Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.

Suggested reading list

Note: The following are some books and resources particularly helpful in gaining a sense of the basis for the positions that interest the Christian anarchist / anarcho-capitalist viewpoints espoused on this site. Please note that the positions taken on various topics by the different authors are not all embraced by us or even by each and every writer. In many cases, the writers listed disagree with each other. Nevertheless, the resources here noted can be a special help in exploring these ideas for yourself. Many of these are to be had from online used book dealers such as Alibris or Amazon.

Concerning Christian anarchism and libertarianism

Eller, Vernard, Christian Anarchy (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1987, 268 pp.).

Vernard Eller was a professor at La Verne University in California and a noted writer in his Church of the Brethren, a Mennonitish group. Eller has some very good thinking here, contrasting God’s power with human powers, mere arkys. He argues that these powers are of little moment and that Christians must beware of what they so easily manage to do—to fall into a default position of joining an apparently “righteous” human arky in combat versus an apparently “unrighteous” human arky. Eller cautions us to avoid these either/or scenarios and doubts that any merely human arky is substantial or to be seen as a chosen agency for making the world a better place—which can only happen by THE ARKY—God. Eller walks us through the question of arkys, which is the best feature of his book. Very helpful! In other parts of his book, he outlines the anarchist/anarchistic views of Karl Barth and Deitrich Bonhoeffer. Eller’s style is dated but readable. This is a primary book.

Ellul, Jacques. Anarchy and Christianity (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988, 110 pp.).

This short volume is Ellul’s attempt to set forth how there is in the Bible a general current which points toward anarchy. Ellul points out that only anarchy denounces not only abuses of power but power itself. He is realistic and principled: “The true anarchist thinks that an anarchist society—with no state, no organization, no hierarchy, and no authorities—is possible, livable, and practicable. But I do not. In other words, I believe that the anarchist fight, the struggle for an anarchist society, is essential, but I also think that the realizing of such a society is impossible” (p. 19). He elaborates by pointing out that because people everywhere are covetous and exercise the desire for power, such an ideal cannot be realized. However, when the end of the age is brought to pass by divinity, a new order without those traits will be wrought. He further states, that, “the more the power of the state and bureaucracy grows, the more the affirmation of anarchy is necessary as the sole and last defense of the individual, that is, of humanity” (p. 23).

Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. Democracy—The God That Failed (Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2001, 304 pp.).

Hoppe demonstrates that lthought he transition from monarchies to Republican Democracies has been interpreted as progress, this is actually a serious illusion, and that in fact, privately owned government (monarchies) promote future-orientedness (acting in the present in light of the long term), and concern for capital values and economic calculation (since the king “owns” the nation, his wealth and that of his hereditary progeny is a direct concern of his and requires careful management in order that it be increased). In contrast, democratic (publically owned government) leads to present orientedness (consume wealth, resources, environment now), and a neglect of concern in capital values. Consequently, rather than progress, democratic government causes a radical process of decivilization. Additionally, the democratic state is prone to war and empire. The state in any form executes violations of property rights and therefore causes civilizational decline. An alternative form of social order, free of the ethical and economic shortcomings of monarchy and democracy, free of monopoly and taxation, is preferable to that of any state. Hoppe envisions a voluntary, private law society. Also traced is how reliance on the state leads to fragmentation of family. Secession is discussed. An excellent, highly thoughtful, mostly readable work.

Rothbard, Murray N. For a New Liberty (1973).

Rothbard was the originator of libertarianism / anarcho-capitalism. If one has never been exposed to the systematic exposition of the basis for libertarian ideas before, this will provide that. The author, in a most engaging way, addresses the questions of who will build the roads, how will society function without the state, how will defense be provided, law, and other needs. Rothbard demonstrates that the only ethical form of government is self-government by the individual. meanwhile, the state is merely a “gang of thieves write large.” A masterwork. For many this is the book that first presents the possibilities of a different kind of living.

Yoder, John Howard. The Politics of Jesus (William B. Eerdmans Press, Grand Rapids, MI, 2nd ed., 1994, 258 pp.).

Yoder’s book will take some persistence to read through, especially certain parts. The two most thrilling sections are a chapter titled “Christ and the powers,” and the chapter on Romans 13. In Christ and the powers, Yoder points out how Jesus is free not to respond to the powers by revolution, not to respond, in fact, in any way to them. “The powers have been defeated not by some kind of cosmic hocus-pocus but by the concreteness of the cross; the impact of the cross upon them is not the working of magical words nor the fulfillment of a legal contract calling for the shedding of innocent blood, but the sovereign presence, within the structures of creaturely orderliness, of Jesus the kingly claimant and of the church which is itself a structure and power in society.” However, while the church is a power in society, this is not in the conventional sense. It is a power because it rejects power-seeking, because it is not beholden to structures of state. Even more striking is the chapter on Romans 13. Here, Yoder truly shines. This is the best work I have yet read on rightly understanding 13:1-7, and in itself, those 18 pages are worthy many times the price of the book. Yoder’s Mennonite faith offers fresh perspective.

Concerning the United States of America

Hughes, Richard T. Myths America Lives By (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2003, 206 pp.).

While Hughes’ volume in no way is intended to promote anarchism, it is a remarkably helpful work for demonstrating the Grand Canyon-sized chasm between our claims and myths about America, and the actual fact. Chapters address the mythes of the chosen nation, of nature’s nation, of the Christian nation, of the millennial nation, the innocent nation, and more. To illustrate, Hughes outlines how the Puritans brought their view of living as a restoration of the church in the wilderness of America, and of their covenantal contract with God. The religious freedom they desired they were loath to grant to others. They saw it as their mission to recreate the wilderness with the result that the Puritan vision lives on in the viewpoint that God has chosen America for power and privilege. This, along with other myths or self-images, led to the making of agreements with native Americans, only to be disregarded when gold was discovered on the agreed upon reservation, etc. This description does not do much justice to the book, a truly invaluable resource causing one to reappraise his vision of America very much more realistically.

Stinnett, Robert B. Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor (Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), New York, 2000, 400 pp.)

Stinnett demonstrates somewhat exhaustively that not only did Roosevelt know the Pearl Harbor attack was coming, but that Americans had cracked not only the Japanese “Purple” diplomatic code, but also the “Kaigun Ango,” a series of 29 separate Japanese naval operational codes. Almost no important communication, either before or after the war was not speedily intercepted and translated by American cryptoanalysts. Moreover, the Japanese rapid strike force of six aircraft carriers and supporting ships that attacked Pearl did NOT maintain radio silence, and many of its transmissions were received and promptly decoded. Moreover, through radio direction finding, the location of Japanese ships was rarely in doubt. The U.S. commander in chief Pacific Fleet based in Hawaii was systematically excluded from intelligence pointing to the imminent attack. Beside all this, and perhaps of yet greater significance is the discovery in 1995 of a five page, eight point memo by Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum which outlined steps that could be taken to provoke Japan into war with the United States—all eight of which were carried out my Roosevelt in the months leading up to the war. The essence is this: the president of the United States, facing overwhelming public sentiment against entering the war, systematically engaged in steps that provoked Japan to attack the United States, and, fully aware that American soldiers and sailers would die in the Japanese “sneak” attack, caused their death as chess pieces in his play to get America into WW II. Although the book runs 400 pages, the main text weighs in only at 278 pp.

List last updated 2009-06-01.


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