Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Question number 2 in my interview with Larry

2) Another question people have asked, and that maybe ties in, is the idea that Anarchy means chaos, lawlessness, and rebellion against the established order.  A few people have asked me how that can be compatible with the kind of communities you've been a part of, which seem to be about loving and serving those who have been marginalized by society.  

There is a difference between a Christian anarchy and a non Christian one, though not always, and I will get into that.  But before we do we must look at what anarchy is and isn't.  Anarchy, as a word, means against the powers.  It does not mean chaos, lawlessness or no order.  Anarchy means simply a stand against systems and structures of power. 

There are many different ways in which this belief is manifested.  There are some that believe we need to go back to more tribal, live off the land nomadic lifestyles.  There are some that believe we should have a communistic, or socialistic economy, with an anarchic structure of governance.  Some would say that true democracy (as opposed to representation democracy) is anarchy.  But the idea is that the power resides either in the individual, or in the community, not in certain individuals whether elected or chosen in some other manner.

Then we get to the manner in which this should come to pass.  There are in an oversimplified view three ways:
Overthrow the established order
Work within the established order for change
Ignore the established order and become "off the grid" as much as possible

Which brings me to my beliefs about a Christ centered, and biblical anarchy.  I believe that Christian anarchy focuses on a few ideas that address the above comments in a unique way.  This does not mean all forms of non Christian anarchy cannot address them in similar ways however, nor that we have a different practice.  

As I have followed Jesus, and studied the scriptures I find that we are called to live in a covenanted community.  One that is covenanted to the ideals of Jesus, and the belief that love, and the holy spirit can guide us towards correct living.

That we are to live in a tension that says we are not here to overthrow the powers that be, but to basically live an alternative to them.  To stand against the injustice and pain caused by them.  And to offer a refuge from them to those trampled under its machine.

As a covenanted community we are told that withing the community dwells the power to "bind and loose".  Which in ancient times was the application of laws, punishment, retribution and forgiveness.  This means that the power does not reside in a hierarchy, in "the professionals" or the "leaders".  But that small groups, of people covenanted to look out for one another, to follow Jesus, and to stand against the powers, can through discussion, and action/reflection, support one another in "figuring it out".  That we provide a mechanism for working out issues between members, and living a life of forgiveness and mercy, rather than punitive justice.  This is not disorderly, nor is it always efficient, but it is good.  This recognizes that some might actually be gifted leaders, but these leaders are situational, not positional. And that these leaders would be just as submitted to the covenant as the others.

So a Christian anarchy would say that any system or structure, (including the religious or church structures), that holds power over others, is to be rejected and stood against.  That we live an alternative based upon the teachings of the non violent, and liberating Jesus.  That we practice anti hierarchical living, which prioritizes those that are on the bottom of the powers hierarchy.  That we see the spiritual force behind those powers that seem invisible, like greed, and consumerism, and retribution, and amidst those powers we stand firm in opposition.

Please feel free to ask any questions, or help me to clarify what I have said so that it can be more widely understood.


1 comment:

David Tacheny said...

Great read!