Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.

Orientation

Orientation: libertarianism and anarchism

Libertarian thought highlights self-government and personal liberty. Within libertarianism the range runs from minarchist (a minimum state is acceptable), to anarchism (similar, but the state is fundamentally illegitimate).

Some libertarians belong to political parties, others do not participate in politics. Large “L” Libertarianism means the actual Libertarian Party. Small “l” libertarianism means libertarianism in general. Not all libertarians are Libertarians. Most are not.

Libertarianism is a political philosophy roughly corresponding with classical (not contemporary) liberalism. It consistently highlights values of personal responsibility, liberty, and limited government at most. It strongly upholds freedom of religion and conscience, and sees as unjust the rapidly escalating national debt piled upon the heads of our children. Libertarianism, if promoting the state at all, seeks only the minimum state; the purpose of the state is limited to offering essential basic services, protecting the rights of each citizen, and defending them from the aggression of foreign states. The best way to describe the core philosophy of the early United States, is libertarianism.

Sub-categories include anarcho-capitalism, defined as an “individualist anarchist political philosophy that advocates the elimination of the state and the elevation of the sovereign individual in a free market” (Wikipedia, Anarcho-capitalism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-capitalism, accessed 2009-02-17 00:15Z). Contrary to popular views, most forms of anarchism do not advocate violence. Rather, they pursue a non-violent approach to advocacy and action. Nor should “anarchist” be read as an advocacy of chaos; theories of a non-statist social order, otherwise called  anarchism, have been developed in detail.  Murray Rothbard (1926 – 1995) offered perhaps the most widely read, systematic discussions of how liberty would work in a stateless society.
 
More libertarians, generally, are Christian in orientation, and more anarchists are atheistic. Furthermore, there is a history of Christian anarchism represented by such writers and groups as Protestant Mennonites, the Catholic Worker Movement, Leo Tolstoy, Vernard Eller, Jacques Ellul, and others.
 

Orientation: Seventh-day Adventism

The story of Seventh-day Adventists begins with an American minority group in the mid 19th century. The then dominant churches held to postmillennialism, and its self-appointed task to make the world a better place and at last to hand it off to Jesus. Postmillennialists viewed the state and its coercive power as an appropriate tool for the reshaping of the world. Adventists rejected postmillennialism, teaching instead that wars and turmoil and injustice would increase but that in the end Jesus would come and receive those whose pattern of life was doing unto others only as you would have them do to you.

Most early Adventists were abolitionists. Another conviction was to refuse to bear arms; most opted out of the Northern war to prevent Southern Secession and out of all wars since, or else served as noncombatants in medic corps as conscientious objectors. Adventists also understood from Revelation chapter 13 that in the end of time, the United States government, pressured by American Protestants, would coerce conscience and ultimately seek to kill dissenters.

Seventh-day Adventists embraced reformationism but also restorationism. Christendom, they felt, had been crusted over with many doctrines and practices that found no support in Scripture. One such practice was community worship on Sunday, where the Bible instead taught observance of the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday). Adventists fought to prevent the passage of Sunday laws.

The most important voice in Adventism came to be that of Mrs. Ellen G. White (1827 – 1915), who authored some 100,000 pages of books and other writings. She was  considered to have received a manifestation of the prophetic gift. Even so, the final authority in all doctrinal matters in the Adventist Church remained the Bible.

Adventists started private schools and medical institutions that emphasized healthy living and preventative medicine. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been advocating a non-meat based diet for more than 150 years. Today, Adventists number more than 15 million members worldwide, operate an extensive system of private schools and hospitals, and continue an apolitical stance and the worldwide pursuit of humanitarian efforts through ADRA, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency.

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