Christian Anarchism

Many anarchists have a deep-seeded hatred for religion, and Christianity in particular. This is understandable due to the corruption of religious authority, the church’s connections with and coercion of the state, and and countless acts of seemingly senseless violence in the name of God throughout history. Some of this rejection comes directly from a distaste for authority, and a philosophical issue with being a subject of anything -even the creator of existence, him/herself, but many anarchists such as Leo Tolstoy have found inspiration from the Bible.

Anarchism is often associated with rebelion, and this is also understandable, even after taking a look at the history of anarchist theory. From Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to Murray Rothbard, “anarchism” has been one in the making, but it’s always found itself in the midst of socio-political revolution -almost always radical and often violent. But, there are many pacifist anarchists, and anarchism itself is not a philosophy of violence. It’s quite the opposite, stemming from quasi-socialist values of equality and humanitarianism. Anarchism is a rejection of authority, and a loose system of inter-co-operative self-government.

Anarchist communities would range from small groupings of indivdual-minded people who help protect basic values of personal choice and rights to communities that shared property and worked more closely together to protect values of equal access to resources. The basic common themes of anarchist theories are that the authority of rulers gives them power over people that one should not have, and also that we have a certain responsibility to each, though that level of responsibility ranges from total to not very much at all. Still, these theories all say we have personal accountability to our surrounding community to, if nothing else, be accountable for ourselves.

Let’s look at a section of the Bible. A woman has approached Jesus, asking him to let her sons join him. After refusing, Jesus tells his disciples about the authority he has given them in assiting him in his mission to free the Hebrew people from the corruption of the jewish church and battle the coercive oppression of the Roman Empire.

Mathew 20:25 (NLT)
(25)But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. (26)But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,(27)and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. (28)For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

It might be a bit confusing, but that’s basically what I was just saying about authority. As an anarchist, there is no leading/governing others with any authority, so if you want to step-up,  prepare to get your hands dirty because there is no glory of authority with anarchists. This was obviously an important thing to note because this account is mentioned in the books of Mathew, Mark and Luke.

There is other, more direct mention of socio-political values mentioned earlier in the Bible. In the old testament, the book of Judges (21:25) describes Israel as “…place with no king, and everyone did as they saw fit,” and that seemed to be the way God likes things. That idea is supported later on in the book of Samuel.

Samuel is a judge of the Israelites but is not quite a ruler. They may have had no king, but they still had their tribe’s law, Moses’ Law, which the judges were to interpret and judge by. Samuel appoints his sons as judges for Israel, but his sons corrupt the law and the Israelites ask for a King so that they can be like other nations. What God tells Samuel next quite clearly explains God’s stance on rulers:


Samuel 1 8:10-18 (NLT)
(10)So Samuel passed on the LORD’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. (11)“This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. (12)Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. (13)The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. (14)He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. (15)He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. (16)He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. (17)He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. (18)When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the LORD will not help you.

Sounds like something I might say, but I might retain a bit of optimism -Samuel tells the Israelites that God will not come to rescue them from the king they wish to appoint as ruler over their nation and people. This is the beginning of the fall of Israel. Whether or not the Bible has anything to do with the actual word of God, it is presenting a lesson on the nature of authority. This lesson is yet again shown at the end, int he infamous “Book of Revelations”

The book of Revelations is presented as a dream, a sort of premonition or vision of the future that God presents to a man named John. This premonition tells of the coming of Jesus, and also explains other events around that time. The big event is the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, which it is a common understanding that the Beast mentioned in the book of revelations was the Roman Empire -or government, in general -and the “whore of the earth” is temptation and man’s sinful desire to control things. The Bible is merely telling us to leave each other alone, or it’ll bite us in the ass. If we can learn to do that, then we will live the “Kingdom of God”.

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