Last week, Norman Horn made the case for the compatibility of libertarianism and Christianity:
It is truly unfortunate that modern American churches seem to think the state’s means of “spreading democracy” through aggressive war is more important than spreading the peaceful message of the Gospel of Christ. Jesus came to bring “peace on earth, good will to men,” and by extension the Christian’s goal ought to be the same. Rep. Paul wrote in Liberty Defined : “It’s a far stretch and a great distortion to use Christianity in any way to justify aggression and violence.” War kills the innocent, destroys property, and bankrupts nations. Christian libertarians believe that a non-interventionist foreign policy of peace, commerce, and honest friendship is more consistent with how God expects us to interact with world neighbors.
I should say here that many American churches don’t subscribe to this view (mine certainly doesn’t), and I suspect Horn is reacting against particular churches that identify too closely with Republican politics, but his larger point is a good one. There are some ways in which libertarianism and Christianity are bound to be at odds, but the libertarian rejection of aggression is clearly consistent with the Gospel. Joseph Knippenberg raises an objection to this passage that isn’t very compelling:
But if men aren’t angels, if there is evil in the world, then how can we endorse a foreign policy described in the following oversimplified terms?
There doesn’t seem to be anything oversimplified in what Horn was saying. It is because evil exists that we should be interested in avoiding warfare as much as possible, so that we do not fall prey to its influence. After all, warfare is at best a necessary evil and a source of many ills and corrupting influences. Wars fought to defend one’s own country are permissible and necessary, but it is because of sinfulness in which all men share that no government can trusted with the responsibility to start wars. The “oversimplified terms” to which Knippenberg objects are, of course, taken virtually word for word from Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address.