Are Christian Anarchists the new Zealots?

Note:  This post has been edited to remove an error that the author acknowledges he made.

In my post Donate to Theological Education or Not:  The case of fighting anarchy, I wrote of my alarm that certain young Christians had begun to adopt socialism / communism.  As a donor to theological education, I’ve been asking myself whether if it is wise to give to schools like Regent College, of which I am an alumnist, that associate with professors like Dave Diewert who advocate such views. If these people succeed with their agenda, they will take away our ability to give to places like Regent.  One of Regent’s students, a self-acknowledged friend of Dave Diewert, has come out on his blog advocating violence and the abolition of private property:

However, as I have progressed down this road, I have become convicted that our efforts in this regard must be more intimately linked to solidarity with the abandoned, to the abolition of private property, to potentially more ‘violent’ means of resistance, and to the greater goal of building a social movement.

It had been suggested to me by one of Regent’s full-time Professors that the new left-wing Christians  were the New Pharisees; I’ve changed my mind about Christians like PoserorProphet who advocate violent resistance to the “economy of death”.  They are not the New Pharisees–they are the new Zealots.  Well, occasionally the two categories can overlap,  for Rabbi Akiba, a Pharisee, supported Bar Kochba, a zealot.  Poser has actually found inspiration in the actions of the Zealots:

Or, to pick a third example, we can find inspiration in the actions of the Jewish revolutionaries who immediately burned the records of debt after gaining control of the Jerusalem Temple in the first century (Josephus writes about this – although it probably reminds the modern reader of the conclusion to Fight Club!).

I wrote to Poser at City of God the following:

Now you advocate violent means of resistance and the elimination of private property. Just how much violence would you tolerate? You’re caught up in things that are way over your head, and you yourself could end up getting burned in the process. You mentioned favorably also the zealots who burned the papers of debt and murdered the priestly class. Did you know that all of those people ended up dead within four years? (Except through treachery, Josephus himself survived to tell the story). So you find inspiration in people who were exterminated by war, and those who survived the war only to be crucified and their women and children to be sold into slavery? They perished as Jesus predicted (cf. Matt 24-25); but he told his followers not to participate in the war but rather to flee (Matt 24.16-20). But of course you know better than Jesus–you’ve read more books than he did– and so you find inspiration in the actions of the people who perished in accordance to Jesus’ prophecy!

There was a time when the Republican party had to excommunicate from their ranks the John Birch Society because these people brought discredit to the party with their extreme conspiracy views.  I wonder if evangelical Christians, particularly those involved in theological education, need to clean things up a bit too, before they lose their credibility through their association with such people.  Or are they representative?  Do they actually speak what so many people want to say but are afraid to?

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8 thoughts on “Are Christian Anarchists the new Zealots?

  1. Peter,

    In the interests of fairly representing Dan’s views, he’s still very strongly pacifistic, as in, he absolutely opposes violence towards people. That distinguishes him in my mind from the 1C zealots in a significant way, I think, though I’m not comfortable at all with his views about the destruction of property.

  2. Thanks Andrew:
    How long does it take to get from where he is now to the point where he will advocate murder? True pacifists, as far as I know, do not advocate violence against property either. In his post, he calls the Madrid bombings an effective “protest”. Don’t be deluded about where this is headed.

  3. … that might be Peter’s objective, given that he already managed to get in touch with the President of Regent in order to try and bring some heat down on me…

    But really, Andrew, if you read Peter’s writings and then read anything that he is commenting on (from Jewett’s magesterial commentary on Romans to passing remarks I have made), you’ll eventually come to the conclusion that he isn’t actually interested in fairly representing anybody’s views. So it goes.

    Also, the fact that he is incapable of distinguishing or even discussing the differences that might exist between actions performed against objects and actions performed against people fits rather well with his love of capitalism… given the way in which capitalism teaches us to treat people as objects and treat non-persons (objects, corporations, etc.) with the same legal rights as persons!

    editor’s note: this comment has been abridged to remove part of discussion in which the author of the post acknowledges his error.

    • Violence against property as you put it is not so innocent. I remember having worked all weekend sweeping a parking lot for $50. When it was stolen, I felt that my time was stolen away from me. This is why people will often be willing to defend their property with their lives.

    • I will have a moment to examine Jewett’s commentary in the light of what you have said. But today I just dealt with certain biblical passages which apparently support the idea that the apostles worked with rich householders in the establishing of the church in the Roman empire. These texts contradict your sweeping and tendentious affirmation that early Christians probably didn’t meet in houses but in crowded tenement buildings. Not only does that contradict the sole secondary source that you cited but it contradicts a massive amount of primary source information.

    • “he already managed to get in touch with the President of Regent in order to try and bring some heat down on me…”

      I assure you that I have not contacted the President of Regent. Such an action would not be inappropriate however. We have been relatively insignificant donors to Regent over the course of the last few years. So if we had certain concerns, it would perhaps be fairer to speak with a representative of the school before ending our gifts. However, we have tried to open up a public discussion concerning the sort of things to which Christian donors should contribute; as I suggested, if we support theological education in a way that eventually leads to higher taxes, socialism, or at an extreme, anarchy and chaos, we won’t be able to give anymore.

      My wife and I live off a certain percentage of our income. The rest we give away. Since we are able to live at this point in relative comfort, we believe that the amount that we pay in taxes is directly removed from our charitable giving. So the question of socialism leading to high taxes affects directly our ability to give to charities like Regent, Wycliffe College, theological education in Africa, to our church or to a downtown mission in Toronto. That is why I think it behooves charitable organizations to be careful what political views they will advocate, because their donor base will be directly affected if the wrong kind of government comes to power.

  4. Thanks for correcting your post, Peter. That actually makes me feel some affection for you, and that feels good.

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