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.