I am appalled today to hear many of our leaders openly advocating socialism. Not that long ago, being associated with socialism would have ended a political career – but not today. Leaders not only openly admit to being socialists, they promote it as superior to capitalism. For example:
- “[W]hen you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Barack Obama
- “[W]e have been guided by a Republican administration who believes in the simplistic notion … that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it … they have an antipathy towards the means of redistributing wealth.” Jim Moran, Congressman, VA
- “Any healthcare funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized, & humane, must, must, redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer … Excellent healthcare is by definition, re-distributional.” Donald Berwick, Healthcare Czar
- “[W]e know that the free market is nonsense. We kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.” Ron Bloom, Manufacturing Czar
- “[T]he debate for the new generation is instead of capitalism or socialism … we are going to have both and then which proportion of each should we have in order to make this all work.” Howard Dean, former Dem. Party Chair
As outrageous as these statements are, it gets worse. Many religious leaders are also promoting socialism. Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Pres. Obama’s pastor, said, “You state up front that your starting point is quote, ‘no nonsense Marxism.’ But you dispel all of the negative images we have been programmed to conjure up with just a mention of that word ‘Socialism’ or ‘Marxism.’” When a reporter asked Rev. Jim Wallis, Obama’s spiritual advisor, if he was calling for redistribution of wealth, he responded, “Absolutely, without any hesitation. That’s what the Gospel is all about.”
The Oxford English Dictionary states that Socialism “advocates the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, property, etc., by the community [government] as a whole, and their administration or distribution in the interests of all people.” Webster’s New World Dictionary adds: “ [ownership is] by society or the community rather than by private individuals.”
So, was Jesus really a socialist and is the gospel a message of socialism? The answer is “NO!” Of course, Jesus did teach that we should help those in need, but He elevated the ultimate goal of His kingdom’s work over meeting social needs. In John 12:4-8, after a woman poured very expensive ointment on Jesus as an act of worship, Judas rebuked the act claiming that the ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus responded that there was more about the kingdom than feeding the poor. In fact, Jesus made it clear that the primary point of the gospel is the eternal redemption of men and women – Matthew 16:26,18:11.
There’s no question that the Bible promotes capitalism over socialism. Leviticus 25:8-28, for example, clearly shows that God promoted private ownership among the Jews, especially the private ownership of land.
Jesus commended private ownership in numerous passages such as Matthew 20:1-16 where He spoke of a “landowner” who hired people to work in “his” vineyard, Luke 14:18 where He spoke of “buying” land, Luke 15:11-32 where He spoke of a man dividing “his” property between his two sons, and Luke 16:12 where He spoke of a man’s “personal” property. It’s also important to notice that the Bible promotes the passing of wealth from one generation to another (Lev. 25:28, Lk 15:12), a practice political progressives attack using estate (death) taxes.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus encouraged entrepreneurism and profit through aggressiveness and hard work. The Apostle Paul also condemned social welfare, a system that is crippling our nation today, by teaching that if a person won’t work they shouldn’t eat – 2 Thessalonians 3:8-10.
Contrary to the “collective” mentality of socialism where the welfare and will of the “community” is emphasized over that of the individual, Jesus and the apostles taught the exact opposite – personal worth and responsibility. Matthew 12:36 and Romans 14:12 teach that each of us is responsible for our “own” actions and will give a “personal” account to God. This, of course, flies in the face of the “collective salvation” Obama and his ilk promote.
Interestingly, the early church did experiment with a form of communism. In Acts 4:32-37 we find that many Christians were voluntarily selling their property and giving the money to meet people’s needs. They soon learned that even born again believers couldn’t, at least on this side of heaven, live this selflessly. It wasn’t long until greed and deceit began to creep in. Acts 5:1-11 records how this communal lifestyle, although voluntary (5:4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?), became so problematic that it was soon abandoned.
Even the Pilgrims experimented with communism. When they first landed in 1620 they lived communally but by 1623, their community was failing. Lazy members, unwilling to work, were crashing the system by living off of the labors of those who would. In Of Plymouth Plantation Governor William Bradford explains how, by abandoning communism and turning to capitalism, the Pilgrims not only survived but also thrived. This is why over a century later our founders created a nation built on the concepts of private property, personal responsibility, and self-government.
Therefore, when so-called spiritual leaders like Jeremiah Wright and Jim Wallis claim that the gospel is “all about” redistribution and socialism, they’re twisting Scripture and are in direct contradiction with the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Capitalism is not only the best way; it’s God’s way. The late Adrian Rogers once said that even if we were able to feed, clothe, cure, and house every person, but didn’t deal with their need for spiritual redemption, we would only create a better place to go to hell from.