Christian Anarchism: You’re Doing it Wrong

This article discusses why the moral argument for Christian Anarchism, which is the classic argument for it, fails, and gives a better argument in support of Christian Anarchism.

Please, someone fix Wikipedia. All these years and it’s still not user-friendly. The Wikipedia article on Christian Anarchism begins with the following:

Christian anarchism is a movement in political theology and political philosophy which synthesizes Christianity and anarchism.[1] It is grounded in the belief that there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable, the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus, and thus rejects the idea that human governments have ultimate authority over human societies. Christian anarchists denounce the state as they claim it is violent, deceitful and, when glorified, idolatrous.[2][3]

More than any other Bible source, the Sermon on the Mount is used as the basis for Christian anarchism.[4] Most Christian anarchists are pacifists and reject the use of violence, such as war.[2]Leo Tolstoy‘s The Kingdom of God Is Within You is often regarded as a key text for modern Christian anarchism.[2][5]

The most important point I want to make here is that the moral and theological arguments for Christian Anarchism fail. The Bible clearly and repeatedly emphasizes that “all governing authorities” derive their power from God. Romans 13 is the classic proof text, but it is the continued emphasis of the whole Bible in my view. The Bible supports the divine right of rulers in many strong ways.

On a related note, “all governing authorities” does not merely refer to formal States. It includes parents, teachers, and potentially others. None of these are “the government,” but they are all “governments” and all part of “government.” In the strict sense, the only “the government” is God and his will, but he has clearly lent some of that power to a variety of parties for a time, much in the same way that all things are ultimately God’s, but he has lent their use and care to certain people for a time – that’s to do with Christian property theory and not what I am here to discuss.

The real argument for Christian Anarchism is less direct: The Bible teaches both consequentialist and deontilogical or categorical morality. Not on an alternating or conflicting basis, but rather as if to say that the consequential ideal will form according to certain rules, and here are the rules. It just so happens that a perfect consequential ideal will also form according to the tenets of anarcho-capitalism.

The Christian Anarcho-Capitalist sees him or herself as “cutting out the fat” of the medium-run in economics. They are jumping straight toward what they believe will be the long-run optimum for all men, which is the same as the Biblical deontology. In short, the Christian Anarcho-Capitalist sees a fine-tuning of economic law with God’s hand on it, leading to a long-run equilibrium as foretold in the Bible, for efficiency reasons at least, and perhaps other reasons as well.

It is for those same efficiency reasons that government is rejected. The Christian Anarchist, however, is not like an agorist or some subversive actor. He or she seeks gradual minimization of the State, through peaceful and legal means, until there is not State.

The Christian Anarcho-Capitalist is, in my opinion, the only strictly justified sort of Christian Anarchist. Other anarchists may be justified from time to time if they are under an extremely immoral regime, but these kinds of anarchists are not real anarchists. Being opposed to a particular kind of government (a bad one) is not the same as being opposed to all government in principle, which is the view of a real anarchist.

Other points on the Wikipedia introduction:

  • Christian Anarchism is not a movement “in political theology…” It is a full-blown social movement, impacting every realm of thought involving people.
  • The personal relationship with God theology is valid, but not on account of the fact that we are answerable to no one but God. God himself grants authority in varying degrees to many people. Personal relationship theology is valid because if it wasn’t there would be no free will choice, and also because every belief is ultimately personal. Someone else cannot believe for you. Even if someone else interprets scripture for you, and you adopt their interpretation as your belief, it is still your belief.
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