Davies argues that Christians actively support the institution of government and therefore Christian anarchism is not really fairly described as anarchist. It must be admitted that many Christians do support the state, and that, often somewhat blindly. But is this really a surprise? The vast majority of non-Christians also support the state. The Christian, at least, has a basis for opposing the state from the context of his belief system.
The Christian understands that men have a distorted, dangerous nature because of the Fall of the race in the garden of Eden. Just as this nature makes it impossible to rule men, so it also makes it impossible for him safely to rule. Secular views have no comparable problem native to the race.
What’s more, Christianity is a canon-based religion, with a set of holy writings. These writings overwhelmingly present what is in essence the endorsement of an anarchic pattern, from beginning to end. The few texts which historically have been presented as teaching the support of the state have to be interpreted in a manner that throws them sharply out of harmony with the broader testimony of the Bible in order to make such a case. The larger thrust of scripture is decidedly weighted in the support of the anarchic approach.
What’s more, this same book prophesies and condemns an illicit union of church and state (Revelation chs. 13, 17, 18 cf. Daniel chs. 1-6).
(For a review of the question concerning Romans chs. 12 and 13, see our part 3 of this series.)
But we ought to remember also that historically, there have been many examples from within Christianity of those who resisted the state. Anabaptists, Mennonites, and others have long been in direct opposition to the state. Many of these who were killed for their faith, historically, were killed, not by religious authorities, but by state authorities because they refused to take up the sword to fight for the state. Just about any 16 pages from the book Martyr’s Mirror will make this clear. These Christians, and many other groups, see the blending of Christianity with Constantine in the forth century in the most negative light.
When it comes to individual Christians, there are the unambiguously anarchist theologians like Jacques Ellul and Vernard Eller, and in recent time, Greg Boyd.
Leading anarchist theorists coming from the economic angle of anarcho-capitalism, including Lew Rockwell Thomas Woods, and others, are Christian. Other less well known names are found too. In even more recent time, there is a steadily growing contemporary interest in Christian anarchism.
It is simply wrong to see Christianity as a united force massed on the side of the state. It is embarrassing how many have supported the state, but it is heartening that many do not.
Next: part 8: Our concluding summary of our response to Jim Davies, Christianity and Anarchism: Oxymoron? and a look to the future.