An Easter Message


Christopher Houseman

Today, April 4th 2010, is Easter Sunday, when Christians all over the world celebrate the Resurrection from death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man sometimes known by the title “the Son of God”. Christians claim, on the basis of written accounts handed down from eye-witnesses, that three days after enduring death by crucifixion, Jesus of Nazareth came back from the dead. Those accounts add that the risen Jesus was seen, heard and even touched by up to 500 of his followers at a time over a forty day period before ascending into heaven.

The Resurrection is an event which Christians have celebrated for about forty generations past, but to we who believe it’s more than an event – it’s the Event which changes human history forever. According to the Christian Church, the Resurrection shows that God in Christ has conquered even death, and that the Jesus who willingly offers everlasting life to his followers is able to do what he’s promised. In Libertarian terms, the Easter story is about the triumph of Life and Truth over an unholy alliance of Imperial Politics and State-sanctioned Religion.

The Easter week-end marks the climax of one of the most distinctive aspects of the Judeo-Christian revelation. The story of world religion normally revolves around human beings trying to reach up to God. The Judeo-Christian story, by contrast, is about God reaching down to us. It’s based on two contrasting but related assumptions: that on the one hand human beings can’t bribe, cajole, or haggle their own way into the good books of an all-sufficient God; but that on the other the God who loves us enough to make and sustain us won’t just leave us to live and die without the chance to relate to God.

You might be wondering what much of this has to do with the Libertarian Alliance. The Alliance includes many atheists and agnostics who would accept little or none of what I’ve just written about the Lord Jesus Christ. It has no unified position on much of anything except the right of everyone to speak and live by the truth as best they understand it – without the modern, centralised, over-regulating, greedy, grasping State to stand in their way. Where might Christianity fit into a Libertarian world, except perhaps as one life-style option among many? The truth is that Christians and Libertarians have much more to offer one another here in Britain than mere tolerance of one another.

For instance, the Christian Institute has recently pointed out that the current understanding of “equality” in British political discourse means that many Christians have “a growing feeling that ‘equality and diversity’ is code for marginalising Christian beliefs” (Marginalising Christians: Instances of Christians being sidelined in modern Britain, page 7). Christians, it seems, should be “free” to practice their faith privately but not publicly. They should be “free” to answer questions (although even this freedom is under attack), but not to initiate conversations. They should be “free” to live under the law of the land, but not to initiate (or even retain) laws which embody and reflect their beliefs and priorities.

If such limitations were successfully applied to an ethnic group rather than a religious one, the results would often be marginalisation and, eventually, extinction. As noted above, British Christians are increasingly concluding that this is exactly what some British and European political leaders and social commentators have in mind for them and their faith. And while this cadre of anti-Christians is currently small, it is vocal, well-connected and highly motivated. If its members succeed in their legislative and cultural objectives, I suggest that the results will be horrifying for Christians and Libertarians alike.

With the demise of Christianity, our primary cultural basis for distinguishing between the individual and the State would disappear too. Instead, the State would become the Western world’s arbiter of moral values, the assessor of the value of each individual human life, and finally (by a remorseless logic) the giver and taker of life on a scale unknown in the West (certainly not since 1945 at any rate). In short, the State would become a fully fledged pretender to godhood. During the 20th century, the loss of the boundaries between God and the State cost Eastern Europeans and Asiatics over 100 million civilian lives between them in what was probably the most expensive educational project in recorded history. You can read more about it in Professor RJ Rummel’s book Death by Government. How many millions of lives might the West be willing to throw away in the 21st century in order to learn the same lessons?

Would democratic humanists offer much resistance to such a State? I suggest their opposition would amount to very little. In the first place, if this life is all you’ve got, will you really risk it during the rise of an increasingly violent dictatorship to prevent an unknown number of complete strangers being killed? Some might, but most wouldn’t. Why lose so much forever in exchange for what one will never see? Some brave parents might make the ultimate sacrifice for their children – but what if the State subsequently took those orphans into “care”?

Secondly, the democratic humanist critique of dictatorship often rests on the twin pillars of utilitarianism and respect for legal procedure. This kind of critique is fuelled by current affairs. It suffers badly once State control of news and education can shape a nation’s understanding of what is socially “good” and can also spare a government’s blushes. What’s more, modern totalitarian States have often killed, exiled or co-opted prominent intellectuals and lawyers into ensuring that legal minutiae are complied with wherever possible. This second point in particular may help British Libertarians understand why their critique of the modern nation-state is only just starting to attract the mass media attention it needs and deserves.

By contrast to the democratic humanist approach, the Christian faith, rightly understood, proclaimed and applied, has the power to act as the moral conscience of the Libertarian movement in Britain and of the wider nation – as indeed it did to the Gladstonian liberals of the nineteenth century. In so doing, it would offer the Libertarian movement the moral ammunition it needs to see off the old criticism that Libertarians are really conservatives who want to smoke pot without getting arrested. It would also give Libertarians an acceptable basis for discussing the importance of family, community, culture and society. “laissez faire” isn’t rhyming slang among Libertarians for “I don’t care”, and I’ve yet to meet a Libertarian who thinks it should be.

But how can an assortment of classical liberals, cultural conservatives, voluntaryists, and anarcho-capitalists help the Church? What do Libertarians have to offer Christians, apart from the promise of leaving them in peace? To put it bluntly, if Libertarians could only offer Christians good-humoured toleration, it would be a great improvement on the current situation of the British Church. Even the most humanistic Libertarians I’ve met genuinely believe that the Church should be free to promote and live out its message in Britain to the greatest extent its moral, spiritual and material resources will permit. In Libertarian thinking, equality means equality for Christians too. Christian, if you really think this is what the current Establishment and its supporting chorus of so-called “New Atheists” are offering you, kindly reconsider. In fact, I suggest that Christians and Libertarians can and should actively co-operate in a number of areas.

Consider for instance the Libertarian slogan “For Life, Liberty and Property”, which potentially contains much that Christians should find appealing (see, for instance, John 10:7-10, Luke 4:18-21; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18). There can be no doubt that consistent application of this slogan would offer us all far greater freedom of conscience than we presently enjoy. Why, for instance, are Christians and everyone else in Britain forced through the tax system to pay for most of the 7 million plus babies aborted in the United Kingdom since 1967? How can forcible subsidies of the taking of millions of innocent lives be justified in a country that supposedly upholds our freedom of conscience as well as that of women who choose to have an abortion? I can assure any Christians who want to pursue this matter further that they’ll find a hearing and a number of sympathisers in the Libertarian Alliance.

For their part, Libertarians can help Christians put meat on the bones of lines such as “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Christian teaching has not only to be proclaimed and explained. It must also be applied, which begs an obvious question: how? Let me give but one example where Libertarians have put in a great deal of thought over the past few decades. Western governments are becoming ever more desperate to suppress reports of their national debts by blaming the media, “speculators” and anyone else they can find. The politics of State-run redistribution, financed by ever-larger government deficits and overseen by corporately-sponsored political parties, is about to collapse in on itself (as is the custom of oversized black holes).

The results will be devastating for many ordinary households. As in times past, adversity will bring many to the doors of their local church looking for answers. When that happens, Christian leaders will have a choice. Will they emphasize that we are given God’s grace to live here and now too? Will they prepare now to explain later that the centralised, politically driven issue of fiat money (mere pieces of paper) through central banks is an abomination to God? A government-run fiat currency violates God’s commands to use just weights and measures (Deuteronomy 25:13-15), and involves secretly moving the landmarks (Deuteronomy 19:14) of savers by diluting the purchasing power of what they own in favour of the politically connected mega-banks and multinational corporations who get the new money first. The end result is that Big Banking and Big Business get to bid for today’s resources at today’s prices with tomorrow’s money supply. Little wonder that the rich get richer and the poor fall further and further behind when the state controls the money supply!

Will Church leaders also call for the State-controlled, relativistic National Curriculum to be scrapped? The Bible places the primary responsibility for education on parents, supported by the leaders of God’s people (Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Joshua 8:34-35; Nehemiah 8:1-10). I’m amazed how many Christians keep imagining all will be well if they can just give a Christian gloss to the God-hating, Christ-killing, micro-managing, grasping, one-size-fits-all State – and if that sounds like an overstatement, try looking at governments as God and Satan see them (Daniel 7; Luke 4:5-8). The compelling, conformist violence of the law (especially in the field of so-called “social engineering”) and the exercise of free choice informed by the royal law of love (James 2:8) are fundamentally different in nature. True, God gave the Law of Moses – but that was to teach people the reality of their sinfulness and their need for Christ (Galatians 3:21-29).

Will Church leaders have the knowledge and courage to inform the Christian call to repentance with specifics about how foreign policies, government “aid” programs, so-called “free trade” agreements and “conservationism” have been used to retard the industrialisation of the countries formerly known as the Third World? Closer to home, will they call time on the politics of State-run redistribution as a massive exercise in electoral bribery from the voters’ own pockets? Or will those leaders just say that God wants the suffering crowds to know the presence of Jesus and ask them to keep coming back to learn more about a better hereafter? Such a message, while not false in its content, would clearly be an inadequate portrayal of the Christian life to a materially and spiritually impoverished people in desperate need of both eternal Truth and practical responses amidst financial ruin.

Whether you’re a Church leader, an “ordinary” Christian, or just someone looking for a principled, reasoned and radical alternative to the database state, please accept this invitation to contact the Libertarian Alliance. Meantime, regardless of your own beliefs, I hope you’ll accept best wishes for a very Happy Easter from the Libertarian Alliance and I.

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16 responses to “An Easter Message

  1. An excellent article.
    The bottom line for me is: Individually free and responsible under God.
    God, indeed, has become an unfashionable fairy tale in an empirical world, which is why I try to challenge the logic behind our assumed scientific world view.
    Can order occur spontaneously in randomness?

  2. One way of understanding the whole progressive project is that the basic aim of it is to destroy everything that has gone before it. Destroying Christianity is just one element of this. Importing an ever growing Muslim minority to undermine both Christianity and any sense of national identity is another element.

    A starting point for any recovery is to look at everything that the progressives are intent on destroying, and see what is worth defending, supporting and / or restoring. Christianity is undoubtedly one of those institutions worth defending.

    The problem with Christianity in Britain today is that there isn’t very much of it. Many in the established Churches in England and Scotland are true believers in the progressive project, rather than in Christianity. The Archbishop of Cantebury is a good example.

    As the Catholic Church stands against the project, the progressives will never let go of the past failings of some its priests. Witness the recent attack on the Catholic Church in Ireland by the Archbishop of Cantebury.

    Any recovery of Christianity in Britain will have to come from the bottom up. It cannot be forced from the top.

    At the same time, we should take every opportunity to defend Christians who are under attack from our common progressive enemies.

  3. “Can order occur spontaneously in randomness?”

    Popper, Hayek and many others write of purpose in a world of chance, and emergent spontaneous orders.

    A vibrating tub of ball-bearings will soon settle into an orderly sphere-pack. All snowflakes have six leaves to the flake. And a myriad other examples.

    Tony

  4. Brilliant article by Christopher.

    I have just now read it once, rather too fast, and and I need to go through it again later tonight, more slowly.

    We do need this kind of perspective, based as it is on _all_our_ Western Christian heritage and understanding of morality and how socialism fits (or does not) into this titanic struggle that we now face – as if we did not before.

  5. A good article.

    However.

    The problem with the thesis of church as moral guide, is that the descent into statism was precipitated by… Christians. Particularly evangelical ones such as William Wilberforce who, on behalf of God, waged a mighty war not just against slavery (as he is famous for) but against vice. And it was that determination to extinguish vice- based on the entirely rubbish belief that only a moral state will prosper- that led us to our current dire straits.

    So there’s your problem. Fill somebody’s head with the necessity of morality, they will eventually- inevitably- decide that the state has to impose it, when preaching and nudging and cajoling have failed. It was only later, after Mr Darwin really, that secularists grabbed the football. That’s why the so-called secular left (er, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown? They sure as shit aren’t atheists, are they?) are ragging on much the same as their earlier overtly Christian reforming predecssors did.

    It’s all about moral reform, you see. Anglosphere socialism is moralism; it derived from evangelicals, not Marx. And, they’re not trying to destroy Christianity. They just want all its followers “on message” with the current mish-mash of an ideological hegemony; which it generally has been anyway since the 1870s or so when the Anglican Church officially adopted Christian Socialism. (Not sure of the date, can’t be bothered to look it up, sorry).

    So there’s your problem. Organised Christians started it all. That doesn’t suggest that Christianity is much of a bulwark, I’m afraid.

    Same applies to America. Ever wondered why it’s so religious, and yet stuffed to the straining gills with progressive socialists? As Bertrand Russell put it; “the Puritan Party won the Civil War”.

    The “humanists” were Johnny-Come-Latelies. Leviathan started bloating because of the cross jammed up its arse.

    Er, happy Easter :)

  6. Ian,
    The issue you are addressing seems to be one of moral superiority, that you perceive these evangelicals set off to show other people and tell them how they should live their lives.
    If they did so they were sadly mistaken because that is not what Jesus was bringing to our attention.
    If they were trying to relieve suffering in the terms of the environment in which they found themselves then that, I imagine you could accept, is at least an acceptable motive and likely to produce good results. In large part it probably did produce good results.
    Where it might have been trying to show people how to live the good life, it was sadly mistaken.
    Perhaps some of that imagery owes more to Charles Dickens than the historical reality?
    In I Corinthians 4:19&20 Paul is speaking and says:

    19But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
    20For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

    And this is possibly where modern events have tripped up somewhat. People have become cut off from the real power of God, have effectively ceased to really believe what they proclaim and have resorted to rules and regulations instead of reality: power/reality.
    This is possibly the strength of Islam at the moment because at least those guys act on what they say they believe. That, indeed, is what struck me about them in Morocco back in the ’60s. They acted on what they said they believed.
    However, the followers of Jesus have an advantage if they avail themselves of it. And that is actually partaking of the power of God. In love and truth and healing, whatever.
    Further, another difference with Islam, there is no need for me to uphold God’s virtue or reputation because it simply cannot be tarnished and even if anyone tries to make catty remarks about crosses and arses, it is not up to me to sort out. I mean, does God really need me to avange His honour?

    Busy bodying and claiming superior ground, whether morally, intellectually, financially, whatever, is a human invention, much beloved of fallen man. But it has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.
    Jesus didn’t come to tell us how to live our lives, but how we could connect, in a survivable (and wonderful) manner, with God.
    Anything that follows from that is a result, not a cause.

  7. Atlas shrugged

    As some one far more important them myself once approximately said.

    When the people stop believing in god they then start believing in something else.

    This something else could be better, but is far more likely to be worse then leaving things as they were. As is the case with most things political or otherwise.

    Change is a seductive word politicians use as often as they can. They imply that changes will be made for the better. However as we all should know by now, changes made from the top by the top are never designed to be anything of the sort.

    Religion is not about to vanish any time soon. IMO religion is now more overtly powerful then at any time during living memory, not less. This not just because we have more later imported religions then the Christian one.

    We often forget that the Christian Church and its religion is a foreign import originating from the middle east brought here largely as a result of the Roman invasion. If a battle here or a battle there had had a different out come this country could still be more knowingly star worshipping than it already largely and unwittingly is. Or indeed also a Muslim one,

    The RCC has far more to do with Star worshipping paganism than it does with the word and/or mission of Jesus of Nazareth. The CofE is no more or less then the exact same thing.

    Surly our Druidic ABofC must know this, as much if not far more then I do.

    So what is the real problems between the two?

    IMO if there is any whatsoever, which I actually doubt, then the difference must be entirely political in nature. Which was indeed the only thing that divided the CofE from the Roman Empires Church in the first place.

    I doubt because I don’t trust any of them. IMO they are liars, who seek to hide far more then they have any intention of revealing.

    Established religion is not simply a useful tool of the establishment. It is not just a part of the establishment, To a very large extent established religion is the heart and certainly the soul establishment.

    I can assure you that there are no atheist running this world of theirs , however much it may seem that there is.

    At the highest levels science is religion and religion is science. They do not work against each other they are the same thing. They were 2,3,4,5 thousand years ago, and they still are today. The religion we see is more to do with propaganda and political control of the masses. The religion we do not see hardly at all, is walking around in a lab coat somewhere playing around with sub atomic particles.

    The religion that is the true religion of the ruling class, has always denied it is a religion. But a religion it most surly is , in its most purest and enlightening or should I say illuminating of forms.

    As I see things we live in rapidly changing times. The powers that be long since became weary of their much deliberately divided medieval dress wearing opium dealers. They considered that things would be far more simple and therefore easy to manage, if they basically merged them all into one gigantic world religion. By so doing cutting out much of the crap and pointless overheads.

    For you can be totally assured that whatever may be appearing to happen at the top, it most surly is not.

    The lovers will have their ‘little’ public spat.

    However in the end, possibly after a few billion souls have been prematurely dispatched, they will ALL make up, kiss most passionately, get married, and live happy ever after together as one.

  8. Tony, I know you don’t want to go in circles but I have to note that in the examples you give the components are responding to an order already inherent in their structure.
    The alternative argument that if you leave things long enough order will occur from time to time (monkeys and typewriters) is actually saying that what we perceive as order is in fact a chance happening, ie, randomness.

  9. Steven Northwood

    I keep thinking about following the faith but I can’t muster the courage to go to church. I keep thinking that for some reason they’ll look at me like I’ve got two heads.

    Funnily enough, today some church group from down the road posted a little booklet through the door entitled ‘Steps to Christ’ which I quickly picked up out of interest. Who knows?

    • Thanks for your comment, Steven. By all means pluck up the courage to give it a go. The chances are you’ll find people quite welcoming, especially in a context where they’re deliberately trying to attract new people like you into a church.

      I’ll drop you a line by email this evening with my contact details, as I’d love to hear how you get on and to try to answer any questions you might not feel able to ask someone face to face. My email domain name will be uwclub.net – please add it to your whitelist if need be.

      Best wishes

      C

  10. Main thing, Steven, is that you need Jesus, not the church.
    Some “churches” can be enough to put you off for life. Some can be great wonderful helpers.
    But if you are looking, seriously, it is between you and God, first. It is personal.
    Interestingly that is a factor in the church establishing a political power structure. By insisting you can only communicate with Him through them.
    Don’t let anyone ever try to interfere. And He is the one Person you can rely on to assess you with love, and accurately.
    No rubbish about conforming to any norms other than the ones that matter.
    People can help, sure, but none of us is perfect.

  11. Steven Northwood

    I already follow Jesus, I read – or studied in parts – a New Testament when I was a boy, and the message has been with me ever since. I think I make a good Christian, as I’ve always sacrificed where I needed to in order to try to see the kind of world we’d like to see become a reality. I think all good people tend to agree with the message of Christ, and it’s not all give anyway. I dare say I’ll attend a church sooner or later, if one looks fairly quiet. :-) Thanks for your support.

  12. Steven Northwood

    PS, salternlight, many thanks.

  13. Ian B has it exactly right: “Fill somebody’s head with the necessity of morality, they will eventually- inevitably- decide that the state has to impose it, when preaching and nudging and cajoling have failed.”

    We see this in the latest wheeze, the Westminster Declaration, which calls on the state to honour, protect and PROMOTE a particular vision of marriage (as lifelong covenant between a man and a woman, and the only place to have sex).

    While some Christians may be fighting for the right to discriminate against gay people, others – maybe the same ones – are fighting to keep religious privilege in the Lords and to keep a compulsory act of Christian worship in schools.

    We see some Christians fight their employers’ dress codes in the courts on discrimination grounds – hardly a libertarian thing to do. Here it is their own privileges they want: they don’t care that anyone else might want to breach their contract too, but wear an item of sentimental rather than religious significance.

    So I don’t see Christians en masse as libertarian friends. Very few of them have thought through a practical model of charity that would mean doing away with welfare benefits, for a start.

    On the other hand, given that some of them are using the same antidiscrimination laws to get privileges for themselves that they use to deny others equal service, this may throw a spanner in the works. But I do not see a principle behind it. What I see is a reaction to the erosion of religious privilege. This may well have nothing to do with Christianity and Jesus per se, but we criticise communism primarily because of how we see it work itself out in the world, and we don’t make concessions because that’s not what Marx meant and it all got corrupted…

    Thought-provoking article, but I think it’s lazy to use the “New Atheists” slur. Never has there been so much pussyfooting around religion than under the present government, so many “faith initiatives,” so much funding to faith groups, so many faith working parties, so many taxpayer-funded religious schools, so many taxpayer-funded hospital chaplains, so much talk of “respect” for “faith,” and so many taxpayer-funded “prayer rooms” in government offices, there being a shortage of churches and mosques in this country.

    Why should I respect religions? I will respect your right to hold religious beliefs, but I cannot “respect” both Islam and Mormonism because they each make contradictory assertions. Talk about being asked to believe five impossible things before breakfast!

    And I would make a similar point about respecting race, gender, sexuality and all the rest. The problem, I think, is that the Christians we read about in the press are indulging in the very identity politics they deplore in others and not fighting for liberty.

  14. eleutheria, I would not say that you have to respect anyone. And not what I think, either, if it does not make sense.
    I have found God to be real. And I have found that Jesus is the way to approach that whole realm. I certainly would not have accepted it all had I not found it to be real.
    For someone to expect you to believe what you actually hold to be fairy stories is most unkind of them.
    But don’t stop looking, or close something off because it has had a bad press and subjected to a highly intensive misinformation campaign.

  15. Hi John, thanks for your reply. My criticism of “respect” wasn’t something motivated by anything on this blog but was a reaction to its use by various MPs, bishops, local authority busybodies and others.

    This also means lots of “awareness” about Islam and Hinduism, with “celebrations” of culture, and facts about religions being paraded as knowledge of other people (as if knowing which pope promulgated Apostolicae curae makes you inclined to make friends with a Catholic).

    Personally, I don’t care to know anything about Islam beyond the fact that offering *only* pork pies is the sign of a bad host. On the other hand, I’m very interested in certain aspects of Christian theology and ecclesiology.

    I work with Christians and Muslims. None of them has ever asked me to respect their beliefs: we deal with one another as adults, and courteously. A government industry of putting people into boxes – now taken up by the Christian Institute, among others – isn’t helping things. We’re individuals, not government generalisations.

    I commended Ian B’s point about morality leading to state imposition. It’s most noticeable in debates about sexual ethics, of course, but it also extends to the state’s campaigns about recycling stuff and switching off lightbulbs.