Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ron Paul vs God on Politics

Rep. Ron Paul has much to his credit. He is honest. He is true to his principles. He is incorruptible. As for those principles, he is a faithful constitutionalist and so he holds to a restrictive view of what government should do. This stands in sad contrast to most government officials who view the details of the constitution rather carelessly. Dr. Paul, an OB-GYN, has also been a strong defender of the unborn.

But Paul holds these views from libertarian convictions, not Christian ones. He himself is a Christian, but he believes that one's faith is an entirely private matter with no business expressing itself in public policy. How does he know this? Libertarianism tells him so. You see what the controlling authority is.

In "Christian, why Ron Paul?" (, I argue along these lines.

"Biblical government not only secures us in our lives and property so that “we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.” It also actively cultivates a moral environment that facilitates people’s ability to live their lives “godly and dignified in every way” and pass such moral habits along to their children (1 Timothy 2:2). Libertarians like Ron Paul deny this fundamental biblical political principle. As a result, Ron Paul’s America would look more like It’s a Wonderful Life’s Potterville than Bedford Falls. What is worst in us, unchecked and undiscountenanced, would flourish among us, freely chosen but encouraged by those who would exploit their neighbor’s moral weakness for gain."

Norman Horn of ("Can a Christian be a Libertarian?") argues for Christianb Libertarianism as a Third Way in American politics.

"Libertarianism treats man’s sinful nature realistically. James Madison famously quipped that if men were angels no government would be necessary. Christian libertarians take this a step further, saying that it is precisely because men are not angels that government must have extraordinarily limited powers."
But in saying this he neglects what Madison--also in Federalist Papers No. 51--takes very seriously: the need also for government to restrain the iniquity of the governed.

Joe Knippenberg at First Things ("Libertarianism and Christianity") cites both my column and the Horn argument before concluding:

Non-pseudo-Nietzschean libertarians have always struck me as somewhat Pollyannaish in their assumptions regarding the power—more precisely, the lack of power—of human sinfulness. They see sinfulness in government, but somehow assume that the rest of us will be “good enough” with only the most minimal restraints. What’s more, they seem to assume that a “merely individualist” public philosophy won’t have untoward consequences for our common lives together.

(As an aside, for this reason, I don’t believe that Ron Paul is racist, despite the newsletters that went out in his name many years ago. In this video montage, he makes a compelling case that libertarians believe in the freedom of every individual, regardless of race, whereas racism requires seeing people as groups.)


A.G.M. said...

Mr. Innes,
You make some very good points about Dr. Paul. However, I am not sure if it is entirely correct that he denies the biblical foundations of his beliefs. If you've ever read his books or articles you'll find that he very openly references the Bible, Church history, etc. His recent Value Voters speech is a great example. In that speech he says that we need to return to the Biblical principle of honest money, just weights and measures. So, he obviously does not think that "one's faith is an entirely private matter with no business expressing itself in public policy." If you meant solely on social issues and behavior, perhaps. But I think Paul is more concerned about not using his faith in a shallow way, coming off as self-righteous or using it to get attention. I also read your article on WorldMag and thought you might be interested in this Youtube series titled The Bible & Ron Paul:

David C. Innes said...

Thank you, AGM. I read about the Leviticus 19 concern in a comment on the Knippenberg article. Of course, that is a particular interest of his, and as it should be. I don't hear much from him regarding the rest of the moral and civil law however. All that I hear is "to each his own" (that's not a quote). But I have not read his book or articles. I'll take a look at those videos.

A.G.M. said...

There is a degree in which Paul separates his "personal" belief on some issue and his "legal" limitations. Or, he may be opposed to the *federal* government doing something, but perfectly fine with state governments doing it. These are sharp distinctions that must be applied when trying to understand his worldview. For example, he is "personally" against public education - but recognizes that under our Constitution, states can operate them if they wish. So all he can do is help get central planning out of it. Same goes with social issues like gay marriage. He is "personally" against it, but he wants to see the states take back their role in preventing it. Here's a great article where he admits that if he were a state congressman he would do everything in his power to prevent gay marriage becoming legal in Texas: Hope that helps.

Nick said...

I read your Ron Paul WorldMag was extremely vague (as is this post). On what issues in particular do you disagree with Ron Paul?

Rick said...

I read your article here and the one on World Magazine website. What positions of Paul's do you disagree with. Both of your posts about him are very vague.

Aleck said...

I suspect that an article on "[BLANK] vs. God in Politics" could be written about each of the candidates of each of the parties. But here is another vantage point on Ron Paul --