The Atheistic Philosophy of Ayn Rand– the Donahue Interview

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One of the more remarkable aspects of the current political season is the love affair of the conservative right with the Randian economic and political philosophy of ‘unfettered, unregulated capitalism and the virtues of selfishness’ somehow welded to the chassis of Christian conservatism and ‘family values’ by Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and others. Whatever you think of that ‘unholy alliance’ here is an interview that makes very clear what Ayn Rand thought about God, altruism, and self-sacrifice– certainly traditional Christian values,

Uncommon Sense— Part One
Forward Thinking on ‘Reading Backwards’–The Interview Part Six
Kingsman– The Secret Service
Finding Jesus– Review of Part One
  • Karl Udy

    And these same Christians would consider it a betrayal of the gospel to make a political alliance with left-wing socialist atheists.

  • Ray Pennoyer

    I think you over-estimate the interest of conservatives with Rand. Yes, there is a flirtation with Rand by some and it is unfortunate. If I were a psychologist I would say Rand functions, for some, as a kind of “antidote” to the left wing vision of the nanny state. But this flirtation is not serious or central. For the conservative movement it is Reagan, not Rand.

  • Chris

    Romney made crystal clear In the debate Wednesday night that you can’t have a strong economy without reasonable regulation. The Washington Post would award you 2 Pinnochios for this post, Ben. ;>)

  • Trip

    This is simply misinformed, Ben. Paul Ryan has not welded objectivism to the chassis of Christian moral teaching any more than you have welded communism to it by being a Democrat. To say, as he famously did in 2005, that he found her an important thinker is not to say that he embraces every aspect of her thinking. In fact, in this interview (from 2010, well before he had a political motive to distance himself from Rand), he says precisely that: “I am by no means an objectivist; I am a Catholic, you know. I am nothing close to an objectivist, but I do think Ayn Rand did a service, did a great job of outlining the morality of capitalism, of making the moral case for freedom, free enterprise and capitalism. You don’t have to buy into all the objectivist stuff to appreciate what she did on that front.”

    Read more:

  • ben Witherington

    First of all Chris, I lined this post up three months ago, not in response to the debate. Secondly, Romney has repeatedly railed again and again against over-regulation of everything from Wall Street to banks etc. If anyone deserves a Pinocchio it’s Romney himself. Especially disingenuous was the denial of what his own campaign manager admitted— the 7 trillion figure is right for what he says he wants to do for the military etc. etc. And there are not enough loop holes in all of North America, Europe and China to fund that. BW3

  • Chris

    Wrong Ben, you said in your post that Conservatism is guided by Ayn Rand’s philosophy of ‘unfettered, unregulated capitalism and the virtues of selfishness’. Railing against certain types of regulation is not the same as your characterization of railing against all of it. You are spreading false and misleading information primarily about one side of the political spectrum with whom you disagree and apparently don’t like.

  • Richard Carriker

    Ben, thank you for this timely focus on the growing, misguided support of Ayn Rand among professing Christians that I have witnessed first hand for over a decade. I’m disturbed to read how Chris has misrepresented your post. I find comfort on knowing that I can count on you being totally honest with everyone whether they consider it good or bad news.

  • Stephen

    To be fair, Paul Ryan has since renounced her philosophy. You’ll have to decide if he’s sincere or not.

    Here is a statement from Ryan on the issue of Rand’s philosophy:

    “I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.

  • rlwebbjr

    Conservative economic philosophy existed long before Ayn Rand ever came along. This guilt by association is very disappointing and does not contribute to the discussion of the merits of capitalism and free market economics.

  • Ben Witherington

    Chris I’ve heard the things that Mitt Romney has said to the Tea Party folks about taxes and regulation. I’ve heard what he said to those who even advocate that all taxation is governmental theft. The fact that he’s a good flip-flopper is pretty clear. What he said in Mass. is not what he is saying now on many levels and in many ways. It would be easy to accuse both these candidates of manipulation and distortion of the facts. In this particular post, I am dealing with the right end of the spectrum. The far left end isn’t any better. My concern is Romney’s attempt to now, as he did in Mass. (my wife’s home state, and my sister in law worked for the man) to present himself as a centerist all concerned about the middle class. I don’t buy it. I think the 47% remark was telling at that Republican fund-raiser as was Romney’s statement that ‘I’m not worried about the poor….’ which of course he back tracked on, This man, is not trustworthy, and the real problem is, you can’t tell what his real rock bottom views and values are. He’s evasive and not specific enough. BW3

  • Ben Witherington

    Yes, he’s publicly renounced it, while he privately gave all members of his staff copies of Atlas Shrugged and told them to absorb it. BW3

  • David Capp

    Dr. Witherington, I have to be honest, I just don’t see this. I have some limited familiarity with Ayn Rand, but I think it’s far from true that there’s a big tie between conservatism (especially Christian conservatism) and her atheist philosophy. Now, if you were talking the Libertarianism of Ron Paul, I’m with you, but I don’t see this with mainstream conservatism, nor the Tea Party conservatives.

    I’ve never met a conservative that wanted no regulation, but limited regulation. In the American political spectrum, I would content on government regulations it’s conservatives who are in the middle, Libertarians who want almost no regulation, and progressives/liberals who want a lot more (and you could go even further with Marxist/Communist types, but they have little influence in US politics). I am a person with conservative political leanings, and who incidentally is in the 47% that doesn’t pay federal income tax because I’ve worked for over 20 years in the urban core doing ministry (and got married and had two children).

    So with due respect, I really don’t see this “guilt by association” of conservatives with what Ayn Rand believed. It’s at best a small time connection, not an overwhelming influence.

  • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

    The problem here is whether or not capitalism itself can be reconciled with Christian morality. What Rand did was to state the issue in bald terms — she was utterly contemptuous of any form of altruism. It does raise the question, what would a genuinely Christian economic system look like?

  • Chris

    Richard, how have I mischaracterized the post? I quoted it verbatim, and apparently I’m not alone in seeing that the post is a poor representation of Conservatism in general and Paul Ryan in particular.

    The underlying message of the post is that conservatism is atheistic. That’s a serious charge and I as well as others saw fit to respond.

  • rlwebbjr

    The 47% remark did not bother me one bit. While he has walked it back, taken in context one can understand how there is a tipping point when people are given enough things by their government and particular by a particular leader, they will not vote against him. This has been proven to be a political tactic by the left, particularly by our current administration.
    Ultimately, the deeper question is whether people are helped by massive entitlements paid for by high taxes on others, or whether in a free society they are enabled to be productive and earn a living. If it is the latter, then Romney’s plan to not to overpenalize the wealthy and lessen (not eliminate) regulation actually does help the poor and the middle class, because they are able to be hired.

  • Ben Witherington

    I am sorry Brother Webb, but I know of no statistical data at all that supports the notion that tax breaks for the ultra wealthy in any way helps the little man to be hired. Small business breaks are a different story. BW3

  • Ben Witherington

    David I would like to believe you are right. However when Paul Ryan hands out copies of Atlas Shrugged to all his staff… I get worried. I have read all of her stuff, and her economic philosophy frankly is pretty similar to some forms of conservative economic philosophy. And frankly, it seems pretty unChristian to me. But then the whole notion of either private or public property is unChristian. The earth is the Lord’s, we are only stewards of God’s property. Neither capitalism nor communism is a Christian philosophy of property. Acts 2 and 4 suggest that within the body of Christ we should make sure that no one is in need. This does not mean an equal distribution of all property to all persons. And indeed it is clear from the Ananias and Sapphira story that the assumption is that each individual is called as an individual to be a steward of what God has blessed them with, so communism is clearly not the default in the early church. All of you folks commenting on this post should read my book Jesus and Money….. and then we could really have a conversation about a Christian approach to economics. BW3

  • rlwebbjr

    Your statement obviously has many loaded phrases such as “tax breaks” and “ultra wealthy,” neither of which I used. Each of these are a matter of perspective and could be debated here, but gets beyond the original post. I highly respect your scholarship and devotion to the Lord, as well as your balance between the dangers of capitalism without virtue, and communism. My only concern was the apparent lumping together of all conservative economics with an atheistic perspective.

  • John H.Guthrie

    Romney’s full quote concerning not being worried about the poor is this, “I’m not concerned about the poor; we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the heart of America, the 90 percent, the 95 percent of Americans, who right now are struggling, and I’ll continue to take that message to the nation.” While it was not the best choice of words, the full quote shows that the first six words cannot be used as evidence that Romney is unconcerned about the middle class.

  • lin henson

    I am much more concerned about the dimly lit and perhaps purposely obscured past of the incumbant opponent in this Presidential race. The possible influences of “communism” and “socialism” to which recent documentary films and books point in the President’s past, as well as the obvious push in his speeches toward the ideology of socialism, leave me concerned about the future of this country over the next four years if he is re-elected. No matter what you think of these films, they bring up questions that need answers (two: “Secrets of my Real Father” by Joel Gilbert and “Obama 2016″ by D’Souza). CERTAINLY, capitalism (and perhaps a lack of good regulation to guide it more equitably) has its flaws and needs correction, especially in the present economy. And we do need good and equitable health care, taxation, and a long list of other improvements. But we see from contemporary and past history where socialism takes countries. Certainly Dr. Ben and all the posts make good points, but I believe it’s a stretch now to link Ayn Rand and the “conservative right”. (By the way, I’ve been interested in her theory/prophecy that is presented in a two-part movie [next one out this month] that may be worthy of viewing as warning.) However, I believe it’s unhealthy and misleading to attribute any of her package of beliefs and theories to the current politics of any candidate running for office. Just a thought.

  • David Capp

    Admittedly, I haven’t read Jesus and Money, but I’m would tend to say Biblically that property is both private (in the sense of ownership) and also stewardship, as all things are from God. I think it educates us as Christians to handle things of the world (by that I mean material things) wisely. We are to be stewards of all that he gives us, so that yes, all things are ultimately God’s things.

    So, for instance, as far as the state is concerned, the mini-van I drive belongs to me and my wife, but it is ultimately a gift from God. And as a Christian I need to keep that in mind. And in the world of political speech, that would be a very complicated thing to explain in a 30 second soundbite that all campaigns are these days.

    But I think in all of these questions, an issue of balance is in play. As I understand Ayn Rand’s positions, I think they are too extreme. But likewise, so are the positions of the left, which use the force of government to take money from one person to then give it to another. That’s a very big concern because I have no choice about paying taxes, and if I don’t pay them, I can go to jail over that.

    Let me make it clear, I strongly believe in charity and giving to the poor, but what about the expectations of work? From the beginning God commanded man to work, and I am very concerned about the impact of the government giving money to people (albeit in need) with no expectations that they work, or begin the process of working. It’s something I appreciated in the welfare reform compromise between Bill Clinton and the Republican congress, that work was expected as part of welfare help. Just handing people money for nothing is, in my opinion, a very bad idea (save those who cannot physically or mentally work). I see evidence that Paul worked, and Jesus worked as a carpenter, and many disciples were fishermen, so it was seen as normal in the Bible for people to work, but also Jesus and throughout the Bible, we see that God’s followers are to give to the poor. It seems to me that enabling a man to work is a great gift of charity.

    Hope that makes sense, and I’m not trying to be combative, but again, I’ve felt that some of the comments misrepresent the position of most political (even Christian) conservatives, and I, as one, don’t feel it represents me at all.

    As far as Paul Ryan and the Ayn Rand book, I’ve heard you refer to it before. I don’t deny it, but as others have mentioned, he’s stated that he doesn’t support her ideas (at least not all of them). But to be fair, every one of us if we’re honest support ideas that are held by people for whom we would not agree with their total position.

  • Ben Witherington

    Hi David: I once preached a sermon entitled ‘Charity is a sin’. Why? Because it assumes that ‘what’s mine is mine, and if I share it, I’m being charitable’. But in fact, in the ultimate sense it is not yours. You didn’t bring it with you into the world, and you can’t take it with you when you leave. You are not an owner of any of it, only a steward of God’s property. I really don’t care how a secular government views this matter. My concern is how Christians think about it. The problem is, Christians fail time and again to think through the implications of the ethics of the NT for their beliefs and behaviors. And nowhere is this more in evidence than when it comes to money and property. BW3

  • Mark

    Ben, if we’re going to form some reasonable conclusion regarding the nature of markets, which is essential to understanding human behavior, we’d have to have a basic grasp of economic fundamentals. After all, that’s really what we’re talking about. All living things act on the basis of incentives. Birds fly south for the winter, animals and humans migrate in search of better and more livable circumstances—the story of Abraham being a prime example. This is the crux of Ms. Rand’s philosophy, extending to the kinds of government that facilitate freedom and prosperity, and the notion of how much government is too much government.

    Her personal atheism is no more fundamental to libertarian-ism than it is socialism. In fact the evidence would suggest the complete opposite. The staggering death toll of as many as 100,000,000 people at the hands of various Marxist states during the 20th century makes a compelling case for placing profound limits on government power. Where so called Capitalist governments have acted with similar cruelty only reinforces this notion. I say “so called” because the accumulation of Federal power is inconsistent with capitalism. This is where a refined use of terms is important, just as it would be in any theological discussion.

    Economics, like religion and science is about more than deeply held beliefs or intuitions. As a scholar you certainly know this—and that what appears to be reasonable or obvious, often times is, anything but! This is always evident in your work as a religious scholar.

    Libertarian philosophy and classical Conservatism start with the premise that freedom is the natural state of man. Ideas echoed by John Locke, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson that are at the heart of the American Constitution and a Republican form of democracy. That government is the greatest threat to freedom should be obvious. Only government has the power to make law and then confer police power in order to enforce it. This includes local, state and Federal police, extending to the military. Some further study of the relationship between government and monopoly power, and why monopolies are occasionally necessary, but, are always bad, would be in order.

    I would suggest the work of the great African American, economist/historian/sociologist Thomas Sowell. If you’re so inclined, I wrote an article for “Weekly Southern Arts” dealing with this subject in a bit more detail. Here’s a link:

  • Stephen

    In the interest of the facts, the quote I listed above from Paul Ryan was a recent quote, much later than when he gave out Rand books.

    Like I said before, whether you believe he has really changed his views or is just saying so now that he is in the spotlight is up to you.

  • david carlson

    “free market capitalism” is the 3rd rail of political talk in fundamental circles because of some conservative christians. They have conflated talking points of a certain branch of republicans as being part of Christianity. It is idol worship.

  • David Capp

    Thanks for your reply Dr. Witherington, I do appreciate it.

    I understand and agree that ultimately all that “I” have is ultimately God’s. But in Acts 4:34-37 we read that “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

    My reason for pointing this out is that in this context the author clearly communicates that people, including Barnabas owned property. That sounds like a recognition of private ownership. It also recognizes that these early Christians took their property, sold it and gave it in charity. And when we read the story of Annanias and Sapphira in chapter 5, it sounds like they have the freedom to do with the property what they wished, and even the money once it was sold. But they chose to deceive by pretending it was the entire price when in fact it wasn’t.

    So, yes, we are ultimately stewards of what we “own,” and we must never hold tightly to what we have. But the scriptures also teach about how we handle indebtedness (not very positive on a big credit card balance). And when I look at our government spending, it scares me. There has to be a balance of stewardship on the part of the government. Ultimately, the government can be the charity of choice all it wants, but it will eventually run out of money if it’s borrowing more than it can brings in, and that would deeply hurt the poor who are dependent on government help.

    When I hear Paul Ryan in particular (more than even Romney), I hear concepts of we can’t just spend into oblivion. We have to move toward not spending more than we take in. I don’t see that coming at all from the left in America, and not enough from the right either. And I contend strongly that governmental indebtedness is a big moral issue.

    Thus it looks to me like in this scriptural context, there is a clear understanding of ownership by people of property. Thus, I don’t see how my statement is wrong that ultimately, all property belongs to God, but we also have ownership/stewardship of said property.

  • Ben Witherington

    Hi David: I get your point. I think the other side of the coin is what needs to be stressed in the narcissistic and greedy environment that we live, namely it belongs ultimately to God, while we have responsibility to use it wisely. As for the debt, had we not gotten ourselves enmeshed in two unnecessary wars that do not even meet the criteria of just wars, we would not currently be in debt. We can thank George Bush more than anyone else for our debt. Subtract the cost of those two wars alone, and we still have a slight surplus. In other words, see my previous post on pacifism. If we were less bellicose, we would certainly be in far less dire economic straights.


  • Ben Witherington

    P.S. I do not accept the notion that ‘belonging to’ and ‘ownership’ can be divorced from each other in this discussion. If all material things belong to God, then it is inappropriate to talk about human ownership in any final sense. We are mere users of God’s property, and even more to the point— we ourselves are God’s property. We need to let that sink in far better, and mull the implications of that for what God has loaned to us. BW3

  • David Capp

    To a degree on the wars, yes, that has contributed to the debt, but it’s far from the only thing causing our indebtedness.

    Just a question, not mean to trip up, but I’m a little confused on this. Are you saying there are just wars, or is pacifism alone what you believe? I’ve heard both in your posts, and just making sure I understand where you’re at on that.

    Thanks for your replies though. I really appreciate how you interact with posters, it’s very informative.

  • Jeffrey Taylor

    To understand where the left ends up read anything written by Theodore Dalrymple.

  • Ben Witherington

    David I do not think there are ‘just’ wars. I think a case can be made that say WWII could be called a justifiable evil in the minds of some, but a justifiable lesser of two evils is not a just war. Too much injustice and loss of innocent life is involved in all wars to call any of them ‘just’ or ‘righteous’ by Biblical standards. The issue in any case is not what governments decide, I am concerned with what is legitimate for Christians to be involved in, and being a combatant in a war is not one of them in my view. BW3

  • Patrick

    The only folks I’ve ever heard speak positively of Ayn were fellow atheist libertarians, maybe 2% of our population. Her worship of self indulgence makes her hard to like, IMO. I have yet to hear an American conservative( which is way different) speak highly of her self worship.

    Her film bombed bad, I don’t think anyone has a high view of her outside libertarians.

  • Stephen

    On the charity angle, I agree that ultimately everything belongs to God but I’d still rather people share or give (relinquish stewardship of what God has blessed them with) to others who are in need. Remember, they could just keep it for themselves.

  • Ben Witherington

    Actually Stephen they shouldn’t be able to do that in good conscience. As John Wesley once said ‘if you make all you can by moral means, and save all you can, but then don’t give all you can, you may be a living soul but you are a dead Christian.’ Generosity is not optional for Christians. Sacrificial giving is not optional for Christians. BW3

  • Stephen

    I agree it should not be optional for Christians, just merely pointing out that giving should be encouraged.

    I like and agree with the above quote, but does “give all you can” mean you have no possessions? If not, where is the distinction made between need and excess?

  • Mike Gantt

    I was impressed by the video for the simple reason that I had never before seen Phil Donahue as an evangelist. Kudos to him.

  • David Capp

    Dr. Ben, I have no problem reconciling your quote from Wesley as a conservative. I should give what I can out of the resources God has given me as steward. But how do I respond when I have a vote, and I think the government is a bad steward? When the government takes my resources it may put it toward things I don’t believe in (like taxpayer funding of abortion). I find that a very difficult situation.

  • Lha

    I find it interesting that we don’t take a look at the economic system prescribed in the law of Israel. There are several things I think I see there. 1. God did not want to allow the establishment of an elite class that would be perpetuated through inheritance, every 49 years wealth returns to clans and families, all slaves are freed, all debts are forgiven. 2. The poor were to be provided for. 3. The pursuit of wealth was circumscribed by Sabbath, Jubilee, Tithing, not harvesting the borders of one’s fields, I call it economic meekness. 3. There is private property within the limits of God’s law. I don’t advocate the imposition of this through governmental means but to say the Bible has nothing to say about governmental assistance to the poor is questionable to me. This was Israel’s law. The elite rejected it and it was one reason they lost their lands. The only time it was clearly applied (a bit) was when Jerusalem was under seige and the elite took it back (Jer.34:8-16). Ayn Rand was an atheist and has little to say to Christians as her assumptions are rooted in that. Christians who are economic conservatives need to keep the Jubilee laws in mind when they deal with these issues.

  • RF

    Wrong, Chris (6). Ben’s post doesn’t say “Conservatism is guided by Ayn Rand’s…” as I’ve quoted from you. He says that the “conservative right” is flirting with Rand’s theories. The former – from your post – I take to mean the more mainstream, common understanding of “conservatism (a la, Ronald Reagan), the latter, the more modern extreme right (Ryan). Big difference.

    I was recently accosted by a man who went on and on about his “deep faith in God,” his “love for Jesus,” and his “hatred for the current president” (his words, not mine). But then he started espousing Rand. I couldn’t resist. I asked him if he knew what “objectivism” was. He didn’t. I asked him if he was familiar with Rand’s raging, strident atheism. He wasn’t. Of course, I then asked him how I could reconcile the love of Christ (and broader Christian principles for living) with those aspects of Rand I just mentioned. He walked away without response. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t pounding him for my ego’s sake (though it may have been a little rewarding). But it was clear that he hadn’t thought any of it through. That’s the scary part.

  • Chris

    RF here are Ben’s words:

    “One of the more remarkable aspects of the current political season is the love affair of the conservative right with the Randian economic and political philosophy of ‘unfettered, unregulated capitalism and the virtues of selfishness’ somehow welded to the chassis of Christian conservatism and ‘family values’ by Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and others.”

    Let’s break this down, shall we? Since conservatives are vilified for speaking in code by the left, lets flip the table.

    Ben cites the current political season which bolsters the relevance of his post since many of us are about to vote. So from the get go, this is a political post during our political season. The implication is that it is designed to shed light on something that we should all consider during this political season.

    The next part uses the term “love affair”. This not flirting. This is emotional and physical and real, and it’s being carried out by the “conservative right”. What’s this love affair with? “Randian political and economic philosophy of unfettered, unregulated capitalism and the virtues of selfishness…”. So I could stop there and make my point that the post is a straw man at best or worse, an attempt to cause well meaning Christian conservatives to see themselves as supporting an Atheistic (in the hostile sense) political view. Now I’m wondering if I should vote for the other guy based on this possibility alone. “Maybe I’m not really a Christian if I vote for this guy” and other fear-based reactions.

    It’s clear that well meaning Christian conservatives exist and are far more prevalent than the Randian variety just by sampling the thoughtful posts of them on this comment thread. It’s also clear that we are not any more selfish than any other human being.

    What I’m “railing against” is the biased misrepresentation of both sides, and it’s sad to me that when I examine the politics of this blog they almost always align with how the Huffington Post reports them. If we are truly to think through these things, then we can’t only get our news from our political backers. It takes a little more work than that. It would have been appropriate for Ben to publish the qute from Ryan rejecting Randian philosophy and as another commenter put it, let the voter decide if he’s sincere.

  • Rod

    Thanks Ben for this vid and your bewilderment (which mirrors my own) of the devotion of otherwise committed Christians to this philosophy. It is almost as if the ideology of Capitalism trumps Christian beliefs and values — and I personally like Capitalism as the best of all the evil economic systems. Can you tell me if there is a book giving a Christian response to Rand and her Objectivism, or perhaps even an essay? I am having trouble finding anything. Thanks.

  • Ben Witherington

    Rod the person to ask is Mike Petersen at Asbury Seminary. BW3

  • lha

    I’ve encountered Christians who are definitely influenced by Rand in my local United Methodist Church.

  • Drane Reynolds

    Patrick said:
    >>The only folks I’ve ever heard speak positively of Ayn were fellow atheist libertarians, >>maybe 2% of our population. Her worship of self indulgence makes her hard to like, IMO. >>I have yet to hear an American conservative( which is way different) speak highly of her self >>worship.
    >>Her film bombed bad, I don’t think anyone has a high view of her outside libertarians.

    How about evangelical and conservative Cal Thomas? See his article praising Rand’s view in his review of the film Atlas Shrugged.

    Perhaps I have just not heard it, but it seems appropriate that in this year when Conservative evangelicals are supporting a Mormon for President and a Catholic whose mentor is an atheist who thinks the ethics of Jesus are evil, there seems to be less talk, at least publicly, of a return to a mythical “Christian America”.

    I have never believed that this evangelical idea of getting back to our “Christian founding principles” was ever really about Christian theology or Christian ethics. This year seems to prove it. It is about getting back to the way we were in the nostalgic, mythical past.

  • Chris

    The question seems to be, can one respect, admire, or even emulate certain aspects of a philosophy while rejecting others? Rob Bell says you can, and Dr. Witherington has written extensively and generously about Bell, calling him quite important in a lot of ways in Evangelical Christianity while calling him out on certain things that clearly do not comport with Christianity. I see some similarities in the discussion being had about Ryan and Rand or conservatism and Rand. I’m merely interested in consistency.

    Christians on both sides of the aisle struggle to keep their politics in proper perspective. I take the perspective that Christians are to be salt and light in how we use the resources entrusted to us. We should be liberal in our giving. But we should also be shrewd as snakes which the government clearly is not. The spending in Washington is out of control and not sustainable. That’s the reality. It doesn’t matter who you blame at this point for how we got here. What matters is the approach you see fit to best lead us out of the position we are in.

  • Ben Witherington

    Chris I entirely agree with you on that. Fair is fair. I will just say we would not be in the debt we are without those two unnecessary wars, and China wouldn’t own about 30% of America now if we had a more balance export/import policy that put more constraints on: 1) out sourcing, 2) inequities in trade balance etc. Blessings, BW3

  • Kenny Johnson

    This video might have made your point even better:

  • Ben Witherington

    And guess what—– the movie Atlas Shrugged just happens to be showing up in theaters at the end of this week during the election season. and 100,000 likes on Facebook already just for the trailers. Hmmmm……. I wonder why? Well it’s bankrolled by John Aglialoro, a major Republican supporter, and big time business magnet. Of course the first part of the movie which came out last year bombed, but now is a good time to renew our acquaintance with this film since it’s so appropriate to our current American situation, with the poor dragging down the really creative people and billionaires of business. I can only say wow. BW3

  • Chris

    A little perspective: I have about 1,000 Facebook friends. Let’s assume that 600 of them would describe themselves as “Conservative”. I checked out the Atlas Shrugged page on Facebook, and only one of my 1,000 friends has given it a “like”. No wonder there’s a billionaire bankrolling it. The market is not supporting it, and 112,000 Facebook “likes” is evidence of the lack of influence such a movie is having. It’s not even on the radar, and that’s been my point the entire time. The original post is a projection of fringe elements onto the whole.

    Well, this horse has officially been beaten to death. Good evening.

  • William

    Are you ready to officially endorse your candidate, Dr Witherington?