Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel: Abridged Edition Paperback – Abridged, 1 Mar 2011
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Dr Christoyannopoulos has produced a superb discussion of Christian anarchism from Tolstoy to the present day. He combines a wide scope and meticulous scholarship with impressive analytical ability. He also writes clearly and well not always the case in this area. This book is required reading for those interested in alternative conceptions of politics. --Professor David McLellan, Author, "Karl Marx: A Biography".
"Christian Anarchism will be of interest to Christians, theologians, anarchists and historians of political thought... On its own terms it achieves its aim of synthesising a range of Christian anarchist writings and demonstrating that Christian anarchism is a coherent school of thought."(Daniel Duggan Political Studies Review)
"Dr Christoyannopoulos has produced a superb discussion of Christian anarchism from Tolstoy to the present day. He combines a wide scope and meticulous scholarship with impressive analytical ability. He also writes clearly and well – not always the case in this area. This book is required reading for those interested in alternative conceptions of politics."(Professor David McLellan)
"Alexandre Christoyannopoulos's engaging and intelligent study of Christian anarchism directly confronts the perception that these two traditions of thought are incompatible. At the heart of this scholarly discussion is the work of Tolstoy but the analysis is enriched by an examination of a much wider range of writers and movements. Anyone interested in the vital issues of non-violence, the limits of political obligation, resistance, compassion and justice will find this book enormously illuminating."(Dr Ruth Kinna)
"This book could easily be for Christian anarchism what Gustavo Guttierez's A Theology of Liberation was for that school of thought."(Pinch of Salt)
"As a Christian, I found that the ideas were presented in an easily digestible form and it was easy to follow the lines of thinking that led these writers into their theories of Christian anarchism. Whilst I didn't find myself agreeing with many of the ideas, it's testament to the amount of research that has gone into the book that I could understand them well enough to disagree with them, as I had little knowledge of the subject before reading."(Bookbag)
"A magnificent achievement Christoyannopoulos organises and expounds a vast mass of material with admirable lucidity. His work will surely prove indispensable."(Church Times)
"The analyses of the Sermon on the Mount and Letters of St. Paul are very informative, and the range of anarchist interpretations is presented with remarkable clarity... As a compendium of viewpoints within the general heading of 'Christian Anarchism', Christoyannopoulos's book is both useful and original."(Tom Grimwood The European Legacy)
"an excellent and original book which deserves a reading by anyone interested in anarchism, radical Christianity or the politics of non-violence."(Paul Chambers Anarchist Studies)
"There is much of interest in this book, however, particularly for scholars interested in political theology. its concise description and synthesis make the themes and debates within Christian anarchist writings much more accessible than they have been previously."(Christopher Craig Brittain Modern Believing) See all Product Description
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The depth of research into the writings of key thinkers such as Tolstoy, Ellul, Yoder, Andrew and others brings alive a subject which has provided, and will yet provide plenty of fuel for many contentious discussions.
One of the key principles of Christian anarchism is pacifism, and the author spends a good deal of time outlining the reasoning and theology behind this concept and other important ideas. He looks in depth at the Sermon on the Mount, which he describes as a manifesto for a `Christian anarchist society'.
But rather than base his discussion solely upon the Sermon on the Mount, Dr Christoyannopoulos doesn't shrink from other parts of the Bible - including considering the Old Testament, particularly in the light of 1 Samuel 8, and proffering the Mosaic system as `a form of anarchy'.
The thrust of the whole of the first part of the book, is to present Christianity as an alternative way of thinking/living to the way of the state, which `derives its power and authority from Satan'. It presents Jesus as a critic of the state, and understands aspects of his life such as the `Clearing of the Temple', as forms of direct action against the state.
Throughout the author draws heavily on the writings of Tolstoy, who is certainly the most influential of the avowedly Christian anarchist writers, and is in some ways the spiritual father of many of its later advocates.Read more ›
Christoyannopoulos explains that even though "Christian anarchism" is a relatively modern term, the early church (such as the Church Fathers) had anarchist ideals by following Jesus' pacifist teachings rather than the militaristic empire of the day. However after Christianity became the official state religion in the 4th century, the church transgressed from a humble bottom-up sect to an authoritarian top-down organisation. Christoyannopoulos notes that Christian pacifism and anarchism were then submerged for nearly a millennium until the Middle Ages. He then cites the emergence of various pacifist/anarchist Christians such as Francis of Assisi, Peter Chelcicky and Leo Tolstoy.
A few minor criticisms. Firstly the conclusion is titled "The Prophetic Role of Christian Anarchism" and includes the section "Christian anarchists as prophets". The term "prophet" does not sit comfortably with me. I much prefer the preceding chapter "Examples of Christian Anarchist Witness". I would call myself a witness, not a prophet, due to Revelations and a belief that humanity has been blessed with all the prophets it needs.
Secondly, the book currently retails for £40. Fortunately I was kindly given this book as a gift, but I do not know how many people (especially impoverished Christian anarchists like myself!) are put off by the cost.Read more ›
Through all the ramifications of its detailed problems and differences of opinion or approach by different authors, this book gives a clear exposition of what is meant by and ultimately to be understood as christian anarchism.
Readers should heed the authors' warning that "even democracy crowns a collective human agent - the demos - as "king." As Giovanni Papini wrote in his book "Storia di Cristo" (1921; Eng. tr., "The Story of' Christ," 1923) : masses "prefer a troop of petty tyrants who are inefficient and grasping and by whom they are squeezed and mulcted in the name of the law. They prefer these tyrants because an atmosphere of licence surrounds their tyranny."
Of particular interest are the insights developed by theologians Paul Tillich and Paul Ricoeur. The same idea, i.e., that without love, justice tends to be defined by cold calculations based on rigid rules on equivalence and reciprocity, was in fact also developed by Giovanni Papini in a chapter of his book "Santi e poeti" (1948)
His claim that "Christian anarchists want to see Jesus' teaching taken up by all - they want the whole society to convert to true Christianity," sounds well.
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