Religion & Liberty Article Listing

A Case for Limiting Caesar

For too long the commentariat has assumed it is an oxymoron for someone to be both an advocate for limited government and concerned about the well-being of their fellow man. A classically liberal philosophy is too often equated with a form of individualism so brutish that it is scarcely recognizable as human. For many classical liberals, it is precisely because they care deeply for the welfare of humanity, and religious liberty, that they advocate for limiting the role of government at all levels.

In fact, Americans should be seeking less action from Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if they want to answer the call to be our brother's keeper and uphold the First Amendment. The tumult surrounding President Obama's HHS mandate only...

A Receding Voice: A Century of Methodist Political Pronouncements

Review of Mark Tooley's Methodism and Politics in the 20th Century (ISI, Jan 2012) ISBN: 978-1885224712. Hardcover, 406 pages; $24.95.

Methodism was once the largest denomination in America. The faith grew rapidly from America's beginning and has traditionally been characterized by aggressive evangelism and revival. It has carried a vibrant social witness, too. Methodist Church pronouncements once garnered front page headlines in The New York Times. Its high water mark undoubtedly came during prohibition, the greatest modern political cause of the denomination. Methodists even built and staffed a lobbying building next to Capitol Hill, believing a dry country could remake society.

In Methodism and Politics in...

Two Faiths: The Witness of Whittaker Chambers

Calvin Coolidge remarked that, "Great men are the ambassadors of Providence sent to reveal to their fellow men their unknown selves. To them is granted the power to call forth the best there is in those who come under their influence." To Coolidge's treatment of greatness, we might add the transcendent voices of certain writers who encapsulate in almost lyrical form the creative ideas, passions, and tensions within themselves, as measured by the period's conflicts they were providentially hurled against. These voices speak to the heart of man from the center of the writer's soul.

One such writer was Whittaker Chambers, whose autobiography Witness, published in 1952, details his life as an agent in the Fourth Section of Soviet...

Reformation and Rediscovery: An Interview with Herman J. Selderhuis

Dr. Herman J. Selderhuis is professor of Church History
at the Theological University
Apeldoorn (the Netherlands) and director of
Refo500, the international platform on projects
relating to the 16th Century. He is the author
and editor of several books, including John
Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life
(2009). He is also
president of the International Calvin Congress
and Curator of Research at the Johannes a
Lasco Library (Emden, Germany). Selderhuis
recently spoke with Religion & Liberty managing
editor Ray Nothstine.

R&L: In what way did the Reformation reshape education in the...

Editor’s Note

"My conscience is captive to the Word of God," declared Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms in 1521. The Protestant Reformation transformed not just the theology of much of the Church but also heavily influenced the thought of civil and religious liberty. Today about 670 million Protestants span the globe. We are approaching the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, kicked off by Luther's posting of his 95 theses in 1517.

Herman Selderhuis is the director of Refo500, the organization that wishes to draw attention to the Reformation and its continuing relevance. In the interview, Selderhuis revisits Reformation history and the myriad ways it has had a lasting impact on social structures, government, the Church, and Europe's future.

Also marking a memorable moment in time, this year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Witness...

The Vatican's Economic Letter

In October, the Vatican released an 18-page document titled "Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority." Since then, it has been celebrated by advocates of bigger government the world over.

What's ignored is that the document—released to stimulate debate, not offer official doctrine—embraces a sound economic theory concerning the cause of the world financial crisis: the breakdown of the postwar Bretton Woods monetary system and the unleashing of fiat currencies and central-bank printing presses.

Let's look at a representative passage, while keeping in mind several important markers: 1971 was the year that the Nixon administration killed the gold standard, and along with it Bretton Woods and hard currencies; in the early 1980s, financial deregulation in many countries...

Vladimir Solovyov

Socialism really stands on the same ground as the bourgeois régime hostile to it, namely, the supremacy of the material interest. Both have the same motto: "man liveth by bread alone."

The Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov has been cast in many contradictory ways, not all without merit. Born in Moscow, as a teenager he abandoned Christianity in favor of atheism, only to return to faith by 18 after encountering Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, and Schelling. Despite some syncretistic tendencies and despite plausible rumors that, in the interest of ecumenism, he once took communion at a Catholic mass, to his death Solovyov identified himself as an Orthodox Christian. The thought world of Solovyov's Russia, especially among the upper class of...

What's behind PovertyCure?

In this column, in the Summer 2006 issue of R&L, I answered the question: How does Acton communicate its ideas to the world? You might recall how I explained that video will be an increasingly important tool for Acton in the future. Video, of course, is today's dominant popular medium and we've been using it at Acton for some time now to advance the cause of freedom, globally and instantaneously.

That's why Acton is one of the lead sponsors of PovertyCure, a website, documentary and group study curriculum that will change the international aid conversation by its simple appeal to the entrepreneurial spirit that is embedded in human nature. You and I know that the materialist anthropology of the U.N. Millennial Development program is a poor foundation for the development of the person. PovertyCure offers a real alternative.


Modern Conservative Crusader

Review of Carl T. Bogus's William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of American Conservatism (ISI, Oct 2011) ISBN: 978-1596915800. Hardback, 416 pages; $19.80.

Ronald Reagan affectionately called William F. Buckley "our clipboard-bearing Galahad" who took on the "knights of darkness." The quote delivered at the 30th anniversary celebration of National Review speaks to the depth of Buckley's leadership over the conservative movement. Anybody knowledgeable of ancient Christianity and theology understands the significance of biographer Lee Edwards words when he called Buckley "The St. Paul of the conservative movement." Now, in a new biography titled William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - 1 Corinthians 4:9

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.

The German theologian Johannes Brenz declared, "There is no higher honor than to be classed with the prophets and the Son of God." In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul compares the fate and treatment of the apostles to the captured competitors in Rome at the end of a parade or procession. Their sentence was a brutal and inhumane death for the entertainment of the spectators. Such was the life of the apostle that a death of suffering awaited them.

The purpose of Paul in this passage is to discipline and instruct some in the Church that had become arrogant and puffed up with pride. They felt superior in knowledge and felt they...

One Percent or 33: America's Real Inequality Problem

Review of Mitch Pearlstein's From Family Collapse to America's Decline: The Educational, Economic, and Social Costs of Family Fragmentation (ISI, Aug 2011) ISBN: 978- 1607093626. Paperback, 165 pages; $24.95.

The American economy remains sluggish and, from all over the political spectrum, particularly the left, people have turned their attention to inequality. The Occupy Wall Street movement, though without actual plans for reform, emphasizes the growing inequality between the top one percent and the 99 percent of Americans below them, with the implication that income growth among top earners means less for everybody else. Supporting this line of thinking, the New York Times published an article in...

Onward Catholic Soldiers: The Catholic Church during the American Civil War

It is a common, even clichéd saying that the American Civil War pitted "brother against brother." Certainly, the conflict divided the nation as the seceded Southern states fought for independence, while the Northern and Border states fought to preserve the Union. Even within the sections, there were politicians, civilians, and soldiers who sympathized with the other "side." The issues of Slavery, "States-Rights," and the meaning of the Federal Constitution created passions and hatreds, which leapt from the ballot box to the battlefield. Even churches— especially churches— were prone to this division. Each section, denomination, and parishioner believed God to be on their side.


Rethinking Mission to the Poor: An Interview with Dolphus Weary

Dolphus Weary grew up in segregated Mississippi and then moved to California to attend school in 1967. He is one of the first black graduates of Los Angeles Baptist College. He returned to Mississippi to lead Mendenhall Ministries, a Christ-centered community outreach organization that takes a holistic approach to solving problems of poverty. Currently, Dolphus Weary is president of R.E.A.L. Christian Foundation in Richland, Miss., which strives to empower and develop rural ministries to improve the lives of Mississippians. Among his academic degrees, Dolphus Weary has received a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss. He is a nationally sought speaker and writer and serves on numerous boards...

Editor's Note

More than anything else, Dolphus Weary brings credibility to the issues of poverty and economic and spiritual development. His life itself is a testimony. Weary grew up under difficult social and economic circumstances in Mississippi. He has harnessed his own life experience to lead others out of the cycle of poverty and hopelessness. His model for holistic outreach to the poor with Mendenhall Ministries has been widely adopted in other parts of the country. The Mendenhall Ministries received national recognition by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, when it was recognized as one of the Daily Points of Light.

Weary's book I Ain't Comin' Back is the perfect reminder that the heartbreaking issue of poverty is not a hopeless one but rather, at its fundamental level, it is an opportunity to serve. Today he continues to serve his community and many that...

The Church as the Bride of Caesar

It is telling that the Washington Post report on the religious Left's Circle of Protection campaign for big government describes the effort as one that would "send chills through any politician who looks to churches and religious groups as a source of large voting blocs," because, in fact, this is not an honest faith-inspired campaign to protect the "least of these" from Draconian government cuts, as claimed. It is a hyper-political movement that offers up the moral authority of churches and aid organizations to advance the ends of the Obama administration and its allies in Congress.

The Circle of Protection, led by Jim Wallis and his George Soros-funded Sojourners group, is advancing a false narrative based on vague threats to the "most vulnerable" if we finally take the first tentative steps to fix our grave budget and debt...