At God’s Politics, Jim Wallis asks: “Just how Christian is the Tea Party Movement—and the Libertarian political philosophy that lies behind it?”
Is such a philosophy Christian? In several major aspects of biblical ethics, I would suggest that Libertarianism falls short.
1. The Libertarian enshrinement of individual choice is not the pre-eminent Christian virtue. Emphasizing individual rights at the expense of others violates the common good, a central Christian teaching and tradition. The Christian answer to the question “Are we our brother’s keeper?” is decidedly “Yes.” Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbor. Loving your neighbor is a better Christian response than telling your neighbor to leave you alone. Both compassion and social justice are fundamental Christian commitments, and while the Christian community is responsible for living out both, government is also held accountable to the requirements of justice and mercy. Both Christians on the Right and the Left have raised questions about Libertarian abandonment of the most vulnerable — whether that means unborn lives or the poor.
Just look at the biblical prophets in their condemnation of injustice to the poor, and how they frequently follow those statements by requiring the king (the government) to act justly (a requirement that applied both to the kings of Israel and to foreign potentates). Jeremiah, speaking of King Josiah, said, “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well” (Jeremiah 22:16). Amos instructs the courts (the government) to “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts” (Amos 5:15). The prophets hold kings, rulers, judges, and employers accountable to the demands of justice and mercy.
And a brief preview of Wallis’s other four points:
2. An anti-government ideology just isn’t biblical. [...]
3. The Libertarians’ supreme confidence in the market is not consistent with a biblical view of human nature and sin. [...]
4. The Libertarian preference for the strong over the weak is decidedly un-Christian. [...]
5. Finally, I am just going to say it. There is something wrong with a political movement like the Tea Party which is almost all white. [...]
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