Doug Wilson recently wrote a post warning Christians against being enticed by libertarianism. As with everything Wilson says, the post is big on rhetoric and devoid of logic. As usual, it takes numerous reads to try to figure out what his argument actually is, only to realize there is no argument – just empty rhetoric. That’s common with false teachers.
The problem with libertarianism is 3-fold:
First, libertarianism tends to be ideologically-driven, and not driven by love (read, patriotism).
Wilson relies on an unbiblical head/heart dichotomy to try to make his point. Wilson derides ideology (thinking) in favor of affectionate sentimentality in the chest. Far from a tangential oddity, this criticism of libertarianism flows directly from Wilson’s life philosophy. He rejects abstract propositionalism and insists that truth must be tangible: as in touching and seeing physically. If it’s an “abstraction,” it’s not true. Years ago he wrote an essay titled “The Great Logic Fraud” in which he argued
Because of our realist assumptions in mathematics, we have come to believe that 15 + 20 = 35 is true. But it is evidently not true. 15 unicorns plus 20 unicorns will not get you 35 unicorns, try as you may. Of course, on the other hand, 15 turnips plus 20 turnips will result in 35 turnips, and it will do so every time. The structure of the addition table is sound, and the ‘argument’ is valid. And if unicorns existed, we would wind up with 35 of them. But this means the argument is valid, not true.
This underlies his false gospel of covenant objectivity.
Advocates of the “ethereal Church” need to learn that, according to the Bible, a Christian is one who would be identified as such by a Muslim. Membership in the Christian faith is objective—it can be photographed and fingerprinted. (Reformed is Not Enough, 21)
Being a Christian is not a matter of believing invisible propositions. It’s a matter of being baptized and producing faithful works.
Wilson is an earthy, sensate man; what he describes as“objective” are things he can see. point at, and photograph. Everything else is “ethereal.”… Wilson’s sensualistic epistemology requires him to say that visible things are objective and invisible things are not. Of course, that makes God, truth, justice, righteousness, faith ‐ none of which is visible and photographable -‐ ethereal and non-objective. By imposing an un-Biblical theory of knowledge on Scripture, Wilson is inventing another, Antichristian theology, using Christian terminology. (Not Reformed At All, 32)
Regardless, the question of the moral use of force (political philosophy) is not determined by our feelings. It’s determined by thinking – by our study of Scripture.
Wilson attempts to prove that Christians are commanded in Scripture to love the nation-state they find themselves under (without in any way defining what that means). Since libertarians do not love their overlords the way they love their biological father, libertarianism is unbiblical. WLC 124 and 125 does not actually say anywhere that Christians are commanded to have a sentimental heart feeling of love for the nation-state they find themselves under. The only mention of love is directed towards the ruler. They are to love their inferiors so that their inferiors will willfully and cheerfully perform their duties. But, more importantly, the idea that rulers are our fathers is Aristotelean, not Biblical. Commenting on Romans 13, Peter Martyr Vermigli said
This place of the Apostle partaineth to that commandment of the law, Honor thy father and thy mother. For in the olde time, as Aristotle also wryteth, in his Politiques, fathers gave laws to their famely, and to them were as kings. And amongst the Romanes the Senators were called Patres conscripti, that is, appointed Fathers. For a magistrate is nothing els but the father of the country.
Aristotle’s political philosophy is not Scripture’s. The foundation of Westminster’s false view of rulers is their misinterpretation of Isaiah 49:23, which has nothing at all to do with the proper role of a civil magistrate/ruler. It has everything to do with the reversal of Israel’s status as slaves in captivity to their enemies serving them. Wilson’s analogy of the elderly mother is just bizarre. Who is the elderly mother in the analogy? The rulers? We are supposed to lovingly protect our rulers? What?
Bottom line is that Scripture nowhere commands us to have feelings of love in our heart for the shadow deep state. We are to love justice, not injustice. We are to love our neighbors. We are to seek the peace and prosperity of the land we are sojourners in. And we are to love our enemies and oppressors. Reformed libertarianism doesn’t teach otherwise.
Second, libertarianism is backing away from the “social issues” at just the moment when corruption on those issues has reached our nation’s lymph nodes.
“Slaves to Sin Cannot be a Free People.” Correct, but the law cannot free anyone from slavery to sin.
And third, libertarianism sees the abstraction of “free market forces” as a tree in the orchard, instead of fruit from the orchard. This means that the principles of libertarian argument will tend to trump plain statements of Scripture.
“Good kings, good rulers, are anointed by God.” Uhm, David and Solomon’s annointing had specifically to do with their rule over the typological people of Israel who were uniquely in covenant with God. Their kingship was typological of Christ’s – the Anointed. It has nothing to do with rulers today.
“Good government can be a life-giving instrument, and not a money sucking parasite.” Correct, and we don’t suggest otherwise. See The Civil Magistrate vs. the State as a solution to the problem of social order. 2 Sam 23:3 says “When one rules justly over men.” Wilson is begging the question as to what it means to rule justly over men. And yes, Micah 4 talks about the kingdom of Christ, of which Christ is the king, and of which the kingdom of Israel was a type. What’s your point?
“Isaiah 49:22–23… In other words, kings and queens will nurture and protect the church, and kings and queens will show great honor and deference to the church. What the kings and queens will not be is nonexistent.” Oh, that’s your point? See above. Wilson doesn’t typology much.
“God is not willing that any should perish—slave or free, rich or poor, ruled or ruler. God is willing to save kings, and He does so.” Really? I guess libertarianism must be wrong then, cause we don’t believe God saves kings. Oh wait, that’s not what the NAP says.
“It is a gospel work. It is not something we get from Murray Rothbard.” Checkmate. Here I thought all along the tree of life in the New Jerusalem was planted by Rothbard. I guess libertarianism is wrong.
“So in conclusion. Wise Christians love liberty, but it is not our god.” Correct.
“We receive it as a blessing from hand of the Lord Jesus.” Correct.
“If we serve it as a god, as though liberty were the source of anything, what will happen is that we will lose what we have idolized.” Correct.
“If we worship anything instead of Christ, we lose Christ, and we eventually lose whatever thing we substituted for Him.” Correct.
“If we are libertarians, and worship liberty before Christ, we miss Christ.” Correct.
All of that is irrelevant to the question of the permissible use of force according to Scripture. All of that is irrelevant to the regulative principle of violence established by the 6th commandment. All of Wilson’s post is irrelevant to the question of reformed libertarianism.3 Comments