God, Government and Anarchy

God, Government and Anarchy

“Freedom and political power are not antithetical realities in the fallen world. Ellul seems not to recognize that there can be no freedom without justice and that in a fallen world there can be no justice without power. He seems not to understand that while freedom is in most cases a desirable political condition, anarchism is simply freedom gone to seed. It is freedom improperly extended beyond the boundaries of political wisdom and foresight, the two indispensable characteristics of any good political theory. There is no freedom without order, and there is no order without law and law enforcement.”

It is vital that we get the biblical position on government correct. If not, we can get into all sorts of trouble and confusion. Absolutising and idolising the state is certainly not the way to go. But neither is seeking to argue against all civil government, promoting anarchy instead. I have written on both extremes often enough.

As to making government absolute, see this piece here.  

As to pushing anarchism, see this one here.

In a moment I will speak about one well-known author on these matters, Jacques Ellul, but a few preliminary remarks are in order. First, this piece was a bit of a fluke, as it arose from a volume I just half-randomly pulled from my shelves: Michael Bauman’s 1992 book, Pilgrim Theology (Zondervan).

On a personal note, this American lecturer at Hillsdale College and I shared a platform in Australia some years ago at a worldview conference. As we chatted, we learned that we were both classmates together at Trinity College in Chicago back in the 70s. We did not know each other then, but we became friends after that conference. Sadly he passed away in 2019, aged 69.

Secondly, I had been meaning to do a piece on Ellul (1912-1994) for a while now. The French philosopher and sociologist has often been followed by many evangelicals, even though he was not part of the evangelical camp. He is famous for books such as the following:

The Technological Society (1954)
The Political Illusion (1967)
The Subversion of Christianity (1986)
Jesus and Marx (1988)
Anarchy and Christianity (1988)

It is those last two volumes – especially the final one – that I want to discuss here. If you look at my copies of these two works, you will see plenty of yellow highlighting (which is true of all my books). But as is true of some of my books, you will also see a number of yellow question marks in many places.

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