There is a fascinating exchange going on over at Positive Liberty between Jon Rowe, Jim Babka and Gregg Frazer. There are two questions under consideration – to what extent is Calvinism opposed to revolution and to the notion of political rights in general; and on a larger level, does the Bible support the notion of political liberty? You couldn’t ask for three more interesting people to debate the issue. Jon Rowe and Jim Babka are both libertarians, but one is a non-believer (for lack of a more specific phrase) and the other a devout Christian. And Frazer is a professor of history at a Christian university who has argued that the five most important and influential founding fathers – Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson and Madison – were not Christians but rather “theistic rationalists.”
The exchange began when Jon posted an essay entitled Was the American Revolution Consistent with Calvinism? It was posted both at his personal blog and at Positive Liberty. Jim Babka replied with a long comment at one place, while Gregg Frazer replied at the other. It should be noted that Jon’s original post was derived largely from Frazer’s doctoral thesis. Frazer then replied to Babka and Jon posted it at Positive Liberty, and now Babka has replied to Frazer, which is also posted there.
I doubt the exchange is over, and it should be interesting to watch it unfold further. At this point, I think Frazer is getting the better of it. I think one has to strain pretty hard to find any support for the notion of political liberty in the Bible and I don’t find Jim’s examples to be terribly compelling. It makes little sense to me to point to a couple of verses saying that kings are not all powerful as evidence that God is a libertarian and ignore, for example, the explicit commands to slaughter people for doing nothing more than worshipping other gods (or trying to convince the Israelites to do so).