Messiah College is a very interesting place. It is a Christian school with Anabaptist roots, which means that we do not fly a flag on campus (the “Kingdom of God” is more important than any symbol of nationalism–unless, of course, it is the flag in the school gymnasium that is required by the NCAA). We also have our share of liberal Christians concerned with social justice. The college sponsors programs and institutes that support social justice in the Anabaptist, Wesleyan, and Pietist traditions.
But there is also a very vibrant group of conservative students on campus. Many of them are quite bright. Most of them, it seems to me, are more free-market libertarian conservatives than more traditional, Burkean conservatives. (Of course, nearly all of them combine their libertarianism with beliefs in today’s “conservative” values such as the opposition to gay marriage and abortion). Few of them have thought deeply about the relationship between their libertarianism and Christian social ethics.
I thought about these students this morning as I read Hunter Baker‘s nice piece on the First Things website: “Evangelicals and Economics: Reflections of a Conservative Protestant.” Baker describes his intellectual journey from a free-market libertarianism of the Smith, Friedman, Hayek variety to a conservative who is more thoughtful about the ways in which libertarianism and Christian ethics may not “always be an obvious fit.”
I think I might pass this along to some of my students.