Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Question number 1.

1) Rev, a question that has come up a few times after the blog I posted, and after I put a documentary about you up on Facebook a while back, is what you mean when you say that as a Christian Anarchist you "submit your life to the teachings of Jesus, and not to anything else."  Aren't Christians taught to submit to the leaders of the Church?  Didn't the early church have Bishops, Apostles, Elders, and Councils?  

I am gonna give you the medium length answer on this one.  The short one is probably too short, and the long one is a book or two.

Let me clarify something at the start, if I said I do not submit to anything else then I misspoke.  I do in fact submit myself to others, and I think it is right and correct to do so, and in fact it is impossible to do otherwise.  What I believe is that we should submit ourselves to one another as a community of people.  This is clearly taught in scripture.  "Submit yourselves to one another".  I have found this very helpful in my life, as I realize that I am not always able to see my own weakness.  In addition, if we are all submitted to one another, than one person cannot become above others.  This keeps us all in loving service to each other.

Which works perfectly with the actual concept of anarchy.  Anarchy is not Chaos, nor is it disorder.  Anarchy means, literally, against the powers.  What I take that to mean in a Christian context is that we are to resist the "powers".  The structures that are oppressive and hierarchical.  The social, political and religious structures that keep certain people at the top and others at the bottom.  These structures are to be rejected.  This does not however mean that we cannot have laws, rules, and covenants with each other.  What it does mean is that we do not create a structure that empowers people to have power over others.

Does the church teach submission to the church leaders? Even the doctrines of past leaders? yes it does.  Is that the teachings of Christ or the bible? They say so, I am not so sure.  What we must remember is that what we see as the church now, is much much different than what we saw for the first few hundred years.  In my opinion we see a very significant change in the church with the "conversion" of Constantine, and the legitimizing of Christianity in the early 300's.  It was at that time that church became part of an unholy alliance of church and state.  Where leaders in Christian community became men of power, and riches.  Where the faith was codified and that codification was enforced.  We have adopted a system that has mimicked government ever since.  In this system, you obey in the chain of command, but this was not the early way.

The early church recognized people with giftings.  Some people were good at leading, some at teaching, some at starting up new faith communities and so on.  These individuals were sometimes but not often taken out of a "normal" life to be allowed to focus on these things.  But in the church their opinions were just counted with double honor.  They werent even "elected officials"  The church community was to submit to the church community, not bishops or elders.  But bishops and elders had a few more miles on their tires so their opinions held a bit more weight, which is all fair and good.  The church did not submit to the Bishops and elders, the bishops and elders submitted to the church.  Though like I said their opinion had extra weight, it was the community that was entrusted with power, not people.

We see this played out very well in the first council.  There was a little controversy around circumcision.  Those that were not born in the Hebrew culture were being pressured to be circumcised. Understandably, they said, "um... I like this Jesus dude, and I want to follow in the way, but is cutting off a piece of my junk really necessary?"  Everyone got upset.  So all of the churches sent some representatives to the church as Jerusalem.  Why?  Because they were the most well established and had the most people that actually had walked with Jesus?  Nope, it was because the people causing the problems came from the churches in Jerusalem.  They talked and argued.  Now look at who was on the guest list?  Peter, the rock of the church, James the actual brother of Jesus, Paul the guy who started most of the churches around the world and wrote most of the new testament, as well as a number of other apostles, bishops, ect.  And what is the response?

"we the church at Jerusalem, (recognize that in this time the first mentioned person or group had more weight) and the apostles that are here with us want to clear this up.  Sorry that these people from here made things all messy.  But the church here would give you this advise" Now look at what we have, not hey we need to go to Jerusalem and appeal this all the way up to the supreme head honcho Peter the rock, work through the hierarchy and have an official proclamation that this is the Christian perspective on the matter! If you do not believe and practice this Peter declares you will not be going to heaven and are not "really" a Christian.  No, we all got together and talked, in the end our community would give this advise to your's.

to me this is a different way of life, not hierarchy, but relationship, and empowerment.  Not power over, power alongside.


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