Theonomy Dustup

There is, in the micro world of the theonomy movement, a conflict that is escalating between those who are invoking the ghost of Rushdoony in opposition to Ron Paul Libertarianism and those who are invoking the ghost of the great Rushdoony in favor of Paul.

The debate can be found in these two articles.

Theonomy’s “Radical Libertarianism”

Of course my position is to warn against both of these positions.

I am not a big fan of the author of the first link. He seems to fail to realize that the first rule of survival when one is threatened with the suffocating danger of statist tyranny is to take any weapon at hand to beat off the tyrannical attack. Ron Paul is that weapon. Now I might wish I had a different weapon or a better weapon with which to fight for my survival but in a snow storm any Huskie will do. I support Ron Paul because he is the guy who gives me the opportunity to get the ruddy foot of the State off my neck.

In terms of the McDurmon article (2nd link) the one thing McDurmon is missing is the reality that libertarianism can not work among a people who are not self governed in terms of God’s law word. This is the fault of contemporary Libertarianism. It advances the idea of liberty but the liberty it advances is in actuality a libertinism where each man does is what is right in his own eyes.

Rushdoony did and would have used these people to advance his agenda but he never would have confused his agenda with their agenda. The people who McDurmon are writing against don’t get the 1st part of that last sentence and I wonder if people like McDurman and Marinov get the second part of that first sentence. The Libertarianism of Rushdoony clearly is not the Libertarianism of modern Libertarianism. The fact that Rush could say, “In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had,” must be read against the idea that radical Libertarianism is opposed at every point to any idea of theocracy. Rush believed that Theocracy was a inescapable reality that could not be avoided. Clearly, by radical libertarian standards Rush did not embrace radical libertarianism.

Theonomists, out of necessity and because of a common enemy, are now dining with the Libertarian Paul but it is a dining which must be done with a long spoon. Halbrook doesn’t want to dine at all. The American Visions spoon isn’t long enough given the kinds of things I’ve read Marinov writing.

The problems with Paul are not slight. They are significant. His stand on sodomites in the military is atrocious. His position on illegal immigration is no longer acceptable. Recent words lauding Martin Luther King are troublesome. I do not agree with him that abortion is acceptable on a state by state basis. However, despite all that I would vote for Paul in a heart beat because I think his agenda for governing can not work since we are a balkanized culture. Libertarianism can only work in a culture where the citizenry share a world and life view. However, a President Paul would be the best shot at allowing a peaceful breakup of these united States. That is what I believe needs to happen in order to stop the Statists and the tyrants and since the statists and the tyrants would never let that happen, I support Paul because I am confident he would let it happen upon the failure of his governing by Libertarian principles.

So, beware of both the arguments that Rushdoony was a closet Randian libertarian per guys like Marinov but also beware the arguments of guys like Halbrook who argue that Rushdoony would have had no tuck at all with a Libertarianism which he could use to advance his unique vision of a theonomic order in which a genuine Libertarianism could flourish.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

7 thoughts on “Theonomy Dustup”

  1. Bret,

    can you explain in a bit more detail why you think that McDurmon is missing “the reality that libertarianism can not work among a people who are not self governed in terms of God’s law word”? It looks to me that the thrust of his article is to show what Rushdoony taught, not what he personally thinks. In any case, he quotes Rushdoony twice, where Rushdoony talks about self-government of the covenant man being basic to all government.

    1. Alex,

      With my comment I’m actually aiming more at some of the things Bojidar Marinov has written on this subject than I am McDurmon, though I think Joel could have been even more clear that there are significant problems with movement ideological libertarianism. The fact that RJR could talk about the necessity of self-government puts him in conflict with much of Libertarianism since Libertarianism has a different standard for self-government than God’s law word. That fact reveals that there is at the foundational core a significant difference between Libertarian Theonomy and ideological libertarianism.

  2. Another piece of fine commentary, pastor.

    As you know, I have deep admiration for Paul despite some very serious reservations but I generally consider myself a paleoconservative rather than a libertarian because at root I believe social analysis must begin with the transcendent (God and His Word) and not the immanent. Moreover, at a practical level it must begin with the family and not the rootless, abstract individual. Most libertarians have political convictions grounded upon anti-Christian presuppositions about the nature of man and sin rather than Christian assumptions about the biblically circumsribed role of the state. The result is libertinism and hedonism, libertarianism without a covenantal Christian underpinning, and produces social chaos, rootless individualism and, somewhat paradoxically, statism via the destruction of institutions that mediate between the individual and the state.

    Removing sovereignty from God simply transfers it to an immanent source. It does not matter whether that authority is placed in the hands of collective man (the state) or individual man (in e.g., anarcho-capitalism). In either case power will flow to the highest political authority.

    That does not mean we can’t learn quite a lot from the likes of Rothbard, Mises, Hayek, Friedman, etc. But even if parts of the house look fantastic we need to move them onto a sturdier epistemological foundation lest they implode.

  3. Ideological libertarianism can rest upon a multitude of worldviews, just as mathematics, science, and philosophy can rest upon a multitude of worldviews. The question is, Are they consistent? Just as Bahnsen and Van Til would say, It is not that the atheist cannot count, it is that the atheist cannot *account* for his worldview. It is one thing to function in the world, it is quite another for one’s functionality to harmonize with God’s word.

    Libertarianism is an ideology. Objectivism is a worldview. To be an Objectivist, one necessarily has to be an atheist. It would make no more sense to say that there were Christian Objectivists than it would to say that there were atheist Libertarian Theonomists.

    Libertarianism doesn’t address theocracy any more than Algebra and Geometry address theocracy. However, if theocracy is defined to include the Social Contract, then Libertarianism would be at odds since in Libertarianism, the only contracts that are valid are of the same type that one engages in commerce e.g. offer, acceptance, and consideration. The social contract is the essence of statism.

    Paul doesn’t believe that abortion is “acceptable” on a state by state basis. His belief is that it is not a federal issue. It should be determined at the state level.

    1. 1.) It’s just not true the Libertarianism can rest upon a multitude of worldviews since Libertarianism IS a worldview.

      2.) As Libertarianism provides a theory of government it does indeed provide a theory of theocracy.

      3.) Rushdoony insisted that Libertarianism was just the flipped side of the Marxist coin.

      Ron Paul is wrong about abortion not being a federal issue. The Constitution guarantees due process. Unborn aborted people do not get due process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *