In every great movement of thought and practice, there is an intense desire in those movement’s follower’s to communicate that thought and practice as liberating for others. Socialists want to teach capitalists to be socialists; recovering alcoholics in AA want to teach active alcoholics the methods of AA; Christians want to teach atheists and others to become followers of Jesus, and so on. The anarchist is no different. The anarchist is an educator by nature, a disciplemaker, especially since the political philosophy of anarchy is so woefully misunderstood by most people. We must educate others before we can expect them to agitate for their own liberation and the liberation of others.
The Christian anarchist is commissioned by Jesus to educate. “Go and educate all people groups about the anarchist way of peace and freedom, teaching them to follow everything I taught about freedom, and immersing them into the eternal consciousness of the beautiful, mysterious paradox of God; and, my Spirit will dwell in you to be your guide and strength forever” (Mt 28:19-20, author’s paraphrase).
Thus, the Christian anarchist must educate, but this education should never be coercive or proselytizing. We are not converting people to an institutional religion, but releasing them from political and religious bondage by the testimony of our own life. St. Peter said, “… always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience…” (1 Pe 15-16a, NET). The Christian anarchist educates for freedom, to help his or her fellow human to break off the chains of State and Religious oppression and to live freely and responsibly.
The foundational text the Christian anarchist educator uses to teach others is Luke’s recording of Jesus’ announcement of his liberating purpose: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk 4:18-19, NET).
Jesus proclaimed (euaggelizō/kēryssō = words + action/deeds) the gospel (good news) to the poor (not the rich oppressors). This good news to the poor includes four word/actions (1) release of captive hearts/minds/bodies, (2) healing of spiritual/political blindness, (3) freedom for the oppressed, and (4) Jubilee, the canceling of debts of all people.
How did Jesus the Anarchist do this? First, Jesus was teaching people to move into a reality on earth that already existed in the spiritual realm. He called this the Kingdom of God, what I call the Commonweal of Love. Jesus representing the divine cosmic creator proclaims a sort of emancipation proclamation: “So if the son sets you free, you will be really free” (Jn 8:36, NET). This proclamation is for all oppressed people, as well as a direct challenge to oppressors. As George Clinton sang in the seventies, “Free your mind and your ass will follow/The kingdom of heaven is within….”
Second, Jesus is the cosmic eye opener. He, through his preaching and activism, literally opens the eyes of the actual blind and also the spiritually blind so that they can see the oppression that they have been under for so long. Jesus is the real divine Morpheus, who gives the red pill to all so that they can see how they have been imprisoned in the Matrix of the capitalistic, colonial, and imperial oppressors.
Third, Jesus proclaims through his way of life the way to truly break free from the oppressor. He frees us to forgive our oppressors, to acknowledge our own part in our victimization, and then to set the oppressor free as well. On the cross, Jesus overcomes not through brute force, but by resurrection, by eternal life, by forgiving the blind oppressor: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34, NET).
Finally, Jesus exhorts us to be free from the chains of property. He announces the Year of Jubilee, the year of the canceling of all debts and the redistribution of wealth and land. John Howard Yoder says of the Lord’s Prayer, “The ‘Our Father’ is genuinely a jubilary prayer. It means ‘the time has come for the faithful people to abolish all the debts which bind the poor ones…’” (1994: 62).
All Christians are called to proclaim and live out this same message of peace and freedom, to liberate others, to make disciples of Jesus the Anarchist.
Yoder, John Howard. The Politics of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.
© Paul Dordal, 2017