by Steve Lancaster 12/28/13
Jesus was the first Libertarian. There it is said, but does that make it so? There are undoubted thousands perhaps millions who would contend with that statement and have excellent reasons to dispute based on scripture and two thousand years of history. Most theologians would probably not even give the matter a second thought. Partly because they do not understand Libertarian principle; that is in such a diverse group a principle can even be defined, but also modern political thought is that Libertarians are at best agnostic and at worst atheist. The exquisiteness of the Libertarian philosophy is that doctrinaire adherence to a singular mode of thought is anathema to the Libertarian. So, how does Jesus fit the Libertarian mold?
The integrity of the individual is the first and most important part of Libertarian philosophy. How can we be or mean anything in society if our personal liberty is violated by outside powers? The Libertarian knows in his heart that God has established natural rights to the individual and as Jefferson said, “Among those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Jesus in his entire ministry talks about a personal relationship with God. A relationship that because of free will allows man to choose how he will converse with God. Jesus rejects a religion of formula and ritual in favor of a one-to-one relationship. He had ample opportunity to recreate the dogmas of the past and rejected them; favoring instead a free man, rather than man chained to obligatory ritual for the sake of ritual.
Jesus temptations and his answers provide enlightenment about freedom. Ha-Satan, sought to tempt Jesus saying he could relieve the world of hunger if he would just turn stone to bread. Man would readily give up his freedom if Jesus would provide bread to relieve his hunger. We see this all over the world today where thousands and millions are starving; where governments are a part of the problem by corrupting the system. To control the masses the best and most effective tactic is to control the flow of food. Who can blame a father accepting food to feed a starving child if the cost is his vote for the political regime or the rebels who will gain control if he will join them in the fight?
Jesus example is difficult to follow. For you must reject the bread of today for the bread of life. Libertarians understand intuitively not as part of a grand philosophy but as part of liberty. Jesus rejected the argument that man must exchange bread for freedom. Had Jesus offered bread to the masses he would have satisfied the craving for someone to worship. Jesus, instead of taking the burden of freedom in exchange for bread; Jesus offered even more freedom.
One example, which could be taken in many different ways is not an argument. Jesus is asked a question about taxes and turns it into a Libertarian response relating to property by saying, render on Caesar what is Caesar’s and onto God what is Gods. Nearly 1700 years before Adam Smith, Jesus acknowledges that property is component of liberty. Jesus set limits on what the government can ask of man and also what God can ask.
Jesus is tempted by the miraculous, and undeniably during his ministry he does perform miracles. He is tempted to throw himself from a cliff and the argument is that 10,000 angels would hold him up from death and prove his claim as God. Jesus did not come down from the cross, when mocked because he would not enslave man with a miracle. He sought faith based given freely; but man seeks not so much God as the miraculous and will create miracles of his own to worship and adore.
Lastly, Jesus is tempted with the power to rule the world; in effect to take the robe of Caesar, to found the universal state and rule men as they should be ruled with universal peace. He is tempted to offer freedom from freedom for submission to the state, to end want, slavery and war. After all, who is more qualified to rule men than He who holds their conscience, but also their bread in His hands? Then man will know that they are weak, timid and childlike and will follow. Jesus rejected the idea of a fawning and complacent man in favor of freedom.
Thus, Jesus is a Libertarian as he would not rule man but steps away from the cliff; to use power to do good with the powers of corruption, for Jesus knows that the corrupting influence once taken can never be given back. Libertarians come in many different types, some are Marxists, some are conservative, some are liberal, and some are progressive but each will embrace freedom as they see it. Libertarians always run to the sound of battle and stand the wall against the barbarians, atheist, agnostic or believer every Libertarian in his heart agrees with Jesus. • (1513 views)