Is Libertarianism compatible with Christianity, or is it an idolatrous ideology? The answer depends on who’s talking. Dr. Norman Horn, founder of the Christian Libertarian Institute, says “libertarianism is the most consistent expression of Christian political thought.” But, Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says the ideology makes a god out of self. Mohler and Horn will go head-to-head this Saturday at 11 a.m. CST on Up For Debate. In the meantime, here’s a primer on Libertarianism, so you’re prepared for this Saturday’s show!
What is Libertarianism?
Libertarianism is a political philosophy that advocates for maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state. According to David Boaz of the Cato Institute, Libertarianism’s key concepts are individual rights, spontaneous order, the rule of law, limited government and free markets, among others.
While the roots of libertarianism can be traced as far back as ancient Greece, the term itself was first used until the late 18th century. The beginnings of modern libertarian philosophy were expressed by philosophers and political theorists such as John Locke and Alexis de Tocqueville, and the movement claims American founding fathers James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and Thomas Paine among its ranks. More recent Libertarians like writer Ayn Rand, economist Milton Friedman and Congressman Ron Paul have grown the movement. The Libertarian Party was formed in 1971.
How Libertarians Describe Their Movement
“The core of libertarianism is the non-aggression principle: that the initiation of force against person and property is immoral, and it is in many respects a kind of political corollary to the Golden Rule. Thus, Christian libertarians think that government power should be limited, sound money and truly free markets should return, aggressive war must cease and civil liberties must be preserved.” — Norman Horn, founder of the Christian Libertarian Institute
“Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property – rights that people possess naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have themselves used force – actions like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.” — David Boaz, Executive Vice President, Cato Institute, in “Libertarianism: A Primer”
“The core of libertarianism is respect for the life, liberty and property rights of each individual. This means that no one may initiate force against another, as that violates those natural rights. While many claim adherence to this principle, only libertarians apply the non-aggression axiom to the state.” — Former Congressman Ron Paul
“Libertarians want the smallest, least-intrusive government consistent with maximum freedom for each individual to follow his own ways, his own values, as long as he doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s doing the same.” — Milton Friedman (1912-2006), Noble Prize-winning economist
“We want government to largely leave us alone, protect our personal security, but then to butt-out, leave us free to pursue our hopes and dreams, as long as we don’t hurt anybody else.” — John Stossel, author and host of “Stossel” on Fox Financial News Network
Christianity and Libertarianism
So, are Christianity and Libertarianism compatible? Both Dr. Mohler and Dr. Horn will discuss in detail on Saturday. However, below is a brief explanation by Dr. Mohler of why he believes Libertarianism is idolatrous, and Dr. Horn’s explanation of why he believes Libertarianism has its foundation in Scripture. Should be a fantastic on-air debate this Saturday morning!
Watch Dr. Horn’s explanation of the biblical foundations of Libertarianism:
Watch Dr. Mohler explain his view that Christianity and Libertarianism are incompatible: