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Christian Anarchism: A Forgotten Alternative for the Peaceful Ordering of Society
Alexandre Christoyannopoulos (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Department of Politics and International Relations
Rutherford College, University of Kent Political Studies Association Annual Conference
4-6 April 2006, Reading University
Christian anarchists question the widespread belief that a socially contracted state provides the only guarantee of human freedom and security. For them, the state is a vicious system that perpetrates the very violence that its mandate pretends to keep at bay. They are therefore not surprised by the current climate of insecurity – but they believe the solution requires another look at Christianity and its political implications.
They think Christianity presents a radical alternative to secular methods, because it begins by positing an alternative view of human nature, one that calls for love and discipleship to recover mankind’s initial but disrupted unity. They believe that the only way to achieve a peaceful social order is through Christian martyrdom and persuasion by example, not through the imposition of manmade laws by the threat of force. They see the authentic mission of Christianity as the enactment of the true ekklesia: there would be no state as we know it, and yet social order would be fulfilled through faith, charity and love of neighbour. For Christian anarchists, therefore, Christianity in this genuine sense has never actually been tried yet. To attain this social ideal, instead of relying on a state to protect them, human beings must acknowledge their personal responsibilities and learn to turn the other cheek, to love and patiently forgive, and to keep faith in the contagious power of such bearing witness to Jesus Christ.
It may be that Christian anarchists have too utopian a faith in the human capacity for pacifism and non-violence; and of course, their view is essentially religious, not secular. But their religious approach is refreshing precisely because it is peaceful, unlike certain antagonistic readings of Abrahamic Scriptures. Besides, their thinking poses fundamental questions about human nature that today’s world would do well to ponder in its anxious search for a political solution to the current threats to freedom and security.