Ayn Rand and Jesus

Eric Sapp/Thom Hartmann wrestled with the idea of whether one could like anything that Ayn Rand had to say and still be a Christian. It was a discussion aimed at those swing voters who do not have a fixed notion of what they think the role of government should be with respect to charity.

Sapp summed up his thesis by stating:
People who say, "well, I'm a Christian and I can follow Ayn Rand." Well, by definition you can't, because Ayn Rand taught you can't follow her and follow Christ.
What an amazingly puerile, vacuous and facile statement. To be sure, there are problems with the Objectivist philosophy. Ayn Rand's view of the world relies too heavily on individual integrity to work. There are dark and ugly traits in man that will prevent the absolute capitalism that she envisions. The corrupt and lazy would certainly ruin it for the rest.

Conservatives and Christians who gravitate toward the works of Ayn Rand connect with the descriptions of individualism and small government. Sapp and Hartmann's black and white, unnuanced view that one must either take all of Rand's philosophy or none of it is childish. This manner of thought might also prevent Christian progressives from supporting any governmental social programs since such policies fall within the bounds of Marx's teachings.

One would think that these gentlemen of the left would laud the 'big-tent' inclusivity of Christian conservatives that can find some common ground with an unabashed atheist.

Sapp said that he is hoping to engender discussion with the ad campaign by revealing that the fruits and roots of the Republican budget are rotten and not in keeping with Matthew 25 (if fruits are actions, then roots are motives), and that Republican politicized policies are rotten and based on a totally anti Christ message. Surely he doesn't hope that those who see the ad will then vote Republican after considering the anti Christ nature of Republican policies and the evil motives and trickery of those making that policy. He fully intends to persuade those who may have voted Republican to support the Christ centered, kind policies of the left that are in keeping with Matthew 25.

Another subtext in their argument assumes that the vehicle for Christian charity is the government. They offer no Biblical justification for this. It is just assumed.

What is particularly odd about this is that normally those on the political left are hypersensitive to any commingling of church and state. It doesn't seem to bother either of them that the leap from caring for the poor to having the government be the purveyor of that care clearly violates the cherished notion of separation of church and state. If they embrace the idea of the separation of church and state, they should recommend that Christian charity be done by the local churches. If, however, they desire that the government perform this directive of Jesus, then they should acknowledge that they do in fact want to legislate morality and have the government perform their religious duty on behalf of the church.

Sapp and Hartmann must explain how making laws imposing the religious ideals expressed by Jesus either does not establish a religion, or does not prohibit someone from exercising his religious choice (if, for example, his religion does not mandate that he give charity). One suspects that the argument in favor of government imposed religious belief in this case might sound similar to conservative's maintaining that a national day of prayer is not tantamount to government establishing a religion. However, since a day of prayer does not require input from anyone and the imposition of Christian charity mandates the taking of another's earned income, one might expect a more thoroughgoing and rigorous apologetic by Sapp and Hartmann.

However, they might argue that the concept of charity can exist outside of the religious dogma of Christianity and therefore isn't exclusively a religious teaching but rather a universal ideal. Of course, if this is the case for charity, it is also the case for the ideals that religious conservatives identify with in Ayn Rand's writings. Just as an atheist is not compelled to eschew the economic policies of a devoutly religious liberal, a religious conservative does not need to be bullied into abandoning ideas about limited government because the atheist Ayn Rand also shared those beliefs. And the thoughtful person is able to discriminate and is in no way obligated to accept or embrace every idea promulgated by any author. In other words, they are free to eat the hay and leave the sticks.

The throw the baby out with the bathwater approach suggested by Sapp and Hartmann is so inane that it hardly merits a response. But they present it in such a smooth and confident manner that is passes as sophisticated thought. Presented without critical review, this argument will likely persuade some voters who are not secure in their own world view.

Just as honorable liberals can favor a political economy that seeks equalization of wealth through redistributive policies without embracing the uglier aspects of Communism, so a conservative can favor a political economy that seeks competitive markets with minimal government intrusion without embracing the uglier aspects of Objectivism.

Chuck Colson video on Atlas Shrugged

BreakPoint Commentary

American Spectator
It's touching how liberal, religiously pluralistic groups like Faithful America and American Values Network are suddenly very concerned that Christians specifically remain faithful to the Bible and to Jesus. Their respective boards are populated with activists and clergy not themselves known for careful adherence to Christian orthodoxy.
The Atlantic
But calling Ayn Rand "brilliant," as Rush Limbaugh is quoted doing, or labeling yourself "a fan" of her work, like Rand Paul, doesn't mean that you embrace every tenet of her philosophy, never mind her every statement about Jesus Christ or the Christian religion.
Eric Sapp in The Huffington Post
It uncovers the heartless GOP and Tea Party wolves who've been parading around in sheep's clothing among the Christian flock, leading them astray.

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