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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Views of Wealth in the Bible and the Ancient World

Think back to the last time you heard someone from the pulpit in your church talk about money, the Bible, and your spiritual life. On those occasions when pastors venture into this area, the focus is often, and rightly, on matters of the heart and one’s attitude toward money and possessions. But in that emphasis often lies an unexamined assumption that goes something like this: Given that the Bible focuses on attitude, not accumulation per se, that materialism is fundamentally about attitude, not amount, and that the human heart has not changed since the Bible was written, little significant difference exists between people in biblical times and people today when it comes to money. Hidden in that assumption is the notion that the ancient world and the world of today are also similar when it comes to money, wealth, and possessions. Though it is true that the...

What sets the Acton Institute apart from other free-market think tanks and organizations?

The Acton Institute’s unique position in the free-market movement is that its advocacy and education on economic issues is integrated with Judeo-Christian teachings about the dignity and inestimable worth of the human person. The Acton Institute has always understood the human person as a co-creator, producer, and innovator, not as a greedy materialist or consumer.

The first words that God spoke to the created family are words that declare that humanity is created for a moral purpose, with human dominion over the earth, and to embrace our vocational calling. That calling is a living out of the dignity we have inherited by virtue of our very nature and creation. Indeed, God Himself was at work at the creation. Christian authors Gerard Berghoef and Lester DeKoster in Work: The Meaning of Your Life-A Christian Perspective, republished by Christian’...

Whittaker Chambers

Review of Richard M. Reinsch II, Whittaker Chambers: The Spirit of a Counterrevolutionary (ISI, 2010).

Whittaker Chambers began Witness, the classic account of his time in the American Communist underground, with the declaration: “In 1937, I began, like Lazarus, the impossible return.” The line was, most of all, a deep recognition of the power of God to redeem what was once dead. Witness was a landmark account of the evils of Communism but, most importantly, a description of the bankruptcy of freedom outside of the sacred. “For Chambers, God was always the prime mover in the war between Communism and freedom. If God exists then Communism cannot,” says Richard Reinsch II. It is Reinsch who reintroduces us to...

Thoughts on the Education of Lord Acton

Of the various influences that shaped Lord Acton’s distinctive understanding of history, none was as decisive as his education. His intellectual formation was in fact unique, the product of social position, conditions within English and Continental Catholicism, revolutionary ideas in the Germanic world pertaining to the study and methods of history, and the epic debate in North America over the nature and future of the Union of the States. All of these developments converged in Acton’s life during the decade of 1848-1858, at the end of which he entered an aggressive public life in journalism and scholarship that established his name in the pantheon of the great minds of the Western tradition.

Born into a cosmopolitan family which was prominent in English, German and Italian life, a Catholic with easy access to the highest levels of Whig society by virtue...

Literature & the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture

Review of Literature & the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture, ed. Paul Cantor and Stephen Cox (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2010).

In recent decades, literary criticism has championed several schools that disavow common-sense economics in favor of more private and personal agendas. The “personal is political” formulation long ago crept into English Departments, at the expense of more traditional understandings of the warp and weave of Western Civilization. Beginning in the mid- to late-twentieth century, students were subjected to successive waves of New Criticism, Marxist Theory, Queer Theory, Feminist Theory and Deconstructionism – all guilty of squeezing square pegs into round holes in order to further individual reputations and engineer social change...

Faithful Presence

An Interview with the Founder of ACT 3: John H. Armstrong

John H. Armstrong is founder and president of ACT 3, a ministry for “equipping leaders for unity in Christ’s mission.” He is also an adjunct professor of evangelism at Wheaton Graduate School. Armstrong served as a pastor for more than 20 years and he is a widely sought teacher at conferences and seminars in the United States and abroad. He earned the D. Min degree at Luther Rice Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia. His latest book, Your Church is too Small, was published by Zondervan in 2010 and his website can be accessed at www.act3online.com.

R&L:What does the small mean in that title of your new book, “Your Church is too Small?”...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word

1 Peter 5:6

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

"Show me a hundred stuck up folks and I'll show you a hundred fools" is a line from a song by the legendary country duo, The Louvin Brothers. Sometimes it seems that humility is an old fashioned and dated virtue, especially with the rise of mass entertainment and celebrity culture. We are inundated with countless people self-servingly and shamelessly seeking fame for the sake of fame alone. Their agenda is to advance themselves regardless of the lives they destroy, or the pain and embarrassment they inflict on others. Too often this lifestyle is celebrated and cheered by our culture.

It is often the saddest affair when a lack of humility infects churches, the very place meant to offer a transforming message to the...

Don’t Devalue Christian Heritage

A week or so ago, I struck up a friendly conversation with a cleaning lady upon entering a hotel.

She right away asked me, "Did you hear the news of the statue of Christ being struck with lightning in Ohio?"

How could I avoid it? For some inexplicable reason, the news of this "act of God" had attracted a great deal of attention. Why, I began to wonder, did this relatively marginal story gain so much press attention?

"Do you think it was a sign?" the lady asked. "A sign of what?" I replied.

I thought of our conversation for the rest of the morning. I am not one given to "signs and wonders" to discern some kind of mystical revelation, though I grant there is plenty of historical precedent for such epiphanies. Yet, I could not get the image out of my mind and the fascination it held for so...

Benjamin Banneker

It is the indispensable duty of those who maintain for themselves the rights of human nature, and who possess the obligations of Christianity, to extend their power and influence to the relief of every part of the human race from whatever burden or oppression they may unjustly labor under.

Benjamin Banneker is best known for his work in surveying the District of Columbia, but it is just one of many achievements. Banneker's father, Robert, was a slave who was granted his freedom and converted to Christianity. His mother, Mary, along with the help of Robert, owned and managed a successful tobacco farm west of Baltimore, Maryland. Born a free black, Banneker had very little formal education because of the tasks required of him for farm life. His grandmother,...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Challenge to the Ecumenical Movement

This article is excerpted from Jordan Ballor's new book Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) was a theologian and pastor intimately involved in the German church struggle (Kirchenkampf)— the attempt by the Third Reich to consolidate control under a central Reich bishop and promote pro-Nazi sentiment in the German church. Bonhoeffer issues his critique of the ecumenical movement in the form of an essay, "The Confessing Church and the Ecumenical Movement." The challenging question articulated in 1935, "Is the ecumenical movement, in its visible representation, a church?" echoes throughout the history of the movement. This is, he realizes, "the question...

Review: Thomas Sowell’s Field Guide to Intellectuals

Arguments about ideas are the bread and butter of the academic, journalism and think tank worlds. That is as it should be. Honest intellectual debate benefits any society where its practice is allowed. The key element is honesty.

Today, someone is always looking to take out the fastest gun, and in the battles over the hearts and minds of the public, many weapons are brought to bear. Unfortunately, and too often, among the artillery deployed by both sides in an argument are rhetorical deception, misleading statistics and an air of authority, which can immediately bury facts in the Boot Hill of honest debate.

Seldom held accountable for the violence brought to bear on the verifiable when their ideas lead to long-lasting negative effects, many of these intellectual gunslingers head into battle confident that their wits will save the...

Review: William F. Buckley Jr.

Lee Edwards calls William F. Buckley Jr. "The St. Paul of the conservative movement." No other twentieth century figure made such a vast contribution to the intellectual force of political conservatism. He paved the way for the likes of Ronald Reagan and all of those political children of Reagan who credit the former president for bringing them into politics. He achieved what no other had done and that was his ability to bring traditional conservatives, libertarians, and anti-communists together under the same umbrella. Late in life, when asked why he continued working so hard despite fame and wealth, a surprised Buckley said, "My Father taught me that I owe it to my country. It's how I pay my debt."

Lee Edwards offers an excellent story of Buckley's founding and overseeing of the modern conservative crusade in ...

Assessing the Anti-Federalists

A free society needs both liberty and order. As Russell Kirk once put it, "order is the first need for any society—only then can liberty and justice be reasonably secure." From September 1787 through July 1788, this principle of ordered liberty shaped Federalist arguments for, and anti-Federalist arguments against, the ratification of the Constitution. Contemporary Americans might be tempted to assume that the opposition does not deserve to be counted among the Founding Fathers and Framers. But not only do many anti-Federalists belong in both categories, their works need to be read alongside the more famous Federalist Papers and James Wilson's oratory, if Americans hope to restore a sane balance between state and federal power.

Recent experience with tyranny shaped the Articles of Confederation, the United States'...

Literature and the Realm of Moral Values

In the opening chapter of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn's novel, In the First Circle, the character Innokenty Volodin is faced with a moral dilemma over whether or not to share secret Soviet information with the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. In the end, his decision is made when he asks himself: "If we live in a state of constant fear, can we remain human?" The question is one that Solzhenitsyn asked of the Soviet government right up to the day he was arrested and exiled in 1974. His parting shot to the Soviet powers was the publication in Russia of the essay, "Live Not by Lies."

A new "restored" edition of In the First Circle was published in late 2009 by Harper Perennial in a translation by Harry T. Willetts. The new edition includes the missing chapters that Solzhenitsyn had excised to get the book past Soviet censors....

What is Christian’s Library Press?

In June of 2010, the Acton Institute acquired the Grand Rapids–based book imprint, Christian’s Library Press. CLP was founded in 1979 by Gerard Berghoef and Lester DeKoster as a publishing resource for Christian leadership, theology, and stewardship. Berghoef was president of the John Widdicomb Company of Grand Rapids and was an elder in the Christian Reformed Church for many years. DeKoster was a Calvin College professor and a former editor of The Banner, a publication of the Christian Reformed Church. With the death of DeKoster in 2009, Acton was given an opportunity to build upon their respected work.

Acton Institute is committed to publishing new books and building on the rich theological heritage that has characterized CLP. Acquiring CLP was a natural fit given all the work Acton has done to become a leading source in the area of Christian stewardship. Acton...