I was made aware as the response that Pastor James Huenink wrote to my article from October 20th titled ‘Are Christianity and Libertarianism Compatible?' was about to be published. I digested what he had to say and I respect his stance on the matter. However, I felt compelled to not only clarify my position, but to defend it - given our current state of affairs as a nation.
First off, I would like to thank The Two Things for having me and allowing me room to respond. I would also like to thank Pastor Huenink for the opportunity to clarify and defend my position. Without further adieu, let’s look at the first paragraph.
Right away, something immediately rubbed me wrong as soon as I began reading his response. His first statement came off as slightly braggadocios, as he mocked what I assume he intended to be Trump voters who appear to have been slighted by the vocal minority Libertarian vote in the current ensemble of numbers (still awaiting further investigation mind you).
“In many states, the margin between Trump and Biden is small enough that the libertarian vote covers the gap.
Conservatives weep and gnash their teeth that we handed the election to Biden. Your tears are delicious . Maybe you’ll try to earn our vote next round. #libertarianvotesmatter" - Pastor James Huenink
He appears to feel no remorse for people whose very livelihoods are on the line in such a crucial election (that is, the salt of the Earth - the productive people of society, largely conservatives). As a servant of God, I’d like to think that deep down inside, this isn’t all just a joke to him as it is to many secular folks who trend toward the Libertarian party these days. That wouldn’t be very Christ like now, would it?
Before we dig into the nitty gritty, I should note that I never divulged my position on the matter in my original article. I ended the article as neither for nor against libertarianism because I simply wanted to raise the question and allow room for debate.. But since we’re discussing and debating now, I might as well and say that I personally don’t believe Libertarianism, as it’s understood in the “post-modern” sense, is compatible with the Christian faith.
I say this as someone who was a libertarian ever since high school civics class back in 2006, until just a few years ago. I still favor overall civil libertarianism as the U.S. was originally intended to be, but I disagree with the more modern concepts of libertarianism that has manifested as the Libertarian party, as well as the elites of Silicon Valley, New York City, Brussels, etc. Andrew Breitbart famously once stated that “politics are downstream from culture”. That’s exactly what finally convinced me to retract my vote for Gary Johnson in 2016 and spring for Donald Trump.
I still appreciate my libertarian friends, as they are cunning in their understand of legal concepts, moralistic mind exercises, and keeping things balanced in a discussion about political things. Perhaps libertarianism was only palatable for people like me when Ron Paul made his epic run, pulling in more people than any candidate with an ‘L’ next to their name than ever before. Considering how paleoconservative he was, that could very well be the case.
I tried to convince myself of things such as anarcho-capitalism, voluntaryism, amongst other modern libertarian-ish forms. However, my return to the faith around that time appeared to clash with my perception of government as entailed in the Bible (whether good or bad). With that being said, let’s jump into what Huenink had to say about some points throughout my original article.
The Nitty Gritty
Huenink starts: “While Walrath gets many things right about libertarian philosophy, his arguments against it don’t stand up to examination. I will do my best to faithfully summarize his ideas, but I invite him to clarify what I get wrong. In short, they are:
No Libertarian Societies
“Let’s start with the first: A libertarian society has never existed. Walrath writes: ‘Not only has there *never existed a libertarian nation; [sic] there's never been one that happened to also have a strong Christian demographic at that.’
Huenink then goes on to attempt to describe ancient Israel as a libertarian society, which I suppose that it could’ve been considered in a loose way. The government in Israel deteriorated from aristocracy (rule by Moses and then Joshua) to anarchy (no rule or government). Israel became fragmented, weak, and unable to withstand her enemies.
This is ironic, because after Joshua died, Israel was in fantastic position to begin enjoying the benefits of a God ordained theocracy in the land for the first time (which is antithetical to libertarianism). Until Judges opens, God was preparing Israel to enjoy the theocracy in the land. Three characteristics marked the social chaos in Israel during the period of the judges:
Lawlessness characterized national life. People were afraid to go out in public, and traveled the byways rather than the highways of the land (5:6).
People committed violent crimes without fear of punishment (ch. 19). Blindness (spiritual and mental) also characterized the people. They were blind to what was happening in their midst, namely, God using discipline after apostasy to bring them to repentance and deliverance. They were also blind to God's dealings with their ancestors in the past.
Immorality marked Israel's social life. Even Samson, one of the judges, was sadly a victim of this cancer.
This all goes without saying that pre-monarchy Israel was hardly a society at the level of being considered a civilization yet, which was my main point overall. No objective person would say that any of the above describes a civilization, much less a society, that any average person would want to live in.
He fails to even try to mention any other civilizations that have existed as primarily libertarian in which survived to any meaningful degree. The original founding of the U.S. is as close as we’ve seen that ever amounted to much of anything amidst regional, and later international turmoil.
Huenink also claims that humanity’s natural state is libertarian. This is inverted logic really, as liberty is natural state of man, yes, but the state of civilized man has always been anything but free. Really, look up all the world’s major civilizations throughout history. I don’t know about you, but freedom and liberty don’t jump off the pages at me largely until the advent of Christianity and later social developments in England. True liberty hasn’t existed since the Garden, and we see how that played out.
Jesus Is King, Therefore Monarchy
“He writes that the kingship of Christ is incompatible with libertarian thought": ‘This quickly transitioned into a preference by the stubborn people to desire a monarchy. Then we [sic] are later revealed within the New Testament that Christ is the King of Kings, the Monarch of all Monarchs. Monarchy as a concept tends to conflict with most definitions of libertarianism and the ideology's desired mode of living life.’
Huenink goes on to describe God’s kingship (monarchy) as a religious philosophy, while libertarianism is purely political. Last time I checked though, there’s great overlap between forms of government (not a religious philosophy) and the political systems they use to carry out governing. And a king only allows people to be so free, especially the King of Kings.
Not that I’d ever argue for monarchy here in the U.S. (although I do believe that Christian Europeans were at their best under medieval monarchies, especially the more benevolent yet absolutist monarchs). However, with elected officials that govern our republic (yes, it’s a republic, NOT a democracy - yes, there’s a difference) we have a different political system to our form of government.
Huenink states “Furthermore, if monarchy is the Bible’s government, God is against democracy”. I couldn’t agree more. I see nothing in scriptures that ever blatantly seem to favor the concept of democracy. Besides, Christians are instructed within the New Testament to work within the forms of government they find themselves in. That is, until we serve our King in the New Creation of the Resurrection. This leads us to the next point.
No Government Reform…Ever?
“Next, Walrath writes that Romans 13 and Matthew 21 prevent Christians from reforming government: ‘Even though in the U.S. it's “We the People” who are technically the government (in which God had allowed to sprout during His overall Plan long before us living here today) things have happened in which [sic] have placed more authorities over us as time went on.’
Huenink seems to confuse the intent of my statement here. He mistook as if I meant that no established department of the U.S. government could ever be abolished, even if proven inefficient or even tyrannical just because God “allowed” for it. That’s not the case at all; I was more so meaning our form of government, NOT our political systems and their resulting departments being formed or abolished. It’d be silly (and wrong) for us as Christians anyway to argue in favor of changing our republic to a democracy, let alone a monarchy, etc. The differences were explored briefly above, so I don’t need to continue here.
He then goes on to say: “Some of the implications are terrifying. If democracy comes to China, should the Christians flood the streets to protest for a return to communist rule? When the continental congress broke away from the authority of King George, should every faithful Christian have taken up arms to defend their country against those freedom-loving usurpers? But even those questions suffer from presentism. That is, they consider a present form of government as established by God while the one prior to it was not.
How far do we go back? The Roman Empire? Tribal Germany? Adam and Eve?”
I think we’re beginning to complicate things much more than need be here. If we’re talking about God’s Providence, then we’re largely talking about Christian nations (where the national makeup is largely Christian in faith and somewhat culturally as well). Whatever came before doesn’t really apply, as those nations’ forms of government seemingly had little to do with God’s Plan for what would become His people.
Therefore, our focus should clearly be placed on nations or peoples that are culturally Christian (regardless of their actual perceived faith or adherence to its suggested systems of laws). Just this week, I published an article on my blog at ContraryWorld.com titled ‘8 Historic Battles Involving Divine Intervention That Changed the World’ (part one of a two part series on the justification for Christian nationalism - part two coming next week). In it, I highlighted eight battles throughout history where Christian nations or people groups were up against tremendous odds, and yet overcame with what can surely be too coincidental to be anything short of divine intervention.
Because not only one, but two of these battles involved the American War for Independence, I can say that the Christians who sided with the Continental Army over the Red Coats where on the right side of history here. No question about it. It was as much a war over spiritual freedom as it was physical freedom. It would not be a tragedy if China's Communist Party were to fall. Heck, I would suspect divine intervention behind as much.
We should all know that a man can’t serve two masters. Therefore in the deepest sense of existential philosophy, a person is either a slave to sin, or a slave to God. I’m pretty sure libertarianism doesn’t allow for slavery whatsoever, religious philosophy aside. So that negates it due to mere terminology alone.
Which exposes the concept at its core (not necessarily its mostly well meaning adherents though): it's a secular political ideology that subscribes to the tenets of the freedom to pursue unfettered licentiousness. One that would have no man answer to another man, lest there be a legal contract first. But aren’t the legal councils, departments, etc. established by a society - a common property that requires a common mission from its citizens?
By common mission, I mean communal ties, expectations of others around everyone to pitch in somehow toward the greater good, and perhaps even the betterment of a perceived “commonwealth”. No man is an island. And as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should all want to be better at being stronger citizens, being there for each other. Even if it means getting to the point of defending what is essentially a culture against enemies both foreign and domestic.
Because for better or for worse, more often than not, Christianity has enhanced the cultures it has interacted with; it doesn’t obliterate it. The same can’t be said about Islam, or just about any other popular world religion. And there are times when the clash of civilizations foists itself upon a people. Do they fight it? Or accept whatever fate is handed to them by their new masters?
“Lastly, Walrath believes that libertarian elites will be co-opted into socialism in exchange for being allowed to remain wealthy after the revolution: ‘There clearly seems to be a lot of activity of collusion between libertarian and liberal forces lately. You have the Silicon Valley types, as well as New York City hedge fund manager types, all sorts of celebrities and artists in between. I mean [sic] just think about it. If a politically left force could convince otherwise libertarian personalities to co-opt its socialist agenda, they'd likely be promising to spare them from ever taking the financial hit from revolution.’
The link between Silicon Valley, New York City, along with Brussels is very real and well documented. And it combines the spirit of libertarianism for the elite with socialism for the rest of us. And it has the mark of the beast all over it. Heck, I’m currently writing a fictional dystopian novel that’s inspired by such developments called ‘A Spider In The Web’. Although it’s fiction, dystopian plots are often not far removed from the logical extremes of what already exists in current, real society.
I'd respectfully challenge Huenink, and anybody else who reads this rebuttal, to research the “Great Reset” of Klaus Schwab's design. Long story short - Capitalism isn't dying; it's evolving (or should I say devolving?) into a collusion between global capital and socialist governments throughout the West and the rest of the world. Two systems: libertarianism for the powerful, wealthy, and connected, and socialism for everyone else. A Neo-Feudalism, if you will.
Jo Jorgensen sided with domestic terroristic BLM even remotely. That’s enough to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. And I’ve seen many a libertarian who support secession so vainly, they threw their support behind aggressive Black separatist groups who had been demanding an entire state (Texas) for themselves to possess. Now, I’m a fan of the idea of secession in the civil sense. But this ethno-state nonsense? It’s unbecoming to be honest, yet many a separatist libertarian supports it.
Christianity and Libertarianism are not compatible
I think that the majority of libertarians mean well. Many are my fellow faithful who I admire personally. On paper, it really is an ideology that just seems to make sense. But then this complicated thing called culture gets in the way (which as previously stated, our faith does not neuter, but enhances) and makes things not as black and white as we’d like them to be.
I am one who believes that we must put our faith before our politics. And when our faith is implicated within the very fabric of our nation - our culture - then we are obliged as Christian citizens to fight and defend it. Of course, this only applies to self defense and within the framework of Just War Theory. While it’s also still not only a legal religion, but a commonly shared one (even with all of its different forms and denominations) that is.
However, the cultural revolution is a long, confusing endeavor. It’s built to last long after the first generation of revolutionaries who had established a foothold in enemy territory. We saw a “proto” form of it with Russia, then again in China. And it appears that mostly Western interests were behind both. Now those same interests want the same for us.
It turns out that conservatives were onto something all along. They weren’t just being paranoid, playing into all the hysteria long before the Cold War. Now that the Republican party has been remade in the image of Trump (who has more so remade it in their image, the people of middle America) rather than the old Beltway good ol’ boy figures, there is a stand being made against our cultural revolution. And he brought a whole bunch of us “Ron Paul libertarians” than remaining libertarians would like to admit.
Now they’re left forced having to side with leftists on social issues that are often more overstated than they really are. Because the ideology shackles the adherent’s mind so thoroughly, it’s very much like the liberalism of the left. Just in an inverted form, really. And if one follows the logical extreme to those ends, we end up with a society where leftists have gotten everything they wanted, libertarians have gotten half of what they wanted, and conservatives get nothing but reeducation camp or the guillotine.
Last time I checked, Americans like a good underdog. And they loathe the middle man, as does the Goliath of the story (aka Big Government infiltrated by Corporate America). As I think about it, it’s a classic case of playing checkers when your opponent’s playing chess. Ideologists imagine they’re participating in a long game of intellectual incrementalism, while the rest of us are either revolutionaries, or we’re productive, honest, hard working, and mostly faithful people who just like to be left alone other than our part in contributing to society.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather die a martyr in a defensive war for not only liberty, but for culture - the right to exist as you are - than sit in an ivory tower as I await the fate coming to me anyway. It’s seen as more of a duty than a response by the ego triggered within our bodies. After all, as Christians we no longer fear death since death has been defeated (thank God).
Isn’t it time to at least put politics (libertarianism) on pause so we can focus on defending culture and church? Secession, which is arguably the last nonviolent option left amidst such a disenfranchising election for conservatives, has a place for our beloved libertarian. Imagine a federation of Red States that debates "some" vs "no government intervention", instead of "way too much" and "not enough". I’ll leave you with that thought, as the echo chamber of the left perpetually consumes itself in wokeness one upmanship.
Kevin Walrath is an aspiring fiction author of upcoming SciFi dystopian novel 'A Spider In The Web' - a world ruled by a ruthless technocracy. An AI gone rogue. A zombie apocalypse. A planet slowly dying. An unlikely hero emerges to lead the fight. A Christian ending. A dystopian novel for our time. Kevin writes at his blog Contrary World where he explores dystopian themes as they relate to current events. His novel will be available for reading by early 2021. You can subscribe to his blog and receive the first chapter at the email provided. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Parler @ContraryWorld.