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Author Topic: Is Anarcho-Capitalism Incompatible With Christianity?  (Read 42447 times)
Script
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« on: September 14, 2011, 09:13:50 PM »

This thread is mainly for the Christians of the forum (of whom there seem to be a fair amount), though I welcome responses from everyone who wishes to weigh in. Just keep in mind, that though I am dedicated to having an open mind about God, religion, evolution, etc. trying to convert me to atheism by the putting down the Bible or God is not going to be constructive for me at this point.  I need to think through my faith and examine the logical arguments and available evidence.  If you have either of those I welcome the response.

To begin, I'd like to look at the concept of taxes.  On the face of it, it seems like Christianity supports government and encourages Christians to pay their taxes.  This is the mainstream evangelical Christian view (my background).  However, if you dig a little deeper things start to become not so clear cut as most people assume. 

For example, the story of Jesus and the Pharisees and the silver denarius is often quoted with the assumption that Jesus is telling people to pay their taxes ("render unto Caeser").*  However, I read a fantastic article at lewrockwell.com (I know, redundant) which took a totally different interpretation, and one which I feel to be a lot more consistent and internally peaceful. 

However, then you have Romans 13:1-6, which to me seems to be very clearly saying Christians are supposed to pay taxes.  However, this passage also seems to have inconsistencies as CLEARLY not all rulers reward the good and punish evil.  In fact, the vast majority of the time it seems like the State rewards evil, not good.

I have more to say on this subject, but am out of time.  I look forward to your responses.

*For reference: Matthew 22:15-22
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helio
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2011, 11:16:45 PM »

This is a very important area that needs an in depth analysis and examination.  What I want to recommend is that someone, perhaps you Script, as it is a topic that is dear to your heart, should set out to write an authoritative work addressing the question.

I'm not suggesting you should begin with the conclusion as answered in the affirmative, but really leave the question open and rigorously study the Bible's passages that seem to touch on the subject and attempt to synthesize them into a formulative answer.

Of course, if some other work such as that exists, someone should point it out.

Also, that single question alone could be the basis for its own website.

Furthermore, a better way to ask the question would be "Is Obedience to Government Incompatible with The Teachings of Christ?"

I can almost guarantee that the draft would be reinstated if the vast majority of Christians stopped teaching their sons and daughters to serve the state. 
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bastiat
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2011, 07:30:47 PM »

The way I looked at Romans 13 before I was an An-Cap was that governments should be obeyed but only governments. Not all states are governments. The way of determining this is the standards laid out in Romans 13 itself.  "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong." Any state that violates this as a matter of policy ceases to be a government and thus Christians have no obligation to it. But what drove me to libertarianism is just how limited the legitimate powers of government are. "To punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." This limits government to a night watchman level and giving guidelines to moral behavior plus possibly the subsiding of public goods. Now even Ron Paul would have difficulty residing within these limits which is why I am an An-Cap. But in a hypothetical minarchist world I would obey the government totally.   But this is highly unstable which is why I am an An-Cap.
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Linux
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2011, 02:35:27 PM »

The "render unto Caesar" passage is talking about something so much larger. Anyone who reads that story and thinks that Jesus' point was a command that Christians pay taxes is missing the bigger picture. Jesus' answer is really asking a question to the pharisees, "whose image do you bare?" I believe that I also heard that a denarious has a blasphemous inscription on it calling Caesar the "most high-god."

Romans 13 has troubled me a lot, I've heard various explanations and theories about mistranslations, but non of them have explained it accurately enough for me.
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2011, 09:52:59 PM »

I've had a theory about Romans 13.  It could be referring to governmental structure that was found in the Israelite society, enacted during their move from Egypt to Israel.  It's found in Exodus 18, the structure there was purely dispute resolution. 

Exodus 18:21 reads  "But select capable men from all the people - men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain - and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can handle themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied."

Originally Moses was handling all disputes among the people which was too much for one person to handle so this organization was created to solve that problem.  Although it isn't explicitly mentioned, I imagine these judges were compensated in some way for their work. 



A second thought I've had refers to Romans 13:1, "for there is no authority except that which God has established."  I am certain that God did not establish statist political structures. 

He did establish the church; however, I believe that organized religion has deviated from its founding principles and does not currently serve as an example. 
« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 09:56:10 PM by rahvin » Logged
rahvin
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2011, 09:54:15 PM »


Furthermore, a better way to ask the question would be "Is Obedience to Government Incompatible with The Teachings of Christ?"



Nice turn of phrase, I am going to win so many arguments with this now. 
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Linux
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2011, 08:50:24 AM »

I too have had the idea floating in my head that the times in Exodus there wasn't really a state (as we know it.) God ruled very directly at that time, which is a legit rule - unlike man involuntarily enslaving man to his own ideals on life.
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2011, 03:58:33 AM »

I too have had the idea floating in my head that the times in Exodus there wasn't really a state (as we know it.) God ruled very directly at that time, which is a legit rule - unlike man involuntarily enslaving man to his own ideals on life.

Anarcho-theocracy--"no law but liberty, no king but Christ", as someone on another forum put it. On a side note, I used the term "anarcho-theocracy" at an economic discussion group on campus once. It scared the bujeebus out of some of the people there. Anarchy + Theocracy is probably the most terrifying combination for Progressives. Ha ha.


As far as Romans 13 referring to the government of Exodus times, I don't think that's correct. If I'm not mistaken Romans was written by Paul to the Church in Rome, so he was clearly referring to the Roman State which was more similar to what we now know as the State than the type of government
that ancient Israel had. 

Reading the responses above, I'm realizing there really are several ways to interpret this scripture, but none of them really satisfy me at this point. I think what Helio suggested is good, but may take me a long time to accomplish. A lifetime, perhaps. I'd like to thoroughly analyze Romans 13 in it's historical context looking at the original language and word meanings. To me there are just so many logical problems with taxes being anything other than theft and slavery. 

Even if one were to argue that because God is sovereign He gets to decide what is theft and what is not, and He's decided that humans should pay taxes to the government, the question arises: how much? Either God has to specify how much in the Bible, which I haven't seen, or it is up to the
Governments. If it is up to the governments, that is slavery, because the arbitrary ability to set tax
rates at whatever level implies ownership of the fruits of labor of the taxee. I cannot see how it can
be any other way.
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2011, 07:49:52 AM »

Weren't Paul's letters subject to Roman monitored? I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Paul was always in danger from the government arresting/killing him for trying to start an insurrection (of course he wasn't, though.)

[EDIT: "monitoring" to "monitored." Blame the state.]
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 09:25:20 AM by Linux » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2011, 04:10:41 PM »

Looking through the theology of revolution might be fruitful, as the logic to get rid of one ruler should apply to all rulers given An-Cap insights.  I do not have any theology textbooks that address revolution but if anyone does that would be useful.
Also, 1 Samuel 8 a critiques what we would consider a fairly small government as way too large; the good Judges era seems rather anarchist to me.
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2011, 09:27:11 AM »

It seams to me that what happened in the old testament when they wanted a king is they traded God for the state. Instead of trusting in God's providence and protection, they wanted a King like the other nations around them.

In that sense you could say that the origin of the state (in Israel anyway) was a rejection of God and his promises to the children of Israel.
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"Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order." - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
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« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2011, 10:08:22 AM »

Ah! I just thought of something. In the new testament it talks about slaves obeying and honoring your masters, yet very few Christians today would say slavery is moral. When it talks about slaves obeying and honoring their masters, it seams like it's not really endorsing slavery, but commanding obedience for the sake of the Gospel. Anyone see the point that I'm trying (not doing a great job) to make?
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bastiat
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« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2011, 04:59:19 PM »

Linux you seem to on to something; the part of the NT you are referring to is first Peter 2 literally right after he talks about obeying government.
 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Peter+2&version=NIV

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Linux
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« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2011, 08:00:43 PM »

Hmm, I think I'll use that argument next time a Christian says that the Bible endorses the state.

I wish some intellectual giant (Jeffrey Tucker anyone?) who is both a Christian and an anarchist would do a paper or book resolving the two.
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« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2011, 05:15:04 PM »

I've also thought about the fact that Paul may have been writing to the Romans in order to appease the powers that be.  By encouraging them to pay taxes he was ensuring that the Roman government didn't view the new religion as a threat.  However, if the Bible is completely true it has to be consistent and so there shouldn't be any paradoxes between different parts.  This is all good food for thought though.  Specifically Linux's point about Christians having problems with slavery though it is apparently "condoned" in the Bible.  Polygamy is another one.

Out of curiosity, are you bastiat, the same person as FredericBastiat from the bitcoin forums?
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