Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos

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Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos

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Category: Spirituality and Religion
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: A detailed outline of the ideas behind Christian anarchism. Whilst lacking much discussion, this serves as a very good introduction to the topic.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 250 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Imprint Academic
ISBN: 978-1845402471

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Whilst I've long been a Christian, I've never considered myself an anarchist. My thinking is that anarchy is something you're more likely to see on the news than on Songs of Praise. However, there is a school of thought that suggests that Jesus' teachings were so counter-cultural and so against Roman law that it constitutes anarchism.

Alexandre Christoyannopoulos provides an introduction to this school of thought. He outlines the theories behind it and how the major thinkers have formed them from their understanding of scripture. He looks at the main proponents of the theory and how they view the state and the church. Much of the book is drawn together from the writings of Christian anarchists over several hundred years and he presents many different lines of thought; where they match as well as where they differ.

It appears the book was written as part of Christoyannopoulos' doctoral thesis and this shows in the presentation. It's laid out incredibly clearly, with the introduction showing where the book will go and each chapter outlining the theories contained within. The whole book is thought out well enough that the sections flow naturally one to another and the writing is clear and surprisingly readable given the potential dryness of the subject. The footnotes and the index are also well laid out, making further study very simple, should the reader be interested in doing so.

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. I did find it a shame that the scope of the book didn't allow for more discussion in terms of rebuttal to the ideas, but what is within scope of the book is presented well.

The minor disadvantages I found were largely due to the age of the ideas presented and were more stylistic than subjective. The bible quotes were from the King James Version, which would have been the version in common use when the ideas were formed, but it's written in slightly more difficult language for the modern reader and is no longer the commonly used translation. The references to the church also refer to the more traditional churches rather than modern evangelical churches, although again this is understandable within the scope of the book and only seemed slightly distracting to me as I attend one of the more modern churches.

I would also have liked to see a little more discussion on the subject, although that was never the point of this book. I accept that this wasn't the place to find that and it's a credit to what is here that it whetted my appetite enough to want to hear the counter arguments. It does leave the book with a slightly unbalanced view, but still leaves it as more than adequate in terms of an introduction to the subject and points the reader well towards further reading.

These minor quibbles aside, this is an excellent introductory book for Christian anarchism. The ideas and concepts are very clearly presented and whilst the audience appeal may be narrow, that is often the case with what is essentially a textbook, albeit a well written and quite readable one. In terms of the ideas, it's more aimed at Christians than non-Christian anarchists, but it's an excellent study into the basic ideas behind Christian anarchism.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For other scriptural ideas presented differently, see Karen Armstrong's In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis

Buy Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel by Alexandre Christoyannopoulos at Amazon.com.

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