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Christian libertarianism should not be confused with libertarian Christianity.

Christian libertarianism is a term used by people to describe the synthesis of their Christian beliefs with their libertarian political philosophy. It is also a political philosophy in itself that has its roots in libertarianism and it is a political ideology to the extent that Christian libertarians promote their cause to others and join together as a movement. In general, Christian libertarians believe that Christians should not use government as a tool to control others' moral behavior or to initiate the use of force against others. They further believe these principles are supported by Christ's teaching and by the Bible.

According to the Reverend Andrew Sandlin while he was at The Chalcedon Foundation, Christian libertarianism is the view that mature individuals are permitted maximum freedom under God's law.[1]

The glossary at Reformation Online says that Christian libertarianism is the view that supports maximum individual liberty under God's law; that Christ came, among other things, to grant men liberty under God's authority. It refers to John 8:36 in the Bible and says that the authority of all human individuals and institutions is strictly limited to what the Bible authorizes.[2]

Some people do not distinguish between Christian libertarianism, libertarian Christianity, and Christian anarchism. Others believe the distinctions are important: (a)Christian libertarianism is an extension of Christian theology, usually by people from theonomic and reconstructionist schools, so that this amalgamation includes many principles and perspectives of secular libertarianism. (b)Libertarian Christianity differs from Christian libertarianism in that it uses a different set of biblical hermeneutics from those used by Christian libertarianism. Even so, libertarian Christianity finds many principles and perspectives in common with Christian libertarianism. (c)Both Christian libertarianism and libertarian Christianity differ from Christian anarchists in that both Christian schools of libertarianism have strong beliefs in the right to private property, whereas anarchists, including Christian anarchists, have a history of professing belief in other forms of property. An essay at points out, "both collectivist and individualist anarchists usually agree on the importance of abolishing the privilege of private 'bourgeois' property."[3] In the book "For a New Liberty, the Libertarian Manifesto", by secular libertarian economist, Murray Rothbard, Rothbard says, "The libertarian favors the right to unrestricted private property and free exchange; hence, a system of 'laissez-faire capitalism.'"[4]



The origins of Christian libertarianism in the U. S. can be traced back to the roots of libertarianism. According to Murray Rothbard, of the three libertarian experiments begun during the European colonization of the Americas in the mid 17th century, all three of them were begun by Christian groups.[5]

Going back farther, Martin Luther, one of the authors of the protestant reformation, has been called a libertarian. In the introduction to "Luther and Calvin on Secular Authority", the editor, Harro Hopfl, says that libertarian, egalitarian, communal motifs were part of the texture of Luther's theology.[6]

Criticism of Christian libertarianism

Most of the arguments used against Christian libertarianism are part of criticism of libertarianism in general. However, besides this, there are also Christians who oppose Christian libertarianism on religious grounds, especially because of opposing interpretations of the Bible. Christian critics of Christian libertarianism generally come from three factions: (a) Christians who share the basic claim to being Calvinist with the theonomic reconstructionists, and dominionists who claim to be Christian libertarians, but who object to theonomic reconstructionist theology; (b) dispensationalist Christians who have their own special set of objections to theonomic reconstructionist Christianity, and therefore to Christian libertarianism that affiliates with such theonomic reconstructionism; and (c) all other Christian sects who have their own variety of objections to theonomic reconstructionism, and therefore, to Christian libertarianism that is affiliated with such theonomic reconstructionism.

Libertarian Christianity falls into the first category of Christian critics of Christian libertarianism, because libertarian Christians are Calvinist adherents to covenant theology, and as such, they object to (a) Christian libertarianism that affiliates itself with theonomic reconstructionism based on objections to theonomic reconstructionism; and (b) Christian libertarianism that does not affiliate with theonomic reconstructionism based on its presumed ad hoc, non-systematic, and fallacious approach to theology. Libertarian Christians base their libertarianism upon a specific interpretive framework.

There have also been criticisms of Libertarianism from the point of view of the papal magisterium, notably in Libertas Praestantissimum, Rerum Novarum, Quadragesimo Anno and Centesimus Annus.

See also


  1. ^ Andrew Sandlin, The Christian Statesman, "The Christian Libertarian Idea", October 1996
  2. ^ Reformation Online Glossary of Frequently used terms, Reprinted from Chalcedon, July 8, 2007
  3. ^ "Private Property or Possession: A Synthesis". Retrieved 2008-01-01.  
  4. ^ Rothbard, Murray (1973). For a New Liberty, the Libertarian Manifesto. New York: Collier Books. ISBN 0-02-074690-3.  , (On the internet at The Mises Institute.).
  5. ^ The Origins of Individualist Anarchism in the US, Murray N. Rothbard, February 1, 2006
  6. ^ Hopfl, Harro Book:Luther and Calvin on Secular Authority, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, September 27, 1991, p. xii

Further reading

  • Robbins, John. Freedom and Capitalism: Essays on Christian Politics and Economics [1]
  • Machen, J. Gresham. Education, Christianity, and the State ISBN 0940931729 [2]
  • Bandow, Douglas. Beyond Good Intentions: A Biblical View of Politics ISBN 0891074988
  • Clark, Gordon H. A Christian View of Men and Things [3]
  • Robbins, John. Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church ISBN 0940931788 [4]
  • Robbins, John. Christ and Civilization [5]

External links



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