The Beloved Anarchist
When I first heard of Christian Anarchism I thought it was an oxymoron. Can you be a Christian and an anarchist? The problem with this combination of ideas is that most people do not understand what “anarchism” is all about. Certainly there are anarchists who want chaos and may wish to do evil but the same is true of some so called Christians.
According to Wikipedia, “Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society.”
To suggest that the Greek word for anarchy (anarchía) literally means “lack of a leader” is misleading. The word leader is defined as a “person or thing that leads” “a guiding or directing head.” A leader does not necessarily have the power to order people to do anything. They merely take the lead, step out first and everyone else must choose to follow or not. We may and should distinguish between a leader as a guide and rulers as a directing head.
The Greek word archon in the Bible is commonly translated ruler with a completely different Greek word translated leader and guide.1 A leader may only be a guide - who is typically passionate for their cause and has experience - with whom one identifies and follows through voluntary participation or association. So an anarchy is not absent leaders but absent of rulers.
A ruler is clearly one who forcibly commands others and/or is at or near the top of a bureaucracy or hierarchical system that controls society with an exercising authority. The Bible translates the Greek word hodegos (odhgov)2 leader, or guide. The Greek word archon is translated ruler 22 times, prince 11, chief twice and magistrate and chief ruler once each. It means “a ruler, commander, chief.” The ancient Greek anarchia (αναρχία) does not mean the "absence of a leader" but the absence of “a ruler, commander, chief.” In an anarchy there may be many leaders but no “rulers, commanders, and chiefs.”
Is that not the kind of government described by Jesus to his faithful disciples at their appointment to His government?3 Was Christ actually setting His people free in spirit and in truth? Is there a state in an anarchy?
To suggest that a “stateless society” means there is no government, would not do the history of man justice. To promote a stateless society might simply mean there is no desire for a centralized corporate state ruling over the people by coercive means.
Nor does a stateless society mean there are no leaders among the people. It may mean the nature or status of those leaders differs from a ruler or lawmaker. If the leaders are titular4 as they are in a pure republic then those that perform the duties of government have no actual power to exercise authority over the people. In truth they are to only serve, not rule over the people.
All government or state power or power of the state originates in the people. The rights of man are endowed by God but man may choose to endow governments with a portion of those rights or powers of choice. That has never been God's plan.
What is commonly called the State is the result of the acts of people vesting power in another. That election of a man who could rule over the people even by the voice of the people5 was called from the beginning a rejection of God6 and carried with it a long list of consequences7 prophesied by God through Samuel. God allows the people to make foolish choices and tells them that he will not hear their prayers if they do.8
In a true government of the people, for and by the people - natural rights remain with the people. Where the people remain in a “natural state”, as God intended, before the creation of a “social contract”(whether implied or actual, defacto or dejure), the power of government remained with the individual. In this natural “state of society” the power of choice (liberty or right to choose), called the potestas,9 remained with every man within the family.10
The Romans called this form of government libera res publica, which means free from things public. It is this phrase which is the origin of the Latin word republica. But over time the word developed two senses and uses. A Republic in one sense is “that form of government in which the administration of affairs is open to all the citizens. In another sense, it signifies the state, independently of its government.”11
In the latter sense we can envision a republic as a system where the people retain their rights, hold the power of the state and the ministers are titular servants of the people. In such systems taxes remain voluntary and it is every man’s responsibility to protect his neighbor as he would desire to be protected by his neighbor. What would hold such a society together as a nation? Are there examples of such a government anywhere in man's history?
There is a rich history of such governments and nations operating as diversified networks of voluntary systems of faith, hope, and charity. In fact, “our modern reliance on government to make law and establish order is not the historical norm.”12 Modern history books have not only removed this rich record of independent and successful government but have expunged the concept from our thinking until we cannot even imagine the possibility of such a government.
Israel for almost 400 years operating with no central authority in their government, with little more than freewill offerings for support and an all voluntary army thrived as a nation. We also have the early Christians surviving and even thriving during the decline and fall of the Roman Empire under off and on persecutions. Christians said there was another king and because of their faith in Christ excluded themselves from the welfare13 of the Roman socialist state14 and provided for themselves through one of those networks of faith, hope and charity.
Christ taught the gospel of love, like Moses and Abraham15 and His ministers warned us not to covet our neighbor's goods16 or make agreements with unbelievers17. When society has no legal bounds between the parties within the community to coerce them to do righteousness in order to maintain the liberty one must exercise their responsibility to God and neighbor to retain their rights. Without legal bonds limiting the rights of the people in free society the emphases is upon relationship rather than any social contract itself.
Those relationships require diligence in voluntarism, forgiveness and giving. The slothful should be under tribute.18 A government where taxes are voluntary would require a peculiar kind of people. Their citizenship would have to be written upon their hearts and their minds. They would have to exercise their divine responsibilities to maintain their individual right as kings of their own house by aiding their fellow citizen in doing the same. It would require a citizenry that did not steal, injure or even covet his neighbor's goods or family. It would require that every natural citizen to come at a minute's notice to the aid of his neighbor to protect their God given rights.
This would mean they would have to love the righteousness of God and their neighbor as much as themselves. This of course was required when Christ appointed a kingdom, His government, to his faithful disciples . His prime directive to the people19 included the decree for those who would lead that they were not to exercise authority one over the other. Yet, His government ministers of His appointed kingdom were not to be rulers (archo). They were expected to be the benefactor to the people20 by the free will contributions of the people, for the people, in pure religion.21 The Corban of the Christians was not like that of the Pharisees - nor that of the modern State.22
If an anarchy is a way of governing ourselves without the coercive rulers of the corporate state then Christ preached anarchy for the righteous. But the voice of the evil23 people who fear liberty24 are slothful, rejecting God, elect rulers who do exercise authority. They and are snared in a net of their own making.25
No people, no nation, can be free nor should be free, as long as they covet their neighbor's goods through the socialist state, through rulers and lawmakers who exercise authority one over the other. If they have entered into such covetous schemes their only hope is to repent and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. They must form a body of free assemblies bound by faith, hope and charity alone which is righteousness.26 This is what the early Church did and the modern Church has failed to do.
The Beloved Anarchist 2012-04-21
Straight talk on BlogTalk 2012-04-21
Half hour on the Beloved Anarchist
Audio broadcasts on Anarchism 2012-04-07
Christ and Anarchism
Saturday mourning Keys of the Kingdom Interview with Kevin Craig, April 7, 2012
Half hour Blogtalk Anarchism
More on Anarchism on the Sabbath Hour