In Daniel 2 we are reminded that God’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, unlike the kingdom’s of men. In his commentary on Daniel, Ralph Davis says,
“They [Israel] should at least see that the kingdom of God is not going to come as soon as Babylon passes off the political scene. Daniel 2 is not trying to rob Israel of her hope but wants her to have a true and realistic hope and so says: it will be a long historical road before the kingdom of God comes. What to do then? Iain Duguid suggests that verses 48-49 may hold an answer: ‘It is not coincidental that the chapter ends with Daniel and his friends promoted to responsible positions within the Babylonian system…These men didn’t isolate themselves from the kingdom of this world as they waited for God to establish his kingdom; rather, they poured themselves into seeking the welfare of their temporary home in Babylon.’ We are to serve where we have been placed within the fading kingdom as we go on waiting for the final kingdom (cf. Jer. 29:5-7).”
For years, I never found much interest in politics. I went to the poll booths and checked the politician that had an [R] by their name. I was o.k. with that, because I bought into the old adage that you can complain so long as you vote! So I voted, and I complained. Half the time I didn’t really know what I was complaining about, and the other half of the time I simply didn’t care. Then things began to really transition in my life. I was pastoring a small baptist church at the time, and God began to open my eyes to Reformed theology. I became a lover of said theology, and out of respect to my congregation that didn’t have the same convictions, I resigned as pastor. I still catch a lot of flack from a lot of people for becoming one of those “Reformed guys.” I really believe I have friends and family members who no longer think I’m a Christian as a result of this transition in my life. Truthfully, I’ve never been more alive to Christianity than I have been since studying the Reformed Doctrines of Grace. It’s ironic because opponents of Calvinism will accuse us of being robots, but looking back at my Christian walk before making this transition, I could not think of a better term to describe me than a Christian robot. God released me from that! Glory to his name!
This blog post is not meant to be pejorative toward those who do not agree with me. I am simply explaining why I am a Reformed Christian Libertarian. So, now that we have the reformed part out of the way, why libertarianism? Isn’t that just another way of saying I am one of those people who politically believe in hedonism; anything goes? Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. It is interesting that God has placed me in a position in life where I belong to two of the most misunderstood groups in America: Reformed theologians and political libertarians. I feel like I constantly have to write blog posts like this, just to state my positions. I have felt the isolation of being a Reformed Christian Libertarian. As an introvert, I don’t mind isolation nearly as much as an extrovert, but the pain of being constantly misunderstood can be overwhelming even to the most introverted introvert. I even get badgered from within my own camps. One particular individual posted this picture in a recent conversation on a Libertarian Facebook page:
The caption read: “Ryan Barnhart selfie.” Its sheer stupidity made me chuckle, but why did someone who claims to be a libertarian post this picture? It was simply because I was stating a case that Winston Churchill was one of the biggest statist and warmongers this world has ever known. From that argument you then see a fallacious leap to this picture. Nothing I said about Winston Churchill was factually incorrect. I wasn’t even referring to his role in WWII (though he made mistakes a plenty there), but rather his role in the Cold War. Another poster, more of a gentleman than the first, claimed that though I knew my history well and could actually be beneficial to a lot of people, I was a confrontational elitist that could not spread my message in love. Even though I was called a Nazi, a weak libertarian, an unloving elitist and (my personal favorite) asshat in the course of the conversation, I was the confrontational one. All for simply stating historical facts about Winston Churchill.
I’m rambling on about these things to make the point that it’s not just those that theologically and politically disagree with me on every level that can bring the hammer down. And I probably spent a little too much time dwelling on this the last few years. And then God led me to the commentary on Daniel by Ralph Davis that I quoted above. I read those quotes this morning and it almost felt like a burden lifted that I can’t explain.
I’m a 38 year old man who has an undergraduate degree having studies business and history. I’ve been to seminary and studied greek and hebrew. Now I’m working on my Master’s in Public Policy. I mentioned this to a friend the other day, and said, “So vote Governor Barnhart when the time comes, o.k.?” He said, “Is that a possibility?” And that leads me to where I am right now…uncertain. I’m not uncertain about my convictions, but I am uncertain about my role in the future. Does God want me to plant a church somewhere? Maybe. Does God want me to become a missionary to India? Maybe. Does God want me to go into local politics? Maybe. I simply don’t know right now, and I can’t tell you how badly that has bothered me in the past, and I’m sure will continue to do so on some level in the future. We are just dust after all. What doesn’t bother me, however, is that I a carry the title of being a Reformed Christian Libertarian. It often brings isolation, but I’m getting used to it. Here’s what I know, and I’m thankful for Davis quoting Duguid in his commentary,
These men [Daniel and his friends] didn’t isolate themselves from the kingdom of this world as they waited for God to establish his kingdom; rather, they poured themselves into seeking the welfare of their temporary home in Babylon.
Whether in ministry or politics or both, I will take that statement and this one by Davis:
We are to serve where we have been placed within the fading kingdom as we go on waiting for the final kingdom…
and I will continue to be a Reformed Christian Libertarian. I will no longer worry about whether my convictions bring isolation, loss of relationships, loss of opportunities, or whatever else may come. These are not things that I relish or even want, but they are all part of the life of a Reformed Christian Libertarian. And for the first time in my life, I’m o.k. with that.
If you’d like to read more about my political convictions I would direct you to one of America’s most renowned Christian Libertarians, Laurence M. Vance. His articles can be found at Lew Rockwell’s site: http://www.lewrockwell.com/author/laurence-m-vance/
For an understanding of most of my theological convictions I would direct you to Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.