Monday, December 19, 2016

The Prophetic Voice of Libertarian Christians

The election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States will be a catalyst for various sorts of changes in America. One political adjustment is already occurring. This can be seen in the millions of Americans who opposed specific actions and policies of Barack Obama and the Democrats. Now that Trump and the Republicans have control of both the White House and Congress, many of those actions and policies will begin to be applauded by these same people. Alternatively, other Americans who approved of Obama’s agenda will now begin to oppose some of these agenda items once Republicans claim them as their own. We, as libertarian Christians, must be on guard to avoid this trap and remain principled no matter who controls the State.

Some Christians are said to be speaking “prophetically” when they offer opinions contrary to the prevailing views of the political party currently in power. I say “some Christians” because the complimentary label “prophetic” is typically reserved for members of the Christian left when they are denouncing Republicans and conservatism. Jim Wallis of Sojourners is one typical example. In an ad for a speaking event earlier this year, Wallis was referred to as “One of America’s Greatest Prophetic Voices.” Acting and speaking “prophetically,” however, is best seen as a non-partisan, equal opportunity affair. When someone is said to have a prophetic voice it means, simply speaking, they are consistently willing to clearly speak truth to power no matter who is in power and despite the consequences.

Jim Wallis used his prophetic voice during the Bush administration to speak against the war in Iraq, American imperialism, torture, and the “money changers of the temples of Wall Street” among other things. However, Jim curiously came down with a case of prophetic laryngitis during the years 2008-2016. I wonder why. Coincidentally, these just so happen to be the years Barack Obama served as President.

This silence was emblematic of the left as a whole. Gone were the concerns over the ever-growing surveillance state, the exponential expansion of drone warfare, and imperialistic ambitions abroad. No more protests against the wars in the Middle East. No more calls for the closure of Guantanamo Bay prison.

As it turned out, prophetic voices were needed more than ever during the Obama administration. As Gene Healy of the Cato Institute put it in April of this year, “By the time Obama hit the dais at Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, our 44th president had already launched more drone strikes than the 43rd carried out during two full terms. Since then, he’s launched two undeclared wars, and—as Obama bragged in a speech last year defending the Iran deal—bombed no fewer than seven countries.” Healy adds, “instead of ‘breaking the war mentality,’ Obama has institutionalized it.” Many on the Christian left were content to either ignore or give outright sanction to what they once condemned in order to protect one of their own. The prophetic voice became a rubber stamp.

The prophetic voice of the Christian right was tested prior to the 2016 election. “Never Trumpers” came down with a strange case of conscience during and after the primaries. By and large, these were individuals who had a long track record of supporting the least conservative, most “establishment” GOP candidates for President. When most conservatives were saying “anyone but McCain” and “anyone but Romney,” future Never Trumpers were telling everyone to get in line. They ridiculed fellow conservatives for considering a third party candidate or simply not voting.

Then in 2016 when establishment candidates, Jeb Bush followed by Marco Rubio, were unable to secure the nomination, the Never Trumpers all of a sudden became very interested in writing in protest votes, not voting, or supporting an independent candidate, former CIA agent Evan McMullin. Falling in line behind the nominee was not an option now that roles were reversed. Never Trumpers even went so far as to begin referring to “the Religious Right” as if they were not a part of the Religious Right themselves. This epithet was now reserved only for the evangelical supporters of Donald Trump. However disingenuously it may have begun, the Never Trump movement may perhaps represent the beginning of a new willingness among some conservative Christians to stand up to the Republican Party when it contradicts their deeply-held beliefs. Will they begin to represent a prophetic voice during the Trump administration?

Now that Trump is headed to the White House, conservatives are already showing a willingness to change their tune as the left did under Obama. Donald Trump is being widely applauded for convincing Carrier Corp. to keep over 1,000 jobs in America rather than sending them to Mexico. Trump utilized his “art of the deal” skills to pledge a $7 million tax break to Carrier. Success! He’s already making America great again! But just a few short years ago conservatives were blasting President Obama for “picking winners and losers” by extending millions of dollars worth of federal loan guarantees to companies including Solyndra and Fisker Automotive.

Obama considered these loans “investments” but critics such as House Speaker Paul Ryan complained, “Picking winners and losers in the economy through spending, through tax breaks, through regulations does not work.” In one of his presidential debates with Obama, Mitt Romney quipped, “You don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers!” Obama wasn’t supposed to interfere, he was supposed to let the market work. Now, rather than reducing taxes for all businesses (which may soon be around the corner) Trump has given a tax break to one specific company. He picked a winner. This is what Republicans used to call “crony capitalism” during the Obama administration. I guess the market needs help now and then just so long as a Republican is in charge.

What might a prophetic voice look like moving forward? For the Christian left, it’s now safe to rejoin the anti-war effort. Or is it? Trump has indicated a desire to be far less interventionist than his predecessors. If this is the case, Democrats may play the foil and embrace a more hawkish agenda. Even if the party most sympathetic to their views presses for the expansion of the war state, progressive Christians ought to refuse to play along. They can regain their voice rather than remaining silent as they did during the Obama years even if it means undermining the Democrat Party. On the other hand, if neo-conservatives have their way and are able to convince Trump to continue foreign interventions, regime changes, drone warfare, and worldwide arms sales, the peace movement could enjoy resurgence.

Conservative Christians face a great challenge. The temptation to grow silent will become strong as Republicans now control the White House, Congress, possibly the Supreme Court, and an ever-growing number of state governments. Many of the criticisms against George W. Bush went away during the Obama administration even when Obama continued or even expanded the same policies. Will conservatives do the same thing now that (arguably) one of their own is in charge? If it was wrong for Obama, it ought to be wrong for Trump.

At the time of this writing, the New York Times has just published an op-ed from the NeverTrumper’s candidate, Evan McMullin, entitled, “Trump’s Threat to the Constitution.” McMullin warns, “We need a new era of civic engagement that will reawaken us to the cause of liberty and equality. That engagement must extend to ensuring that our elected representatives uphold the Constitution, in deed and discourse — even if doing so puts them at odds with their party. We cannot allow Mr. Trump to normalize the idea that he is the ultimate arbiter of our rights.” Agreed! Will “upholding the Constitution” now include repealing unconstitutional mass surveillance programs and police state powers, reversing the trend of perpetual (undeclared) war, and an unending list of property rights violations? Donald Trump is not the arbiter of our rights but neither is Evan McMullin, Paul Ryan, or whoever the next favorite of conservatives turns out to be.

Of course, the best thing progressive and conservative Christians can both do is reconsider their ways and take a long, hard look at the most consistent expression of Christian political thought!
So, what about libertarian Christians? Some libertarians refuse to vote on principle, others voted for the Libertarian Party candidate but privately breathed a sigh of relief when Hillary Clinton lost, and others would have gladly had Hillary forced upon us rather than Trump. The message of liberty ought to remain consistent regardless of who wins and loses elections. We continue to renounce aggression and coercion. We continue to uphold the value of each individual made in the image of God and peaceful interactions with our neighbors. We continue to embrace persuasion and education, education, education. Moving forward, we can renew our efforts to join God in what he is doing to build his kingdom regardless of what the State does.

On a practical note, libertarian Christians can best express a prophetic voice by getting our hands dirty in kingdom mission. As theologian Scot McKnight puts it in his wonderful book, Kingdom Conspiracy, “At the very heart of kingdom mission are kingdom people, the church of King Jesus. In one short expression, then, kingdom mission is first and foremost church mission.” Yes, church mission. When is the last time we sought to “do something” about the world’s problems we like to talk so much about as an expression of the love of our local church? What if the time, attention, passion, angst, frustration, hope, volunteering, and maybe even money we devoted to the presidential election and “politics” as a whole this past year were dedicated to the politics of kingdom mission as and through our local churches?

Libertarian Christians are good at talking about the superiority of the kingdom of God over the State and the temporal kingdoms of humankind. Do we do anything about this truth? In an interview about his above-mentioned book, McKnight declares, “God’s mission is the church, that is, God’s mission is the Body of Christ, that is, God’s mission is to rule in Christ over those who submit to Christ’s rule. Those who submit to that rule are kingdom people, that is, church people. God’s mission is the church.” The most prophetic voice we could express is living and loving as the church in the world. If we can’t begin to live this out in the tangible context of our local churches, how can we expect to speak prophetically in the ethereal context of “the world”? My encouragement for us as libertarian Christians in light of this last election, or any election, or if there were no elections, is to creatively and constructively devote ourselves in practical ways to our King’s mission together with his kingdom people, the church.

Friday, October 21, 2016

“We” Don’t Know Who “We” Are

I recently attended our city council’s monthly public meeting. My daughter needed to sit in and take notes for a school assignment so I went with her. The meeting was well-attended, no doubt, due to this project. A local Boy Scout troop opened the meeting with a presentation of the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. Then a local pastor came forward and prayed an invocation. It was standard fare but I took notice of how he concluded his prayer with, “And bless our efforts here in this meeting tonight.”

“Our efforts”? The pastor wasn’t trying to make a theological point with his prayer. By “our” he may have innocuously meant his fellow residents in the community. The “efforts” at hand this night, however, was the business of the city government. Tweaking a zoning issue here, approving a municipal works project there. Mundane stuff, for sure, but this was local government business.
This pastor’s prayer is a small-scale representation of a widespread and significant problem for the church in America: “we” don’t know who “we” are. When a pastor steps forward to offer prayers on behalf of an assembled group of people and refers to this gathering as “we,” what is the common denominator that makes us “we”? What is our identity? Christians have become too comfortable using “we” to primarily mean America. This confusion becomes especially apparent when the question becomes, “What are we going to do about ________?”

Professor Lee C. Camp raises this issue of identity in his book Mere Discipleship. When asked if our fundamental identity is that of citizens of the nation-state or citizens of the kingdom of God, most Christians would strongly affirm that our primary allegiance is to the kingdom of God. However, as Professor Camp explains:
Our debates often reveal that the fundamental identity, the primary lens through which we must make decisions about how to act in our world, is that of the nation-state. One might find ample evidence by simply examining the questions we often ask: “What should we do about terrorism?” The we in that question is most often, one may safely assume, the United States.
Camp goes on to offer other examples of challenges “we” need to do something about and adds, “And so the questions go, always assuming that the all-important we is the nation-state.” At this point the reader may be thinking, “Yeah, so? Of course it’s the government that needs to do something about terrorism.” Many other examples could be used: poverty, racial injustice, immigration, abortion. The common assumption goes unchallenged: these are matters for our elected officials to sort out.

Why don’t we consider the church when we ask these questions? Turning again to Camp, “What might happen if we took such questions seriously from a biblical viewpoint? For instance, what should we – as the body of Christ – do about homelessness…What should we who bear the name of Jesus do about inner-city poverty and the plight of single mothers? What should followers of The Way do about abortion? Does the word of God incarnate in Jesus Christ not have something to say to the injustices and oppression of our world? Or are the people of God simply to accept the claim that the only appropriate response to injustice is the ethic of nations, the ethic of power checking power?”

Followers of Christ relegate responsibility to the state because we have uncritically accepted the notion that “religion” is a private, individual matter merely concerned with issues of the interior soul. Like fish oblivious to the existence of water, we aren’t even aware of another way to perceive of faith. Politicians are more than happy to perpetuate this notion. When politicians speak of religious liberty (the verbiage has now subtlety shifted to “freedom of worship”), they mean the freedom to worship as you see fit within the confines of your church/house of worship. Therefore the state thinks things like: How could abortion or the contraceptive provisions of Obamacare violate the religious liberty of a business owner?! They’re still free to worship as they see fit at their church but this has nothing to do with how you run your business! We’ll let you do what you want in your church (for now), just keep it private.

“This ‘privatization of religion,’ this move to make religion a ‘private’ matter, results in a profound change of thought: when we ask the ‘what are we going to do about…’ question, we of course assume that the we is the nation or government, because we have long been trained to think of the church as having no social or political significance,” writes Camp. I would add the church has no social or political significance regarding taking responsibility for direct action. Christians still think they have political significance, of course, but this significance is merely that of a pressure group hoping to nudge the state in the right direction. Conservative and progressive Christians have different aims but they both share the notion that positive social change comes primarily by state power. Our task is simply to get the right people in charge of the state. Lost in all of this is the proper calling of the disciple of Jesus the Christ. Camp: “Consequently, discipleship – defined as taking seriously the way of Christ in all our affairs and concerns – gets shelved as irrelevant to the real concerns of the world.”

One of the reasons the church has allowed itself to be maneuvered into this position is because we have accepted the false notion that the life and teachings of Jesus have nothing to say to societal and political matters. The ethics of Jesus are beautiful and useful for the inner dimensions of individuals but nothing more, or so the theory goes. This assumption ought to be rejected outright if we acknowledge Jesus as “King,” “Lord,” and “Son of God” in any meaningful way. The question is not, “Is Jesus political?” but “How is he, and therefore his disciples, political?” [It is not my intention to prove this assertion in this brief post. See John Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus for a primer on the political nature of Jesus and Christian discipleship].

What about that poor pastor and his invocation at the city council meeting? If disciples of Jesus use “we” in reference to the nation-state (including even its most local levels of government, as harmless as it may seem) then we are allowing the name of Christ be used to baptize and bless the actions of the state. We give the appearance that the work of the state is sacred. We give support to the notion that the nation-state is the primary vehicle for societal change. We give sanction to the opinion that the church ought to give up “political” work in order to focus upon the interior spiritual life of individuals. But this is not who “we” are. Jesus Christ does have something to say to the injustices and oppression of our world and so should those who claim to follow him.

Constantly focuses on getting the “right” people into position of power is not the answer. Jesus told his disciples, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves…I am among you as the one who serves” [Luke 22:25-27]. Servanthood is the church’s alternative way of “being political” in the world (as opposed to, say, trying to get others to vote for our favorite candidate to exercise lordship over society). If “we” is to mean “disciples of Jesus Christ” than we must seek to follow him and act of his body as we engage society.

Jeff Wright, Jr. is a Chaplain in a "city of lost souls" and holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from Dallas Theological Seminary. His other areas of interest include the kingdom of God, American evangelicalism, the ministry of the local church, obstacle course racing, and all things Star Wars. He blogs at JeffWrightJr.com and the Libertarian Christian Institute. You can also find him @jeffwrightjr.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

So You’d Be A Libertarian If It Weren’t For Abortion and Gay Marriage?

Many libertarian Christians, like me, were once conservatives. Many of our friends and family, likewise, are conservative Christians. Often I hear, through comments on social media or personal conversations, that the most common objections to libertarianism from conservatives center around the two big conservative social issues: abortion and homosexuality.

A common perception conservatives have of libertarians is that we are necessarily for the “liberalization” (the “bad” way, not the classical liberal variety) of all social issues. Libertarians are seen as pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. The Johnson-Weld campaign has served to further this opinion by claiming that libertarians are fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

There is admittedly some truth to this observation. For the sake of argument, let us concede that most libertarians probably are pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. Some say only about 30% of libertarians are strongly pro-life. Certainly most libertarians would say the state should not be involved in marriage at all. But is it a necessary consequence of libertarian theory that all libertarians must be pro-choice and pro-gay marriage? Not at all.

Let’s look at abortion. The stronger libertarian argument is actually pro-life. Why? By simply following the non-aggression principle (shorthand named the NAP). People ought to be able to live as they wish provided they commit no aggression against another person. The pro-choice position affirms the first part of the statement in that the mother (attention is rarely given to the father) ought to be able to do as she wishes with her body. The caveat of committing no aggression against another person, however, is ignored.

This leads us to the perennial question of whether or not the baby/fetus is, in fact, a person. Both science and common sense dictate that the baby is, well, a baby. Left to natural development, what transpires at conception will mature into a little human. Not a goat, chupacabra, or any other living thing. It is a human, a baby, a person and therefore is owed non-aggression and, therefore, the right to life. Committing violence against this person is contrary to libertarian principles.

Another point to consider is that the child is in a state of dependence to her parents. The child did not ask to be brought into the world and cannot exist without her parent’s support and protection. Just as it would be reprehensible for an airplane pilot to parachute from and abandon his aircraft while his passengers’ lives are dependent upon his care, so it would be abhorrent for a parent to abandon their pre-born child in that dependent state.

What about gay marriage and other LGBT issues? If you hold to traditional, biblically-informed understandings of homosexuality, gender, manhood, womanhood, sex, and marriage, you have a home within libertarianism. How so? Fellow LCI contributor, Laurence Vance, says it well,
Same-sex couples should certainly have the right to form any kind of legal arrangement they choose whereby medical and financial decisions by one party on behalf of another could be made. But this right has nothing to do with them being a same-sex couple. It is only because any couple – gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, transgendered, or undecided – or any group of people should have the right to form any kind of legal arrangement they choose. If they want to call their arrangement a marriage, have a ceremony, and go on a honeymoon – fine. They have the freedom to do so just like they have the freedom to replace their Chevy emblems with Ford emblems and call their Camaro a Mustang. They just shouldn’t expect or demand everyone else to violate nature, language, tradition, and history and do likewise.
Just because someone calls their same-sex union a “marriage” doesn’t make it so. As far as the State is concerned, it has no authority to redefine an institution that pre-dates the existence of the nation-state. Christians should have no problem with individuals forming, as Vance says, legal arrangements whereby they can assist one another with medical and financial matters.

Vance adds, “Libertarians as individuals may support or oppose the ‘marriage’ or legal arrangements of same-sex couples – just like they may support or oppose the health benefits of Vitamin C or the use of child safety locks – but that doesn’t mean there is a libertarian position on it.”
 
If there is anything resembling a libertarian position on gay marriage, it is simply get the government out of marriage. Its only role is to recognize the contract, that is all. Now that the State has attempted to redefine marriage, this should be an approach more and more conservative Christians find attractive. Regardless, there is no libertarian position on gay marriage.

So to those conservative Christians who are attracted to libertarianism but have reservations over abortion and gay marriage, I say, “Jump on in! The water’s just fine.”

This post originally appeared at the Libertarian Christian Institute.

Jeff Wright, Jr. is a Chaplain in a "city of lost souls" and holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from Dallas Theological Seminary. His other areas of interest include the kingdom of God, American evangelicalism, the ministry of the local church, obstacle course racing, and all things Star Wars. He blogs at JeffWrightJr.com and the Libertarian Christian Institute. You can also find him @jeffwrightjr.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Conservative and Libertarian Christians: Worldview Allies or Enemies?


I am so glad my colleague Norman Horn, founder and President of the Libertarian Christian Institute (LCI), was given a chance to debate well-known evangelical leader and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President, Albert Mohler. Dr. Mohler has been outspoken in his opposition to libertarianism and the possibility of any compatibility between Christianity and libertarianism. This is the Libertarian Christian Institute after all, so of course we would have a thing or two to say about Dr. Mohler’s criticisms. The debate, hosted by Julie Roys on the Up For Debate radio program, provided an outstanding opportunity to correct some misconceptions and educate the listeners as to why LCI believes libertarianism is, in fact, the most consistent expression of Christian political thought.

One reason I was so pleased to learn of the debate, in addition to the increased exposure and educational opportunity brought about by the high profiles of Dr. Mohler and the Moody Radio Network, is that Mohler so closely represents the political views I held for most of my adult life. In addition, I am presently very close to Dr. Mohler theologically. Like Mohler, I am committed to Reformed soteriology and am a member of the Evangelical Theological Society. Although I was not raised a Southern Baptist, I have been a member of SBC churches for the past several years. Mohler is very popular with my fellow evangelicals, so I was hoping many of them would tune in and discover why they ought to seriously consider libertarianism. As someone who is a conservative-turned-libertarian I have a special affection for those who still hold so many of the political views I once held.

The debate transpired on Saturday, March 5, 2016. You can listen to the audio here. From the outset Dr. Horn was provided an opportunity to make a positive case for Christian libertarianism. There were technical difficulties so Julie Roys necessarily had to turn to Dr. Mohler who began to make his case against libertarianism. Unfortunately, this allowed Mohler the opportunity to frame the subject by casting libertarianism as a political philosophy that radically exalts liberty as the good above all other goods. How could individual liberty exist, he asked, as a good unto itself? Later he criticized the alleged libertarian idea that human liberty is the central exalted good that explains how other goods are derived. Mohler charged that, politically, the main thrust of libertarianism in America was expanding personal liberty at the expense of the question of virtue. Over and against this deficient libertarian worldview cast by Mohler, he explained that in a biblical worldview the chief end of man is to know God, to worship Him, and enjoy Him forever. He added we also demonstrate His glory and His good gifts to us by living faithfully before Him.

So Dr. Mohler immediately portrayed libertarianism in a way that no libertarian Christian would. Dr. Horn responded that we, of course, along with Mohler agree with the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms regarding the chief end of man. We agree that liberty is not a good unto itself. Of course it requires a moral framework. By no means are we driven by expanding personal liberty at the expense of virtue. Libertarianism, as we often say, is not libertinism. We are all operating from a biblical worldview and it is unfair to categorize libertarian Christians as operating outside of or contrary to a biblical worldview.

Granted, depraved man seeks to use his liberty to pursue fleshly desires so there will always be some libertarians who live accordingly. As libertarian Christians, however, we understand that liberty is not license. Just as we do not want to be characterized by those who abuse their liberty, conservative Christians should not have to answer for the immoral beliefs of all who claim the name conservative.

For example, according to one poll a very high percentage of conservative Republicans consider actions against suspected terrorists such as waterboarding, threatening to sexually abuse a prisoner’s mother, forcing a prisoner to stay awake up to 180 hours, and forced ice water baths to be torture. And yet, 7 in 10 Republicans think these actions are sometimes justified. Since about 50% of Republicans are highly religious it would be very reasonable for me to make the claim that my conservative brothers and sisters in Christ approve of torturing suspected terrorists. In fact, “69% of white evangelicals believe the CIA treatment [the actions cited above] was justified, compared to just 20% who said it was not.”

A main thrust of conservative Christianity embraces national security at the expense of the question of virtue, right? Making torture compatible with “Christian,” is going to be a tremendous challenge. Conservative Christians are associating themselves with a political movement that, at the very least, is uncertain as to whether human beings detained as suspected terrorists deserve protection. This is where we understand that the whole idea of Christian conservatism breaks down. (If you have listened to the interview, you can note that I am using Dr. Mohler’s own words to critique Christian conservatism in the same manner as he did Christian libertarianism.)

Charitable discussion among fellow Christians ought to allow us to concede that both conservative and libertarian Christians can hold a Christian worldview. At the very least, we understand that our opponents firmly believe that they hold to a Christian worldview. The difference between conservative Christians and libertarian Christians is a difference among Christians. Our divide is nothing like what we find in J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism:
“The Bible, to the Christian is not a burdensome law, but the very Magna Carta of Christian liberty. It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men.”
Our foundation is the same. Our thinking and our living is based upon Scripture and, I would add, particularly upon Jesus the Christ as revealed in Scripture. But, as Dr. Horn pointed out, only a subset of a Christian worldview deals with politics. The question is: how should Christians go about operating out of our comprehensive worldview when it comes to politics?

Libertarian Christians want individuals to embrace God’s will but the way to pursue this end is by convincing others through moral persuasion. This is the biblical approach. We proclaim, educate, and plead but we don’t resort to legal coercion through the political process. Just as we don’t coerce people to Christ, we don’t coerce them into not smoking, drinking, or going with girls who do.

Dr. Mohler raised the crucial issue of abortion. There is no doubt that atheistic or otherwise secular libertarians have a long history of advocating pro-choice positions but this is not “the” libertarian position. Libertarian philosophy does not require Christians to abandon their pro-life convictions. I will not explore the non-aggression principle (NAP) here but, briefly stated, the NAP states that people should be allowed to do what they will so long as it they do not execute aggression (initiate force) upon another person. Libertarian Christians agree: the un-born baby is a person! A woman’s right to control her own body does not permit her to commit aggression against the person within her.

Mohler criticized the libertarian movement as being at best confused over abortion and, at its extreme, arguing against any kind of mutual obligation in this sense. But what of the conservative movement? The vast majority of conservatives, for example, favor legal exemptions allowing abortion in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Dr. Mohler would say that a biblical worldview would not allow for any compromise on this matter of grave consequence. The larger set of principles of morality that would inform Christians on this issue affirms the obligation to protect life at all stages from conception onward.

The conservative movement, of which Mohler is a part, clearly compromises on this grave issue by favoring these exemptions. Mohler said he wouldn’t want anything to do with a position that is unclear and not absolutely certain that an unborn human being is indeed to be protected and that aggression against an unborn human being is a matter of gravest moral consequence. Isn’t conservatism a political movement that is communicating uncertainty here? If the unborn human being is actually a full person, why allow exemptions? Should we call the entire conservative movement into question over this compromise? Of course it would be unfair to dismiss an entire movement over this disagreement just as it is unfair for Mohler to dismiss the libertarian movement over disagreements on abortion. Libertarian and conservative Christians enjoy tremendous common ground on this issue. We ought to celebrate that fact and cooperate in our common cause.

There is much more to be said about the issues touched upon in the debate between Drs. Mohler and Horn. Other articles from my colleagues at LCI and elsewhere will be forthcoming. In the meantime, I would encourage Dr. Mohler to take a second look at what libertarian Christians actually believe. Mohler considers libertarianism to be a fringe movement forever condemned to irrelevance. But to the contrary, right now more and more of his politically conservative brothers and sisters in Christ are switching sides to libertarianism. Christian libertarians have plenty to say about the deficiencies of Mohler’s conservative movement from a biblical worldview. Perhaps as we debate the merits of our respective political movements we can approach it knowing that iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17) rather than as a fight between those who hold to a biblical worldview and those who do not.

Jeff Wright, Jr. is a Chaplain in a "city of lost souls" and holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from Dallas Theological Seminary. His other areas of interest include the kingdom of God, American evangelicalism, the ministry of the local church, obstacle course racing, and all things Star Wars. He blogs at JeffWrightJr.com and the Libertarian Christian Institute. You can also find him @jeffwrightjr.