Auditing Through Writing

Dave Andrews

Catchim says ‘the Auditor incorporate(s) “criticizing” people, when they feel they go “off-script”, with clearly “verbalizing” their criticism’ through their writing.

I’ve published twenty books, and probably one of the most (in)famous is a book called ‘Christi-Anarchy’ in which I audit the shadowy track-record of Christianity.

‘I was brought up to believe that the history of Christianity was a history of Christlike spirituality, that shone through the centuries like a light in the darkness. But I’ve come to realise that Christianity itself has a dark side, and that the history of Christianity is as much a litany of cruelty as it is a legacy of charity’.

I say ‘Christians have consistently been shown to be un-Christlike. Christians have constantly been shown to be dogmatic, judgmental, and consequently quite intolerant of political dissent. Christians have constantly been shown to be more egocentric, more ethnocentric, and, consequently, more uncharitable towards disreputable minorities than their non-Christian compatriots.’

‘”The more popular Christianity as a religion has become, the less likely Christians have been to champion important unpopular campaigns, like a due regard for universal basic human rights”.’ Once Christianity has become established as a religion, Christians have usually been totally unwilling to advocate crucial anti-establishment causes, like liberty, equality, and democracy for all.’[1]

One reviewer, W. Michael DeJonge, beautifully summarised the book, saying: ‘In Section One, Dave Andrews gives a brief history of the violence that has plagued Christianity since the time of Constantine and which continues to be the norm for the so-called Christian nations today. The average Christian will no doubt find these facts extremely disturbing, and my first reaction was to dismiss each of them as being anomalies, carried out by people who were not really Christians… or who were seriously misguided. However, one cannot come to any conclusion other than the one posited by Andrews which is that these horrible events were not abberations of Christianity at all.

‘In Section Two, Andrews continues to lead the reader to a logical, but quite frankly, horrifying conclusion… that the violence done in the name of Christianity is a direct result of the teachings of Christianity itself. Why is this, you ask? It’s actually quite simple: The teachings of Christianity are not the teachings of the Way of Jesus.

‘In Section Three, Andrews demonstrates how we, as Christians, have made the religion of Christianity the focus instead of the person of Jesus Christ himself, not purposely but effectively. He explains this by demonstrating the difference between the dominant narrative of “Closed-Set Christianity” verses Jesus’ alternative narrative called “Centered-Set Christi-Anarchy”. This explanation alone is worth the price of the book.’ [2]

In my book I explain: ‘There are two completely different paradigms that people through the centuries have used to try to understand their relationship with Christ ‘ A Closed-Set Perspective and A Centred-Set Perspective.

‘According to the Centred-Set Perspective, a set is defined by a centre, which is free, and can never be enclosed, least of all by the experts. From this perspective, a set of people who have a connection to Christ show they are part of the set not by choosing to subscribe to a certain set of beliefs and behaviours within certain set boundaries, but by choosing to overcome any boundary of belief or behaviour that might prevent them from moving towards the free, beautiful, compassionate spirit of Christ, which they have made the centre of their lives.

‘The essence of the Centred-Set (Perspective) is all about becoming ‘Christ-like’ and encouraging everyone to become Christ-like, whether they become ‘Christ-ians’, or not. Conversion in Centred-Set (Perspective) means turning towards Christ, whether we know him by that name, or not, beginning to judge our own lives for ourselves, in the light of his love, and beginning to trust his love to sustain us on the journey of personal growth and social change that he is calling us to make.

However, it is not the Centred-Set Perspective but the Closed-Set Perspective that is ‘by far the most influential perspective …adopted by Christianity.’

‘According to the Closed-Set Perspective, a set is defined by its enclosure. From this perspective, a set of people who claim to have some connection to Christ, can be shown to be part of the set, by ascertaining whether their beliefs and behaviours are within certain set boundaries. People can be part of the ‘in-set’ by subscribing to a certain set of circumscribed beliefs and behaviours, such as, ‘confessing “Jesus Christ is Lord”,’ and ‘repenting of their sins’. They then become ‘insiders’. People who don’t conform to the set terms are not, and can never be, a part of the inset. They are not insiders, but ‘outsiders’. If an outsider is outside the set, but wants to become an insider, the only way for them to do so is by subscribing to the set terms. This is known as ‘evangelism’. If an outsider is inside the set, but doesn’t want to subscribe to the set terms, they will be put out. This is known as ‘excommunication’. ‘It is through defending these boundaries of belief and behavior that Christians define their identity as ‘Christ-ians’ or ‘Christ’s-ones’. Hence Christians tend to fight to the death to defend these boundaries of belief and behaviour. Not only their religious identity, but also their eternal destiny with Christ, depend on it.

‘There are certain obvious advantages that this Closed-Set Perspective affords Christianity. It is simple, precise, and portable; clear, concise, and communicable. The unconverted know what they have to do to be saved, and the converted know what they have to do to save others. And when everyone has done what they know has to be done, everyone can be sure they are saved. It is a dream come true for proselytisers—be they soap-box preachers, street-corner pamphleteers or super-duper televangelists. If you’re a non-Christian you’re out. If you’re a Christian you’re in. If you are out, and want to be in, just become a Christian. To become a Christian all you have to do is confess ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ and repent of your sins. Once you’re a Christian, you’re in. And once you’re in, you’re in. Saved! Secure, safe and sound, forever—as long as you don’t try to open up a discussion about the nature of the closed set itself, or to challenge the power of those who set the terms for the inclusion and exclusion of others.

‘Now the advantages of the Closed-Set Perspective are obvious to all those that are into Christianity quite uncritically. However its disadvantages are more obvious to those who relate to Christianity more analytically. To be sure the (Closed-Set Perspective) is straightforward, but it is also superficial. (The Closed-Set Perspective) is essentially static, unchanging, and unchangeable. It is a homogeneous ideology that admits no questions, unless of course it asks and answers the questions itself. It is a uniform theology that demands complete conformity. There is no room at all for diversity, dissent or disagreement. It is reductionist: it reduces a relationship to Christ to a formula. It is exclusive, excluding anyone who cannot affirm the formula.

Is (the Closed-Set Perspective) violent? Not necessarily: but normally, for three reasons. Firstly, Christians tend to defend their boundaries to the death. Secondly, the best form of defense has always been attack. Thirdly, there are plenty of competing groups fighting for the right to define and defend their boundaries of belief and behaviour for themselves. Thus the Closed-Set … rips the heart out of (Centred-Set) Christianity, replacing the warm, kind-hearted compassion of Christ with cold, hard-headed propositions about Christ, and relating to people in terms of an ideology of Christianity, rather than the love of Christ.’ And that is always dangerous![3]

‘Sometimes, Christianity has served as ‘’the opiate of the people’’. At other times, it has acted as ‘’a benzedrine for brutality’’, which has unleashed such a rush of unconscionable cruelty on such a massive scale that Christians have shamelessly slaughtered entire civilisations in frenzies of righteous indignation.’ And I say: ‘To the victims, this Christianity is the Antichrist!’[4]

When this audit was first published ‘it caused quite a bit of controversy. Some claimed it was ‘a denial of two thousand years of Christian tradition’!

At one time Koorong, the biggest Christian booksellers in Australia, refused to stock Christi-Anarchy openly on their shelves lest it ‘cause offence’ to their customers. One major Christian mission agency even threatened to sue me. Patricia Harrison, Missions Lecturer at Tabor College Sydney, warned readers: ‘Those afraid of moving out of their comfort zone are advised not to read this book.’

But in spite of the controversy that surrounded its publication Christi-Anarchy has become a bit of a cult classic. I wasn’t surprised the book was received well by people who were disillusioned with Christianity, and who used the book as a conversation starter to talk with Christian friends about their disillusionment. But I was surprised that so many nice, straight, middle-class, middle-of-the-road, evangelical and charismatic Christians responded to the book so appreciatively.

I will never forget the phone call I got from my elder sister Ruth, who was an Australian Baptist missionary, who happened to be a member of the large Baptist Church where the band had refused to play ‘Let Justice Roll’. I’d sent her a copy of the book and I’d waited rather anxiously for her reply, as I was uncertain how she would take it. When Ruth eventually called me, all she could do was cry, and say over and over again: ‘Thanks for writing Christi-Anarchy, Dave. It says what I think but what I’ve never had the words—or the courage—to say publicly myself.’[5]

[1] Dave Andrews Christi-Anarchy: Discovering A Radical Spirituality Of Compassion. Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1999 p44.

[2] W. Michael DeJonge ‘Every Christian Should Read This Book’

[3] Dave Andrews Christi-Anarchy: Discovering A Radical Spirituality Of Compassion. Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1999 p56-58

[4] Dave Andrews Christi-Anarchy: Discovering A Radical Spirituality Of Compassion. Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1999 p44.

[5] Dave Andrews Christi-Anarchy: Discovering A Radical Spirituality Of Compassion. Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1999 pix.

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