti says:

      No true Christian libertarian wants to overthrow the government. Romans 13 tells us to obey the authorities. This doesn’t in any way imply, however, that we are to enforce our moral views on other people.

      A government that throws people in jail for sinning is not one that honors God because if it did that consistently, everyone would end up in jail because we all sin. What conservatives do is they pick certain sins that they don’t do and ban them, like drug use. It’s so unChristian it’s unbelievable. We all sin, so if you think sinning should be illegal, be consistent.

      • I am a true Christian, a true libertarian, and I want the earthly government to fall. Romans 13 tells us to obey those who have authority (those who have the right to use their power). It does not tell us, however, that the government has such a right, nor does it imply that the burden of gaining the right to use power is any different for a group of individuals than for an individual. If it is not moral for an individual to do it, it is not moral for a government to do it, and therefore there has never been any government that had a moral right to exist.

      • Nathan Armstrong says:

        Be careful; you’re entering ‘No True Scotsman’ territory.

        We do not, as believers, force moral views. Scripture does. God, by His very nature, does.

        It is never the government’s job to enforce punishment for sin; only God can deal out true, complete justice for sin. However, it IS to protect against sin that specifically can harm others, and it is to do its best to discourage sin that can harm one’s self. This is why we’ve had laws against the possession and use of recreational drugs alongside laws against the murder of a human being: because both are designed for our protection, not just to enforce an arbitrary code of morality. See Paul’s attitude concerning the government, especially in the book of Acts, and you’ll see that he not only recognizes the government’s role as a protector, he leverages it fully. We’re talking about Rome, as worldly a government as you’re likely to find; and yet God used it to maintain order in that culture.

        Any given judgment is made on some moral standard. The standard of any government will be based on the world’s moral standard, I.E. sinful and flawed, but God has restrained this worldly influence to some degree in many countries to allow there to be some semblance of the optimal government, one that follows in line with the morality defined in Scripture.

        Make no mistake: as governments drift further away from God’s intended plan, they will cease to fulfill that protective role. That does not mean our attitude should change. Much like a child is to be obedient to their parents in all things, and much like a wife is to submit to her husband in all things: unless your actions would entail sin, you are to obey your government. Scripture is crystal-clear on this.

    • libertyblogger101 says:

      I can’t believe I didn’t notice this post. For what its worth, I’m “young” to. 19 to be exact. I am also a Christian libertarian, an anarcho-capitalist actually. I’m not sure whether that’s what you mean by “anarchist” or not. I do not oppose government per say, but I oppose the State period, and I believe it to be an unbiblical institution. I’d defend this position using Deuteronomy 17:14-20 and 1 Samuel 8. Although John Robbins was a minarchist, I believe if he were consistent with this article of his that he ultimately could not have avoided the voluntarist/anarcho-capitalist logical conclusions of applying the ten commandments to government (ie. when the government taxes they are violating commandment 8, and so forth.)

      I’m not sure why libertarianism, “extreme” or otherwise, would lead anyone away from his local church moreso than any other political philosophy. Idolatry of politics is a problem, and it was one I struggled with for some time. But, I think conservatives can get caught up in this just as well as libertarians. Admittedly, if my church were preaching neoconservative politics from the pulpit I don’t think I could stay, but at that point my issue would be less “political” and more a matter of me being unwilling to sit under a pastor who is preaching immorality from the pulpit.

      For what its worth, I teach Sunday School at my church. I do not teach libertarianism, ever. I teach the gospel. My pastor, though not a blind Republican neocon, is not libertarian either. I still attend church.

      As for overthrowing the government, while I’m not condoning such I’m not sure the issue is as simple as you make it out to be. The Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands, and for children to obey their parents. We wouldn’t conclude from this that if a husband tries to whip his wife and children with a cat o’nine tails that they should just submit to it. Yet for some reason many Christians WOULD go to this kind of extreme with government. I view Romans 13 as more of a predestinarian passage much like the rest of the book. Jewish people at that time already knew their government was oppressive. Paul certainly knew. Everyone knew. Paul was assuring his readers that if they disobeyed the government that they would wield the sword in response. He was also assuring them that, despite the obvious evil of the government, God ultimately caused it for good. Political revolution is already a different issue because sometimes the sword IS borne in vain in such cases, whereas in most other cases it is not (Ie. King George III failed to bear the sword successfully during the American revolution.) All in all, while I am opposed to trying to “overthrow” governments (Which means attacking them and seeking to kill or otherwise take that which they control) I am not opposed the secession backed by the barrel of the gun. While subtle, this distinction is important. The American Revolution was not truly revolution. They didn’t go to England and try to force them to change their king. They seceded. The southern side of the civil war (despite slavery) was similarly a secession. The goal wasn’t to go into DC and dethrone Lincoln, the goal was to separate. I believe revolution, properly defined, is not just, but that secession can be just. I do understand this is a topic Christians disagree on, but I don’t think you can just say “Romans 13” and end the debate. What about the book of Judges? WHat about Moses challenging Pharaoh in Exodus? What about 1 Samuel 8? What about John the Baptist telling the soldiers not to do violence and the tax collectors to “take no more than required” (a subtle hint at quitting as tax collectors were paid by this excess.) What about Revelation’s EXTREMELY negative view of the State and its control? That’s not to deny that Romans 13 is completely, perfectly inspired, but its seemingly absolute instruction to submit and obey needs to be weighed against other passages that appear much more anti-state at first glance.

      • Kenogu Labz says:

        There is a difference between condoning policy and law and submitting under it. We are to submit. There is no qualifier. In the example you gave… yes, wives and children are to submit even under physical violence. Is it pleasant? No. Are we defending or condoning the husband’s actions? No. But, again, Scripture gives a very clear statement: Obey. No qualifiers. We do understand that Scripture is the highest authority, and any obedience that would cause us to sin is wrong, and should be directly resisted. But you can still obediently suffer under an unbiblical government WITHOUT stepping into sin. That is the line in the sand drawn by Scripture. No, it does not agree with a great many policies and laws of our country right now. But it doesn’t say “well, if they’re pretty bad, you can go ahead and do whatever you want.” No. Qualifiers. See Paul’s response under Rome. See Joseph’s response under the Pharaoh. See the people of Israel under Babylon and Persia. The book of Daniel is the prime example in Scriptures of obeying government AND honoring God.

      • Daniel says:

        “So therefore, it is possible, and even commanded, that we make it known that State action is wrong and at the same time subject ourselves to earthly authority. When Christians use Romans 13 to counter our belief that the State should be eradicated, we must demonstrate this balance to them. Because, while we do oppose the wrongful nature of the State, we will humbly submit to its authority. Even Jesus, who has true authority over the State, called out evil consistently and wherever he saw it, and yet submitted to the horrors of State torture and crucifixion. He called out the religious leaders for their wrongdoings throughout his ministry and yet subjected himself to them when they came with soldiers to arrest him. Must we not be like Christ? This is quite honestly the Ron Paul libertarian method of spreading the message, not via force and violent revolution, but rather, through education and the peaceful exchange of ideas.”

      • libertyblogger101 says:

        Paul didn’t provide ANY qualifiers. He did not even say that if the government tells you to disobey God that you should disobey it. Naturally, we can infer this from other scriptures, but Paul doesn’t say it in Romans 13.

        I don’t think you’re condoning the husband’s actions, but you are definitely taking a section of scripture far beyond that for which it was intended. The passages that say that wives are to obey their husbands are not saying that one cannot flee an abusive situation. You are interpreting the text in a legalistic manner and missing the point. The same as most people, including you, do with Romans chapter 13.

        Tell me, was Samson violating God’s law when he slaughtered the Philistine oppressors? If you say no, you are a hypocrite.

        If an abusive father tells his daughter to let him rape her should she obey? If you say yes, you’re an evil person. If you say no, you are a hypocrite.

        A lot of people try to pin way too much on one or two texts to the point where they miss the entire point of the Bible.

  4. Christos Anesti says:


    The whole argument he made was a complete strawman. Calling all libertarians Ayn Rand – based objectivists is like calling all rectangles squares. While a square is always a rectangle, there are many rectangles that are not squares. In the same way, while an objectivist is always a libertarian, there are many libertarians who are not objectivists. A Christian cannot be an objectivist because objectivism states that one’s only moral purpose in life is pursuing one’s own happiness. This is directly contrary to Christianity and is why it is ignorant to say that a Christian libertarian would base his or her ideas on objectivism. Libertarianism has existed for a long time, way before Ayn Rand, and many libertarians were Christians.

    On top of that, there are many pro-life libertarians, and many libertarians don’t adhere to the libertarian party. There are even atheist pro-life libertarians; in fact, an atheist (Doris Gordon) was one of the founding members of the pro-life group “Libertarians for Life”. There are plenty of libertarians from a variety of religious backgrounds who recognize the pro-life position as valid.

    The appeal to Romans 13 also makes no sense because Romans 13 just says to obey the law, and doesn’t specify to what extent government should enforce Biblical morality. If you are going to make the case that the government should enforce Biblical morality, you cannot make compromise. Your position would imply a theocratic autocracy (see the Byzantine Empire). You can’t just say “there are limits on government” and simultaneously say “sola scriptura” because the Bible doesn’t put nearly the limits on government that this response advocates. If you really believed that Biblical morality should be enforced, you wouldn’t be for freedom of religion or freedom of speech, cause the 10 Commandments say thou shalt not have other gods and thou shalt not lie. The argument made here is just so inconsistent it’s hard to see how anyone believes it.

  5. Pingback: Al Mohler Discusses Libertarianism: Some Thoughts | Reformed Libertarian

  6. Daniel says:

    I agree with Cjay here: “My present argument is that “social norms, aesthetics, religious doctrines, cultural concerns, moral theories, and epistemological considerations” do not flow from the summary statement of libertarianism. Rather, those categories of things (not necessarily all of them) flow into the summary statement. People are libertarians for a large variety of different reasons. It is because of this that I try not to refer to the so-called Non-Aggression Principle as the “Non-Aggression Axiom.”

    This is why I think most conservative christians misunderstands libertarianism.

  7. libertyblogger101 says:

    C.Jay Engel is right. Al Mohler is wrong. And I don’t think Mohler even knows what libertarianism proper is.

    “libertarianism” does not answer whether there should be conservative moral norms or not.

    “libertarianism” does not answer whether the govvernment should be obeyed or not.

    “libertarianism” does not even answer how much focus should be on political issues compared to other ones.

    Libertarinaism is a theory on the right to use violence, namely, that initiation of force against peaceful adults is always illegitimate. That’s it.

    • Nathan Armstrong says:

      That may have been its original intent, but it has been overtaken by other agendas entirely. The meaning has been subsumed by a larger political agenda, and that is what the world at large sees.

      • libertyblogger101 says:

        I just listened to Mohler’s entire thing (I originally learned about this from C Jay Engel’s blog) and he does make certain valid points. It may be that the term “libertarian” is problematic because of the connotations of that term, but none of these have anything to do with what libertarianism actually means.

        I agree, and have agreed for some time, that the phrase “enforcing morality” is problamatic. Mohler is right that virtually everyone wants to do it, the libertarian included. The debate is over what degree of morality should be enforced. Murder is wrong. Telling a white lie is wrong. I assume Mohler agrees with me on this. Yet, we’d both agree that murder should be punishable by government and that telling a white lie should not be (If I recall correctly this is the argument that C Jay Engel used in his response). The debate is really over WHICH morality should be enforced.

        I’m honestly not sure if Mohler had only the Libertarian Party in mind in his response, or libertarianism (Small l) as a philosophy, the way he words his response in the video, and the way Todd Friel addresses the question, could allow it to be taken either way. I mostly agree with them on the Libertarian Party, with the caveat that other parties are worse (I would strongly advise anyone against joining the GOP and thinking that that is a better option:)) But, when it comes to libertarianism as such, that is a philosophy on how much government should be involved in our lives. I don’t see how that logically leads to a denial of the gospel at all. Its a moral issue, not a gospel issue. Specifically a moral issue on when it is right to use violence. I don’t know if Mohler knows this or not. I suspect based on the original response that he doesn’t, and that he coinflates libertarianism with Ayn Rand. I don’t know a whole lot about Rand, but I know enough to know that a Christian cannot be a Randian objectivist. Christians who defend libertarianism are defending a minimalist (limited state) or voluntarists (limited government without a state) view of government, and in turn, a belief that violent force should only be used to enforce morality when the morality breech is aggressive in nature. Now, there are all sorts of nuances here ( a big one is abortion, many libertarians such as myself, Ron Paul, and most other Christian libertarians believe abortion is aggressive and should not be legal, And of course there are others who think it should be legal, for any number of reasons (I will not explain or defend their reasoning since I believe they are wrong.) But, no matter the nuances, none of them say that we shouldn’t preach the gospel or that culture doesn’t matter. That may be the view of some libertarians, but it really has nothing to do with libertarianism as a political philosophy. Political libertarianism says that morality should not be enforced EXCEPT when aggression is involved. How one comes to this conclusion is different depending on the libertarian, I derive it from scripture, others from “natural law” and still others from utilitarian basis. Libertarianism per say does not answer that question either.

        Admittedly, there are a lot of people who confuse “libertarian” and “libertine” so I usually don’t identify as one unless the person knows what I’m talking about. Same thing with the term “anarcho-capitalist.” Both terms would be correct descriptions of what I believe, but since most people do not know these terms and thus read things into them that are not there, I usually do not describe myself as such. Despite this, if Mohler is going to comment on an ideology, he would do well to first understand what the philosophy actually says, rather than jumping on inaccurate statements made by some of its adherents that haven’t thought it through much, or assuming that all libertarians believe exactly the same things.

  8. Daniel says:

    Different societies have different ways of defining their morality. Some think the king have the right to sleep with the brides first night others think its ok to abort babies or we own everything in common. The difference is Christianity have an objective standard of morality while others rely on all kinds of things which ultimately fail.

  9. Terrence says:

    How about considering the thoughts and knowledge of those of us who identify as libertarian, but not a part of the Libertarian Party?

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