Jesus Is An Anarchist

December 22nd, 2014   Submitted by Chris Slavens

JesusAnarchist2Most libertarians and anarchists can point to a few major influences whose writings or speeches seized their attention, and made them want to not only embrace their philosophy, but spread it. Some might point to Lysander Spooner, Murray Rothbard, or Ayn Rand. Many of my peers point to Ron Paul. And some might point to relatively unknown activists, close friends or distant online acquaintances who challenged their views by offering new ideas about peace and liberty. Several people played a part in shaping my worldview, but one in particular stands out. He was a voluntaryist, a proponent of the non-aggression principle, and also nonviolent resistance. He was a peaceful criminal, guilty of victimless crimes for which he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and executed. His name was Jesus.

If you’re still reading, thank you for being open-minded. This is not a sermon, an attempt to convert anyone to Christianity, or even a defense of my religious convictions. This is not about the existence, or nonexistence of God. This is simply an explanation of why I call myself both a Christian and an anarchist, which places me on the fringes of two communities that barely overlap. Most Christians believe that civil authority was established by God, and most anarchists are hostile towards all religion and spirituality. The little they have to say to each other isn’t usually pleasant. I hope to change that.

When I say that I’m a Christian and an anarchist people usually assume that I’ve altered my religious beliefs to suit my political views. Not at all. In fact, just a few years ago I was volunteering for Republican campaigns, and arguing with those irritating anti-government nuts who kept undermining my efforts to get my peers involved in local politics. I favored a limited government, but the idea of no government—a truly free society, a truly free market—seemed ridiculous and undesirable. My political views changed radically when I began taking my faith seriously, studying the teachings of Jesus, and confronting uncomfortable truths as they became clear. I’m not a Christian and an anarchist in the sense that someone might be a vegetarian as well as a deer hunter. I didn’t mash two philosophies together. I rejected Statism, and all that goes with it, only because I came to believe that it was wildly inconsistent with the teachings and example of Jesus.

To understand why Statism is incompatible with true Christianity one must first understand the Bible. Despite a popular Christian tradition which holds the Bible to be the Word of God, divinely spoken into the minds of scribes, and divinely preserved through centuries of copying and translating, I doubt that many of the men who wrote its many books believed that. Paul, traditionally believed to have authored fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament, would probably be horrified to hear an American preacher refer to one of his letters as the Word of God. Even the traditional titles of some of the books seem to challenge this doctrine. The Gospel According to Saint Matthew is followed by The Gospel According to Saint Mark, The Gospel According to Saint Luke, and The Gospel According to Saint John. Surely God would not speak slightly different versions of the same events into four writers’ minds.

One of the consequences of the Word of God doctrine is that all of the passages in the Bible are considered equally authoritative. Scholars and theologians have struggled for centuries to explain apparent contradictions, and devise a consistent Christian doctrine, but they’ve only succeeded in convincing Christians to overlook certain biblical teachings in favor of others. For example, Jesus taught his followers not to injure those who injured them, yet most Christian denominations prefer Genesis 9, in which Noah and his descendants are instructed to kill anyone who commits murder. On the one occasion that Jesus was present at a public execution, he not only refused to participate, but put a stop to it, rescuing the condemned woman. Yet many Christians enthusiastically support capital punishment.

Skeptics who criticize the Bible’s seeming inconsistencies are no better. Asking a Christian why they aren’t carrying out the violent punishments prescribed in the ancient Jewish book of Leviticus is like calling a Heinlein fan a hypocrite because Asimov’s fiction contains different ideas. The compilation of several books, stories, or teachings in a single volume doesn’t make them a single work. A follower of Jesus reads the Book of Leviticus to better understand the religious history of the Jews, not to find support for execution and other violent punishments.

I think of my interpretation of the Bible as the Jesus First doctrine. I read all of the books for various reasons, but the accounts of Jesus’s life are vastly more important than the rest, and on several occasions he challenged traditional Jewish beliefs. The Book of Proverbs is full of practical wisdom, but I’m not a Solomonian. Paul’s letters to the earliest churches contain valuable insights about Christian living, but so do C. S. Lewis’s writings, and I worship neither Paul nor Lewis. I follow Jesus Christ.

But what does it mean to follow Jesus? What did he ask of his followers? What is a Jesus-centered philosophy?

If I had to choose a single passage of any written work to base my life upon, I would probably choose the Sermon on the Mount. The most complete version is found in Matthew 5-7. It features some of Jesus’s most radical teachings, including nonviolent resistance, love for enemies, and the Golden Rule—treat others the way you want to be treated. (Just to be clear, I’m not preaching pacifism. The morality of self-defense is far from a settled issue in the Christian community, or in my own mind.) Because the Golden Rule goes a step farther than the non-aggression principle, which could be paraphrased “treat others the way you want to be treated, unless they initiate force,” it follows that Jesus would not approve of the initiation of force in any situation.

Government as we know it is inherently violent. It cannot exist without threatening, robbing, caging, and killing. None of the pawns who carry out the State’s many punishments want to be treated the way they treat others. Clearly, Statism is utterly incompatible with the Golden Rule.

It was with this truth in mind that the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote:

“All State obligations are against the conscience of a Christian—the oath of allegiance, taxes, law proceedings, and military service. And the whole power of the government rests on these very obligations. Revolutionary enemies attack the government from without. Christianity does not attack it at all, but, from within, it destroys all the foundations on which government rests.”

As if that wasn’t clear enough, a few pages later he stated:

“Christianity in its true sense puts an end to government…no honest and serious-minded man of our day can help seeing the incompatibility of true Christianity—the doctrine of meekness, forgiveness of injuries, and love—with government, with its pomp, acts of violence, executions, and wars. The profession of true Christianity not only excludes the possibility of recognizing government, but even destroys its very foundations.”

This view isn’t very popular with American Christians, but it is shared by a minority. Many Mennonites (including the Amish) submit to civil authority rather than support it, and refuse to participate in politics, or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. They might not think of themselves as libertarians or anarchists, but their lives are governed by the non-aggression principle, which they find in Jesus’s teachings. For centuries they have peacefully resisted governments for as long as possible, and emigrated to friendlier jurisdictions when oppression became too much to endure. Throughout history, other Christian denominations have challenged the State, and preached non-aggression, including the early Quakers, and some of the early Methodists.

Today there is a small but growing group of people who believe in God, and look to the Bible for truth, but, like many libertarians, regard the non-aggression principle as a natural law, and have dedicated their lives to peacefully sharing this message with a society that desperately needs it.

I’m not a member of any specific Christian denomination, and I’m not inviting anyone to join one. However, I am inviting libertarians—especially the skeptical majority—to revisit the teachings of Jesus with an open mind. Perhaps, unlike me, you don’t believe in God. Perhaps, unlike me, you won’t choose to become a Christian. But perhaps, like me, you’ll come to think of Jesus as an influential anarchist, as well as a religious figure, and you and I can meet on that middle ground, agree to disagree on other issues, and accomplish more together than we ever imagined.

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55 Responses to “Jesus Is An Anarchist”

  1. Ben StoneNo Gravatar says:

    Well said Chris.
    Well said.

    Ben

  2. DiannaNo Gravatar says:

    Beautifully said! Interesting how so few find Christianity and anarchy compatible. Hopefully your words will help to open a few minds!

  3. GenghisNo Gravatar says:

    Christ wasn’t a pacifist. The example of him whipping the Money changers should dispel that notion.

    Pacifism is the practical realization by slaves that they cannot win by force. It is taught to them by their Masters. Pacifism and force are two sides to the same coin. It is what Islam is, submission.

    The trick is to learn that force has no power over you, except to destroy you. The proper response to force is jiu jitsu, guiding the opponents force against themselves.

    When that is learned, you are free. That is the lesson Christ taught.

  4. Jesus was supposed to be some kind of king. How the heck could a king be an anarchist? He is by definition, a ruler. If anarchy means no rulers, he ain’t it.

    • Erv HillNo Gravatar says:

      Jesus only became a “King” when the King James version of the Bible was scribed. Unfortunately, the KJV Bible is the one most used today. King James I had the Bible “purged” of inconsistencies, namely to justify the “Divine Right of Kings”.
      The truly unfortunate thing for most Christians is that they point to the KJV Bible as “the word of God” when, as Chris adroitly points out, it is a collection of stories. The inconsistencies in the Gospels of the Disciples is pointed out by an essay from Lysander Spooner (The Deist’s Reply to the Alleged Supernatural Evidences of Christianity) and I appreciate Chris’ handling of those issues to reconcile his own position.

      • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

        Uh, unless you have read the original scrolls how do know that they don’t or didn’t refer to him as a king? The problem with interpreting the bible is that it is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy ….. and it was not originally written in English.

  5. Thomas Jefferson’s “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth”, also known as the Jefferson Bible, separated the anti-state and anti-ecclesiastical teachings of Jesus from the later additions of Saul’s Judeo-Christianity and Constantine’s Holy Roman Empire – the first of which reintroduced ecclesiastical law, and the second of which reintegrated the State.

    Today’s so-called Christians do not have the ears to hear his message of peace and the “kingdom of heaven”.

  6. Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

    Excellent article! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Ted Lindblad IIINo Gravatar says:

    In most but not all of my internet travels I am usually made fun of and disparaged as foolish and naive for what I am about to say; that rarely stops me. I too am libertarian, not a pacifist and strongly anti-government, but I do believe that the King James Bible is the very Word of God, inspired and preserved throughout history as the author (does not) suggest. I believe I can demonstrate this to be so very clearly as well.

    The supposed contradictions and inconsistencies found within its pages are rendered as such due to lack of dispensational clarity and understanding. Understand who God is speaking to, when and why (as God deals with us fallen human beings differently throughout time) and the Bible will take on meaning most people never come close to realizing.

    My email address is ted at high end audio dot com should anyone care to explore what the Bible truly has to offer… ultimate truth. Should you just want to poke fun, continuing to believe what you already believe, disparaging me for my beliefs, I’d recommend finding someone without answers to target. I get plenty of that and while the repetition is tedious, the answers you will receive will truly piss you off and that is not my goal. Honest and genuine curiosity will be rewarded with honesty, patience and contextual scripture in return.

    Comments such as…

    “King James I had the Bible “purged” of inconsistencies, namely to justify the “Divine Right of Kings”.”

    …are only opinions based upon what some men (like Spooner) say. Other men have other opinions. So what? If that is what you choose to believe, go on believing that. If however, God is God; if God created everything, how is it possible that, IF He wanted a book written, He could possibly fail at that? Is God so weak that his subordinate creation could prevent His Will from being carried out? Logic strongly suggests otherwise.

    I appreciate the author suggesting to libertarians that Biblical teaching ought to be examined. It should, as I believe it is the only source of absolute truth in an absolutely confused world. I offer my time and attention to the accomplishment of the same. I am a non-denominational King James (only) Bible student/teacher.

    True Bible Christianity is not religion. True Bible Christianity is the 100% pure absence of religion. It is a thing most beautiful in all the universe, hidden in plain sight.

    Peace

    • GenghisNo Gravatar says:

      If the Bible is the literal word of God as you claim, then can you point to a single, verifiable, unambiguous, prophecy, that came to pass?

      I’ll save us a lot of time, you can’t because it doesn’t exist.

      Therefore even if the Bible is the words of God, it means nothing because it has no predictive value.

  8. VanmindNo Gravatar says:

    Suddenly the graphics that accompany each article are not displaying in this avatar’s cyber-eyes (just the alt text). Dark omens … or maybe not.

  9. autonomousNo Gravatar says:

    I believe much of what Chris has written and much of the responses as well. The only thing that I disagree with is the reply that espouses the King James Version. It’s not that I think the KJV is a poor translation, not that I think it incorrect but that, much like the Roman Church’s long-time restriction again any other than the Latin translation, it forces the everyday reader to rely on the interpretation of ‘experts.’ Jesus, apparently, did not teach in Hebrew, but in Koine Greek, the language of common men, of peasants. I have found the The Good News Version is most meaningful to me, requiring no go-between between Gods word and my understanding. That said, I have studied both the Greek new testament and the Septuagint, the Old Testament translation into Greek. That was years ago, and I no longer retain the ability to read Greek, but I do enjoy digging into an interlinear version of the New Testament. On the other hand, I share with that responder an assurance in the belief that the Bible is a trustworthy revelation of the Word of God.

    In that respect, I don’t completely agree with Chris. Where I do agree with him is the belief that the stories in the Bible are, indeed, stories. In that regard, I see the Bible as a revelation of God himself, not necessarily as a physics textbook, nor as a government handbook. In that respect, it is obvious that it was the Pharisees and the Scribes who Jesus opposed much more directly than the government of Rome. I believe, therefore, that anarchy against any form of human government is in accord completely with the teachings of Jesus. No human being has ever been granted by God a place between the rest of humanity and God, save that of fathers before their children have attained the requisite abilities to receive instruction directly from God. Arguably, fallen man struggles with that felicity throughout life. I am extremely grateful that God took it upon himself to enter our world directly to reveal himself to his fallen children, both in the Bible and in the person of Jesus.

  10. Duh, the discussion of them as different concepts is like some kind mass misunderstanding.

    It’s like gold dust, you need to understand christianity as anarchistic in order to correct apply it’s principles without going off on yahoo crazy tangents.

  11. Paul K. Brubaker, Sr.No Gravatar says:

    First, do no harm. Instigate no force, perpetrate no fraud. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. If it harms none, do as you will.

  12. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    “Think not that I am come to send peace on Earth: I do not come to bring peace but with a sword. ” – Matthew 10:34 ( supposedly a Jesus quote)

    Christian Anarchist is an oxymoron. An Anarchist is one who does not believe that there are rulers. Many if not most Christians believe that there is an ultimate ruler of the universe. One can not hold both of those beliefs simultaneously. Btw, there is no evidence that the Jesus mentioned in the Bible existed.

    Also nearly all Christians believe that they know what “true” Christianity is and they have a monopoly on “true” Christianity and other “Christians” are not “true” Christians. This is an example of the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

  13. alan3303No Gravatar says:

    Articulates my feelings very well. Good job!

  14. swabby76No Gravatar says:

    Love the article…creates dialog…that is awesome.
    Personally I believe that the Bible never calls itself the Word of God … The Bible said Jesus is the Word (John 1) … and all translations including the KJV falls short .. in fact, King James restricted the interpretation so as not to erode his own power / authority and had many key words transliterated instead of translated. As far as Jesus and swords, HReardon should not that the verse he quoted in context referred to an effective sword (not literal and not government) follower by the effect in Matthew 10:35 For I have come to turn“‘a man against his father,a daughter against her mother,a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— … in fact Jesus said those who live by the sword (civil and religious govt) die by the sword AND encouraged all to have a sword for self defense … and if you don’t have one to sell your coat to get one, this in the day when Jews were not allowed to have swords like the Roman soldiers had because of their slave status in those days.
    Your mileage may vary … so if you get upset just assume someone else already chewed me out and marginalized me 🙂

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      That is your interpretation of the verse. One of the problems with the bible is that there are so many different interpretations of it. People also will ignore certain passages of the bible and interpret the parts they like the way they want to.

      How do you interpret: ?

      ” Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”
      1 Peter 2:13-14

      Does that sound like something an Anarchist would say?

      • swabby76No Gravatar says:

        HRearden,
        Like you said, it is difficult to interpret .. especially when chapters and verses can be “airlifted” from their context. Like the author of this article stated, he holds up Jesus’ words and actions at their highest .. and the rest of the Bible less held in esteem .. and woven throughout the whole book are plenty tough sayings, apparent contradictions and mysteries. This is why I follow the Man vs. the book 🙂
        But 1 Pet 2:13 does seem to stand in opposition to what freedom loving people would say, but like the book of Proverbs, I treat this verse as a generality, that those claiming to follow Jesus would not normally be considered law breakers. However, in Acts 5:29 I think Peter and the apostles said: “Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” … so I would think that the place obedience parts ways is when Jesus’ ways are not aligned with civil laws.
        Notice in this chapter, earlier “Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.” In these days the religion of the area had the power to arrest people and place them in jail … for it was the religious police that came to arrest Jesus in the garden that night and Peter cut off the ear of one of the religious police/soldiers.
        On a side note … are we in the USA very far from that? With most churches being incorporated with the US government via the 1954 law put forward by the then senator LBJ called 501C3 which gave non-profit status and tax exempt contributions as the bait for religion in America to be intertwined with government 🙁
        Personally I have no problem following Jesus as I question religion, the man created part that attempts to validate itself as the “right” way to God. I have no problem following Jesus as I question statism, the man created part that attempts to validate itself as the “right” way to order society. I find liberty and freedom in having Jesus as a friend, and God as a Daddy just as much as I find liberty and freedom in non-aggressively resisting any state in all that it tries to do no matter if they call themselves democratic, communist, fascist or even a republic for I believe that the Constitution in 1787 went too far as Patrick Henry prophesied.
        Just my 2 cents .. no go on and enjoy the weekend all .. and thanks for the dialog!

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          Xians like to cherry pick verses and claim that they know the “true” context and others do not. It’s the same ole No True Scotsman Fallacy. Another contortion Xians make is to ignore parts of the bible that don’t fit their thinking and only pay attention to those passages that suit them. Big eye rolls to you swabby76 and others who agree with swabby76. Whatever.

          • swabby76No Gravatar says:

            My own journey would be the same had it (bible history/letters/etc) been communicated through oral tradition instead of translated words / books / letters. I don’t need a perfect Bible to believe I can have a relationship with my Creator and friend … and eye-rolls are appreciated:)

            • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

              Others who believe the bible is fiction who believe in a religion believe they have a relationship with a god that they believe exists. This belief is not exclusive to those who believe in the god mentioned in the bible.

  15. Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

    Good post, Chris. It had been a month since anybody took the harness to post an essay, and I had grown out of the habit of stopping by the site.

    This is a topic with which you’ll get lots of action. Many anarchists appear to have difficulty adequately broaching certain topics: religion and sexuality high on the list. Many anarchists seem to embrace atheism. I think the more proper definition of the doctrine would be Anti-theism, however, since most genuine atheists don’t expend time or energy denigrating the beliefs of others.

    The Hebrew Book — still an all-time best seller — is anarchist from stem to stern. But it has been co-opted by religion and government — both mindless abstractions. It seems to be the almighty duty of both to vehemently deny anarchy.

    From it’s opening chapters it uses the imagery of two trees to illustrate the choices available for governance: government “…of The Creator, by The Creator, and for the people…”; or government “…of the people, by the people, and for the people…” The Creator is reported to have admonished them to choose the former; the first recoded politician (poorly — but perhaps not-so-poorly — translated “serpent” in some renditions) convinced them the latter would be their best bet. In the finest political tradition the serpent had proclaimed that his opponent was lying.

    Wendy McElroy posted an excellent essay recently exposing the phenomenon. Quote:

    “…The term statolatry refers to worshiping the state as the source of goodness to which all else should be subordinated. In statolatry, instead of having a separation of church and state, the state replaces the church and becomes its own religion….”

    It’s easy to dismiss the hundreds upon hundreds of religions claiming to use as their centerpiece that Hebrew Book. And well many of them should be dismissed — outfits calling themselves “Christian”. That term only appears three times in the entire book — never in a complimentary way, but more of an epithet. By now there must be dozens and dozens — perhaps well over 50 — of translations, versions and renditions in English alone; each with obvious attempts to interline and overwrite this or some other doctrinal “truth” to make it “fit” their particular belief or exegesis.

    But they haven’t been successful in erasing Its central theme: anarchy.

    Sam

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      The bible is not the best selling non-fiction book of all time because it is not a non-fiction book. It may be the best selling fiction book of all time however. It is also not a book that promotes Anarchy from “stem to stern”as you put it. The god described in the old testament (The new testament wasn’t written by Hebrews btw) is vehemently not an Anarchist.
      See: http://youtu.be/ovWs8JQN7FE

      • Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

        I have no dog in the fight. Certainly in any religious fight. Or any anti-religious fight for that matter. My personal observation is that virtually all sides of any of those contentions are callow at best, perfidious on down the scale.

        I mean, what’s the use? Unless you suspect you’re on shaky ground — defending a questionable premise perhaps. Like maybe deep down inside believing Santa or some other omni-being who can see through bedroom walls and crania, and might indeed be makin’ a list, checkin’ it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice (and I don’t want to be left out — fer sure fer sure. Lots a wailing and gnashing of teeth for thems that gets left out).

        I like the late Carl Sagan’s observation:

        “…You can’t convince
        a believer of anything; for their belief
        is not based upon evidence,
        it’s based
        upon a deep seated need to believe…”

        ~Carl Sagan

        http://atheism.about.com/library/quotes/bl_q_CSagan.htm

        Keep in mind Sagan referred to any belief (including “science”) that you can’t prove beyond all reasonable doubt. With evidence. Evidence that has meaning for YOU — not necessarily a plurality of individuals calling themselves “scientists”. That would include emotional religious (and anti-religious) contentions over such topics as “evolution” (you weren’t there — you can only take the word of others, who have often relied on heavy doses of government funding), “creationism”, “global warming” (now being touted as “climate change”), “big-bang”, etc etc etc.

        My only argument here is that “Chr-stians” should be anarchists if they really believe what they claim to believe. It’s the only logical direction they can go. The Book admonishes each individual to take total, 100% responsibility for his or her own actions. To abstain from politics.

        And beans. I think.

        Sam

        ..

        • In many cases, abstaining from politics won’t make it go away. While Jesus’ attempt to abolish it didn’t endure, he came the closest so far. The cross is a long-term reminder of the injustice of the state. The time is ripe for a more straightforward approach:

          http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/Las_Portadas

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          Sam, well written. I grew up in Catholocism. It promoted a communistic approach of subservience to authority (render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar”s). No religion actually promotes critical thinking. They are anti-individualism by promoting turn the other cheek and allowing power mongers to get away with everything because of pie in the sky arguments. Remember that Chrilstianity shares a lot of history with feudalism.

  16. Recap

    If you pray, close the door and make sure you’re alone.
    Better still, do not think it. Your needs are all known.
    Be not babbling, blathering, better-than-thou.
    Unconditional mercy, untrampled by sow.
    And if you must condemn, let the sinless throw first.
    If you’ve looked on an angel you’re also accursed.
    If you’ve hated a devil, you surely must die.
    So before you advise, take the beam from your eye.
    Woe to crimemakers, sinmakers, setting their traps,
    lifting not but a finger to decipher their maps.
    To Caesar belongs every drachma he EARNS.
    And a mortal who labors takes home what he learns.

  17. Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

    Christianity is essentially communistic. When it is voluntary communism can exist in an anarchism. But normally communism or christianity depend upon the coercion of lifelong brainwashing and are anathema to individualist anarchists.

    • swabby76No Gravatar says:

      Fritz,
      I do agree that organized Christianity can have communistic attributes … the type of Jesus-following that Jesus himself modeled was not .. no brainwashing was required as Jesus just loved these guys regardless of their “performance” and they were free to leave at anytime. To me the essence of Jesus’ lifestyle was very anarchistic … he avoided the governments / religions and touched people’s lives in a meaningful way at the grassroots and was the perfect gentleman doing so never showing aggressiveness (life threatening) or coersion BUT had a heart for all those who were marginalized by society, BUT at the same time saying that society would always have their poor (so was not communistic). Love was / is his central theme … which to me dovetails with the NAP of libertarian / anarchy principles.
      Your mileage may vary 🙂

      • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

        What is the proof that jesus existed?

        • swabby76No Gravatar says:

          “…. G.A. Wells, who until recently was the champion of the Christ-myth hypothesis, now accepts the historicity of Jesus on the basis of ‘Q.'(New Testament texts) as well as Jewish source Josephus who provides independent confirmation to the life of Jesus. The most important non-Christian witness to the historical Jesus is Josephus, who wrote five works in Greek: Life, his autobiography; Contra Apion, a defense of Judaism; The Jewish War, an eyewitness account of the revolt against Rome (66-74 CE); Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades; and The Jewish Antiquities, a history of the Jews from Adam to his generation….”
          … all from a non-Christian evaluation of Josh McDowell’s claims around Jesus. (At infidels.org )
          Josh McDowell’s “Evidence” for Jesus
          Is It Reliable?
          Jeffery Jay Lowder
          Last Updated: May 15, 2000
          FYI .. FWIW

          • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

            McDowell. eye roll. Josephus- eye roll. Not proof and not evidence. Big eye roll.

          • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

            Swabby, the historical references that “prove” Christ’s existence are very old, often translated numerous times by numerous people, and are subject to the same problem all history texts have, they are written by the victor. Our history texts state that Oswald shot Kennedy by himself while some foreign sources openly say LBJ had JFK killed. That was only 50 years ago. Stipulating that Jesus lived is more an act of faith than rationality. Stipulating the “facts” concerning his life and emotions is a huge leap of faith probably based upon what we wish to believe rather than hard evidence.

        • DavidNo Gravatar says:

          @HRearden – What is the proof that George Washington existed?

          • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

            There is an abundance of records going back to the 18th century that attest to the fact that George Washington existed. There are many documents and letters and records and accounts of Washington. Other than what was written on scrolls that became books of the bible the same is not of the jesus mentioned in the bible. There are no sources other than the bible that indicate that the jesus mentioned in the bible existed. Furthermore, there is no account other than the bible that jesus was a son of a god or that he rose from the dead or that others rose from their graves at the same time jesus supposedly did as mentioned in the bible. If that happened it would have such an unbelievable event certainly it would have been written down by many sources as it would be an incredible news event.

            • DavidNo Gravatar says:

              @HRearden – There is considerable historical evidence of the existence of Jesus. Now, you can debate whether you believe he is/was the messiah, did miracles and the like but you cannot debate whether he existed or not. Many historians have examined the record (Bart Ehrman, historian and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill comes to mind) and have concluded that indeed Jesus existed. This by the way includes many atheists and agnostics who have no dog in the hunt. Regarding your contention that there is ample evidence in the historical record to suggest that George Washington did exist, let’s see what the historical record look like in 1,800 years. There is as much evidence to suggest that Jesus did in fact exist as there is to confirm the existence of any other figure in history at the time. If you claim that Jesus did not exist will you also deny the existence of any other person 2,000 years ago? 1,000 years ago. Where exactly is there enough “facts” to support your suppositions?

              • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

                No. There is no proof that jesus existed. Nobody has produced proof of it.

                • Ted Lindblad IIINo Gravatar says:

                  C. R. Stam writes many years ago…

                  “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (I Cor. 1:20).

                  This challenge was hurled at the intellectual world of nineteen hundred years ago, so famous for its philosophy, literature and art. Nor are these the words of one who himself lacked the benefits of higher learning. Rather, they flowed from the pen of one of the most learned men, one of the greatest thinkers of all time: the Apostle Paul. More than this, they are found in that Book of books, the Bible, which has withstood, not barely but magnificently, all the attacks of a thousand critics through centuries of time. This Book says:

                  “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (I Cor. 3:19).

                  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10).

                  Actually, the “intellectuals” in any age are those who assent to the theories of those who agree with each other that they are intellectual! Dissent from them and you have automatically branded yourself an illiterate!

                  “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

                  “And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

                  “That no flesh should glory in His presence” (I Cor. 1:27-29).

                  God is God. He is so far above this world and our understanding… It is shocking and truly sad to see the rationalizations people use again and again to deny His existence. It is so very basic…

                  Creation exists, therefore Creator. Either everything came from something, or everything came from nothing at all. Which position requires more “faith”? When once Creator is realized in the mind of creation (you and me) the same mind begins to wonder just Who that Creator might be. When once the desire to know Him enters into the mind of creation, creation can find Creator but creation is very easily misled.

                  Anyone who has an honest desire to know God and picks up a King James Bible will find Him. Christ IS Creator.

                  John 1:1-3… “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”

                  As God “spoke” the universe into existence, His Words are creation itself. As Jesus Christ IS God Himself made manifest to us 3-dimentional creatures that we might perceive Him with the senses He gave us (as if we needed this outside of the pure logic of the situation); since creation exists, Christ the Creator must (can’t not) exist.

                  Peace

                  • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                    Wow! With utterly irrational rants like this how can creationists wonder at science laughing at their idiocy?

                  • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                    Ted, I am sorry that the above comment of mine comes out as an adhominem attack. It is just that you assume so much with very little scientific backing that it is nearly impossible to take your statement’s seriously. Faith and reason do not cohabitate well!

                    • Ted Lindblad IIINo Gravatar says:

                      Don’t take them seriously. This creationist is used to it.

                      Romans 1:20-21… “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

                      1 Timothy 6:20-21… “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding vain and profane babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.”

                      You laugh not at me…

                • DavidNo Gravatar says:

                  @HRearden – You said: “No. There is no proof that jesus existed. Nobody has produced proof of it.”

                  Let’s be accurate – nobody has provided YOU proof sufficient to convince you that Jesus existed. That’s the bottom line. You have not examined the record because you don’t want to. You don’t want to know the truth because that may required you to change. Ultimately however, you are as much a person of faith as I am. You are just like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher. These people deny the existence of God but cannot prove it. Faith is the difference between what we believe and what we know and can prove. Dawkins, Hitchens and Maher are men of faith because they cannot prove by way of empirical evidence that God does not exist. In the final analysis I can no more convince you of the existence of Jesus than you could convince me that He doesn’t exist because both of our opinions rest on the fulcrum of faith.

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        Swabby, I am unsure that Jesus Christ even existed physically. So I am really unsure as to what he actually did in his life. But my point about Christianity being basically communistic stands despite what Jesus may or may not have been like.

  18. duane ennisNo Gravatar says:

    I agree, very well put.

  19. Anthony CaprioNo Gravatar says:

    Nice article!

  20. TomNo Gravatar says:

    Among other things, no sane being would use human grape vines to send a serious message.

  21. AubernNo Gravatar says:

    Excellent article! I am a Christian Anarchist! I’m an activist who spent three years in Keene NH “fighting the good fight” I housed three other Christian Anarchists who also joined the Free State Project in NH and chose the well known city of Keene for activism. A rarity indeed.. but not obsolete in the community of Liberty Activism.

  22. Elaborating on Chris Slavens’s above post, my following article demonstrates the logically unavoidable anarchism of Jesus Christ’s teachings as recorded in the New Testament (in addition to analyzing their context in relation to his actions, to the Tanakh, and to his apostles). It is logically complete on this subject, in the sense of its apodixis.

    James Redford, “Jesus Is an Anarchist”, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Dec. 4, 2011 (orig. pub. Dec. 19, 2001), 60 pp., doi:10.2139/ssrn.1337761; PDF, 312715 bytes, MD5: ff45387b1b2ed9d6dec411d5328abdd6, http://archive.org/download/JesusIsAnAnarchist/Redford-Jesus-Is-a n-Anarchist.pdf .

    • Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

      James Redford, yours is a good (but long) essay. Good, I suppose because anything that agrees with me has to be good. Right? 🙂 I’m as far as Chapter 7 (page 20).

      From page 2:

      “…Jesus is far more radical than many would have you believe, and for good reason: it threatens the status quo. For the consequence of this truth becoming understood and accepted by even one tenth of the population would be quite dramatic indeed: governments would topple like so many dominoes…”

      Hasnas expresses it thus:

      “…Anarchy refers to a society without a central political authority. But it is also used to refer to disorder or chaos. This constitutes a textbook example of Orwellian newspeak in which assigning the same name to two different concepts effectively narrows the range of thought. For if lack of government is identified with the lack of order, no one will ask whether lack of government actually results in a lack of order.

      “And this uninquisitive mental attitude is absolutely essential to the case for the state. For if people were ever to seriously question whether government is really productive of order, popular support for government would almost instantly collapse…”

      I’ve observed for a number of years that the Hebrew Book is a Book of Anarchy, “…from stem to stern…” — and that both professing religionists and professing atheists react with utmost negativity to this observation. And for good reason: if either were to acknowledge this truth (truth to me anyhow), each would have to accept the veracity of the other’s “right” (whatever “right” means to you) to believe what they believe without the impudence of verbal warfare.

      So each appears to feel duty-bound to whing and whang around on the web, squabbling each other with vituperation and zeal.

      Back to your essay, on p 8 you do a good job outlining the difference between “anarchy” and “libertarian”. I’ve always been vexed by that, since we so often use the two interchangeably; and I’ve not seen anybody broach the difference between the two terms in a simple and logical manner. You accomplish that nicely.

      Whether you accept the opening story regarding the first two created human beings as an amusing anecdote, childhood myth, or historical fact — it unfolds as follows. They were offered two types of governance:

      1) government of The Creator, by The Creator, and for the people (“the tree of life”) or

      2) government of the people, by the people and for the people (“tree of the knowledge of good and evil”).

      The Creator is reported to have admonished them to freely eat of the first and eschew the second. The first recorded politician (poorly translated “serpent” in some of the dozens of renditions) accused the Creator of lying, and assured them it would be fine to eat of the second.

      The rest of the story is what we hammer out on these pages.

      Sam

      • Thank you for your complimentary comments pertaining to my article “Jesus Is an Anarchist”, Sam Spade.

        A number of people here might also be interested in my following article on physicist and mathematician Prof. Frank J. Tipler’s Omega Point cosmology, which is a proof (i.e., mathematical theorem) of God’s existence per the known laws of physics (viz., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics), and the Feynman-DeWitt-Weinberg quantum gravity/Standard Model Theory of Everything (TOE), which is also required by said known physical laws. The Omega Point cosmology has been published and extensively peer-reviewed in leading physics journals.

        James Redford, “The Physics of God and the Quantum Gravity Theory of Everything”, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Sept. 10, 2012 (orig. pub. Dec. 19, 2011), 186 pp., doi:10.2139/ssrn.1974708; PDF, 1741424 bytes, MD5: 8f7b21ee1e236fc2fbb22b4ee4bbd4cb, http://archive.org/download/ThePhysicsOfGodAndTheQuantumGravityTh eoryOfEverything/Redford-Physics-of-God.pdf .

        Additionally, in the below resource are six sections which contain very informative videos of Prof. Tipler explaining the Omega Point cosmology and the Feynman-DeWitt-Weinberg quantum gravity/Standard Model TOE. The seventh section therein contains an audio interview of Tipler. I also provide some helpful notes and commentary for some of these videos.

        James Redford, “Video of Profs. Frank Tipler and Lawrence Krauss’s Debate at Caltech: Can Physics Prove God and Christianity?”, alt.sci.astro, Message-ID: jghev8tcbv02b6vn3uiq8jmelp7jijluqk[at sign]4ax[period]com , July 30, 2013, https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.sci.astro/KQWt4KcpMVo .

  23. Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

    I need to step back in here for a moment and reaffirm that I have no dog in this fight. I am neither “pro-this” nor “anti-that” when it comes to belief in a g-d or other omni-being. Although I compliment Chris Slavens for the good and timely essay, I don’t necessarily attribute anarchy to an individual named “Jesus” (probably mistranslated — the correct translation of that particular name would probably come closer to that of one of my grandsons: “Joshua”, silent “J”).

    My argument is that the Hebrew Book arises from the standpoint of anarchy. That is, unless your perception of “G-d” is as an angry, omnipresent and omnipowerful, bearded old man who is “…making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…” If that’s the case, you’d better watch out. He’ll get-cha.

    I can’t prove to you one way or the other. All I can do is to observe, and to admit that as a scientist I do not know how photosynthesis, for one example, came about — why it sustains the lives of both you and me continuously, etc etc etc. I have faith that, at least until I click the “submit” button of this comment, photosynthesis will go on in this room in the middle of bitter cold winter here in the far north where there is little in the way of greenery to release a byproduct called O, and that the CO2 byproduct I exhale will be somehow dispatched from the room and utilized to provide life for other growing things somewhere in the far-off world — and that I will be kept alive by that process.

    There are certain observations I can’t deny, one of which is that “true libertarians” (thanks again for the clarification between “libertarian” and “anarchist”, James Redford) will probably not be situated on either side of the ongoing “belief” battle. But that leaders of “religion” — totally disconnected from “belief” — have throughout history involved themselves in incestuous relationships with psychopaths grouped into organizations we like to call “government”, or “the state” to cause the most egregious massacres and butchery known to mankind.

    The enormity of the truth is incredible. Sam

  24. Swag DaddyNo Gravatar says:

    Actually according to the religious texts of Psalms, it tells of the Mesiah being obviously a capitalist

    “And the saviour of the world, shall poor down his wealth upon man”

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Swag Daddy, this quote seems anything but capitalistic to me. But all scripture is written to be ambiguous so the shamans can pull any meaning they need out of the hat. I still see most Christianity as being communistic in that it wishes for those of ability to give to those with need while in reality supporting a ruling elite.