God is an Anarchist
A Just King
Written by Darrell Anderson.
Many times I have heard Christians claim that if God were to sit physically on a throne and rule the earth that there would be a lot of unhappy people in this world. Those people then smile mischievously like the Cheshire Cat.
Disregarding for the moment the question of whether God exists, throughout much of my life’s journey, I struggled to reconcile the idea of the forced rule of God with the idea of free will. To summarize, those two ideas do not reconcile, but are irrevocably in conflict.
However, for a long time I have been approaching my journey of life from an anarchist’s perspective. Much of the Bible can be read fundamentally as a property rights manual, an historical teaching guide to show humans how to live peaceably with one another. Because of that different approach I have come to believe that if the God of the Bible were to sit physically on a throne on earth, life would more or less go on as usual. In other words, God would create no conflict with free will.
I see no reason why the God of the Bible would eliminate free will. One of the cornerstone teachings of Judeo-Christianity is that people cannot truly love unless they do so with free will. Although I have no idea who God is, how God thinks, what his purposes are, or even if he exists, rational thinking leads me to believe that the essence of human nature always will remain intact. Therefore, I believe humans always will be creatures of free will. To do otherwise would be to convert humans into slaves or automatons.
What would be different with the God of the Bible sitting on an earthly throne? Suppose we accept the Judeo-Christian presumption that God is omniscient — all knowing. Thus, God would know when any trespass occurs. Many people tend to believe that if God ruled personally, the instant a violation occurred God would appear on the spot to provide justice. Yet, the Bible stories provide a different perspective, and I suspect that God would act consistent with those examples.
Unlike the fiat nature of statist statutory law, the Mosaic Law not only required witnesses but a true complainant. There were no “law enforcement officers” running around. The elders adjudicated only when somebody came forward with a claim or complaint. Moses allegedly provided only a codification of expected human action, and provided no entity known as “the state” to prosecute various trespasses and disputes. He provided no “executive” or “legislative” process.
The Biblical stories reveal that Jesus of Nazareth taught forgiveness as a reasonable substitute for restitution or retribution. Those stories also declare that Jesus had come not to destroy the Mosaic Law but to fulfill. Thus, to maintain consistency the teachings of the two men must be compatible.
My reasoning then states that if a trespass occurs, God would not swoop down like a red-caped superman and administer justice. Although arguably omnisciently aware of the violation, God would wait for a complaint to be filed. Why?
First, by his own choice God must honor his design of free will. Second, for the sake of argument, although God might know the future, humans don’t. In other words, God would allow people to act their roles as each tick of the clock rolls by. Thus, God would allow each individual time to consider to file a complaint.
God also would allow every individual the opportunity to decide whether to forgive rather than file a complaint. He would allow every human to make those decisions. To do otherwise would violate free will.
Of course, an individual can file a complaint. Unlike the requirements of the Mosaic Law, however, under the presumption of omniscience the need for witnesses is eliminated because God knows all the relative facts. Thus, according to the theory of a just God justice always would be provided.
However, God likely would adjudicate only in a declaratory manner. That is, God would issue no proclamations or illusionary “court orders.” Unlike humans who must “find the facts,” God would omnisciently declare the facts and then merely issue a conclusion of law. Like the Mosaic Law, as an adjudicator God would realize he possessed no enforcement powers. Thus, what the injured party decided to do with God’s conclusion of law would be solely up to the injured party. Again, free will is in action. The injured party could initiate actions for restitution, and God would affirm that right. However, the injured party still would possess the option to forgive, and God would allow each human the opportunity to make that decision. To do otherwise would violate free will.
There is another option that is distasteful to some people but the Bible stories provide precedence as to what might occur. God warned Cain not to do something reckless, but within the context of how the story is told, Cain almost immediately turned about and killed his brother Abel. God could have played the role of the forceful parent, grabbed Cain by the ear, and sent Cain to his room for a “timeout.” God did not do that but allowed Cain’s actions. The God of such a story seems to be a great respecter of free will regardless of the potential harm.
According to the story, at the scene of the crime God assessed the facts and provided Cain due process of law by providing Cain an opportunity to be heard. After declaring the facts, God proclaimed his conclusion of law and pronounced his verdict on the spot.
In the Garden of Eden, God did the same thing with Cain’s parents. In the Garden, God was the adjudicator, thus God had standing to declare judgment. However, God also was the trespassed property owner, therefore God also possessed standing to evict Adam and Eve from the Garden.
Thus, God likely would only issue declaratory rulings, but just as the injured party could choose restitution or forgiveness, the injured party also would have the option to instead choose revenge.
Those stories also show what God would do if the convicted trespasser refused to provide appropriate remedy.
Should the injured party choose to resolve the issue with revenge, God likely would offer the revenger the same choice provided Cain: reconcile, or be marked. Notice in the story of Cain that Cain understood his trespass and that he did not fear God but feared how other people would respond. That observation teaches much about the role God would play in adjudicative affairs. The story teaches that with respect to adjudicative affairs God would remain an impartial, disinterested, third party to any action. God would honor free will.
A mark would allow an individual to mingle with other people but likely would prohibit that person from meaningful relationships. After all, the mark would serve notice to other people that the individual is not to be trusted. By not reconciling, such a mark represents a willful desire not to be a reciprocating participant in the social structure.
Of course, every human has the option of exercising free will and still could exchange and deal with a marked individual. A marked individual knows he or she is marked, and considering human nature, likely would try to live a life that would reconcile the damage done. A few people would remain hardened, but most people would change.
However, the mark would serve not only as a protective sign for the adjudged individual, but also as a good faith notice from God to all other humans. That is, if any individual chooses to deal with a marked individual, that person proceeds at his or her own risk. If the marked individual wrongs another individual, and that second individual attempts to file a complaint, God would dismiss the action because the second injured party would have failed to state a cause of action for which God could provide relief. The reason is that the second injured individual was fully informed of the offender’s untrustworthiness, had failed to exercise the available remedy of not engaging the marked individual, and yet nonetheless willingly chose to participate with the marked individual. Notice that a marked individual is not prevented from participating in community affairs, but only that new boundaries are established.
According to the ancient story, a marked individual remains marked for life. However, two actions possibly could remove the mark. The marked individual later could provide restitution to the victim. Of course, in the case of murder that option would not exist. However, there is another option — forgiveness by the wronged party. The injured party could forgive the wrongdoer and petition God to remove the mark. To promote free will and everybody living harmoniously, God would honor that petition. Similarly, a murdered victim’s heirs also could forgive the murderer and petition for removing the mark.
In a roundabout way perhaps I have just described Hell. I have no idea if Hell exists or exactly what Hell entails, but the Christian Bible offers some thoughts. When reading the Bible from an anarchist’s perspective those ideas make more sense. Hell is separation from God’s protection. Basically, Hell is outlawry. God honors free will and if an individual chooses to live outside the straightforward property boundaries established from the beginning of time, then God honors that freely made choice and removes the protection of law.
Notice then how the current statist world not only provides a glimpse of that Hell, but is Hell. Notice that in a statist world laws and rules are issued by fiat. Within a statist world, the golden rule is he who holds the gold makes the rules — political power tends to corrupt and absolute political power corrupts absolutely. The bottom line in a statist world is that the concept of property and the rule of law are meaningless. Statists operate strictly by the color of law. Therefore, the statist world is the same as Hell because statist fiat law essentially outlaws everybody. Nobody is protected in a statist world.
Having God sit on an earthly throne would be nice, but be honest. Having God sit on the throne would be scary too — unless everybody freely and willingly changed themselves to learn the fundamental rule of human relationships: do not trespass. Three words that provide the foundation for all relationships. Interestingly, if everybody decided to make such a change, God’s time on the throne would be rather boring. Few people would need to seek a declaratory ruling from God because for most cases everybody already would know in their hearts what God would declare. Thus, if one individual wronged another, either intentionally or unintentionally, most people also would be willing to reconcile the situation. The wronged individual also would be willing to reconcile, or possibly forgive.
Thus, having an omniscient God sit on an earthly throne would change little. The changes would come from within each individual. Freely and willingly too, but everybody has known that solution for thousands of years. The Cheshire Cat suddenly is not smiling.
Next: Vengeance Is Mine