Pod Prep: 5-14-16
Does The Bible Support Socialism or Is It Man’s Philosophy?
The Ways of This World Are Ungodly and Thereby Harmful
John writes to the church not to love the ways of this world. Note I John 1: 15-17. This would include human governmental and philosophical approaches. See Col 2:8 where Paul warns about worldly philosophies of this world. This would include the disastrous philosophies of Carl Marx who invented modern socialism. Communism is a 100 % total socialism allowing no private property but total, huge governmental control of the entire economy. The greatest economic collapse of the twentieth century was of the vast Soviet Union Empire. People were so impoverished and oppressed they needed a wall to keep them locked in the system, the infamous Iron Curtain. They also murdered 100 million people to enforce those economic rules that did not work. Read the book the ‘Little Black Book of Communism’ for details.
Too much socialism defies human behavior. Therefore the system could never be productive. For instance if you had a ranch and one brother was industrious and very productive and other brother was lazy and unproductive. If you tax away most of the income from the productive son and give it to the unproductive son to achieve income redistribution what have you really done? You have demotivated both workers. Next year, production will be a lot lower. It is also corrupting the brother who is being paid for not working. See II Thess 3:10-11. Remember God warned Israel about the danger of large centralized government and a powerful king. In our times, a communist party boss and a dictator like Stalin would be an example. It is a true saying that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’! See I Samuel Chapter 8. Stalin had both total political power but also total economic power as well.
God Requires Voluntary Charitable Giving Not Forced Confiscation of Property
The level of giving is up to the individual. It is not the same as taxation which you must pay or go to jail. Charity is not coerced. The Bible teaches charity not government extreme confiscation which is an element of socialism/communism. Peter explained to Ananias that while many were pooling all their money to support this first church so that they could learn and unify, Peter explained to Ananias that his personal property was his to control. He asked Ananias why he lied to the church about it. It is clear from the Bible that the church was not a forced form of communal government. The Bible supports respect for private property. Note Acts 5: 3-5. The Bible supports charity and helping those in need. God had a law that fields could not be harvested to the corners where people who needed to feed themselves could. They could earn or harvest their own food which is good for them. God did not tell the Israelites to set up the wealth police to forcefully take production and land from the farmers to re-distribute their wealth. He gave no authorization for the civil government to tax the people and take or manage their land and income to give to others. God did require that the people pay tithes to the Levites and Priests because He did not allow them to have other jobs. They were the only ones allowed to do temple services for the people and were not allowed to own land and work it. God’s tithing law was dependent on the people obeying God and being generous to the poor and others. The state had no enforcement capacities. Tithing was up to the people.
Industriousness And Capitalism Are The Best Economic System Available Until The Second Coming.
In Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith described free markets like invisible hands. These hands guide the acts of individuals to promote more prosperity than the individuals had planned, it leads to an orderly and efficient distribution of goods and services. All this emerges from people acting in their own self-interest. Austrian economist F.A. Hayek marveled at what he calls the “spontaneous order” of the market place. When communist dictator Gorbachev asked British Prime minister Margret Thatcher how the British people got fed if no one in the government planned it she said “the price system does it”. The Soviet communist empire always had trouble feeding its people, they even had food police at times and it was horrible. Free trade creates a win win situation. It is not a zero sum game. Wealth is expanded by trading freely among producers.
Global capitalism has lifted 150 million Indians out of abject poverty and almost 400 million Chinese out of poverty in last 25 years. Capitalism made America the economic engine that is the nexus of world trade, business innovation and prosperity. When the Pilgrims arrived in the new world. They first tried the communal system where everything was owned by the community. It failed because of the ‘free rider problem’. Then Governor Bradford gave each family starting capital and allowed them to keep all the profits themselves minus repaying loan debts in Europe. The colony became a huge economic success and as word got back to the old world, people streamed across the oceans and rest is history. They worked hard for their own family’s prosperity and the entire colony benefited. See Prov. 22:29.
What About Income Inequalities and The Bible?
The parable of the talents indicate that God has allowed people to possess varying amounts of talent. All people should be treated equally but recognize that some will create vast enterprises or invent unique machines to better serve the public. Some are better musicians, artists, builders etc. Note Matt 25:14-30. God rewarded each according to their works based on their individual talent. If someone creates more wealth than another, that wealth does not diminish the other party. If you are more productive than someone else, it does not diminish his material goods one bit.
Sometimes propagandist will show a chart of wealthy people compared to the poorest. The reaction they want to elicit is clear, why don’t we take money away from them and redistribute it to others. It sounds wonderful. But stealing, even by government decree, violates God’s law. The results in the real world have been shocking. When such plans have been tried, the results are extreme brutality (the means justify the ends they say) and the spreading of poverty like a virus. Look at the record of the fallen communist empire including the only one left standing economically, North Korea.
If we are worried about people having too much power, then it is government that should worry us. The government’s budget is larger than any wealthy person’s. They also have the power to coerce. How long can a nation survive when voters begin to get the government to steal for them which is a violation of the 8th commandment? That Law of God protects and supports private property rights.
Greed Is Condemned But Not Prosperity.
The Bible condemns greed. See Luke 12:15. Living a prosperous life and earning money is not condemned, but the LOVE of money. Coveting material things is wrong but one can be prosperous or even rich and be in God’s favor like Abraham or Job. Needless to say a person who is not rich can covet and be materialistic as well. Adam Smith asserts that true capitalism is to serve your customers with the best product you can, this approach will help people to succeed and serve many others. Note Matt 7:12, Prov 10:4.
Many modern philosophers compare capitalism with a utopian measuring rod. No system looks good in this light. We will not see utopia until Christ second coming. Yet it is the best economic system available based on real world experience. A Christian cannot serve two master, greed and God. Note Matt 6:19-24, 33. Where our treasure is there will our heart be and our hearts should be about devotion To God. Our first priority should be about loving and obeying God. Then supporting His work and charity. Jesus is criticizing the hoarding of wealth and trusting in possessions rather than in God. Capitalism is not being condemned and socialism is not being approved.
Courtois et al., The Black Book of Communism, 1999.