The last blog took a look a the existentialist Christian anarchist, Søren Kierkegaard.
Don’t know about you, but the word “anarchist” in my mind automagically becomes “bomb-throwing anarchist”. Propoganda a century or so ago created that phrase and image — it’s hard to find any bomb-throwing anarchists in history! The anarchist Auguste Vaillant is the most famous “bomb-throwing anarchist” — from the visitor’s gallary, he threw a batch of firecracker into a meeting of the Chamber of Deputies of the French National Assembly in December, 1893. Afterwards,Vaillant was tried and executed…
Picking up from the last post, let’s be clear that neither Kierkegaard nor myself advocate throwing bombs in churches or trying to “bring down the Church Machine”.
No. Instead, our approach is the same as Jesus’ back about 2,000+ years ago.
In His day, the “Church Machine” was actually a combo: the “Temple Machine” and the “Synagogue Machine”. Both claimed to prepare people to please God — one through physical sacrifices (dove, goats, grain, grapes, etc.) and the other through the mind (memorize the entire Scriptures, debate them at Sabbath school or Synagogue, &c.)
Jesus never threw so much as a firecracker at these manifestations of the “Church Machine” of His Day. He handeled his opposition more powerfully… He ignored them. Rarely do the gospel accounts tell of his being in the Temple — and generally when he came, he caused lots of trouble: kicking out the businessmen who had turned the House of Prayer into a marketplace for cheating people in the Name of God (He did this cleansing twice!); standing with his followers and observing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who loved being seen to prayer about how God loved their wonderfully religious lives… Even at the age of 12, Jesus’ earliest visit to the Temple, his parents found him rather belatedly confounding the priests and sribes with questions they could not answer.
Jesus’ anarachy against the established religion in his Day amounted to essentially staying away from it and ignoring it. Oh, it’s true that the religious leaders wouldn’t leave him alone, and he answered all their tricky challenges, but the Scribes and the Pharisees pursued Jesus — not vice versa.
Kierkegaard called for true Believers in Jesus Christ to be anarchists in the same manner. Just back off from the “Church Machine” and ignore it. Which works for me, too. When me and a few friends “backed off” from the “Church Machine”, we simply got together frequently because we enjoy each other’s company and we really love the thick Presence of the Lord who said to his worried followers (just before his crucifixion), “Whenever even two or three of you gather together, under my authority, I will be in the middle of your meeting.… I will not forsake you!”
Is what my friends and I do (mostly on Sundays or Saturdays) just another face of the “Church Machine” — and we say, “Not at all! The ‘Church’ Machine is not what Jesus started or what He is growing today… Jesus started (in the Greek language) His ekklesia. It doesn’t mean “church” and doesn’t look at all like the “Church Machine”… The ekklesia we enjoy can look more like this:
As friends, we come together in our living room, touch base with the events and concerns of each other’s lives (e.g., gossip), worship in song and then dialog on whatever and whichever spiritual issues and concerns any of the people there have brought with them. Before, during, or aftewards we often fetch cake or cookies or fresh baked scones or somesuch for one another. Each portion of our time together is more wonderful than I’ve ever experienced anywhere else over the last 55 years… And that time of dialog — digging into the Word and the Word digging into us — is far better than listening to one person stand in front and preach. Much much better…
Turning one’s back on the “Church Machine” doesn’t equal turning one’s back on spiritual brothers and sister (it means turning toward them!) nor does it mean turning one’s back on assembling together as Believers (it makes such gatherings easier since there’s hardly any planning needed for such gatherings!)
“Christian anarchy” — no bombs, just turning from maintaing the “church” to enter instead into the lives of the brethern (and sisterern!) and letting whoever’s still locked inside the “Church Machine” do watever they want while you (like Jesus) ignore the Machine and enjoy instead the ekklesia — the gathering.