I am excited to announce the launch of a new academic journal for which I’ve been working as an Assistant Editor for the last year: The Christian Libertarian Review. The inaugural issue has just been released and is available for free online.
So what is CLR all about?
As stated at christianlibertarianreview.com,
The purpose of the CLR is to foster intellectual dialogue, exploration, and research surrounding the relationship between Christianity and libertarian thought. As an interdisciplinary journal, contributions may span into fields of philosophy, political philosophy, theology, ethics, law, economics, anthropology, history, social studies and similar disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.
A few words about my own impressions of the journal in general:
As I was reading through this inaugural issue, I was extremely impressed with both the rigorous academic quality of its content, as well as its relevance and accessibility. Oftentimes when one reads academic pieces, it isn’t readily apparent what sort of difference they make in “the real world,” so to speak, and the language can make academic literature difficult to slog through even for other academics. However, that is not at all the case with this journal. The issues of faith and freedom are, of course, central to the gospel, which of course is perhaps the most relevant topic for humanity and the world in which we live. While not every person will find every piece directly relevant to their lives and interests, you’re bound to find something in this issue that is, even if it’s a book review that whets your interest in a new publication. As far as accessibility, although this journal is written for an audience comprised primarily of scholars, graduate students, and upper-level undergrads, I would encourage everyone to give it a look.
And now, on to the content….
“Christian Libertarianism: an Introduction and Signposts for the Road Ahead” by Dr. Jamin Hübner
Dr. Hübner is the General Editor of CLR, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, founding Chair of Christian Studies, and part-time professor of economics at John Witherspoon College. In this article, Dr. Hübner seeks to clearly define the concept of “Christian libertarianism.” In short, he demonstrates the complementary relationship between Christianity and libertarianism, or as Dr. Norman Horn has said, “libertarianism is the most consistent expression of Christian political thought.”
Dr. Hübner then goes on to explore a wide range of topics in need of development in Christian libertarian thought. More specifically, how is Christian libertarianism distinct from secular libertarianism with regard to our concepts of freedom, autonomy, capitalism, the Non-Aggression Principle, sexual freedom, feminism, etc.? And how does our libertarianism distinguish us as Christians with respect to these issues, and also as it pertains to theology and hermeneutics? If you consider yourself a Christian libertarian or if you want to understand what we Christian libertarians are all about, you definitely do not want to miss this article.
“Contextualizing C.S. Lewis’ Christian Libertarianism: Engaging Dyer and Watson and Beyond” by Dr. David Urban
In this article, Dr. Urban argues that, contrary to popular belief, Lewis was by no means apolitical, but an evaluation of his political thought reveals that he very much falls within the classical liberal or libertarian category. In this article, he engages with and builds upon a book titled C. S. Lewis on Politics and the Natural Law, written by Justin Buckley Dyer and Micah J. Watson, in addition to drawing from many other resources. Dr. Urban then transitions to explore how Lewis’ political views related to his position on controversial issues of his day. For example, we learn about Lewis’ attitudes, articulated in his own words, toward homosexuality and government healthcare.
Dr. Urban holds a doctorate in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is professor of English at Calvin College.
“Dead Ends and Living Currents: Distributism as a Progressive Research Program” by Dr. Eugene Callahan and Dr. Alexander Salter
Here we learn that distributism is a social program closely associated with Catholic social teaching, but it is by no means limited to Catholics and, interestingly, it is currently experiencing something of a revival. Distributism was developed by Chesterton and Belloc in response to what they felt was the source of societal ills. Namely, they believed that the problem wasn’t so much private property, but that private property—specifically capital goods or the means of production rather than consumption goods—wasn’t distributed widely and evenly enough.
Drawing from Mises and Hayek, along with many other sources, the authors assess which elements of distributist thought are “simply untenable” as they would, in reality, achieve the opposite effect of their intended goal. It’s not enough simply to have good intentions—we must also take the reality of “human action” into account when attempting to achieve certain goals for the betterment of society. This article is excellent not just for its balanced and thoughtful treatment of distributism, but it is also a lesson in economics in and of itself, and readers will come away with a better understanding of how to think about and address pressing social and economic concerns, as well as the well-intentioned but economically-unsound proposals we regularly encounter.
Dr. Callahan possesses a PhD in political theory from Cardiff University and is a lecturer of economics at State University of New York at Purchase and is a Fellow at the university’s Collingwood and British Idealism Centre. Dr. Salter possesses a PhD in economics from George Mason University and is assistant professor of economics at Texas Tech University and Comparative Economics Research Fellow at the Free Market Institute.
“An Extended Review of Boyd’s Crucifixion of the Warrior God,” by Nick Gausling
I’d been eagerly waiting to read this review, ever since I learned of the publication of Boyd’s two-volume study in which he tackles an issue which, frankly, I think makes most Christians uncomfortable but which nevertheless must be addressed honestly and not merely glossed over or justified from a biblicist hermeneutic—and that is the issue of violence in the Old Testament. Boyd, also the author of The Myth of a Christian Nation, is a theologian and pastor who attempts to answer the question of whether and how the seemingly violent God of the Old Testament can be reconciled with the nonviolent ministry of Jesus Christ.
Gausling offers several valuable critiques or correctives to Boyd’s work, thus making his final evaluation of the core of Boyd’s thesis as “essentially historically-based and exegetically sound” that much more persuasive. I would encourage everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, especially those who have struggled with making sense of the biblical depictions of God as violent, wrathful, and jealous, to read Gausling’s excellent review, which will provide you with a thorough introduction to Boyd’s Cruciform Hermeneutic.
Nick Gausling is Executive Director of the Libertarian Christian Institute and Assistant Editor for CLR. He possesses a Master of Arts in Christian and Classical Studies from Knox Theological Seminary.
The volume also contains seven normal-length critical book reviews, the first of which was written by myself. I review Helen Rhee’s Loving the Poor, Saving the Rich: Wealth, Poverty, and Early Christian Formation. Two reviews were written by Dr. Hübner. In the first, he leads the reader on a riveting journey through the life of Joseph Stalin as told in Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator, by Olev Khlevniuk. In the second, he reviews Dr. Mary Ruwart’s Healing our World: The Compassion of Libertarianism.
Dr. Jason Jewell reviews Deirdre McCloskey’s Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World, part of the three-volume “bourgeois era” series. Dr. Jewell is professor and chair of humanities at Faulkner University. Christopher Kuiper, who possesses a master’s in economics from George Mason University and currently works as an investment analyst, reviews William Goetzmann’s Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible. Dr. Bret Saunders reviews William Cavanaugh’s Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire. Dr. Saunders earned his PhD in philosophy from the University of Dallas and is associate professor of humanities at John Witherspoon College. The final book review is of Roland Boer and Christina Petterson’s Time of Troubles: A New Economic Framework for Early Christianity. It is reviewed by Nicholas Quient, who earned a master of arts in New Testament Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary.
You can also listen to the General Editor, Dr. Jamin Hübner, and I as we join Nick Gausling on the Libertarian Christian Podcast to discuss the first volume of CLR.