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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Christianity, the Foundation and Conservator of Freedom

R&L: You have often described yourself as an arch-liberal. The word liberalism has very different meanings in the United States and Europe. Could you explain the differences of those understandings of this term?

Kuehnelt-Leddihn: The term liberal in its political connotation we owe to Spain, the nation that always valued freedom most highly if not excessively, and therefore also produced a great many anarchists in the last one hundred fifty years. Resisting the Napoleonic invasion, Spain proclaimed in the liberated south, in Cadiz, a liberal constitution whose supporters were called los liberales. (They denounced their opponents as los serviles.) In 1816 Southey used the expression liberal for the first time in England but still in its...

Misesian Economics and the Bible

One of the several magnificent intellectual achievements of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881—1973) was his development of a comprehensive science of human action, called “praxeology.” One of the main conclusions drawn from praxeology is that free markets will result in more prosperity than government-directed economic activity–a position that naturally makes Misesian economics popular with conservatives. At the same time, one aspect of praxeology often poses a gigantic stumbling block to conservatives of deep religious convictions. They have been perplexed and put off by Mises’ insistence that, in praxeology, he had developed a Wertfrei (value-free) science of economics.

Praxeology and the Bible

Man is a moral being, the argument goes. Therefore,...

The New Testament and Public Life

From the historical beginnings of the Christian movement, there has been an understanding that the governing authorities of the world are under the providence of God. According to Saint Paul, government serves a valuable and divinely ordained purpose until the Parousia, when the return of Christ will fully inaugurate the new creation. Government, Paul declares, is “instituted by God” and is “God’s servant for your good.” Its fundamental function is to provide law and order and punish wrongdoers: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” Thus Christians are conscience-bound to honor governmental authority and be law-abiding citizens (Rom. 13:1—7). At the same time, it is implied that government is accountable to God and is to serve the common good. Perhaps Paul’s views here in Romans...

Medical Technology, Medical Ethics

The usual line on medical ethics goes something like this. In the old days, ethics and medicine weren’t often in conflict. The physician intervened to save lives when he could, but his main limitation was technological. Nowadays, however, we have the technology to keep life going for an indeterminate period, blurring distinctions between life and death. This reality necessitates that doctors and families make difficult decisions about when to pull the plug. And since finances are always an issue, making those decisions requires us to think not just about life itself but preeminently about the quality of life.

Herein lies the supposed ethical difficulty. Issues of quality of life cannot be decided by the patient; others, especially those who pay the bill (it can be society as a whole), must...

John Witherspoon

John Witherspoon was born in 1723 to a Scottish family that strongly believed in the virtues fostered by religion. Witherspoon began attending the University of Edinburgh at age fourteen. After completion of his studies in 1743, Witherspoon was ordained and started his ministry at Beith, Scotland. He went to the New World in 1768, prompted by an offer to head the College of New Jersey (Princeton). As the president of Princeton, Witherspoon’s performance was extraordinary. According to Ralph L. Ketcham, “under his leadership, Princeton was a hotbed of revolutionary patriotism, and produced one president, ten u.s. senators, nine governors, and...

Why America Needs Religion

Recently, University of Chicago professor Derek Neal undertook a study of the education of urban minority students, the same ones who are the much-vaunted “at risk” students regularly paraded out whenever the body politic even contemplates any change in the educational status quo. After exhaustive research and comparison between the public and private (including parochial) education systems, Professor Neal concluded that there “is something different about the curriculum in Catholic schools that gives urban minorities a significant advantage over their public school peers.” What exactly that “something different in the curriculum” is, Professor Neal did not elaborate on.

However, the answer to what that mysterious difference is can be found in the pages of Guenter Lewy’s little volume Why America...

A Splendid Education in Free Market Economics

Faith of Our Fathers
Mary Sennholz, editor
1997, 389 pp. Paper: $19.95

[ purchase this book ]

The Morality of Capitalism
Mark W. Hendrickson, editor...

Religion, Morality, and the Private Property Order

R&L: You have been long involved in the late-twentieth-century revival of the freedom philosophy, especially with your involvement in the Foundation for Economic Education (fee). In addition, you are a Congregationalist minister. Why do you think it is important for ministers to be grounded in sound economic thinking?

Opitz: Ministers today are learned and dedicated men and women. They buy books and subscribe to serious journals, striving to keep abreast of trends that affect religion and the church. They are involved in civic affairs; they are liked and respected, even by those who never go near a church. They are good company and have friends in the other professions, especially businessmen. It therefore would not hurt if they improved their understanding of business...

Liberty and the Good Life

U-Turns may be prohibited on interstate highways, but it became the standard traffic pattern in the Republican Congress elected in 1996. Republicans did not contest President Clinton’s plan to balance the budget. They just wanted to do it earlier. They did not object to Clinton’s tax cuts. They just wanted more of them. Republicans want to help families educate their children. But not as expensively or intrusively as do the Democrats.

The new Republican drift is an inheritance from the last dreadful Presidential campaign. As the 1996 session of Congress drew to a close, the Republicans in Congress capitulated to President Clinton’s threat to shut down the government once more. Instead of cutting expenditures, instead of trimming regulations, the Republicans buckled. They no longer talked of...

Toward a New Liberty

The 1991 papal encyclical Centesimus Annus has been described as prompting a springtime in Christian social teaching because it makes it easier to see freedom, specifically economic freedom, as a moral mandate. The sad truth is that the two traditions that come together in Centesimus Annus–religious orthodoxy and classical liberal social theory–have appeared to be at odds with each other for the better part of three centuries.

Although the classical liberal tradition sprang out of a Christian humanism rooted in the scholastic tradition, some of the classical liberals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, while keeping the scholastic’s habit of rigorous social thought, abandoned their high regard for ecclesiastical and social authority. And the Church, during certain...

Adam Smith

Adam Smith es aquel que más que nadie ha explicado qué es el capitalismo. Nació en Kirkaldy, en Escocia, una pequeña ciudad costera cerca de Edimburgo. Smith se formó en la Universidad de Glasgow y en el Ballioll College de Oxford, en Inglaterra. Más tarde,enseñó en Edimburgo y se convirtió en profesor de la Universidad de Glasgow. Poco después, Smith partió para Francia como preceptor del Duque de Buccleugh y allí se reunió con Quesnay, Turgot, y Voltaire. Durante el período francés, Smith comenzó a escribir La Riqueza de las Naciones...

Adam Smith

Adam Smith è colui che più di tutti ha spiegato che cos’è il capitalismo. Nacque a Kirkaldy, in Scozia, una piccola città costiera vicino Edimburgo. Smith si formò all’Università di Glasgow e al Ballioll College di Oxford, in Inghilterra. In seguito insegnò ad Edimburgo e divenne professore all’Università di Glasgow. Poco dopo, Smith partì per la Francia come precettore del Duca di Buccleugh e lì incontrò Quesnay, Turgot e Voltaire. Durante il periodo francese, Smith iniziò a scrivere La ricchezza delle nazioni che concluse dopo il suo ritorno in Scozia...

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is the most well-known expositor of capitalism of all time. He was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, a small coastal town near Edinburgh. Smith was educated at Glasgow University and Ballioll College in Oxford, England. Later he lectured at Edinburgh and became a professor at Glasgow University. After a time, Smith went to France to tutor the Duke of Buccleugh and met Quesmay, Turgot, and Voltaire. While in France, Smith began to write The Wealth of Nations and continued writing it upon his return to Scotland. This influential work was published in 1776. In 1778 he followed in...

Capitalism

In the last century, every important economist aspired to write a complete treatise on economic thought. The idea was to build up an airtight theory, primarily by use of deductive logic, to explain how people overcome a central human predicament: Material desires always exceed resources, so what system should societies adopt in order to meet limitless needs and become prosperous? Building a theory from the ground up was the means of demonstrating a theory’s validity, allowing the reader to evaluate the merit of each step as the economist takes it.

These days, a systematic treatise such as Capitalism appears, at best, once every couple of generations. The last two on record are Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action (1949) and Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State (...

Evangelical Political Activism: Faith and Prudence

The political resurgence of America’s evangelical community raises anew ever-important questions about religion and politics. In The Politics of Reason and Revelation, John West revisits some of those questions: “Does religion have a political role, and if so, what should it be? What are the advantages of religion in politics? What are the dangers? And how can people of faith bring their religious beliefs to bear on public issues without dividing citizens along religious lines and infringing on the liberty of conscience of those who do not share their religious views?” West addresses these questions by examining the American founding and nineteenth-century evangelical activism in a manner that sheds light on contemporary developments.

Recent evangelical political initiatives have been met...