A thought about anarchism and Christianity

I’ve been accused before of being “too anarchist, and not Christian enough” by some folks… and “too Christian, and not anarchist enough” by others. I’m not sure there’s much I can say to the latter, other than to reiterate that I believe the most radical act one can commit is that of dedicating one’s self to following Jesus and truly trying to manifest with one’s own life and in one’s community the truth Jesus (who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen) embodied and continues to inspire. It is precisely because I follow Jesus that I believe radical things, things about the world and about human nature, which includes things that force me to abandon certain ideas some (but certainly not all) of my fellow radicals hold, particularly relating to the nature of romantic/sexual relationships – and I actually believe my ideas on the matter are more radical, though that’s a subject for a whole different post.

To the former I often have to say something like this: why do you seek out the speck in my eye, and ignore the plank in your own? I view anarchism substantially the same way as I do most any other political ideology, whether it be Democratic, Republican, Socialist, Green, and so on (probably excluding ideas like fascism and monarchism, though I don’t think too many people seriously entertain such ideas today, not counting the Republican fascisti, who by no means represent all Republicans). That is to say, I seek to understand the foundations for the ideology, its expressions and nuances, and its implications alongside a view of the world that seeks to see things in relation to the Bible, shaped by the history of interpretation within the church and the traditions of the church. It’s the same way I try to view culture, economics, philosophy, history, and every other aspect of my life.

I think there are two major reasons why the “too anarchist; not Christian enough crowd” has a difficult time with my anarchism. The first is that anarchism is pretty much off the table as an option in mainstream society, especially “polite Christian society”. For many reasons, the average person probably uncritically holds to several misconceptions about anarchy. This may be through no fault of her/his own, but the misperceptions tend to reinforce a notion of anarchism as being so “out there” as to be untenable for a “reasonable person”. The anarchist is so radically other as to certainly be dangerous, and quite possible morally deviant. The second is that anarchy is mistakenly believed to go against Biblical principles of obedience to authority, which is perhaps more than anything else due to our mis-reading of the Bible through the lens of over 1500 years of Constantinian Christendom. I have written about this mis-reading before and will continue to do so, hopefully in a more systematic fashion at some point, but suffice it to say for now I believe this understanding is highly mistaken.

So, dear reader, what would you say? Am I not Christian enough? Not anarchist enough? Truth to tell, if you asked me I’d probably say I am enough of neither.


2 Responses

  1. Is your anarchist political point of view based on what you believe scripture says and implies? or is it out of your own human political perspective?

    For myself, I disagree strongly with anarchism on scriptural grounds. This is not to say, though, that this point of view cannot be backed up scripturally. It is my personal belief that if someone has a faith of any kind, their worldview on politics should reflect that. In my case, I have no political affiliation – I used to be ardently Republican, but as I’ve examined our culture and seen what inequalities are caused to some extent by this party and the people behind it.

    On the other hand, I do not believe that politics are a reflection on how strong someone is in their faith. I have known people that I have completely disagreed with politically and sometimes even had an aversion to their point of view, who, at the same time, I have looked up to spiritually.

    Anyway, that’s a little of my two cents. I found your blog in a search looking for anarchist Christian points of view. I look forward to reading more of your blog in the future

  2. Is your anarchist political point of view based on what you believe scripture says and implies? or is it out of your own human political perspective?

    Well, it’s not really an either/or, it’s kinda both. I mean… well, I’ve written quite a bit on the subject already. My most recent post is a link to an article I wrote as a kind of introduction to Christianity and anarchism and how it fits into a Christian vision for the church in the world – did you read that? I have an “anarchy” tag on the left sidebar that currently has 18 articles. Did you read any of them? There’s one on the tag called “A Summary of Christian Anarchy” that is a fairly concise overview of Biblical passages that inform my affinity for anarchism.

    Why do you disagree on scriptural grounds? Romans 13? Check out my Romans tag, I discuss it in two different articles (and I’ll probably write a third in the near future to present the interpretation a little more clearly than I’ve done so far). I also have comments on passages I think support a resistance/anarchist perspective.

    In short, go back and read some of my posts. I don’t see the need to rehash here in the comments matters on which I’ve already written. If, having read them, you have more comments, I’d love to talk.

    You say you used to be Republican. Well, maybe there’s hope for you yet! 😉 (I used to be pretty hardcore right wing)

    Part of the problem with the church, I think, is that we have too strongly divorced the “religious” from the “political” while at the same time some segments of the church, both on the left and the right (though certainly more egregiously on the right) have used their religious nature as a way to gain power and control over the course of society, which I think is at best an iffy proposition and at worst a betrayal of the mode of operation of the Kingdom as embodied by Jesus.

    That’s all for now, if you want to talk more I encourage you to go back and read some of my prior posts.

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