Jesus and the Abolitionists

How Anarchist Christianity Empowers the People

Jesus and the Abolitionists

How Anarchist Christianity Empowers the People

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Isn't anarchy just chaos? How could it possibly relate to Christianity?

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.


"This is a book, at once, of love and radicality. Stokes offers a unique voice into the ways Christianity and the teachings of Jesus necessitate an anarchist worldview. There is a forthright demand, via a Christian ethic of love, to renounce the violence and domination of the state, while simultaneously creating something more loving, more caring. Indeed, I felt loved reading this book, reading of Stokes's life, of the beautifully necessary entanglement of Christianity and anarchism. And in that love, I felt radicalized. And you will too. I promise."

--Marquis Bey, professor at Northwestern University and author of Anarcho-Blackness

"Jesus and the Abolitionists hums with freedom. Terry Stokes testifies to a robust vision of an anarchist future grounded in Black experience--a future both practical and realizable. Stokes introduces readers to political life beyond coercion and to a faith outside the reaches of violence. Weaving together political theory, scriptural insight, and theological rigor, Stokes's accessible book is a gift to anyone who has looked at a world devastated by the vapidity of statecraft and wondered, 'Is there another way?'"

--Melissa Florer-Bixler, pastor of Raleigh Mennonite Church

"Jesus and the Abolitionists offers a practical, systematic theology for Christians who seek to live generously, lovingly, and compassionately in a world marked by division. Stokes's call is wonderfully local, drawing the reader into the public to serve their neighbor. This anarchic vision is one of building, not burning--of asking hard questions while also proposing how we might live with Christlike, communal focus on God's redemptive work. For those seeking an innovative, creative engagement with the Christian practice in our world today, this is a worthwhile read."

--Amar D. Peterman, founder, Scholarship for Religion and Society

"Terry Stokes challenges the mundanity of Western Christian communities in vivid and provoking ways. I came away from this work stirred, challenged, and charged."

--Rev. Solomon Missouri, pastor of Invitation AME Zion Church, Snow Hill, NC

"In Jesus and the Abolitionists, Stokes employs wisdom and humor to ignite a brilliant ethical and biblical imagination. This book is a necessary text for Christians who feel called to participate in justice movements, because it recognizes the reality of history while offering a vision for our future when and where justice is possible. Jesus and the Abolitionists provides abundant hope, which is as much a balm as a fuel, nourishing us and calling us into a new way."

--Erin Jean Warde, author of Sober Spirituality: The Joy of a Mindful Relationship with Alcohol

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9798889830818
  • eBook ISBN 9798889830825
  • Dimensions 5.75 x 8.75
  • Pages 173
  • Publication Date May 28, 2024