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A Reason for Faith: Onward Christian Egoist

Adherents of Ayn Rand and followers of Jesus Christ must set aside differences to secure individual rights.

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

February 28, 2013 - 7:25 am

Reason vies with faith for dominance in the Republican Party.

Previous articles in this series: 

  1. 5 Common Accusations Leveled at Christianity
  2. A Reason for Faith: Christianity on Trial
  3. A Reason for Faith: 6 Fatal Misconceptions

When Abraham Lincoln needed to rally the nation toward unity, he referenced Matthew 12:25:

But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand…”

That principle proves timeless. Divide and conquer remains an effective tactic. Perhaps that informs the many writers on the Left who have strived to drive a wedge between followers of Jesus Christ and adherents to the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Consider Boston University professor of religion Stephen Prothero, who once wrote that “marrying Ayn Rand to Jesus Christ is like trying to interest Lady Gaga in Donny Osmond.” He cautioned Republican readers against conflating them:

Rand’s trinity is “I me mine.” Christianity’s is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So take your pick. Or say no to both. It’s a free country. Just don’t tell me you are both a card-carrying Objectivist and a Bible-believing Christian. Even Rand knew that just wasn’t possible.

Truthfully, one cannot be both a Christian and an Objectivist. As covered throughout this series, Objectivist epistemology does not allow for any acknowledgement of the supernatural. However, one can be a Christian and recognize many of the objective truths which Ayn Rand articulated. After all, Christians do not deny objective reality. We merely recognize an eternal context. Worldviews need not align to overlap.

Prothero employs the typical objection to any alliance between Christians and objectivists:

Real conservatism is also about sacrifice, as is authentic Christianity. President Kennedy was liberal in many ways, but, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” was classic conservatism. Rand, however, will brook no such sacrifice. Serve yourself, she tells us, and save yourself as well. There is no higher good than individual self-satisfaction.

Here, both Christianity and Objectivism are misrepresented. True, Rand deplored Kennedy’s classic inaugural exhortation, perceiving it to subordinate the individual to the collective (although it could be argued Kennedy intended the opposite). However, she never presented “individual self-satisfaction” as the standard of value. One can be fully satisfied in any given moment without serving their rational long-term self-interest.

Men don’t fight to die. They fight to live.

As considered in this series, Rand’s standard of value was life. She recognized that each individual either acts in service of his own life, survives by feeding on the life of his neighbor, or withers and dies. Regardless of whatever method Professor Prothero uses to discern “authentic Christianity,” the apostle Paul made it clear that individuals are responsible for their own lives. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10:

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

That apostolic rule is conveniently forgotten by a religious Left which seeks to cast Christ as a socialist. The Bible has very little to say about civil government, its focus being an emphatic invitation to the kingdom of God. It certainly does not call for Christians to initiate force and pass it off as charity.

Sacrifice is the wedge used by the Left to drive Christians and Objectivists apart. Prothero demonstrates the tactic, presenting Rand’s aversion to sacrifice as fundamentally anti-Christian. It hardly fosters understanding when Objectivists echo this sentiment. Objectivists and Christians are not necessarily talking about the same thing, despite using the same word. As previously explored, much of what the mainstream Judeo-Christian culture considers sacrifice qualifies as rational self-interest in Objectivism. Our armed forces serve to maintain a free world in which they intend to live and pursue happiness. They do not seek to die for someone else. Yet their service is commonly regarded as sacrifice. Regardless of such semantics, both Christians and Objectivists value action taken in service of life.

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Despite adhering to fundamentally different worldviews, Christians and Objectivists can find common ground on the primacy of the individual in public policy. Consider Ayn Rand’s vision for government:

A society that robs an individual of the product of his effort, or enslaves him, or attempts to limit the freedom of his mind, or compels him to act against his own rational judgment-a society that sets up a conflict between its edicts and the requirements of man’s nature—is not, strictly speaking, a society, but a mob held together by institutionalized gang-rule. Such a society destroys all the values of human coexistence, has no possible justification and represents, not a source of benefits, but the deadliest threat to man’s survival. Life on a desert island is safer than and incomparably preferable to existence in Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany.

If men are to live together in a peaceful, productive, rational society and deal with one another to mutual benefit, they must accept the basic social principle without which no moral or civilized society is possible: the principle of individual rights.

To recognize individual rights means to recognize and accept the conditions required by man’s nature for his proper survival.

Man’s rights can be violated only by the use of physical force. It is only by means of physical force that one man can deprive another of his life, or enslave him, or rob him, or prevent him from pursuing his own goals, or compel him to act against his own rational judgment.

The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships—thus establishing the principle that if men wish to deal with one another, they may do so only by means of reason: by discussion, persuasion and voluntary, uncoerced agreement.

What part of that conflicts with Christianity? On virtually every issue facing the nation today, Objectivists may conceivably stand alongside Christians in common cause. Though opposed to religion, the Objectivist’s affirmation of conscience guarantees religious freedom. At Tea Party rallies across the country, signs asking “Who is John Galt?” were held alongside others reading “God only asks for 10%.” While differing greatly on philosophical particulars, each contingent seeks limited government tasked with upholding individual rights.

Prohibition stands out as both an imposition of religious legalism and a hallmark of the progressive era.

There are some prominent areas of  irreconcilable disagreement, such as the issue of abortion. As Prothero eagerly highlights, Ayn Rand claimed the unborn have no rights to recognize. Nevertheless, such differences stand out as exceptions among shared goals. Also noteworthy, the disagreement over abortion pivots on the interpretation of individual rights rather than recognition of those rights.

Bottom line: the Left has much to lose from a coalition between Christians and Objectivists. An alliance of secular and religious activists in support of individual rights would stabilize one of the major fault lines commonly exploited to disrupt Republican unity.

That said, we would be remiss without acknowledging professing Christian theocrats who have as much to lose from a mainstreaming of Objectivist principles as the Left does. If you expect government to compel Christian living, to punish sin and subsidize faith, then you prove as statist as any leftist. Recall that the progressive era in the late 19th and early 20th centuries birthed the nationwide prohibition of alcohol, advocated primarily by Christian moralists. In so doing, those Christians broke from their forebears who sought no such control over individual lives, yet were just as religious.

It is one thing to preach the reality of sin, and quite another to claim an earthly authority to codify religious judgments into civil law. While the often abused phrase “separation of church and state” is found nowhere in the Constitution, the guarantee of religious freedom requires compartmentalizing civil and ecclesiastical authority. Religion cannot properly be the basis for civil law.

Whether we believe our nature is God-given or merely “a metaphysical given,” our rights are derived from that nature. We shall either recognize and protect them, or sanction their violation. As God knew from eternity past, the endowment of rights enables sin. If He, in his infinite wisdom, cannot be properly credited with sin for enabling it through creation, surely we cannot be properly credited with sin for enabling it through legislation. God made us free and has dealt with our sin in his way on his timetable. It is not for us to feebly add to his finished work through state-enforced legalism. God’s got sin covered. When dealing with each other here on Earth, let reason prevail.

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

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I thought this post from Peter Leithart first things blog can help free the christian from the atheist attempting to put christian under his thumb

The Creditor Pays
Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 11:07 AM
Peter J. Leithart | @PLeithart

Did Christ effect salvation by way of redemption? Thomas asks (ST III, 48, 4). It’s a question about salvation as payment. The first objection states that Christ could not have saved by way of redemption because no one buys or buys back (emit vel redimit) what already belongs to him.

Sed contra: 1 Peter 1 speaks of Christ purchasing us with His blood. By His passion, he released from the bondage of sin and also paid the debt of punishment that had been imposed by God. Alternatively, Thomas is willing to speak of Christ’s death as redemption both from bondage to God and to the devil.

By consenting to the devil, men put themselves under the devil. But “he did not become God’s servant on account of his guilt, but rather, by withdrawing from God’s service, he, by God’s just permission (Deo juste hoc permittente), fell under the devil’s servitude.” Thus, the primary bondage was to God as “sovereign judge” and secondarily to the devil as “torturer.” Both of these “debts” (reatu) are paid by the superabundant gift of Jesus’ death (passio Christi fuit sufficiens et superabundans satisfactio). By that payment, men are released from bondate to the devil and delivered from the judgment of God.

Thomas sets up for the notion that redemption payment was made to the Father. He says that payment is made “with respect to” the Father (per respectum ad Deum), but he uses the same language to describe the payment that released from the devil (per respectum ad Diabolum). In the reply to the third objection, he makes the point explicit: “Christ is said to have paid the price of our redemption . . . not to the devil, but to God” (non . . . Diabolo, sed Deo).

At the same time, the payment is made by God. In article 5 of the same question, he distinguishes between the “immediate” and the “remote” cause of redemption. The immediate cause is the humanity of the Son (immediate redemptorem est proprium Christi inquantum est homo) but the prima causa of redemption is attributed to toti Trinitati. In the following article, he makes a similar distinction between principal and instrumental efficient agency. Christ’s humanity is the instrumental efficient cause of redemption, while God is the principal efficient cause (efficiens . . . principale).

For Thomas, then, God is on either end of the transaction. The Trinity is the principal efficient agent of redemption, and “God” is the recipient of the price of release. The humanity of Jesus is the “instrument of the Godhead” (divinitatis instrumentum) that brings salvation. Redemption takes place not because the creditor forgives, but because the creditor arranges to have himself paid with a superabundant gift of charity.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why didn't God simply stop condemning people in the first place? And since allegedly Jesus was God, why did not only he stop condemning people, but his so called sacrifice was a sham. As well as what kind of loving god/person would condemn non believers to eternal torment? That is what monsters do.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
footnote
then getting atheist foot off the neck holding down the Christian Peter Leithart concludes:
"Until the resurrection, we live on “in the flesh,” but now that Jesus has died to the flesh, we no longer live according to flesh.

That is to say: During our life in the flesh, we no longer indulge any sense of ethnic, racial, or class superiority; no longer boast of heritage or achievement; no longer exclude those who don’t meet our fleshly standards; no longer give preference to the wealthy or well-born; no longer preen ourselves on our virility or sexual prowess; no longer divide the people of God according to marks in the flesh. All that was condemned, all that was killed, on the cross of Jesus.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Atheists are like vandals who know how to tear down a cathedral but cannot build one themselves—at least not without borrowing from the intellectual heritage of theism."
Joe Carter first things
So it is up to the Christian not to be seduced by the atheist then his cathedral cannot be torn down
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your sordid post only demonstrates that Christians are small minded bigots who can't reason with anyone who doesn't buy their faith. Joe Carter is not recognized by me or most people as an authority on any subject
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OK - wait a minute. I am totally a free market liberatarian when it comes to the economy, but I have a relgious faith that is Christian.So an example:

I beleive and was taught that homosexuality is inherently wrong, I won't persecute or harm homosexuals in any way. I will however 100% oppose marriage among homosexuals that give them the same rights as heterosexuals. If I have given in on the free market to libertarians then it is they who should also compromise by saying that ones' sexual appetites one'sr own business but marriage is between a man and a woman.

If we can't get past that point, then the libertarian must choose whether he wants a free market, beacuse, trust me progressives and socialists do not or whether gay marriage is the most important issue. Ball is in your court Mr and Mrs Liberatarian. Time to choose choose wisely.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"I will however 100% oppose marriage among homosexuals that give them the same rights as heterosexuals."

Our Bill of Rights does not deal with our sexual or other properly private preferences. If you do not want to hurt any innocent person, I am with you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Set aside our differences? That can't happen. There are superficial similarities between the Christian-conservative and the Randian philosophies, mostly in the economic sphere. But when the foundational assumptions of two philosophies are so different, even the apparent common ground, no matter how solid it looks, will eventually give way.

As best as I can tell, Randians raise the free market up as some a sort of religion, an eschaton to which society must aspire and around which it must obediently orbit. The exaltation of man is at the very center of this.

To a Christian, the free market is not an ideal, but essentially a workaround designed to ameliorate the effects of fallen human nature. The free market is the only way to provide an economic incentive for fallen man to do things for other people -- out of regard for his own welfare. We should want to do things for others without concern for our own well-being. But we don't. The free market, for all its corruption, imbalances, appeals to greed, is all we've got.

People who exalt the Lord are warned that we cannot serve God and mammon. Worshiping mammon is not a problem for those who exalt man. This basic disconnect will keep any alliance from working. The liberals will always be able to split us: they'll shame the Randians for walking lockstep with those superstitious Christians, and they'll slyly point out to the Christians that, you know, your allies despise your Christian God. Where there are fissures due to differences in theology, no apparent congruenty can possibly mend them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You're right about the differences in the philosophies between Christians and Randians. However, there IS a platform we can all get behind. States' rights.

IMHO, over the past 50 years or so, conservatives have gotten baited into an all-or-nothing contest with liberals. We fight over federal law when we should be fighting to do what all conservatives of every brand want: more power vested in state and local government, and less in an overarching federal monolith. We should return to our core principles; that's where we all get what we want: the right to follow our own conscience. It's also the platform we can successfully pitch to most "moderates" and even many social liberals. You want stricter gun control and gay marriage? You can have it if you pass it in your state, but you have to respect my right to fight it in my state as well. It's the core of our give-and-take republican government.

Conservatives lose because we're a very diverse group, and we can't find a candidate who can please all of us, let alone anyone on the other side of the fence. That changes if our key focus is on state's rights.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"We should want to do things for others without concern for our own well-being."

Many of us do this for our spouse, children, and dear friends. Some of us go beyond that and show love for complete strangers. For most, the best ideological way to deal with strangers is the free market. That we can all truly love each other is something like a communist ideal. It is illusory in concept and evil in practice. Why evil? Because those who would have all of us love every stranger tend to want to eliminate people who can't get with their program.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm seeing what this is all about . The atheist say :"hold your nose fellow atheist toward the Christian and perhaps we can seduce the Christian and harness this power they have. and remember Christians are easy to seduce as we have seen in history.
This is true. But Christian who listen to Jesus never forgot the story of the widow and her great sacrifice in giving her all (the widow's mite)100% while the seduced Christian only gives for the pleasures that power bring him.
When Saint Paul venture out into the pagans he knew their was no priesthood representing God so he presented himself as a slave the lowest position in the Roman Empire and not as a freeman except freedom from sin
Take the double barrel shotgun , Christian, figure of speech and blow this face off and see the demon out to mislead you
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The fundamental difference between Christianity and objectivism is ownership of one's life. A Christian believes his life is or should be owned by/devoted to God or Christ. An objectivist believes she has the right to her own life. That is more irreconcilable than the dispute over abortion, as there are both pro-life objectivists and pro-choice Christians.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are confused. Christians believe in free will and that individuals must chose to walk with God, for which they receive eternal salvation. The extensive liberty inherent in our system created by our Founding Fathers is premised on this Christian metaphysics, and responsible for the great degree of freedom and liberty the individual is inherently entitled to by their creator. There is no salvation available to those without liberty to make the choice to accept or reject God. (To do bad and stupid things or to good things and follow God's commandments).





1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Imagine a God that is everything. A God that encompasses everything any person knows, everything any person dreams, and everything any person cannot know or even dream of. A total God. Any other God is either equal or lesser.

The universe we understand has stable states (e.g., Christian, Muslim, and communist moralities). These too are of God. The universe has battles between these ideologies, these too are of God. I believe in natural law. My God has made me so.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The problem IMO is that one group is concerned with their spiritual life after this one on earth and the other group isn't. Those two differing views tend to lead to mistrust because Christian principles do expect you to give of yourself because we are taught that it leads to our spiritual well-being - in that sense, you could call our earthly giving a form of self-interest, but one that yields no tangible, earthly reward that the Objectivist sees, so they mistrust it or see it as worthless.

I hate to couch it in those terms, because when we buy extra groceries for the food pantry or something like that, I like doing it because it makes me feel good. I suppose you could call that my earthly reward. I like giving with the thought that I'll be helping someone who needs it and because I remember a time when I was that hungry, myself. You pay it forward.

As for the idea of abortion, the big quibble there is when the two groups see the beginning of the human life. I think it's a little too obvious to the person who really thinks about it that at some point, there's a baby, a human baby, inside the mother, and you have to consider that individual as a fully human individual with all the rights thereof. I understand that Objectivists differ and that's the sticking point, of course.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A preeminent message of the Bible and the Christian Gospel that each person is individually responsible to God. There is no mediator between God and man both Jesus Christ, who is both God and man. Even in the times of the Temple, sacrifice was only effective for the individual believer rather than effective to all of those in the Israeli society.

In this, objectivism or libertarianism is admirably correct in a Christian sense. But the great objection I have with libertarianism is that libertarians substitute their own morality, or no morality at all, for the morality described and commanded by the God.

It seems to me that many libertarians believe life, liberty and property (or pursuit of happiness) start with life in the womb. But many more, if not most, say it’s none of anyone else’s business what a person does with this new life within a woman.

The Bible calls an unborn child, that is a fetus, a baby. And God punished the nation of Israel for making their children “pass through the fire” or be burned as sacrifices. Until libertarians adopt the fundamental view that all innocent human life is to be protected and that the taking of those lives is both amoral and criminal, then there isn’t much point to arguing about guns or drugs or speed limits or taxes. And until then all that they say is subject to critical condemnation in that it sets up a two-tier society: those that are allowed the benefits of life, and those that are not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Indeed. Libertarianism will work in a society of reasonably devout Christians. It wont work in a society of Nihilists and Hedonists, mixed in with a plethora of what have you from around the globe in a Balkanized polity....but become a dystopian nightmare of decline, if it doesnt collapse first and dissolve into civil war (think Somalia).

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A major problem I have with some social conservative Christian types is their hostility towards the development of effective anti-aging biomedical technology. This is probably the number one thing that irritates me about these people these days.

I fail to see a reason for this hostility. The most fundamental individual right is to live as long as one wants. If biotechnology can cure aging and make Aubrey de Grey's prediction of a 1,000 year youthful life span a reality, there is absolutely no legitimate reason to oppose such a development. Yet, the few social conservatives who are aware of these technologies always seem to express hostility towards them.

Of course this does not endear them to someone like me who is definitely interested in living an indefinitely long youthful lifespan.

Opposition to healthy life extension is opposition to individual liberty in general.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When companies use human based collagen, from dubious sources, this is the source of alam by some conservatives.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That is why Christian organizations and churches have long been in the business of medicine and healthcare, because they were hostile to extending life.

And for the Leftwingers, they also have long been in the business of education, including the development of science....they arent anti-science yobs, but the culture and peoples that developed science to it's highest form and rigor.

My major problem people like Abelard Lindsey can be summed up by this Reagan quote.

“It isn't so much that liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so many things that aren't so.”― Ronald Reagan

This is why it's so important to work on taking back the education system. People like Abeland Lindsey, who thinks he is reasonable and well educated and informed, have been indoctrinated with falsehoods, which they believe to be true.


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You did better than me with this comment. I didn't understand a sentence of it, with all respect. As you point out, many hospitals are named Good Samaritan after Jesus' teaching on altruism, and their intent is to save lives and to heal. Notice, He never taught that the money for the wounded man's care should be repaid, either.

Let me also say that altruism is a personal responsibility, as opposed to a corporate or societal one. I find it disagreeable that with this sequester NGOs and non-profits are worrying where there money will continue to come from. They should support themselves by contributions from like-minded people and groups, but instead they are lobbying the government to take money from others in taxes and then give it to them. This isn't charity or altruism. It's not even begging. It's more like theft. And it doesn't give me a chance to decide where my charity goes, or for what purposes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Christians have been in the business of healthcare, medicine, and education for 1000s of years, and have always been interested in those endeavors.

But hey, Abelard Lindsey knows better, with the meticulous use of his objective reason, dont ya know.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
While I can't speak for him, I believe Abelard Lindsey is specifically referring to conservative (but not Christian) Leon Kass and, to a lesser extent, thinkers like Francis Fukuyama. Both have been highly critical of life extension, cloning and other technological interventions in human biology as bioethicists for usually explicitly religious reasons. For background, look up President Bush's Council on Bioethics or Pinker's essay, "The Stupidity of Dignity."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How many ways can you be wrong?1.your life is not your own and your days ARE numbered;2. What you want is irrelevant(well, it should be);3. Who do you trust? In G-d's wisdom, or do you run to man for the answers/cure/wisdom?4. What was written in the owners manual about age vs youth? About my Physician,Healer, Provider, Counselor... You Cannot serve/be faithful to 2 diametrically opposed kingdoms, but it never surprises me that Believers alway try....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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