I read an article by Jim Davies wherein he stated that Christianity and anarchism were mutually contradictory and irreconcilable. But I have news: They are exceedingly compatible indeed.
The mistakes made by Davies are numerous. O, where to begin!
Davies first problem is his misunderstanding of the interview between Jesus and Pilate (John chapters 18, 19) a few hours before Jesus’ crucifixion. Pilate is seeking to evoke an answer from Jesus and tersely reminds Him that he has the power of life or death over Jesus at that time. Finally, Jesus speaks up. He tells Pilate that he could have no power over Jesus unless that power had been given to him (Pilate) from above.
Davies says that Jesus was saying that
if he cared to snap his fingers, the entire Roman Empire would instantly implode–that it derived all its powers from him, as a member of the Trinity, as did every other government. A claim to be absolute monarch over all the governments in the world . . . some anarchist!
Jesus, all-powerful God, in coming to earth that He had made, had laid aside many of His powers of Deity. Again and again through Jesus’ earthly ministry Satan had sought to provoke Jesus to recover these powers. He wanted Jesus to use them, and so destroy the example of right living he was offering men. Jesus refused, of course. He insisted on identifying Himself with everyman, and in living as those who had no divine powers must live. He came not as a powerful One but as One who had laid aside those powers and stood in solidarity with the powerless.
The kingdoms of this world stood universally under the power of Satan, whose philosophy is exactly otherwise that of Jesus: The most powerful shall rule. Jesus came to demonstrate that man need not live in power over other men but that powerlessness is true power.
Jesus’ kingdom was not a set of violent and unjust hierarchies from Rome on down. He told Pilate, and Davies must have read this in the same passage, that His was a kingdom not of this world. That is, Jesus’ kingdom was one of anti-power, exactly opposite to the pro-power kingdoms of earth. In Jesus’ kingdom, one reaps what he sows, one does not exercise coercion over his fellow man. Ever. And so, there is virtually no resemblance between Pilate’s Rome and Jesus’ otherworldly kingdom.
But Jesus’ kingdom of anti-power is rightfully located in heaven and on earth. On earth, Satan has sought to usurp God’s kingdom. Satan lives for the moment like a squatter, on ground that he has no ownership over. He is being given opportunity to show his form of government in action. But the anti-power government that is God’s kingdom is coming. In the end, none will choose Satan’s hierarchical, statist, totalitarian, might-makes-right system. All will choose the liberty of God’s system of individual liberty.
Daniel two shows that God’s kingdom in the end overcomes and destroys all the kingdoms of earth, i.e. of “this world.” And so, Rome is not representative of God’s kingdom in the least—nor does church history between Jesus’ time and our present day fairly represent all that God’s kingdom will be. Indeed, in the Bible God foretells the rise of a church power that is the very antithesis of His kingdom. Perhaps Davies is thinking of the antichrist power rather than the Christ-power.
In any case, returning to the interview between Pilate and Christ, Jesus said that it was within His power to fight, but that His business at that time was not to fight Rome. And yes, Davies is right; one who has the power to create whole planets out of nothing could indeed in one moment cause Rome to implode. But this was not Jesus’ purpose. Jesus had all power, but had laid that power aside.
Pilate had no power but that power which had been given him from above himself. And what power was that? Jesus said that it was a sin for Him to have been handed over to Pilate. Furthermore, the power that Pilate represented was about to crucify a man whom Pilate will say he finds innocent. This was Roman justice, that which Rome especially prided itself on. And yet, the best that it can do is to murder an innocent man.
In any case, the power that stood immediately above Pilate/Rome was not God’s power, but Satan’s. Remember, he had claimed to Jesus that the power of all the kingdoms of the world had been delivered to him. And since it was a sin to hand Jesus over to these powers, we must understand that the power that was given Pilate from above, that Jesus referred to, was not the power of His own kingdom, but the power of Satan.
The kingdoms of this world do not derive their powers from God at all. The Bible actually says that they are gathered together AGAINST God. Davies misreading is a fundamental one. Nor is he alone in this misunderstanding.
There is more to say. And we shall, in the next installment. . .