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The major thesis of this series of essays is that God created Man not as atomistic individuals, but in Families. God nowhere commands men to leave their families and form non-familial political structures; He only gives commands to the State to restrain its activity; if these laws and the rest of Biblical Law were obeyed, the Family would be the central source of social order and productivity.

From the time of Adam until Moses, there was no "State," and the Family was adequately providing for a well-governed society (as in the case of Abraham -- Genesis 13-14). Only with rebellion (as in the case of Cain [Genesis 4] and Nimrod [Genesis 10]) did the State come into being. And "rebellion" was not the justification for the State, but the formation of a non-Familial, non-Scriptural (i.e., contrary to God's will as revealed to the Patriarchs) system of social order (the "State") was itself an act of rebellion.

It will immediately be argued that this non-political view of society is "anarchism."

Are we advocating anarchy?

Lawlessness and Anarchy

The common perception of "anarchy" is one of violence, chaos, destruction of property, and lawlessness. Consider the following dictionary definitions of "Anarchy," first from the Funk & Wagnall's New Practical Standard Dictionary:

1. Absence or utter disregard of government; lawless confusion and disorder; anarchism. 2. Disorder. See synonyms under DISORDER, REVOLUTION. (<Gr. anarchos, without a head)

Here, since there is no "head" (presumably, a "State"), there must be chaos; there is no government without "the government."

Thus an "anarchist" is

A violent and destructive opponent of all government; a nihilist.

We oppose terrorism and disorder. We uphold the law to such an extent that some have criticized us as "legalists" and opponents of a "free gospel." Our desire is to see a well-governed society. It would seem we are opponents of "anarchy."

"Philosophical Anarchism"

Funk and Wagnall give us a popular understanding of "anarchy." The Random House Dictionary of the English Language does the same:

1. a state of society without government or law. 2. political and social disorder due to absence of governmental control. . . . 4. confusion; chaos; disorder

But it also gives a more philosophically correct definition of what the majority of "anarchists" have historically held:

3. a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.

"Anarchism" is defined by Funk and Wagnall's as

1. The theory that all forms of government are wrong and unnecessary.

This is rather neutral, compared to the next entry:

2. Advocacy of anarchy or terrorism.

Although we usually think of an "anarchist" as a bearded, caped, bomb-throwing assassin, the majority of those who (prior to the onset of the "punk rock" movement [and especially in Great Britain]) have called themselves "anarchists" have held to this non-violent, decentralized view of social order. Accordingly, an "anarchist" is

1. a person who advocates anarchism as a political doctrine; a believer in voluntary association as the most satisfactory means of organizing society.

The next definition of "anarchist," however, returns to the more popular conception:

2. a person who seeks to overturn by violence all constituted forms and institutions of society and government, with no purpose of establishing any other system of order in the place of that destroyed.

Do you see how these two definitions are complete opposites? One wants to organize society, albeit along voluntary lines. The other wants society disorganized. How can we sort out the apparent contradiction?

The Impossibility of Anarchism

The word "anarchy" comes from two Greek words: a, meaning "without," and archon, or arché).

It is impossible to have a society without an "archy."

The Greek word arché is expressive of both "beginning" and "sovereign." John 1:1 begins "en arché," "in the beginning." But the word also means "magistrate" (Luke 12:11), "rule" (I Corinthians 15:24), or "principalities" (Ephesians 6:12). An authoritative Greek Lexicon (Liddell and Scott) says the word means "supreme power, sovereignty, dominion." Thus Jesus is said to be an "archy" (Colossians 1:18). We might translate in this case as "First Cause," or some such word/phrase which combines both "beginning" and "supreme power."

In terms of social government, it is plain (upon thought) that there can be no state of "anarchy." Legal sovereignty is an inescapable concept. If it resides in one person, we may speak of a "monarchy" ("one archist"). If legal sovereignty resides in a small group we may speak of an "oligarchy" ("few archists"). But if legal sovereignty resides in individuals, voluntary associations, or mutual cooperatives, we cannot (technically) say a state of "anarchy" exists, because "archy," meaning legal or governmental sovereignty, resides in the voluntary associations, Families, or individuals. Every human being is born by parents who have a standard of right and wrong. There is always an "archy."

Random House defines such a voluntarist society as "anarchy" simply because there is no organized political structure which we normally think of as a "State." But this is merely a reflection of popular usage, and is not etymologically or philosophically correct.

Confusion is generated in our thinking because we have been taught to think that without a "State" (an institution outside the Family) social order will break down. This is simply not the case, a point which we will establish in many future essays.

From a Christian perspective, "anarchy," whether defined as violence or the absence of legal sovereignty, is not even a moral option. Obviously, Jesus Christ is the Christian's "Archist," (Colossians 1:18; cf. Acts 3:15; 5:31; Hebrews 2:10; 12:2; Revelation 1:5) and His Word is our "Archy" (He is the Word; John 1:1; I John 1:1; Revelation 19:13; cf. also Hebrews 3:14; 5:12).

Who Was the First Anarchist?

John Milton (1608-1674) may have been the first to speak of an "anarch." In Paradise Lost he spoke of "Satan, and him thus the Anarch old. . . ." If ever there was a being who could rightly be classified as an "anarchist" it would seem to be Satan. Yet the Bible recognizes that he is an anArchist only insofar as he opposes the True Archist, Jesus Christ. In fact, Satan seeks to be a rival archist. He is the archon of the devils (Matthew 12:24) and the arché of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Satan is the "archist" over an entire world of rebellious men and angelic forces (John 16:11); we wrestle against these "archists" (Ephesians 6:12) knowing that the True Archist has defeated them (Colossians 2:15) and will remove their power before His Second Coming (I Corinthians 15:24).

The chaos and disorder brought about by these demonic "anarchists" is thus the lawlessness of lots of little would-be archists, each trying to "be as gods" (Genesis 3:5). Revolutionaries and terrorists likewise try to destroy existing institutions only because they want "archy" for themselves.

There are no "anarchists," only those would-be archists who oppose the True Archist.

Webster's first edition (1828) defines Milton's now-obscure word ("anarch") as "The author of confusion; one who excites revolt." Bible students will immediately think of that demonic Humanist whose very name means "Let us revolt": Nimrod. Yet this "anarch" was in fact the first Humanistic archist -- he was the man who first attempted to move society from a Patriarchal to a monarchical or political society (Genesis 10:8-12). Nimrod the "anarchist" was also the founder of the State!

It is clear that we will have to investigate this man further in future essays, and discover how anti-Familial "anarchism" is always pro-State "archism."

Is there a "Christian Anarchism"?

Keeping in mind the impossibility of life without a rule, sovereign, or principle of law, why should we use the word "anarchism" at all?

Historically, the "anarcho-socialists" and the "anarcho-capitalists" have stood for principles much like the voluntarist principles seen in the Random House Dictionary definitions. Can we put their rhetoric in a Christian context and make use of it?

Their opposition to political machinations is arguably a justified one. Political rule seems to be contrary to Christ's teachings and historically seems always to be used to justify theft and despotism. One thinks of Lord Acton's maxim, "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." We defend the "anarchists'" opposition to political systems and call for Patriarchal (Family-centered) systems to replace them.

There are just as many arguments in favor of speaking of a "Christian anarchism" as there are for using "anarchy" as a synonym for terrorism and destructive revolution.

Keeping in mind the Christian's True Archist, Jesus Christ, the life of Abraham is instructive. Abraham and the thousands who constituted his household (cf. Genesis 14:14) formed a legally sovereign jurisdiction (compare the interaction with surrounding "States," Genesis 14:13ff.). The legal sovereign in Abraham's life was the Lord and His Word (Genesis 26:5); this was his "archy." Thus Abraham lived in a "stateless" society; he could never say "justice is the responsibility of 'the government,'" and he never did (Genesis 18:19). Was Abraham an "anarchist"?

Jesus Himself took a dim view of earthly archists, and instructed His followers to do the same. In Mark 10:35ff. we have the account of James and John asking Jesus for a kind of "archist" power and glory. Jesus tells them to adopt a kind of philosophical "anarchism":

Ye know that they which think it good to rule (archein) over the nations exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so it shall not be among you: but whosoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant (lit., "deacon"); and whosoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. (10:42-45)

Jesus says His followers are not to think it a good thing to be an "archist" and to exercise lordship over others.

Some commentators have suggested that "not all political lordship is wrong; being a political "overlord," however, is certainly wrong." But while Mark uses the kata-kurieuousin form (where the "kata" prefix might indicate abuse of power), the parallel in Luke is simply kurieuousin (and exousiazo). It would seem to be wrong to be a "benevolent dictator" as well as your garden-variety dictator/tyrant.

Important in Mark's account is the use of the verb form, archo. It is clearly forbidden for the Christian to be an "archist." What does that imply?

When one considers that it is Satan and his hordes who are called "archists," it would seem that all but the True Archist Jesus Christ have stepped outside of God's Law in being "archists."

Finally, the Lord Jesus, although the True Archist, is in some ways an "Anarchist." Since we tend so easily to equate earthly "archists" with the political State, it is interesting that the Lord is working through His Church to put down all earthly "archists." I Corinthians 15:24 speaks of "archists," "powers," and "mighty ones." All are contrary to Christ's Kingdom of service and peace. The Prophets' vision of the latter-day glory is of a stateless society where individuals voluntarily organize their households according to God's Law (Micah 4:1-5).

The Standard by which we assess the evil of various "archists" and "anarchists," must always be the Word of God. The "anarch" Nimrod is also the first "archist," and founder of the political State. Satan is an "anArchist" and also a rival "archist," attempting to supplant the True Archist, Jesus Christ. And while it is contrary to Christ's teachings to be an "archist," we speak throughout this series of essays of the Godly Patriarch, thus acknowledging an earthly "archy" under God's Law.

The point is that we must not let mere words prevent us from following God's Law in every area of life, even if it seems "anarchistic" to do so (Acts 17:6-7), and even if they execute us for condemning demonic and humanistic "archists" (John 19:11-12 + Mark 14:62). Yet we must also understand that popular usage rightly condemns the "anarchist" who opposes Godly order and advocates lawlessness and violence.


1. Society should be organized (I Corinthians 14:40; Romans 13:13; Colossians 2:5).

2. It should be organized along the standard of the "plumbline" of God's Law (Amos 7:7-9), notwithstanding the protests of political authorities (Amos 7:10-17).

3. Every individual is responsible to organize every area of his life in terms of Biblical Law (Genesis 18:19).

4. People should desire from the heart to organize their lives according to the Law of God (Deuteronomy 5:29). This will take place as the Gospel is proclaimed and the Holy Spirit poured out (Psalm 110: 3; Ezekiel 36:27; Acts 2:34-36).

5. Organizing other people's lives by force or coercion where such force is not explicitly commanded in Biblical Law is wrong ("The Regulative Principle of Politics") (Mark 10:42-45). Calling for some to regulate the lives of others is slave-like and will be cursed (I Samuel 8).

6. The total absence of rule or legal sovereignty in a society is an impossibility.

7. The Word (John 1:1) is the only legitimate "Archy."

8. Man was created as a Family, in which God's "Archy" is to be honored.

9. Men are forbidden to leave the framework of service and obedience in the Godly Family and set up themselves as "archists" (Mark 10:42-45).

10. We should thus be moving toward a society in time and on earth where families are organized and obedient to God's Law ("Patriarchy") yet there is no archist but Christ and His Word ("anarchy"):

Our Interrogatory in Federal Court explaining "Christian Anarchism."


Additional Definitions and Links

Hypertext Webster Gateway: "Anarch"

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Anarch \An"arch\, n. [Gr. ? without head or chief; 'a priv. + ? beginning, the first place, magistracy, government.] The author of anarchy; one who excites revolt. --Milton.

Imperial anarchs doubling human woes. --Byron.

Satan is called the first "anarch," but it is clear that his real purpose was to become an "archist." He opposed the Archy of Christ, because he wanted to establish his own. All human "archists" are usurpers of Christ's Crown Rights.

The Wordsmyth English Dictionary-Thesaurus

Presented by Robert Parks and the ARTFL Project at the University of Chicago

See Entry Field Definitions, Pronunciation Guide, or Return to WEDT Search Form.

Searching for anarchism (approximate search on, constraint = 3)



SYL:            an-ar-chic
PRO:            ae nar kihk
POS:     adjective
DEF:       1. characterized by or tending toward anarchy.
DEF:       2. devoid of control or order; lawless.
DER:            anarchically, adv.
SYC:            ungoverned {govern (vt 1,3)}, lawless (adj 2)
SIC:            disorderly, unorganized, chaotic, confused {confuse (vt)}, disordered, unruly, ungovernable


There is no such thing as human life without order or law. Every human being has a standard of right and wrong, and works to impose that standard on the world around him.
The Christian Anarchist believes that the institutionalized violence of the State causes lawlessness by encouraging disobedience to God's Law.


SYL:            an-ar-chism
PRO:            ae nEr kih zEm
POS:     noun
DEF:       1. a theory that advocates the abolition of all forms of government as a necessary step towards achieving political and social liberty.
DEF:       2. the practice, employed by some anarchists, of resistance to or violence against government.

Def. 1 is accurate. In a society where there is liberty, men are free to plow their fields and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Peter Maurin spoke of "cult, culture, and cultivation."
Def. 2 is an ignorant misconception, and contradicts def. 1. Those who truly oppose the violence of government do not use it against anyone else.


SYL:            an-ar-chist
PRO:            ae nEr kihst
POS:     noun
DEF:       1. a person who believes in, desires, or tries to obtain a society or state without a government.
SYN:            iconoclast (1)
SIM:            nihilist {nihilism}, fifth columnist {fifth column}, revolutionary, radical, rebel
DEF:       2. a person who encourages disobedience toward any or all established governments.
SYN:            iconoclast (1)
SIM:            revolutionary, renegade, rabble-rouser, insurgent
DER:            anarchistic, adj.

There is no logical necessity for one who opposes political systems to use violence to abolish those systems. What is going on here is the State seeking to inculcate the idea that those who oppose the State favor violence and chaos. The State is opposed because it creates chaos and fosters violence


SYL:            an-ar-chy
PRO:            ae nEr ki
POS:     noun
INF:            anarchies
DEF:       1. absence of government or law within a state or society.
SYN:            lawlessness {lawless (2)}, mobocracy, ochlocracy
SIM:            nihilism, utopia
DEF:       2. political and social disorder resulting from a lack or absence of governmental authority:
EXA:            A period of anarchy occurred after the revolution.
SYN:            disorder (3), disarray (1)
SIM:            tumult, confusion, insurrection, insurgence
DEF:       3. a state of confusion or disorder; chaos:
EXA:            The power blackout caused anarchy in the city.
SYN:            tumult (2), disarray (1), turmoil
SIM:            chaos, bedlam, pandemonium, mess, riot, disorder, confusion

If the electricity is turned off, there is an opportunity for two things: (1) looting (2) acts of heroic service and self-sacrifice. If the State is turned off there is an opportunity for two things: (1) "taxing" (stealing) and "retribution" (murder) without competition from the State (2) acts of service, productivity, invention, and charity. In short, the works of the flesh, or the fruit of the Spirit.

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