Can I be a Christian and an Anarchist?

HomeChristianity and the BibleCan I be a Christian and an Anarchist?

Is it possible for a Christian; a follower of Jesus Christ to be a pacifist and an anarchist, who simply rejects all forms of violence and all worldly systems of government and business…?


Thanks for writing! You ask an intriguing question. Pacifism and anarchy seem like an odd combination to me. Of course, for anarchists to succeed, it helps to have a lot of pacifists around. =) Let’s take them one at a time. It’s certainly possible for a follower of Christ to be a pacifist. There have been plenty throughout history. While I don’t believe that being a Christian equals being a pacifist, they’re certainly compatible.

Anarchy means a number of things, of course. I’m going to assume that you mean that you reject human government, preferring to live by the teachings and example of Jesus. That sounds good. Unfortunately, there are two drawbacks to this kind of anarchy:

  1. It’s purely theoretical. There has never been a long-lasting society without human leadership, including the 1st-century church. It’s a pleasing idea, but it simply doesn’t work. Therefore – in one sense – you can’t be a Christian and an anarchist, because you can’t sustain anarchy.
  2. Romans 13. There’s absolutely no wiggle room in Romans 13 for those who wish to engage in anarchy, civil disobedience, or to just ignore the laws of their country. Here are a few verses from Romans 13:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

I completely understand the desire to ‘opt out’ of certain parts of society. At the same time, the truth is inescapable: we’re to obey our government. Unless our government tries to force us to disobey God, we’re to follow the rules. As Peter said in Acts 5, we must obey God rather than man…but, as long as we can do both, we SHOULD do both. To disobey government simply because you don’t like it, or because you disagree with it, is to also disobey God.

There you go. Seems pretty straightforward. If you can think of a way for obedient Christians to get around Romans 13, let me know. I’m a patriotic American, but I don’t blindly support the USA or Israel. Many (if not most) of our leaders are corrupt, seeking not God’s will but their own. As with every other human system, America is destined to fail because humanity is at the center instead of God. Even the nation of Israel, when given the opportunity to let God be their king, asked for a human ruler so they could be like other nations. Take heart: God is still in control, even when things don’t feel like it. The battle is not ours, it’s God’s…we just follow orders. We don’t need to strategize about how to win, or how to minimize losses, or how to keep ourselves safe. God will do whatever needs to be done, and we simply need to be obedient. Walk in the Spirit, Tony. That’s all you need to do.

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December 14, 2016 4:06 pm

Interesting article. Romans 13 seems to be a common hangup for Christians in moving towards anarchism. But I believe there is “a way for obedient Christians to get around” Romans 13.” You have to look at the specific context of the passage. In the latter part of Romans 12 and the following verses in Romans 13 (remember the book was not originally written in its modern chapter/verse demarcation) the theme is non-resistance to evil. “Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 HCSB)

If we look at the passage in this light and in the light of Scripture as a whole, we see it as similar to another passage by Paul in the book of Ephesians. “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12 HCSB) With this sort of mindset, we understand that Christian Anarchism is not characterized by violent revolution against the State, but by the same humble submission to evil, which Christ displayed when He was brought before the Sanhedrin and Pilate.

There are other passages in the Bible, which support the idea of Christian Anarchism. Possibly, the most evident is in 1 Samuel 8.

“So all the elders of Israel gathered together and went to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not follow your example. Therefore, appoint a king to judge us the same as all the other nations have.” When they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” Samuel considered their demand sinful, so he prayed to the Lord. But the Lord told him, “Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king. They are doing the same thing to you that they have done to Me,[a] since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning Me and worshiping other gods. Listen to them, but you must solemnly warn them and tell them about the rights of the king who will rule over them.” (1 Samuel 8:4-9 HCSB)

From this passage and others like it, Christian Anarchists glean support for their beliefs. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know, as I would love to discuss this some more.

God Bless,

December 28, 2016 9:46 pm
Reply to  Tony

Tony, thanks for getting back to me.

I think I should clear up a few misconceptions about my comment. I only used the phrase “a way for obedient Christians to get around Romans 13”, because it was the phrasing used in the original article. I did not intend to convey the idea that we should try to manipulate the Biblical texts to conform to ideologies. Obviously, the Bible is the supreme Word of God and we should conform ourselves to it, not vice versa. I was merely relating my comment to the source of the discussion.

I also did not bring up the etymology of the word “Anarchy”, but I am somewhat familiar with it. Granted, I understand it to have a slightly different origin: “Anarchy” coming from the Greek “a”, meaning “without or against”, and “archos” or “archon”, meaning “king or ruler”. Thus “Anarchy” merely means “without or against rulers”. An interesting note about the Greek word, “archos”: it has the same Greek root as the word used by Paul in Ephesians 6:12 where he tells us “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers (archas), against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (HCSB)

In regards to your comment on Romans 13:4, I will say only that the Bible says that those in authority are only there for our good, it does in no way say that the position of authority itself is good. Please don’t take this as an affront, but I believe a universal application of the same ethics we teach small children (don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff) would demand the dissolution of the State.
And don’t think I am in complete disagreement with you either. Indeed, as you said “Submission is the proper response to a sovereign.” I will only remind you of what Paul charged Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:13-16,
“In the presence of God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good confession before Pontius Pilate, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in His own time. [He is] the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, the only One who has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom none of mankind has seen or can see, to whom be honor and eternal might. Amen.” (HCSB)
The Christian-Anarchist has no issue with submission. We submit ourselves to God. And we are commanded by Him to submit to the authorities, as it will be to our benefit, so that is what we do. We do not support the establishment of individuals over others, but God commanded us to submit, so we do.

It’s interesting that you brought up 1 Peter 2. This is one of the instances in the Bible that we are told WHY we are to submit to the authorities. In the very passage, you quoted, we are told starting in verse 15: “For it is God’s will that you, by doing good, silence the ignorance of foolish people.” This sort of non-resistance to evil is a common theme among Christian-Anarchists. By not physically opposing those, who would oppress us, we put them to shame and glorify God. Our obedience makes those, who seek to harm us or otherwise act against us, look foolish. I believe this is the proper understanding of 1 Peter 2:11-17.

And as Christians, our ONLY allegiance is to God. Remember the apostles’ response to the Sanhedrin in Acts 5:29, “But Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” What you said that the Christian-Anarchist must say is nearly correct. But more accurately, we would say, “We recognize that God is the ultimate authority and we serve only Him. But He told us to listen to you, so we will.” And you’re right, this is just Christianity. As Christians, we are to be the best subjects, so that we may “live at peace with everyone”. (Romans 12:18b HCSB)

I appreciate your willingness to keep an open mind about this and I hope you will continue to look into this topic some more. I am still a student of God’s Word and I certainly will not claim to possess a full understanding of it. But I would like to continue this discussion, if you believe we both may grow more steadfast in our faith through it. If you are still interested, here are two resources that are particularly helpful in this discussion.

The first is the first episode of a podcast produced by a Christian-Anarchist. He presents his arguments calmly and logically, and he concludes each episode with support from the Bible.

The second is a collection of Biblical passages collected by Dr. Greg Boyd, another Christian-Anarchist and the senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church. He provides several selections from throughout the Bible as well as his interpretation of them.

July 30, 2017 3:38 pm
Reply to  Tony

What would you say about Siphrah and Puah?

Dereck Wagner
Dereck Wagner
August 26, 2017 7:19 am

Jesus is the real definition of anarchy….Should read Tolstoy or Jacques Ellul….

September 4, 2017 7:59 am
Reply to  Tony

Tony, saying we should overthrow Rome is a stupid idea. Government requires your belief in it for it to continue (you in significant numbers). It simply dissolves when enough people take moral responsibility ‘to rule over one’s own spirit’. People do quite alright building roads and hospitals without the need for threatening violence if we don’t contribute. Rome was falling apart because the non-violent love shown be Christians showed it up for what it was – violent and immoral. We are by are in know means instructed to believe in Government. We ought not divide our faith. Between God and systems of Mammon. Constantine mixed pagan values with Christianity and made it the state religion (by threat of violence). That’s not Jesus. And it’s no surprise there has been some much violence done by professing Christians throughout history. Derek suggesting you read Jacques Ellul or Tolstoy doesn’t negate putting scripture first.

Mohammed Ali Singh
Mohammed Ali Singh
October 11, 2017 2:17 am

Have you ever questioned the bible as to why Yahweh would want to honor a wicked and satanic government that does not honor you? That is what got Gods Son slain was a wicked manmade government that is faulty where they only live to please themselves and not God. Baruch Obama does not forgive and forget as the police who are malefactor and cowards only want violence and harassment of the innocent. They serve Satan. Our country North America would have been more Christian than what it is now if everyone was a anarchist environmentalist. Using Isaiah 29:21 as a excuse to criminalize compliments is showing disrespect hatred towards men who tell women your breasts and cleavage is beautiful. That is what the devils wanted the U.S. government to commit this sin against God and humans. North America would have been a better Christian country without its government.

April 2, 2018 2:00 pm

Interesting thoughts.

For clarity sake. Anarchism is the proposition of self-governance without temporal rulers.

From there, let me address your statement bottom up. The reference to Romans 13 is questionable. This chapter of Romans has only recently been brought into this supposition of application toward the government of man. Historically, it has been understood as referring to church governance, the priesthood. There have been times that it has been presented as referring to the government of man, generally from the position of those priests who were attempting to leverage said government to promote their religious or moral interests.
More particularly, I will point out three fundamental disagreements in the temporal to your proposal, namely:
1. If rebellion against the authority of government is antagonistic there are a few historical figures I would like you to justify against the proposition – Dietrich Boenhoeffer, Corrie ten Boom, Christian martyrs in China, North Korea and the late Soviet Union. Boenhoeffer and ten Boom both actively resisted the government appointed by the Creator in Nazi, Europe. ten Boom was imprisoned in a concentration camp and Boenhoeffer was executed. Martrys in the later nations have been persecuted, jailed and put to death for open opposition to what you claim by Romans 13 are/were legitimate, Creator established rulers.

2. As above, please justify the actions of the US founding fathers and the US War for Independence.

3. The presence of those today, within the US, who openly oppose governmental law on such things as taxation, abortion, capital punishment, etc. from a moral/theological position rooted in Judeo-Christian position. I ask, are these people therefore in open rebellion against the Father or acting as salt and light and speaking truth into a sinful world and against the depravity of fallen man?

4. Please justify Romans 13 against the prophecies of the Antichrist, the False Prophet, the Son of Perdition? If, being obedient unto death includes being obedient to the government of man by right of Romans 13, then would it be rebellion against Jehovah to not take the mark?

As to your assertion that there has been no long standing period of time when man lived without being governed by other men, I will point you to three examples. The first, Ireland. Ireland was an anarchic state for nearly 1000 years. This is not anecdotal, it is confirmed history. Second, I will point you to the Hebrews following the Exodus and until the time of the kings. Two points here – 1. The Law was of the Creator and ministered by the patriarchs, judges and priests, 2 – When the Hebrews requested a king from Jehovah, they were only granted such as that was what they demanded and said request was initially denied by the Father. Thirdly, as to anarchic societies, I challenge you to look back into the histories of Abraham and before. There were governments but there were also ungoverned sojourners (Abraham is a good example, so is Lot till he chose to go into the city).

As I will guess you have already surmised, I am one of those heathen believers that is also an anarchist. I base my political position on a few simple points:
First, I find no merit in the argument that Romans 13 applies to any other government than the governance of the Church and that being made up of brethren who are submitted to our Jehovah, ergo, the governance of the Father.
Second, Yeshua plainly did not submit to the religious leaders of the day nor place any reverence to the government of man beyond what was good and true, seeking to live at peace but holding the Law as supreme. This is demonstrated numerous times in the Gospels, examples being His outright rebuking of the Pharisees, scribes and priests, His plainly stating to render unto Caesar that which was Caesars (specifically, you trade in Caesar’s gold, you pay Caesar’s tax). His hostile and violent rebuke of the money changers in the Temple, an openly sanctioned policy of the priest’s “rightful government”.
Second, I am admonished by Paul to remember that I am not a citizen of this world but a sojourner. If I am not a citizen this world, how can I be a citizen, ergo part, of any government of this world? As an ambassador, I am expected to conduct myself and my affairs in a way that justly represents my governor’s best interest and presents them in a becoming light but I am in no way subject to the moral or ethical codes or the social norms of the nation I find myself in. If the host nation’s codes happen to coincide with the Law of my home, then that is good. If they do not, I am not obliged to disobey my Father’s law in order to validate theirs. Nor am I obliged to submit to the law of my host nation in any way that would place me in rebellion or controversy to the Law of my home.
Third and last. Yeshua plainly stated that no man can serve two masters. This is applicable in reference to government as well. I can serve my Father’s government or I can serve the government of man but not both. I choose my Father’s.
One last point, and maybe I should have made this one earlier. Anarchy is not “chaos” anymore than democracy is. It is no more hedonism than dictatorship is. It is simply the belief that there is no man who can claim the right to rule over me, take of my labor without my consent or demand of my resources without my approval. My Creator is just that, my Creator. He, being the One who has molded, shaped and given me life has every right to expect my submission. Funny thing, he requests it and does not take it by force. With that being the case, how so would a man, being my equal, assume and propose that he has more rights than our Creator?
I’m sorry, but I do very much disagree with your proposition that the two (faith and anarchy) are mutually exclusive and incompatible. I’m open to hearing contention. Cheers.

October 8, 2018 12:59 am
Reply to  Tony

Hi. I am first claiming no authority on these matters and I am in no way and expert on the word of God.
I would like to first point out that you made no attempt to contradict Joel’s comments about how “no man can serve two masters”. But as a side note to this argument, how do we prove that a government ruler is he “who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong”? I know I’m starting to dabble into free will and “is everything chosen for us?” kinda stuff. Cause if we, as humanity are corrupt, and we choose a corrupt ruler who puts corrupt rules in place, can we still claim that they were chosen by God to lead and judge us?
I do enjoy theology debates and how to interpret Gods word as it allows us to open our perspectives to hopefully better grasp the word of God in all of our insolence. For I believe that no man can grasp the whole meaning of Gods words, no man is correct because he believes himself correct, and that no man can prove that they can know Gods true will as that is a claim to be an intellectual equal to God. Thus I do encourage open mindedness. But please do not take this as me using Gods word for my own gains or as me attempting to nullify Gods word.

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
January 31, 2019 9:56 am

I think we should go back to the top and look at Tony’s original question. He asked if a follower of Jesus can be an “anarchist” *AND* a pacifist. This seems to be to be an exact description of a Christian. Jesus told His disciples that “the kings of the gentiles” love to be “archists,” but Christians are NOT to be so (Mark 10:42-45). That doesn’t mean Christians assassinate archists, because Christians are also pacifists who do not “resist evil” (Matthew 5:39). Jesus said that when archists invade your land, and want to enslave you for a mile of labor, give them two miles of labor (Matthew 5:41). This does not mean that imperialist invasions are condoned by God. God will judge archists. Taxation is the moral equivalent of theft, but Jesus says “give to him who asks.” Isaiah 33:22 says that God is our King, our Lawgiver, and our Judge. That’s all three branches of government in the U.S. America would be a better place if, after we violated Romans 13 by killing Christians from Britain and abolishing government by Red Coats, we did not replace George III with George Washington. If we will beat our swords into plowshares, we could live safely under our own vine and fig tree. But if God “ordains” the Assyrians or the Romans to invade us and tax us and enslave us and taze us and lock us in cages and kill us, we submit as pacifists, but as anarchists we continue to deny that there is any legitimate Archist but Jesus. No King but Christ. The desire for an earthly, visible, physical king is the rejection of God as King (1 Samuel 8).

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
July 3, 2019 6:11 pm
Reply to  Tony

Mark 10:42 says, “Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.” The word “rulers” is the Greek word from which we ultimately derive the word “anarchist.” We could transliterate the phrase as “archists of the Gentiles.” “Archists” compel other people to serve them using the sword (armed force or threats of violence). “Archists” invade other countries and put people under “tribute” (taxation and forced labor). Verse 43: “But so shall it NOT be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your servant.” So followers of Jesus are NOT to be archists (AN-archists), but :servants.

Paul was not an “archist.” He did not threaten Christians with the sword or with imprisonment or death or military occupation in order to extort wealth or service from them. No human being on earth today has God’s permission to be an archist. They will face God’s judgment (condemnation).

But as pacifists, Christians are nevertheless not to resist evil, but to “be subject” to archists (limited by Acts 5:29).

Isaiah 10 says that God put Assyria in place to invade Israel and crush the people like trash in the street. But then God condemned Assyria for doing exactly what God “ordained” the Assyrian army to do. God “ordains” archists as a matter of Providence, but not as a matter of moral approval. What archists do is a violation of basic Biblical commands (e.g., “Thou shalt not steal”).

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
July 6, 2019 10:37 am
Reply to  Tony

Hello again Tony,

I can see you’re very passionate about this subject, as am I. Discussing it is, as you say, a “pet project.” If I’m passionate about a subject, I respect passion on the opposing side more than I do indifference.

But I don’t understand why you’re so passionate about saying my term “archist” is “not a word.” Is “anarchist” a “word?” But “anarchist” is just a combination of the Greek letter alpha (called the “alpha privative,” meaning “not” or “without”) + ARCHIST! So why is “not an archist” a word, but “archist” is not?? I don’t get it (your passion).

The “archist” part of the word “anarchist” is derived from the Greek word in Mark 10:42, αρχειν, which is “archein” when transliterated into English. If you look the word up in a Greek lexicon, it’s under ἄρχω, which is transliterated into archō. Jesus said the kings of the Gentiles like to “archein.” Is “archein” a “word?” It means “to rule.” An “archist” is someone who wields political authority. There’s a Greek word ἄρχων, transliterated árchōn, which is a specific office or position of political authority, but the more general word “archist” nicely collects all the various offices or political positions so that we can discuss the general concept of wielding political authority. Jesus used the word árchōn in Matthew 20:25 (KJV, “prince”), but He also used the word βασιλεύς, “king,” in Luke 22:25. A “ruler” (“archein,” Mark 10:42), a “king,” and a “prince” are all “archists,” and the “an-archist” says all of them are behaving unethically by doing so.

And I think that’s the real question we should be discussing, not whether “archist” is “a word.”

The “archist” wields political authority, and most folks in our day agree that POLITICAL authority (in “the State”) is very different from ECCLESIASTICAL “authority,” or “leadership” in the “church.” Every Professor of Political Science in every university on planet earth will agree that POLITICAL authority begins with legalized extortion, that is, the power to say to someone, “Give me your money or I will hurt you,” and have nobody successfully challenge that act of extortion. In short, a monopoly of violence and theft.

There is no verse in Scripture that any human being alive today can point to and say, “THERE, that verse right there gives me God’s permission to engage in extortion without moral condemnation from God.” When Jesus said to “render unto Caesar,” or to carry the provisions of a pagan soldier who has invaded Israel “two miles” (Matthew 5:41), He was not saying that Caesar had God’s moral approval to invade and conquer other nations and put them under tribute. Those military invasions and plunderings were sinful. They were violations of God’s Law. But those who were conquered were commanded in Scripture to “be subject” to their lawless, sinful conquerors, and leave vengeance to God (Romans 12:14-21). I describe that as “pacifism.” A consistent pacifist condemns all archism.

It is a sin to levy a tax. It is a sin to be an “archist.” To this claim you have four responses:

1. Jesus did not say that Christians shouldn’t be in authority over anyone. He said that we should not lord our authority over anyone, or exercise our authority, but to follow His example and serve. Jesus – who, while God, was certainly a man – had authority but did not use it to be served, but to serve.

I don’t think Jesus ever wielded political authority while on earth. When some folks wanted Him to, He fled them (John 6:15). I don’t think it’s possible to “serve” someone while engaging in a military conquest of them and putting them under tribute, imprisoning and crucifying those who protest. That seems to be the best definition of “lording over.” But if you’re not taxing people then you’re not acting like “the kings of the gentiles,” which Jesus prohibits us from doing in Mark 10.

2. You claim that those who rule (ARCHO) compel with threats of violence. Jesus is an obvious example of One who does not. It’s true that some do, but not all.

Jesus threatened with violence, and carried through with His promises in AD 70, using the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem:

Matt. 22:7: But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

Luke 21:20: But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 22: These are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

Vengeance belongs to God, however, and what Rome did was sinful, and Rome was crushed to powder as predicted in Daniel 2.

God may do it, but human beings must not, and Jesus said His followers must not.

When you pretend that the word indicates one type of behavior, you misuse Scripture. The word carries no positive or negative connotations.

You’re right. The word itself carries no positive or negative connotations. Some people say that this monopoly of violence is necessary, even good. Certainly Pharaoh, Caesar, and Hitler said it was good. But if someone is not threatening someone else with violence, then he does not have political authority. He is not archo-ing. He is not an archist. And I think the Bible says that the “kings of the gentiles” — from Pharaoh to Caesar — needed to repent, stop archo-ing, and let Jesus be their King.

We have plenty of other examples in Scripture: Peter, pharisees, the disciples at Pentecost, people in the crowd at Jesus’ crucifixion, the servant girl who prompted Peter’s denial of Jesus, Philip (while with the Ethiopian), Apollos, Tertullis, and more.

These are examples of people who engaged in military invasions and put people under tribute? These are people who levied taxes? These are people who wielded a sword? These are people who are described as archo-ing?

3. God’s approval is not limited to those who do not rule. A cursory review of the Old Testament, with an eye toward kings and prophets and judges, should make that clear to you. God’s disapproval is reserved for those who disobey, and – because those who rule may rule as God intends – your entire theory about Christianity and anarchy is bologna.

“Bologna” is not exactly a detailed, scholarly refutation. The desire for “kings” (“like the gentiles”) by Israel represented a sinful rejection of God as King, as I mentioned in a previous comment (1 Samuel 8). There is no verse in the Bible that gives any human being alive today moral permission from God to be a “king” over others, and engage in legalized extortion. Again, as I mentioned in a previous comment, God is our King, our Lawgiver, and our Judge (Isaiah 33:22), and the “three branches” of government in the U.S. are a usurpation of God’s Authority.

What I get from the Old Testament is God telling us that human archists are a curse, and God is the only legitimate Archist, and if we trust in His government, we will be blessed. If we trust in human archists, we will be cursed.

4. I find it interesting that you say that one who calls you an anarchist to demean you is “either a liar, or else a victim of educational malpractice, ignorantly repeating political slander.” Your logic is that they misuse the word. Well, your own misuse of Scripture to make your own point puts you in exactly the same category.

We’ve all been brainwashed by archist (“public”) schools to believe that “anarchists” are dangerous because they are bomb-throwing assassins who deny private property and overthrow governments by force, when in fact it is “archists” who drop many times more bombs, confiscate or destroy many times more private property, and overthrow other governments. (I can’t think of a single government that’s actually been overthrown by a bunch of “anarchists.” Archists in Washington D.C. have overthrown many governments by force and violence.) A person who truly opposes archism opposes all these acts of violence. Those who are called “anarchists” by the mainstream media are wanna-be archists. Archists are the true and larger danger to humanity and to Christianity.

Your claim that “an archist is someone who believes he has a right to impose his will on others by force” is bunk. Archist isn’t a word, and the concept you’re trying to convey is contrary to God’s Word.

“Bunk” doesn’t convince me that every political scientist on earth is wrong. Political authority is a monopoly of violence. You are not exercising political authority unless you are violating the 8th commandment against theft, by threatening to violate the 6th commandment prohibiting violence. Archists violate these commandments. Desiring earthly, political archists is a rejection of God (1 Samuel 8). Acting like the kings of the Gentiles is contrary to the command of Christ.

So to get back to the original question at the top of his page, yes, it is “possible for a Christian; a follower of Jesus Christ to be a pacifist and an anarchist, who simply rejects all forms of violence and all worldly systems of government and business.” Not just “possible,” it is mandatory.

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
July 7, 2019 10:48 am
Reply to  Tony

You say:

You keep using the word archein. Those are the rulers. There is no negative or positive connotation involved in the word. The word Jesus uses as a negative is KATAKURIEUOUSIN. To make it clear: your claim is that being a ruler is bad. Jesus’ statement is not that being a ruler is bad, but lording your authority over others is bad.

How do you get this out of the text of Mark 10:42 or the synoptic parallels? How is it that being a “ruler” is OK, but being a “lord” is not? How does the text say that if I engage in extortion as a “ruler” that’s OK, but if I engage in extortion as a “lord” that’s unethical?

“Hello, I have militarily conquered your nation, and I am now your ruler. Pay me tribute or I will hurt you.” [OK, you say]

“Hello, I have militarily conquered your nation, and I am now your lord. Pay me tribute or I will hurt you.” [Not OK, you say]

I see no evidence that anyone living in Jesus’ day would see any ethical difference between a “prince” (Matt. 20), a “ruler” (Mark 10), and a “king” (Luke 22). They are all doing the thing that anarchists oppose as unethical — engaging in archism, that is, political authority, which is God’s right alone. Jesus says His followers are not to be like this.

It’s like Hebrew “parallelism” — condemning the same thing with different expressions.

Parallel key terms in the synoptics (Matt / Mark / Luke):

Title 1 : Prince / Ruler / King
Action 1: exercise dominion / exercise lordship / exercise lordship

Title 2: “Great ones” [all three]
Action 2: exercise authority [all three]

Jesus is saying, if you were expecting Me to usher in a political Kingdom, with you sitting as vice-archists on My right hand, if you were expecting to be a “great” archist over others, think again. You are to be a servant, not a prince, ruler, king or great one. You are to serve others, not rule over others, nor exercise dominion, lordship or authority over others.

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
July 8, 2019 7:20 am
Reply to  Tony

Whom do you consider to be the most reliable living commentator on the Gospel of Mark?

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
July 19, 2019 12:57 pm

[Edited to remove nonsense, repetitive silly arguments and, hopefully, your desire to bang your head against this wall]

You said I should enroll in a reputable seminary.

I thought I’d ask you which commentator on the verse you thought was most reputable. You say that’s a silly question. That’s certainly not the answer I was expecting.

Here’s the original question posed at the top of this page:

I suspect…you had a lot of negative emotional baggage attached to the word “anarchist.”


when Jesus speaks about “the kings of the gentiles,” He is not speaking about “authority” exercised in a church, synagogue, or some voluntary association. He’s talking about “exercising lordship” [katakurieuo] over subjects in a “worldly system of government.”

Is it POSSIBLE for a Christian; a follower of Jesus Christ to be a pacifist…, who simply rejects … all worldly systems of government

February 6, 2020 9:23 am

I found this discussion while researching the relationship between Christianity and anarchy, because a friend stated that they are, and that anarcho-Christianity is a thing. Our discussion went very similarly to the conversation here. Anarchists tend to be absolutely committed to their philosophy, and I have found that their study of the Word (in cases I have witnessed, I don’t claim to know all anarchists) is usually limited to cherry picking the parts of the Bible that appear to justify anarchy. I have also experienced the flexibility with which they define words and ideas in order to make them fit. I hope that they can realize that to truly experience God, they must recognize Him as the supreme being to whom we must align instead of judging God by the yardstick of their beliefs. I have sadly concluded that anarchy and its proponents not only hold views incompatible with Christianity, they seem to believe that Christianity should be modified and redefined so as to fit into the idea of Anarchy.

September 6, 2020 11:58 am

I came to this site because someone close to me is being drawn to anarchy. In an effort to understand the mindset and its outcomes, I am researching primary sources. I do not attempt to sway non-believers with Christian doctrine. But to a Christian, here are my conclusions:

God is not a God of confusion. The bottom line is this: A Christian believes in and comes under the authority of a king, Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, you are not an anarchist. Anarchy is rooted in self-rule. Christianity is rooted in submission to Jesus Christ. The term Christian-anarchist is a contradiction in terms.

Does a Christian’s life look like an anarchist’s or pacifist’s life? It can; a Christian’s life is service and community-centric, but it’s in submission and obedience to the authority of God, never to the authority of self.

Discussions like this are good if they drive us to the Word for answers and conclusions. As Paul warns, we must be careful about fine-sounding arguments and let the Word we read, read us and convict us of the truth. If we obey scripture, which a Christian must, and hand our thoughts over to Christ, the Holy Spirit will bring us understanding in order that we will live in accordance God’s will. If we struggle on this or any topic, we should pray for revelation, especially in the midst of and after theological discussions.

A word about God’s will. It is God’s will that we respect authority. It is not God’s will that we permit that authority to dethrone and replace Him in our life. I confess I have a distrust for authority; by our very nature, we are all corrupt. So, I approach authority with the armor of God and prayer for wisdom so that I both act in His will and that I might not be deceived. I live in a free country (today), so I don’t know what my response will be if I am ever forbidden by man to worship and live for Jesus Christ. But in preparation, I pray for guidance, strength, and courage so that in the end I can stand before Him and hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
September 8, 2020 8:32 am
Reply to  mgiaag


Everyone in this conversation who identifies as a Christian anarchist/pacifist views himself as being under the authority of Christ the King. What we oppose is human “archists” who seek to usurp the authority of God, and we seek to oppose them in a peaceful (“pacifist”) way rather than the way of violent revolution.

Romans 12 and 13 are a unit on not resisting evil. “Bless those who persecute you” (Romans 12:14) does not mean that persecutors have God’s ethical approval. They need to repent. We are not to resist evil (Romans 12:19), but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21), even (turn the page) the most evil entity on the planet: The State (Romans 13:1ff). Paul refers to the Empire as “the Powers.” Everywhere that Greek word is used in the New Testament, it means “demonic.” Even the Romans believed that demons guided their Empire.

The message of Romans 13 is “be subject to evil.” The message of Romans 13 is not “evil is good.”

“Be subject” — pacifism
“evil powers” – anarchism

Yes, “all things work together for good” (Romans 13:4; 8:28), even evil things, like “principalities and powers” (Romans 8:38).

But evil people have a moral obligation to repent of things that pacifists have a moral obligation to submit to.

[Link removed]

Jordan Wade
Jordan Wade
September 8, 2020 10:56 am
Reply to  Tony

Anarchism is belief in the abolition of all government and the organization of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without recourse to force or compulsion.

Anarchism is a political philosophy and movement that rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. It calls for the abolition of the state which it holds to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful. It is usually described alongside libertarian Marxism as the libertarian wing (libertarian socialism) of the socialist movement and as having a historical association with anti-capitalism and socialism.

Of all the political philosophies that have existed throughout history, anarchism is perhaps the most misunderstood. With general impressions ranging from the idea that Anarchy Is Chaos to scary images of Bomb-Throwing Anarchists from popular fiction, what most probably don’t realise is there’s actually a wealth of complex and multilayered ideas associated with anarchism that have had an impact on radical politics, the arts, and even mainstream culture.

The definition of anarchism to most people means “belief the state is bad and shouldn’t exist.” However, while all anarchists are anti-statists, it is not the only or, in most cases, even the primary part of their ideology.

Anarchism is the belief that rulership as a whole, not just the state, should not exist – as indicated in its Greek roots, an- [no] -arkhos [ruler] – and that people should instead organize their social relations and institutions though voluntary cooperation without hierarchies of power. So what characterises anarchism is not anti-statism so much as anti-authoritarianism.

This means that most anarchists would not welcome a reduction in state power if it meant an increase of other kinds of authoritarianism as a result. For example, privatising a public health service may weaken the state, but increase the power of corporations, and thus anarchists would probably oppose doing so. Though generally speaking, they don’t support state or private management of things. Instead, anarchists push for voluntary, localised, and cooperative institutions organised from the bottom-up through decentralised networks and run via processes of participatory democracy and workplace self-management.

Another way of thinking about anarchism is that it’s “democracy without the state” or “socialism when it occurs on a voluntary basis”. This tends to confuse many who

associate the word democracy with representative government; and
especially those who associate the word socialism with statism.
In fact, the word democracy originally meant direct democracy, like in Ancient Greece. And the word socialism originally referred to a number of economic systems in which economic institutions were run by those who actually worked in them. It’s the earlier meanings of both words that anarchists use when talking about them. This also applies to their use of the word libertarian. Which, despite its modern Anglo-American use to mean laissez-faire capitalist, was actually first used by anarchist socialists to mean “anti-authoritarian”. A frequently used synonym for social anarchism is libertarian socialism.

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
September 8, 2020 6:39 pm
Reply to  Tony

You can call me “Dave” if you want to, but I haven’t the foggiest idea why you would want to. Not a clue.

What word would you like us to use instead of “anarchism?” (“Us”
being those who want the whole human race to obey the commandments of Jesus the King and want no human being to call himself a “king” and act like an “archist” over others [Mark 10:42-45].)

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
September 8, 2020 8:25 pm

The problem with the word “CHRISTIAN” is that a fellow named “Tony,” whose question appears at the very top of this page, asked if he could be a Christian if he “rejects all forms of violence and all worldly systems of government.” You have pretty much been saying “NO” this whole time. So it seems to me that it would be good to have a word that describes someone who opposes violence (like theft, kidnapping, and murder) and therefore opposes “the State” (which steals [“taxation”], kidnaps [“incarceration”], and murders [in my lifetime, the U.S. federal government has killed, crippled, or made homeless tens of MILLIONS of innocent non-combatant civilians around the world]), and yet a person who still confesses Jesus as Christ/King, Judge, and Lawgiver (Isaiah 33:22).

I can pretty much guarantee that “the government” will call such a person an “anarchist,” because he does not believe in the moral legitimacy of an institution which every political scientist in every university on planet earth will agree is a “monopoly of violence.”

So I would say that a person who believes in the moral legitimacy of the government of Jesus Christ and denies the moral legitimacy of every earthly “government” is a “Christian anarchist.”

But I’m happy to use ANY word you want to use, so we can begin to have a conversation about whether such a person who opposes violence and all earthly usurpers of Christ’s government — regardless of how we label such a person — is truly a Christian. That’s the question “Tony” posed at the top of this page.

Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig
September 9, 2020 10:18 am
Reply to  Tony

[Editor’s Note: per the instructions in my last reply, parts of this comment will not be published.]

If I have misrepresented you, please copy and paste the sentence and tell me how I should re-state it.

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