Defination of Christian Anarchism
 

Defination of Christian Anarchism

Some Christian communities have believed that there is only one source of authority to which they are ultimately answerable, and that is the authority of God as embodied in Jesus. Historically, some Christians felt therefore that earthly authority such as government, or indeed the established church, does not and should not have power over them.

This is equivalent to mainstream Anarchism, with a basis of spiritual justification. Its adherents quote the teachings of Jesus, some of which were critical of the existing establishment.

The Fall of Rome

There are anarchical traces in much of the history of Christianity. For example, Gibbons felt that Christianity contributed, perhaps passively, to the fall of the Roman Empire:

"As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal that the introduction... of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire." [1]

He goes on to suggest that military expansionism gave way to devotion and piety, and religious conflict replaced military conquest.

A Washington State University paper states that the Roman Emperor codified, and accommodated to the radical teachings of Jesus:

...the foundational Christian texts are not only anti-Roman ... but  consistently dismissive of human, worldly authority. If Christianity were going to work as a religion in a state ruled by a monarch that demanded worship and absolute authority, it would have to be changed. To this end, Constantine convened a group of Christian bishops at Nicea in 325; there, the basic orthodoxy of Christianity was instantiated in what came to be called the Nicene creed [2], the basic statement of belief for orthodox Christianity.[3]

Christianity became the official religion of the Empire in c390. Within a century Rome was overrun, and the barbarians were in charge.

The Church - The Reformation

The Bible says that the Christian Primitive were living an anarchist-like way of life, with "no poor" "total egality"

A further example is found in the Reformation idea that the individual believer could have a direct relationship with God. The earlier notion that salvation had to be earned through a range of good works and practices, interpreted and prescribed by the Church, was left behind. Instead, the concept of grace was seen to produce salvation for genuine believers who accept and follow God's revealed word. A simple interpretation of scripture seriously threatened the centuries of established Church power, wealth and authority.

The Anabaptist Protestant sect was seen as anarchic in 15th Century Germany, at the time of the Reformation. Some of its adherents lived in communal settlements and vowed to overthrow the established Government. This led led to extensive military action at the time.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has lived the "law of mallards" for few years, sharing work and goods in a levelling way, living a sort of life-style anarchism.

Thinkers

Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy is notable for having written extensively on his anarchist principles, which he arrived at via his Christian faith. Notably his books The Gospel in Brief and The Kingdom of God is Within You expounded a philosophy very similar to that of his contemporary Mikhail Bakunin, with critique of the state, industrial capitalism, exploitation of the peasants and proletariat, a strong denouncement of the clergy and the Church in general, and a call for a society based on non-violent principles.

Ammon Hennacy

Ammon Hennacy / Hennessey is notable for writing extensively on his work with the Catholic Workers and at the Joe Hill House of Hospitality. He was a practicing anarchist, draft dodger, and active protester. His autobiography "The Book of Ammon" describes his work in non-violent, anarchist, social action, and provides insight into the lives of Christian anarchists in the United States of the 20th century. His other books are "One Man Revolution in America" and "The Autobiography of a Catholic Anarchist". Ammon Hennacy is also noted for several famous quotations dealing with force, law, and state powers which continue to inspire anarchist action today.

Jacques Ellul

Jacques Ellul was a french thinker, sociologist, theologian and anarchist. He wrote a lot of books against the "technician society", and some books about christianism and politic, like "Anarchy and Christianism" explaining that for him anarchism and christianism are socialy folowing the same goal.[4]

Sources

[1] www.ccel.org/g/gibbon/decline/volume1/chap39.htm
[2] www.mit.edu/~tb/anglican/intro/lr-nicene-creed.html
[3] www.wsu.edu/~dee/ROME/LATE.HTM
[4] Dave Andrews, "Christi-anarchy Lion Publishing", 1999, ISBN 0-7459-4234-2 Subtitled: Discovering a radical spirituality of compassion






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