Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Nathaniel Macon

Nathaniel Macon

Ours is a government of suspicion; every election proves it; the power to impeach proves it; the history of Caesar, of Cromwell, and Bonaparte proves that it ought to be so to remain free.

Long before there was Jesse Helms, dubbed “Senator No,” North Carolina had another vigorous dissenter of centralized power and federal expenditures. Nathaniel Macon was born in Warrenton, North Carolina, almost two decades before American independence. After attending The College of New Jersey, later renamed Princeton, Macon joined a New Jersey militia company in 1776. Four years later, Macon turned down a military commission and enlisted in a North Carolina unit during the American Revolution and was soon elected...

Why is PovertyCure starting the Outreach Program?

PovertyCure is an initiative of the Acton Institute that works to bring about change in the way we think about aid and poverty alleviation. PovertyCure has interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from developing nations, former NGO leaders, nonprofit leaders, and more in the hopes of finding out what leads to economic growth and prosperity. This program works with students, nonprofits, and the PovertyCure Partner Network to share this message. We know that enterprise, not aid, is the longterm solution to poverty. And who would benefit more from this knowledge than churches and missionaries?

Missionaries are the boots on the ground in poverty-stricken nations. While they work tirelessly to bring their faith to new nations, they often also bring material goods and their own labor. It aims to transform the paradigm of thinking among short- and long-term mission workers, empowering...

Awakening the World’s Moral Conscience

Watchers of the Sky

The mass killings of minority groups, which have occurred time and time again throughout history, are often beyond comprehension. How can humans be capable of such evil?

But even more inexplicable and troubling is the fact that many of these atrocities have gone largely unnoticed. They have not received due recognition and response either from heads of states or the public at large.

Fortunately, these tragic historical events have not eluded all. The new documentary, “Watchers of the Sky,” released on DVD in February 2015, details the story of Raphael Lemkin, the largely unknown Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the word “genocide” and almost singlehandedly lobbied the United Nations to...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - Psalm 53:2-4

God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on God.

Sometimes it seems evil is more powerful than God. Especially when we see and hear of brutal and devastating beheadings of Christians in the Middle East. The rise of Islamic State group and their ghastly, violent acts is particularly disturbing. If we look at the world, or even our own sphere of influence, it may appear that the wicked prosper and the Lord has little control over the events of the day.

The problem of evil and suffering is one of the chief reasons people abandon their faith and belief in God. The psalmist in Psalm 53 echoes Psalm 14, reminding humanity...

The Consumer Conundrum


Those of us who affirm the market economy as a path to human flourishing need to offer an alternate to the basically negative view of human consumption that critics as well as apologists of the free market too often assume. This is especially true for men and women of faith who hold to a higher vision of human life, its purpose, and the means required for the person to become fully and truly who they were created by God to be.

To that end, it is worth looking at two seminal figures in the history of economic thought: the mid-20th-century economist and retail analyst Victor Lebow and the late 19th- and early-20th-century economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen. These two thinkers illustrate the analytical dangers inherent...

A Journey from Religious Radical to Nothing New

A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir

Review of Thomas C. Oden’s “A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir,” (IVP Academic, November 2014) Hardcover, 384 pages, $30.58

One reason Thomas C. Oden wrote “A Change of Heart” was “to alert people to question the realism of those collectivist and unexamined illusions.” The “illusions” and collectivism Oden refers to is a fashionable abandonment of the truth and Christian orthodoxy within academia, especially by mainline Protestant seminaries. This abandonment of classic Christianity led to the rise of Marxist liberation theology, sexual libertinism, and the radicalized parish pulpit. Oden offers a fascinating...

Common Grace in Business: A Roundtable Discussion

An Interview with Sidney Jansma, Jr., Milton H. Kuyers, and Michelle Van Dyke

In Reformed theology, common grace refers to the special favor of God common to all humankind. But how do you translate this conceptual knowledge into actual understanding and practice in the workplace?

Abraham Kuyper

Abraham Kuyper

The Acton Institute and the Calvin Center for Innovation in Business at Calvin College explored this question on October 31, 2014, during a cosponsored Symposium on Common Grace. The event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, brought members of the faith, academic, and business communities together to explore and discuss Dutch theologian, journalist, and statesman Abraham Kuyper’s work on common...

Editor's Note

In the fall of 2014, business people, scholars, and theologians converged on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Symposium on Common Grace in Business. The event was conceived and cosponsored by the Calvin business department and the Acton Institute as a way of highlighting Abraham Kuyper’s theological work on common grace—the grace that God extends to everyone that enables him or her to do good—in the business world. The gathering was also a celebration of Acton’s translation and publication in English of volume one of Kuyper’s seminal three-volume work on common grace (De Gemeene Gratie).

We’re leading this Winter 2015 issue of Religion & Liberty with a roundtable discussion by three prominent business people who discuss how common grace has a direct, and transformative, application in...

Joy in the New Year

On the cusp of a new year, it is human nature to spend time looking to the past and anticipating what is to come. January, of course, is named for Janus, the Roman god of two faces, one looking back and one looking to the future.

We wish the best for the coming year. We hope and pray for goodness and peace, but we know that humans often choose otherwise. I suspect it is part of the melancholy that settles in for some people this time of year.

God willing, Pope Francis will visit the City of Brotherly Love in the U.S. in 2015. Philadelphia is a fit setting for a pope who so embodies an openness to all people. In my mind's eye, I see Pope Francis embracing the handicapped, the disfigured, the young, and the old: all who gather in St. Peter's Square, hoping just to catch a glimpse of him.

For Catholics, Pope Francis has declared 2015 the Year of...

Leonard Liggio

Leonard Liggio

Mankind has survived by moral customs and by law, and has been undermined by momentary decisions and by legislation. Based on change over time and by the test of standards by trial and error, traditions and law provide guidance for success in contrast to momentary decision and legislation.

On October 14, 2014, the free market movement lost a great friend with the passing of Leonard Liggio (1933-2014), affectionately known as the "Johnny Appleseed of Classical Liberalism." Liggio was a thinker, a doer, and a giver. He was known not just for his profound thought and powerful influence, but his great service to other people. He played a central role in the revival of classical liberalism, famously saying...

What's left to accomplish in the Acton@25 Capital Campaign?

Very soon, Acton will arrive at its 25th Anniversary and the conclusion of the Acton@25 Capital Campaign. In response to a burgeoning demand for our work, we launched a capital campaign in 2012 to support Acton's physical expansion and programmatic growth. Since moving to our new workspace, we have been able to plan larger-than-ever conferences, produce a DVD curriculum and documentary, and situate our unique collection of 13,000 books. Perhaps most encouraging, nearly 2,000 people have attended our in-house lectures to learn more about free enterprise, individual liberty, and personal responsibility!

We are just under $1 million away from reaching our $12.5 million campaign goal, which we are determined to accomplish by our twenty-fifth anniversary next year.

Some of the projects that we hope to complete:

  • Finishing our television studio...

In Praise of the Bourgeois, Liberty-Loving Race of Hobbits

The Hobbit Party

Review of The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom that Tolkien Got and the West Forgot by Jonathan Witt and Jay Richards, (Ignatius Press, 2014). 232 pages. $21.95.

"First they ignore it, then they ridicule it, then they willfully misunderstand it, then it becomes a classic." Mohandas Gandhi never said that about great works of...

Our Competitive Entitlement Economy


Rights obsessiveness has made us the world's second-largest social spender.

It's not unusual for non-Americans, and many Americans of a center-left disposition, to portray the United States as a dog-eat-dog society: one in which the poor are left to fend for themselves and where a night-watchman state doesn't intervene, save in extreme circumstances and often not until it's too late. It's a mantra that's endlessly repeated, from the academy to the pulpit, from Congress to your local council.

Judging, however, from the latest update on global social expenditure released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—hardly a den of infamous "neoliberal...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - John 6:40

For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

The sixth chapter of John is one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament. It starts with Christ feeding the five thousand and includes one of the seven "I am" statements. Christ declares, "I am the bread of life," who comes to feed the multitude (John 6:35). The chapter concludes with many disciples deserting him. The declarations of Christ and his teaching proved too difficult for many, just as it does today.

John 6:40 is one of the most important passages in the New Testament. The verse has proven to be an essential evangelistic message preached throughout the world. It's a simple statement about the will of the Father, our salvation, and our eternal purpose in Christ....

We Are Not the Center of the Universe

We Are Not The Center of the Universe

Review of Russ Roberts' How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life – An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness (Portfolio, October 2014) Hardcover, 272 pages, $27.95

Adam Smith is conventionally thought of in a very specific manner: He is the "father of economics," the man who gave birth to the very idea that self-interest is a good thing and that seeking profits was among the most socially productive endeavors a man could undertake. But what many people are unaware of is that Adam Smith was also a moral philosopher and social psychologist (and one of the greats). In fact, it was his Theory of Moral Sentiments that first brought Adam Smith to fame, not his...