Terry Stokes presents "Jesus and the Abolitionists: How Anarchist Christianity Empowers the People"

Terry Stokes presents "Jesus and the Abolitionists: How Anarchist Christianity Empowers the People"

Thursday, July 25th 2024
7:00 pm
Red Emma's
We can build an ethical world—one built on structures of care—and anarchy might just be the unlikely key.

Countless people, including (and sometimes especially) those from religious backgrounds, are exploring radical ideas. The pandemic, the Black liberation movement, climate disaster—all these concerns are leading us to ask, "Does our system actually work? Is capitalism ethical? Is this the only way to build a society?"

Questions like these led author and pastor Terry Stokes to the political philosophy of anarchy. Now, we all have a scary picture in our minds about anarchy: that it calls for chaos, violence, and disorder. But anarchy actually calls for the end of rulership, not violence in the streets. Anarchy seeks to empower small communities of people to take care of their own needs at the local level, thereby making the state obsolete. It's all about constructing societies in which people are placed above profit and systems are built on ethics of justice and equality. To Stokes, that sounded a whole lot like the building blocks of Christian faith.

In Jesus and the Abolitionist, Stokes introduces readers to the ancient practice of anarchy and how it intersects with Christian beliefs and values. We see how beliefs about God, humanity, divine-human interaction, the Bible, and more can be illuminated and faithfully reformulated through an anarchist lens. This view, which Stokes calls anarchist Christianity, seeks to abolish tyrannical systems that do not recognize the changing values of our times and that disempower the people. Stokes's vision of an anarchist Christian future charts a caring theology and practice of living, one based in our voluntary cooperation, the goodness of all people, and faith in God. We can build an ethical world—one built on structures of care—and anarchy might just be the unlikely key.

Terry J. Stokes (he/they) is an associate pastor at a church in central New Jersey. He received his bachelor's degree from Yale University and his master of divinity from Princeton Seminary. He is the author of PRAYERS FOR THE PEOPLE, a collection of prayers that introduces Christians to the ancient practice of prayer-writing. He was a presenter at the 2020 Evolving Faith Conference, has written for the Episcopal Church's FORWARD DAY BY DAY publication, and is an editor for Earth & Altar magazine. Stokes is a candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ.

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