Christian Anarchy and Voting- A Recap

A lot of people have been asking me lately about my stance on voting and Christians serving in government offices. Since I have already written a good bit about my particular understanding of the Christian responsibility in political engagement I thought I would just compile all of those posts here so I can direct people to one place.

I thought I would start with this powerful song by Derek Webb.

This concise non-voting manifesto (and updated version) by Professor Tripp York is also a useful resource, and generally sums up my position.

Mark Van Steenwyk also offers his ten reasons for not voting at Jesus Radicals.

This is an excerpt by Andy Alexis-Baker from the book Electing Not to Vote, and this post is specifically about the 2012 election.

In this piece  Chris Smith writes about incarnational theology and non-voting.

Early American church leader, David Lipscomb wrote a great book on the topic of Christians and government. Here is an excerpt on voting. Historian Mcgarvey Ice briefly examines Lipscomb’s nonvoting stance.

Joshua Jeffery follows Lipscomb and talks about the choice not to vote.

Alasdair MacIntyre says in this piece, “The way to vote against the system is not to vote.”

There are often connections between nonviolence and the Christian anarchy. Keegan Osinski and Mark Caudill discuss some of those connections and their reasons for not voting.

I wrote a fairly popular series of posts a while back entitled Would Jesus Vote? The basic idea was to chronicle some of the reasons I believe Christians should be wary of participating in the government on any level. So here they are:  One, Two, Three and Four.

One of my ethics classes required that I write a paper about Christians and political engagement. It was one of my favorite papers of my scholastic career so I thought I would share it with you here.

The term Christian Anarchy understandably makes a lot of people uncomfortable  so I have this post trying to help people have a better understanding of the phrase. After all, as Tolstoy said, “The Kingdom of God is anarchy.”

Kurt Willems has a new series at Red Letter Christians on Jesus and nationalism. Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.

For those of you who arent quite convinced, then at least consider this post before you vote.

I also have several posts that more indirectly get at the issues around the Christian Anarchy stance including this one on True Freedom which lists some of the most important basic understandings of being a part of God’s Kingdom. In a similar vein, this post attempts to demonstrate the radical differences between God’s Kingdom and the nations of this world.

Finally, there are some other issues such as war, abortion, immigration and poverty that play an important part in this discussion so I offer this post of some resources about these issues and this post specifically about war.

My request is that you prayerfully consider these ideas and search out God’s will in your life and in the world, and above all, declare with your life and words that Jesus is King!

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15 Comments on “Christian Anarchy and Voting- A Recap”

  1. pastormack Says:

    Should Christians pay taxes? Register for the draft?

    In other words, how is it possible not to engage the political order?

  2. rogueminister Says:

    Yes and yes, though I would have to object to actually being drafted. Mainly though, we engage the political order by being a distinct polity unto ourselves. We live out our politics.

  3. pastormack Says:

    I find this growing sectarian (yes, I used the s-word) ideology among evangelicals troubling. Like it or not, the organization and activities of the government have a great deal to do with how our neighbors – locally, nationally, and internationally – are treated. Neighbor love thus necessitates involvement in the political sphere – not the distinctive, set-apart witness, but the fully engaged (read: incarnational!) and robust work of politics. If the state is dangerous and questionable, it will only become more so without Christian participation. Abandoning a necessary task of charity out of cowardice or a legalistic sense of moral purity is unbecoming for followers of Christ.

  4. rogueminister Says:

    Brother, first of all, did you read any of the materials provided in the post? If not, some of it should speak directly to your concerns.

    I think your critiques are extremely myopic as they completely ignore the life and ministry of Jesus, the witness of the early church the continued testimony of Christian movements from the anabaptists to the American restoration.

    If, as you say, neighbor love necessitates involvement in the political sphere, then Jesus would be a monumental failure being that he didnt use the power of government, but made spectacle of the powers by dying on a cross. Yet, he did indeed die on a cross and refuse governmental power and God exalted him to the highest place. Is his example not sufficient?

    If necessary, I will speak to your other concerns later, but I assure my position is neither cowardice (in fact is takes a great deal of fortitude to hold such an unpopular position)nor a legalistic moral platitude. Rather, it is a deeply held conviction that bearing faithful witness to Jesus and his example always trumps ‘effectiveness’ and expediancy.

    • pastormack Says:

      I must confess I did not read any of the materials provided – however I did study among many anabaptists in seminary, I did course work with Hauerwas, and I’ve read a bit of Yoder. I’m fairly certain I get the concept.

      I think it is funny that you call my views myopic when you have obviously constructed both the witness of Scripture and the entirety of church history to fit what is, in the main, a very minority opinion. Jesus nowhere indicated that the task of soldiers and state security was illegitimate (his injunctions against personal retribution are a different matter); nor “the witness of the early church” as clear as you would like it to be. You are welcome to keep the witness of the anabaptists and the restorationists, and I will keep such mediocre company as Ambrose, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Barth…

      In America after Vietnam, and in the midst of Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m not sure that you’re the martyr you would like to be. Folks with pacifist convictions always want to appear to be martyrs – but really – what consequences do modern Christian American pacifists face for their views? A frown? A grouchy blog post?

      As Barth himself pointed out, the insistence on nonviolence is rendered meaningless in the absence of the draft. At what point to American pacifists actually have to reject violence in any meaningful way?

      And while we are on the subject, how do pacifists live with themselves in a modern state, where they can reject violence without consequence because men and women with guns (at the local, state, and federal level) will protect them regardless?

      And don’t throw out the “you don’t have enough Jesus” card. The just war tradition developed out of a serious concern for following the commands of Christ in a changed situation. Ambrose and Augustine, and their ilk, did not feel that just war was out of continuity with the tradition of the church and the witness of Scripture – this is a fact that remains no matter how many times someone cries, “Constantine!”

      • rogueminister Says:

        Mack, sorry it took me so long to reply. I just moved to DC for the semester to study faith and politics and do an internship at Sojourners and have been consumed with that.

        I called your views myopic because you said that this trend was sectarian, when in fact most Christians who buy into these ideas are seeking ecumenism. And rightly viewed I believe it calls Christians to involve themselves in their communities by investing their lives in others.

        Like you I am under the tutelage of folks who hold very different views than my own. Both Shaun Casey (an Obama advisor) and Chuck Gutenson from Sojourners hold views similar to your own, in fact I believe Casey studied with Niebuhr at Harvard. I am studying with them because I want to hear all sides then come to my own conclusions. So far I am not convinced.

        I am not exactly sure how you got off on to the topic of pacifism as I was addressing Christian Anarchy. While the two are most often related they are not interchangeable.

        Nonetheless, I would much rather be a part of what I see as the most faithful minority than the majority any day. I take my faith very seriously and I agree that being a pacifist or anarchist in America, at least right now, doesnt take much. However, I personally have lived in a communist country and spent a great deal of time in other countries where I could have indeed been imprisoned or worse for my views. I am also planning on going to the middle east with CPT as soon as I can. All that to say, I have no intention of simply letting my faith manifest itself through a blog post. I am willing to put my life on the line because I believe that is the best way to bear witness to Jesus.

        Since this post wasnt about pacifism I wont deal with your comments about that right now.

        I will end, for now, with this; I am simply trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ and so far no one has offered any particularly persuasive arguments that would move me away from my anarchist views.

        Also, you come across really, really angry.

  5. preacherdean Says:

    Jesus said pay taxes to caesar as did Paul. with regards registering for the draft that is a personal choice which is not specifically defined.

  6. Gary Simmons Says:

    You know, it’s not easy being a prostitute. But it’s legal in Nevada. I know that Jesus and the Bible forbid illegal prostitution, but the situation has changed. Besides, how much worse would prostitution be if there weren’t any Christian prostitutes? Our love for our neighbor should compel us towards a loving embrace of prostitution and the porn industry as legitimate Christian professions.

    Hey — it’s the same logic used by Pastor Mack above.

  7. pastormack Says:

    So prostitution and military service are the same thing? Find me a text where Jesus tells a centurion to leave his post, and I will buy your logic.

    And I didn’t mean to ignore the previous response. I am sorry for coming off angry; I suppose I think any call for anarchy – even in the name of Jesus – is dangerous, and should be treated accordingly. Modern day Somalia strikes me as fairly close to pure anarchy, and I’m not sure that’s a way of life I’d wish on anybody. I respect you for being willing to learn from various sides; it is a rare quality. Blessings on your future ministry.

  8. panacea2013 Says:

    Hi Justin,

    You may have already seen this, but if not, you may be interested in this BBC blog post titled “Was Jesus an anarchist?”:

    God bless,


  9. Dave Pritchett Says:

    Hey Justin

    I’m an alumnus of Harding…I think we may have crossed paths a couple times. A friend and I are hosting a panel for the Christian Scholars Conference next year at Lipscomb on Christian Anarchism, and were wondering if you would like to submit a paper for it. Mark van Steenwyk will be on it as well, and we plan on getting one more panelist and perhaps a respondent. Send me an email if you are interested.

    • I am willing to be a respondent if you need one. I’m a trained ethicist and professor at Abilene Christian University and am familiar with Christian anarchism, though not myself an anarchist. Email me at if you’d like–Vic McCracken

  10. Sheldon C. Good Says:

    Interesting. I agree that Jesus probably would not have voted. But, the Apostle Paul probably would have voted. Jesus was a messiah (The Messiah); Paul was a citizen. We’re called to follow Jesus, but we’re not messiahs; we’re citizens.

  11. […] do Christians in the United States view voting in presidential elections? Some are abstaining for a variety of reasons. Others have insisted that voting is the duty of every Christian citizen. Some have organized […]

  12. […] in this region of Christian churches.  I am thankful to contemporary writers like Corey Markum and Justin Bronson Barringer for their helpful outlook on ways of continuing to restore the spiritual kingdom paradigms of the […]

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