Christians, Get Out of Politics?

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Biblical Anarchism

by Stephen W. Carson

"The desire to rule is the mother of heresies." ~ St. John Chrysostom

"My kingdom is not of this world." ~ Y'shua

How can someone who holds the Bible to be true and sacred be an anarchist? What about the respect for authority and the emphasis on obedience throughout the scriptures, (both the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures, as well as the B'rit Hadashah, the Greek or “Christian” scriptures)? Doesn't G-d ordain our government leaders? Didn't G-d directly select the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David? Doesn't the sinfulness of man require a government to restrain our evil? And, for followers of Y'shua (Jesus), what about the words of Paul commanding obedience to secular rulers?

By clarifying what precisely we mean (and don't mean!) by anarchy as a political system and what the Scriptures teach I hope to answer these objections and explain how I both hold the Bible to be the revealed Word of G-d and also desire society without the State.

Though the teachings of the Bible can be followed and applied under any system of government, the Scriptures do give us some fairly strong clues of what forms of government are ideal. First and foremost, there is the Torah. The Torah, which is the first five books of the Tanakh, includes lengthy passages describing a system of law for the newly freed nation of Israel. This "Mosaic Law" is directly dictated by G-d to Moses and it is the clear testimony of Scripture that this Law is good and trustworthy.

Besides passages having to do with the sacramental life of the new nation, the civil law portion is very compatible with libertarian notions of law. The civil law consists primarily of prohibitions like: "You are not to murder. You are not to adulter. You are not to steal. You are not to testify against your fellow as a false witness." (Exodus 20:13)

Most of these prohibitions and their prescribed punishments deal with violations of person and property, just as libertarians emphasize the law should. Also, there is no notion of prison in this Law, the system of justice is largely based on making restitution to those who were harmed.

But most telling is what the Mosaic Law leaves out. There is no establishment of what we would now call an executive or a legislative body. There is no establishment of taxes (the religious rules require a tithe to support the priests but there is no punishment specified for failing to tithe). Civil order is kept by adherence to this legal code, private justice in the case of infractions of the code and private courts in the case of disagreements. In modern political terminology, this political system is called "anarchy." Anarchy literally means "without rulers." Modern libertarian anarchists (i.e. anarcho-capitalists), envision a system very much like this Mosaic system with no tax-funded political authority but with a system of private justice for mediating disputes and assigning restitution.

But it gets even more clear! Eventually, after a period under this Mosaic "anarchy," the Israelites ask the prophet Samuel for a king. Given our contemporary faith in the State, you would think that G-d, through his prophet, would praise the Israelites for realizing they needed a ruler, a strong leader to unite them and provide them direction.

Reading what G-d actually says through Samuel is a sobering reminder of how deeply heretical our modern faith in the State is:

And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."

Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plough his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day." (I Samuel 8:7-18)

Here, the Bible makes it absolutely clear that the change from the Mosaic anarchy to what by today's standards would be a "limited government" will have terrible consequences and shows a tremendous lack of faith in G-d. This passage makes clear that the people of Israel committed a grievous sin when they rejected G-d's anarchy for a State.

The continuing record of Israel under kings shows that Samuel's warning was all too accurate, if anything understated. Most of the kings are terrible for the people of Israel, getting them into wars, leading them into sin and stealing whatever catches their eye, (even the best king, King David, steals a man's wife and then kills the man).

With all this in mind, let's address the questions we began with: "How can someone who holds the Bible to be true and sacred be an anarchist?" Given the Torah, the Prophets and the records of Israel's kings, I think we should rather ask: 'How can someone who holds the Bible to be true and sacred NOT be an anarchist?"

"What about the respect for authority and the emphasis on obedience throughout the scriptures?" The emphasis on obedience in the scriptures is, first and foremost, an emphasis on obedience to G-d. When G-d is your king, as Samuel implies, you should desire no other. Nevertheless, even when the government is not ideal, the scriptures charge G-d's people to be respectful of established authorities. It is faith in G-d that will bring us liberty, not constant rebellions.

"Doesn't G-d ordain our government leaders? Didn't G-d directly select the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David?" After warning the people of Israel, to no avail, that they should not reject His rule for that of a human ruler, G-d selects that ruler through His prophet. The Bible often records how G-d meets people where they are. If we do not have enough faith to live with G-d as our only king, then He will try to work with us through the system we choose. Suffice it to say that when G-d ordains rulers, that does not constitute a ringing endorsement of the State as the best system of government.

"Doesn't the sinfulness of man require a government to restrain our evil?" The sinfulness of man means that putting the awesome power of the State into the hands of sinful men is asking for trouble ("Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely"). G-d made it clear how the sinfulness of men should be constrained in society: the Law. Libertarian anarchists agree.

"For followers of Y'shua (Jesus), what about the words of Paul commanding obedience to secular rulers?" The passage is from Romans: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which G-d has established. The authorities that exist have been established by G-d... if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is G-d's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." (Romans 13:1,4)

In this brief article, I cannot fully address the teaching of Paul and the rest of the Greek scriptures on authority and the calling of followers of Y'shua. A few thoughts, though, to suggest how this instruction is in harmony with the anarchistic Torah. Paul was not spreading a gospel of political revolution. The message of Y'shua is spiritual. The follower of Y'shua believes that healing in our broken relationship with G-d is the foundation for healing in the other areas of our lives, like our system of government.

The method of the Christian is persuasion and good conduct, not violence. In an interesting parallel, Paul instructs Christian slaves to obey their masters and even returns a converted slave to his Christian master (Philemon). But note carefully what he says: "Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so." (I Corinthians 7:20-21)

Is this instruction incompatible with the abolition of slavery? Surely not. Likewise, Paul's instruction to individual believers to submit to existing authorities does not preclude a people's return to G-d being our only king under a just Law.

One final objection. Isn't anarchy a utopian political system? In the literal sense of utopia, "no place,"anarchy is not utopian. The Tanakh records just such a society. Anarchist researchers have found other historical examples. Several hundred years ago, the notion that the slave trade could be ended and then chattel slavery itself abolished certainly seemed utopian. But British evangelical Christians began to make the moral case against it and within a century or two slavery was abolished throughout the wider European world.

Do we have less faith than those British evangelicals? Is the State, which has slaughtered over 100 million civilians in the 20th century alone, a lesser evil than chattel slavery? Shall we wait until a couple hundred million more are slaughtered before humbling ourselves before G-d and asking Him to be our only king once again?

With faith in G-d and a Biblically based submission to His good and eternal Law, let us work towards a time when the State will be seen for the unnecessary evil it is and the cry will go up in the land a second time: Abolition! Abolition! Abolition!


Will need to think this over.


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Other way around.. Politics should come out of Christians

(Southern Preacher voice on)



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The Lord rules in the governing of nations. To deny God is to deny His sovereign right to rule nations, and so should His people. The Nazi's removed God's people from politics,governing. I hear the results were nasty.

Mr. 5020

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The Lord rules in the governing of nations. To deny God is to deny His sovereign right to rule nations, and so should His people. The Nazi's removed God's people from politics,governing. I hear the results were nasty.
How'd you even find this thread?? :chuckle:


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The Lord made it clear the consequences of His chosen people rejecting Him for a king/tyrant.
I do not believe the world will be what is should be and was intended to be until the Lord reigns in this world again (His rightful place).

The Lord made it clear He governs the nations and can directly intervene as scripture has shown. The Bible also shows what happens to societies that reject God and the cataclysmic destruction that can follow.

Daniel 4:31-35
31While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
32And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

33The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.

34And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:

35And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Psalm 67:4
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.

Psalm 22:28
For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations.

Job 12:23
He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again.
You cannot be a follower of Christ without being an anarchist.
Or put another way, you cannot be a follower of Christ if you ARE an archist.

Mark 10:
But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. {43} Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. {44} And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. {45} "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

The word translated "rulers" comes from the Greek word from which we derive our English word "anarchist."

"Anarchist" means "not an archist."

Jesus clearly says His followers are not to be "archists." They are to be "servants."

"Lords," "rulers" and "great ones" are "archists."

So what is an "archist?" What exactly is the "archist" that the "an-archist" is not?

An "archist" is someone
who believes he has a right to
impose his will on others by force
or threats of violence.
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