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Christian anarchism

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Christian anarchism is the belief that individuals are only responsible to God through Jesus Christ and that only God has the power and authority to tell a person how to live, think or act. Christian anarchists believe that every individual has the right to believe or disbelieve and worship however they choose. This philosophy of co-existence with other religious beliefs is not an acceptance of the truth or validity of other beliefs, but the acceptance that others have the right to believe the way that they do.

Christian anarchists believe that earthly authorities such as government and the established church do not and should not have power over them, and they often invoke the abuse of such authority in justifying rejection of it. Unlike most secular anarchists, one of the fundamental principles of Christian anarchism is (usually) pacifism and most of its adherents oppose the use of all physical force, both proactive and reactive. Instead they strive to follow a path of compassion for others and "turn the other cheek" when confronted by violence.[1]

However, consistent with its foundational ethos, and in contrast to historical Christianity, Christian anarchism is not bound to theological tenets, such as what defines basic Christian faith or what exactly constitutes anarchism, and thus the beliefs of those who are called Christian anarchists can fundamentally vary, from certain Anabaptists to Leo Tolstoy to Dorothy Day to (arguably) Paul Jennings Hill.[2] Notable Christian anarchist and philosopher Jacques Ellul accepts the Christian view that man is basically evil, and thus is rejected by many anarchists, while he also argues against the omnipotence of God, which is one of the basic doctrines Christianity.[3]

While many in Catholicism and Protestantism have supported pacifism, Christian anarchism stands opposed to both in its rejection of the authority of civil powers and of church authority. The primary texts in regards to these are Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13,14, Hebrews 13:17 and numerous other texts which are seen to establish authority, beginning with the family. Preeminent evangelical Bible scholars past[4] and present are in unity in upholding the basic validity of government as ordained by God, and that obedience to such is mandated. However, this affirmation does not sanction all that such authorities may do, nor is obedience to such unconditional, as disobedience is necessary "when we have been mandated by Scripture to do something we are forbidden [by authorities] to do, or [when Scripture commands us] not to do something we are being compelled to do.[5]


  1. Christian anarchism. Spiritus Temporis. 2005. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
  2. Gary North, Letter To Paul Hill
  3. Jacques Ellul, Anarchy and Christianity, pp. 32-44)
  4. such as Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, John Wesley, John Gill
  5. John MacArthur, The Christian's Responsibility In a Pagan Society--Part 1
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