The Passions of Mankind have boiled over into all areas of political life, including its vocabulary. The words most common in politics have become stained with human hurts, hopes, and frustrations. – Saul D. Alinsky; Rules for RadicalsI made a mistake.
In my last post I stated as my political position that I consider myself to be a Christ-Following Libertarian who places his Politics on the Right but his Jesus on the Left.
I stand by that definition but the mistake I made was in using language that is so politically charged. As has been clearly pointed out by more than one of my readers, the term libertarian and any attempting to place Jesus on the political spectrum can be too easily misunderstood.
One of the first things I learned when I started writing is to be careful with definitions. Dictionaries never tell the whole story. Definitions are fluid and coloured by experience; a fact that one must always be mindful of when writing and speaking. Even if the dictionary is on my side, recent history and life experience of my readers may not be. So allow me to further explain what I mean by the use of these particular words.
Let’s start with what I mean by “Christ-Follower”. I have been asked on a number of occasions why I don’t simply call myself a Christian and the answer is simple; because I am not.
The term Christian is a Greek noun, meaning “Little Christ” it assumes something static and denotes someone who has arrived at a conclusion of what it means to be a reflection of Christ. While on the other hand, to be a follower is a verb which alludes to a journey and a person who still has some distance to travel before arriving at his destination. While I do not mean to cause friction between myself and those who consider themselves Christians, at this point in my life I have far too much left to learn so for me calling myself a Christian would be the height of arrogance.
Although I know that there are political parties in many countries that call themselves Libertarians with platforms that center around a narrow interpretation of personal liberty and, in the case of the United States, the constitution, my intention in using the term here was to point to a more classical definition.
Dictionary.com defines a Libertarian as;
1. a person who advocates liberty, especially with regard to thought or conduct.
2. a person who maintains the doctrine of free will
That’s it! No political party affiliation, no mention of any constitution, just a dedication to personal freedom and the right to choose your own destiny. By calling myself a “Christ-Following Libertarian” I am stating that I have chosen, of my own free will, to follow the teachings of Jesus and that I support a government that does not interfere with that choice. I hope that more people would chose to follow my example but my respect for liberty and freedom does not allow me to impose my will on others.
Now I can hear some of my more evangelically minded friends starting to protest; what about the Great Commission?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”[Matthew 28:18-20]The key word in that passage is “teaching”. In order to fulfill the Great Commission we must learn to teach like Jesus, live like Jesus, lead like Jesus and above all know when to walk away like Jesus; that is the core of evangelism and it in no way contradicts a libertarian way of thinking. God himself was the first libertarian when he offered free will to Adam and Eve in the Garden. Coercion and control of followers is a human invention.
Which brings me to where I place Jesus politically; while I still stand by my assertion that many of the things Jesus taught are the same types of things that tend to be championed by the left, that by no means makes Jesus or those who follow him leftists. Jesus transcends mere politics and in most instances simply ignores it.
One of my readers questioned my assertion that Jesus had very little to say to the political leaders of his day and did not teach how to steward political power. I acknowledge that as early as Samuel and King Saul prophets have spoken truth to power and warned of cracks in the system. But I stand by my position here as well. Jesus spoke directly to the church leaders of his day, the Pharisees, but he said very little to the Roman authorities who controlled the government. Jesus never advocated for a return to the “glory days” of a Jewish state therefore advocating for a Christian state is nothing short of a perversion of the gospel.
For the first three centuries Christianity was a minority underground movement that had no political power. Almost the entire New Testament was written from prison cells. Jesus and the apostles taught extensively on how to live in community under a more powerful authority but never advocated for political uprising or taught on the subject of how to grasp or hold on to power themselves. On the contrary Jesus taught about an upside down kingdom where the last shall be first [Matthew 19:28-30] and whoever wants to gain life would lose it, [Matthew 10:38-39]. Jesus went on to model the ultimate sacrifice for the good of the many and the apostles all died as martyrs.
I can’t stress this enough, Jesus and the apostles direct their teaching to the church, not to the government. It is a personal challenge and if you are a Christ-Follower or claim to be a Christian you must model the things Jesus did and taught. Christ-Following is not a political cause, it is a personal journey.
So, not because I wish to change any of my original meaning but for the sake of clarity, I hereby revise my earlier statement;
I am a Christ-Following Libertarian (in the classical sense of the term) who rejects all other labels and actively seeks to live in a way that honours the teachings of Jesus regardless of politics.