"It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men." ~ H.L. Mencken
Christianity and Anarchism - A Match Made in Heaven
The recent column of Jim Davies makes the contention being a Christian is not consistent with a life of individual freedom. He concludes that the idea of 'Christian' and 'Anarchist,' together, is a contradiction in terms. I will attempt, through my own personal testimony and understanding, but claiming no authoritarian, expert knowledge of theology, that his conclusion is inaccurate.
Anarchy is merely a social order without law and order enforced my MAN--that all governments of MEN is undesirable. The Bible refers to this governance as "rules taught by men" (Matthew 15:9). Christian anarchism is justified spiritually and supported by the teachings of Jesus, who was critical of both the existing secular establishment and the Church.
A Christian (a true believer, not one of the millions of pseudo-Christians overflowing American churches) believes not so much to be governed by his Creator but accountable to him. He has free will to do as he pleases during his life but is held accountable upon physical death. If the believer is successful at living this kind of life, and it turns out there is no God and accountability to Christ, the worst thing that happens is that the believer has led a moral, decent life.
Many refer to Christians, collectively, as "The Church." I prefer to refer to them as "The Body."
The Church is a hierarchal order created by man which is used to tell believers what is right and wrong (speaking and interpreting for God)--quite similar to what the state does. The Church's disturbing coziness with the state, described by both Christian and atheist writers, is accurate. The Church has created its own state-like structure to manage and control members. It seems that man must have a bureaucracy created around every activity he's involved in and the Christian "Church" is no different.
The Body, however, I define as individual believers who have accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God and, therefore, take his words quite seriously. They, therefore, feel compelled to follow his teachings and moral guidance, which also turn out to be quite rational. Most moral, rational atheists will agree with Christ's teachings as relates to how to live peacefully among others. If these believers are like me, they see no purpose belonging to a church denomination or participating in organized worship activities. Christianity is not a religion but a personal relationship with the Creator. A religion is a tool used by man in an attempt to reach God. Christianity is a relationship with the Son of God who lived an earthly life among his creation. I could never understand how someone could have that personal relationship when their individuality is lost among a large group. "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen" (Matthew 6:6). These individuals walk their own path while inspired by Christ's teachings. Anyone with the smallest reading comprehension abilities can understand Christ's words in the New Testament. They don't need a bellicose preacher telling them what it means.
I agree with those who claim the American Christian church is corrupt and beyond help, due to its unwavering allegiance with the murderous American state. I certainly reject their call to "kill for Jeee-zus!" This attitude is not worthy of Christ's moral doctrine, nor justified by reason.
Being accountable to Christ and being governed by church or state doctrine are two different things. One is a spiritual responsibility as a child of God, the latter is obedience to the rules of men. If I am guilty of the former, I hurt no one. If I settle for the latter, my potential for bloody mischief is unlimited.
There is NO intellectual contradiction. Serving the whims of man is not the same as serving a loving God. Only the spiritually dead fail to see the difference. Obeying the dictates of man is backed up by force, while spiritual guidance is accepted and practiced only through free will. Do not confuse guidance with governance. God, through Christ, will forgive transgressions. Government is interested only in retribution and payback.
All transgressions are forgiven upon repentance. Repentance is a personal, spiritual dialog with God. The very act of that repentance works to help the individual prevent further transgressions in the future. It is a mental and spiritual exercise to get back on the right path--a path the individual has "freely" chosen, not coerced into taking. Only government ( a man-made institution) can coerce. Repentance is not defending yourself in a court room of perverted men, minds poisoned by state or church doctrine, against whatever foolish law they have created. Christianity is as much a tool for individual discipline and self-governance as it is a faith. The immediate value of repentance is escaping the control of sin and replacing it with the "control of righteousness" (Romans 6:20). I don't see personal accountability as any kind of threat to self-rule.
For the Christian anarchist, the goal is a life regulated by the will of God. Of course, many object and counter that insisting on the primacy of God is just as, or more obtrusive than, any worldly rule. But, according to Christian author Dr. Vernard Eller, 'Christians say No--and that on two counts. First, particularly as God has been revealed in Jesus Christ, the style of his arky [principality] is not that of imposition but of the opposite, namely, that of the cross, the self-givingness of agape-love. And second, God's arky, his will for us, is never anything extraneous to ourselves but precisely most germane to our true destiny and being.'
If it turns out that that repentance has fallen on deaf ears because there is no God, what is the harm? The individual has lived a moral, fulfilling life and left the world a better place. He is merely worm meat with a positive legacy. He has not lived any less free because only man can "rule." Nor has he interfered in other's quest for individual fulfillment, whether it be through spirituality or soulless atheism. A sharp cynic might agree to becoming a believer simply to obtain a form of 'eternity insurance' rather than the precautionary purchase of an 'asbestos suit.' He's covered if there is an afterlife and lost nothing if it turns out to be non-existent.
Even in anarchy there is accountability. Atheists and other non-Christians are responsible for how they treat others in a societal context. They aren't morally accountable to the state or to Christ but to the individuals with whom they have interacted. This accountability occurs during their earthly life. Christians believe in this as well as accountability at death. There are no "conditions" beyond simple repentance.
Yes, Christianity is built, in part, on faith. I take seriously the words of Christ, given the historical evidence of his life and resurrection. Atheism is also a faith--a faith that one's mind, intellect and senses can understand everything, explain everything, and that there is nothing outside its realm of understanding. A spiritual world cannot be seen, heard, touched, nor rationally proposed. Therefore, it cannot exist. If a phenomenon is not immediately explainable, atheists have FAITH that time will provide the answer.
It is dangerous to merely trust your intellect. What is intellect but the collective result of a definitive, finite group of neural synapses firing in the brain--a combination of electrical charge and chemical reaction. Should we completely trust the product of a chemical reaction in determining our walk through eternity? Should we rely, alone, on a physiological system deemed, by atheists, as a 'cosmic accident'? Yes, firing nerve synapses also project knowledge of the spiritual in our minds, but it is input from the infinite, uncontaminated by worldly knowledge.
Let us not ignore the value of the soul to give us a more complete and accurate vision of universal truth. With a Christian ethic firmly implanted--meditation, reflection and prayer can reveal new revelations about life--revelations that can free one from the bonds of man-made falsehoods, shackling mind and body, and slickly packaged Church dogma enslaving souls. Christianity strengthens the will to live free.
Few would argue that keeping the mind sharp, aware and alert to threats to one's liberty is necessary for one to remain free. Keeping the soul alive with a healthy spiritual life is just as important as keeping the mind alive through continual exercise of the intellect. Combined, they provide a worthy, steely defense against a state and Church bent on emptying minds and destroying souls.
A free living individual is a triumvirate of mind, body, and soul. All three must remain active, healthy, and growing for all to remain free. The mind needs to be healthy to gather, accumulate and accurately process information. The body must remain strong to complete the physical labor necessary to seek truth and create. The spirit is a regulating mechanism to keep the mind in line and prevent it from straying from a moral foundation already accepted as absolute truth--similar to the way the U.S. Constitution was founded to prevent the newly founded federal government from overstepping its rule over the individual. That constitution, a valiant but failed effort by man, is merely dried ink on parchment. A strong spirit, however, is resolute, unyielding, and eternal.
Fallen men are quick to jump at any opportunity to achieve power over other men. The state and its mirror likeness, The Church, are the two most favorable. Free men will remain free only when they maintain a clear conscience reinforced by a strong spiritual life. Guilt housed in an unrepentant individual is one of many weaknesses exploited by would-be tyrants.
A man's body can be imprisoned, tortured, disfigured, his mind abused and corrupted. But his soul, 'the immaterial of essence of an individual life,' is untouchable. This is a liberating realization.