At the core of many political debates today (tactical or strategic) is the fundamental question, “What is the proper role of government?” Liberals, progressives, conservatives, libertarians… every political ideology assumes or has concluded something about the role of government. (See my recent interview with Thom Hartmann about a question that I wasn’t prepared for.)
The following is a re-post wherein I respond to an impassioned thinker/seeker. First the comment, then my response:
What are some of the main differences between Christian Objectivism and what any other Christian group believes? Does everyone here still attend church? What are some of the problems you have with what is taught there? Even down to specific phrases and lines of songs that are pet peeves. What misinterpretations contribute to typical Christian teaching clashing with Objectivist values or ideas? How much renovation is needed to make what is presented right now work with Objectivism? Are we talking about a few clarifications to something that is basically right on, or everything short of rewriting the bible? –notyourkindofworld
When I received this post, I was a bit daunted by the volume of thought required to answer your questions. I did see them, and I think they’re excellent. You’re right to expect a lot of mileage from these, especially in this forum. I didn’t intend to delay so long, but it took me a while to decide how to begin. First, I appreciate all of your questions. I’ll attempt to kick it off with the first question in your montage: “What are some of the main differences between Christian Objectivism and what any other Christian group believes?”
I’m not speaking specifically to “Christian Objectivism” because Beth has a well-thought-out framework with lots of distinctives, but I think there are several elements that Christianity and Objectivism agree on. I’ll err on the side of treading too lightly on this ground because not all Christians agree. In fact, I bet there is disagreement even among Christians who post comments here. The topic is the role of government. Ayn Rand believed strongly in limited government. The role of government is to protect the rights of the individual and the the Constitution protects the individual from the government. Any time the government takes an individual’s property (money) and distributes it (entitlements, transfer payments), or uses it for any purpose outside of the government’s valid role, she would throw the yellow flag: “Foul on the play!”
Many Christians appeal to the Sermon on the Mount as justification for the many philanthropic activities of the government that move us toward social justice. After all, our country’s socio-economic condition would be considerably darker without the government programs that are currently in place. Concern for the oppressed is unarguably a central gospel theme, but that is the role of the community of Christ-followers that the New Testament calls the Church.
I think most churches and denominations in the U.S. that call themselves Christian emphasize one of two principles: getting the message of the Gospel out and making other disciples (God-followers) OR ministries of mercy and fighting against oppression, resulting in social justice. Neither emphasis is wrong, but very few churches achieve a balance. Unfortunately, many churches today don’t agree that there should be a balance. I believe there needs to be a balance. The church community to which I belong errs on the side of “getting the message out.” Over the last half a century, more churches have arisen to the challenge of getting the message out than the challenge of fighting social injustice. One reason may be that the Church has been displaced by the government in this capacity.
In the Randian environment of limited government, entitlement programs would be eliminated. No doubt, a darker, more bleak condition would ensue. But the Church historically has become a light in the darkness, a beacon, a City on a Hill during times of despair. Sure, I’m concerned that the today’s Church (of which I consider myself a part) is not up to the task. But that doesn’t excuse us.
Even within the Church, reasonable people disagree. My worldview, one in which I constantly see Objectivism and Christianity conversing, supports limited government and a more active role for the Church in society.