The Hayekian Book of Revelation

Gregory Alan Thornbury, the new president at The King’s College, recently gave a fascinating convocation address to begin the school year. In it, he made reference to Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, and encouraged students to think about philosophical ideas that have stood opposed to some of the philosophies that dominated much of the world during the last century: “totalitarianism, fascism, and a century of holocaust.”

Jerry Bowyer of Forbes magazine interviewed Dr. Thornbury on this and other matters—ranging from economics to Harry Potter to Dr. Who to Christian eschatology—and I thoroughly enjoyed it! For those who don’t want to listen to the entire interview, Bowyer has transcribed the portion of the interview devoted to Hayek and John’s Apocalypse. Here’s an excerpt:

I think that when you study the texts of particularly the New Testament, although it has its origins in the Mosaic Law, I think what you see there is the seedbed of freedom of conscience. You see democratic religion in the pages of the New Testament. So whereas some people in Acts chapter 5 see some kind of nascent socialism, actually what you’re seeing is free people electing to gather together in solidarity around key principles and ideals and goals, and the people who joined in that were people like Lydia. There was a mercantile aspect to the early Christian movement. When I read Hayek and I see his argument for the link between private property and freedom, I see a direct line going all the way back to those pages of the New Testament, because what the Apostle Paul and others were representing was an alternative to totalitarianism. When you look at the Apostle John – and whatever else you think the Book of Revelation says about the future—what it definitely was, was the greatest political protest letter ever penned in the history of the world, because he was saying, “The state has no business telling us how we should govern our own life together.” And when I say “society” or “culture”, here’s how I’m defining that, Jerry: I take a nineteenth century definition by Johann Herder, who many recognize as the founding father of modern sociology. He said, “Culture is the lifeblood of a civilization. It’s the flow of moral energy that keeps a society intact.” So, when I see Hayek talking about making sure that we stay free of tyranny, I see the entailments of that going all the way back to the emperor and Domitian and the Apostle John.

This article is definitely worth your while! Read the rest here.

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