General Question

makemo's avatar

How can you be a capitalist/anti-socialist and a christian at the same time?

Asked by makemo (531 points ) September 17th, 2008

I can’t make anything else out of it, than wondering: Wasn’t Jesus, by interpretation, pretty much a socialist?

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52 Answers

marissa's avatar

God gave everyone freewill. Jesus encouraged people to make the ‘right’ choice, but he didn’t believe that people shouldn’t have choice. Socialism limits people’s choices.

robmandu's avatar

Why must we have a government take our money and do what it wants with it? Aren’t you better capable of being charitable with your own money than having the government do it for you?

Many people (Christian or not) give a substantial portion of their income/time to charitable organizations and causes. For example, some of my money goes to drilling wells in every village in Sudan, schools for the lowest caste of people in India, and to local outreach for underprivileged kids in Texas. I get to pick. Me, me, me.

The idea behind conservatism is not that disadvantaged people hafta look out for themselves… no help whatsoever… but that those who have the means to help don’t need government to be a facilitator (with all that bureaucracy overhead). Another way to look at it is that government is a necessary evil; one that we give as little money/power to as possible.

I can, however, understand why you feel that the government should perhaps play a bigger role in redistributing wealth based on how little some folks contribute to charity.

jjd2006's avatar

Good question, makemo. I’ve wrestled with this question a bunch too. I second marissa.
I’ve also wondered how people can call themselves Christians yet lead lives entirely detached from social justice and the needs of the less fortunate as so often happens today(most notably in such a suburban, complacent culture). I think Jesus would have a thing or two to say about that. If we’re truly following his example, our lives should be ones that reflect his teaching to put others above ourself. I’d argue that this means giving money to people that need it instead of buying a brand new Lexus. I’d argue that, for people who truly do consider themselves followers of Christ, this means committing to a life of simplicity and selflessness. Now there is a limit, I’m not saying (by any means!) they should sell everything they own, live in poverty, etc. There needs to be a balance and people must take care of themselves, but I think a mindset change for people who do subscribe to this belief system would do everyone good.

Harp's avatar

From my reading, it seems to me that Jesus didn’t much care whether the government took his money. Didn’t he view money as belonging to the very world that he was urging his disciples to transcend?

My sense is that he wouldn’t have accepted either the “capitalist” or the “socialist” label. I don’t see anything in his teachings that hints at a philosophy of secular government. I would sum up his approach as “God will take care of everything. Just concentrate on doing His will”. Fundamentally, he was advocating a benevolent monarchy. That was certainly how his followers interpreted his teaching.

Judi's avatar

As a Christian I have argued for the separation of Church and state. When people start claiming democracy and capitalism as Godly, I have to laugh and remind people that Heaven is a Monarchy. Not to say that I think our government should be a Monarchy, but to point out that there is a clear difference between how we deal with a secular world and how we deal with our Christian communities. I have very different expectations of fellow Christians than I do of non-Christians, and I have a really hard time when I see Christians treating non-Christians with disrespect.

Poser's avatar

Didn’t Jesus also say, “The poor will always be with you,”? Seems a pretty fatalist, pessimistic viewpoint to me.

I’d like to see your evidence that Jesus would have been a socialist.

Harp's avatar

There is a recurring theme in Jesus’ teaching of abandoning possessions (e.g. “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”) which does seem particularly out of sync with the sanctity that capitalism affords to private property.

But it’s not socialism either. If capitalism says power (and hence property) ultimately rests with the individual, and socialism invests it in the collective state, Jesus put it all in God’s hands to dispense as needed.

robmandu's avatar

To my perspective, capitalism is a means, not an end. It’s also effective because it appeals to our underlying human nature. Work more/better/smarter == Get more.

When you have more wealth then, depending on your personal slant on charitable giving, you have the ability to give away more. If that’s just a personal choice or in deference to Christian beliefs doesn’t matter.

Yes, some people are greedy. Some people hoard their wealth. But why should a government go and take away that person’s legitimately gathered wealth? If the person wants to be a miser, isn’t that a freedom s/he is supposed to have? Isn’t his/her giving supposed to a voluntary act? Should it be illegal to save more than x dollars?

I could be wrong, but I don’t think I remember seeing anything in the Bible where it says that government organizations are better suited to charitable distributions. Unless it’s in the back somewhere? I do recall lots of exhortations to be good, loving, giving, understanding, non-judgmental at the personal, individual level though.

Capitalism isn’t a perfect means. Government isn’t a perfect evil. It’s just that, in the case of charitable spending, I prefer personal liberty over government regulation, given the choice.

Poser's avatar

@Rob—Standing F’ing ovation.

trogdor_87's avatar

its called being human, just because you say your something does not mean you can’t bend your will and do whatever you want.

cwilbur's avatar

The important thing is the choice to do good. The widow who gives her mite to charity is praised not because of the money, but because of the choice to do that.

Having the government force people do to good takes the moral value out of it.

Harp's avatar

Wouldn’t there be moral value, though, in supporting a certain form of government because it will provide for the less fortunate? From a moral point of view, what’s the difference in my giving money to an organization like the Salvation Army because I know they’ll use it to help people, and voting for a government that I know will use my tax money to help those same people.

Charitable giving is wonderful, but it can’t do much against systemic societal problems. If I’m concerned about the plight of people who have no medical insurance, there’s no person or organization that I could give my money to that would help that problem at all, is there? But I could vote for someone who I know will increase my taxes and use them to bring the weight of government to bear on this huge problem. If I’m unhappy about the educational opportunities available to inner city kids, same deal. There are many other problems like this that just won’t go away by people sending checks at Christmas time.

As you say, there will be some people who aren’t happy about that, but does that outweigh the moral benefit of having improved all those lives?

robmandu's avatar

Hmmm… I guess it boils down to if you believe that a government can be as good as a charity. I think not… in part due to money being a fungible commodity. The government can take your charitable taxes and spend them on… whatever it wants.

And who says private organizations can’t build schools? Churches and missionary organizations do it all the time. And to far-flung places around the globe. Matter of fact, based on the yearly per-student government contributions to Washington D.C. schools, most private schools look a blue-light special in comparison. Private enterprise can do more for less money, on average.

Finally, there’s the problem of good intentions not panning out. I recently read an interesting article claiming that the poor in America don’t work. Don’t get mad yet.

The point is, according to US Census survey data, only 17% of impoverished families have a head of household working full time. Of those in poverty without a job, only 6% claim they’re unable to find one. The rest choose not to work (or cannot) due to other circumstances in life.

Why do I mention that? Because the article goes on ‘splain that the Repub and Dem plans to “fix” the economy for those poor people cannot have a successful impact. Repubs want to improve the overall economy creating job opportunities. But that can’t help those in poverty who choose not to work (or can’t). The Dems want to improve the minimum wage, but again, that only helps people who choose to work. Neither government-sponsored solution is ideal.

Whether you agree with the article or not is not substantial to this debate. It’s whether you want your money being siphoned off into perpetuity for reasons that you don’t agree with. Or do you want to control where your money goes and what causes it supports?

cwilbur's avatar

@Harp: But the people who support big government don’t do it just because it will put their money towards a cause they find worthy. There is no difference between that and giving your money to a worthy charity. People who support big government also do it because it will take money from other people and put it towards the same worthy cause.

Consider the income tax rate in Massachusetts. I don’t recall what the number is, but some years back there was a drive to raise it so that the state would have more money to work with. The compromise that was eventually reached was that the higher rate would be optional—that you were required to pay taxes at the lower rate, but you could opt to pay taxes at the higher rate if you so chose. You would expect that at least as many people as supported higher taxes for everyone would opt to pay higher taxes themselves—but, in practice, far fewer actually do.

The motivation behind making government do these things rather than having private charities do them is that when you put that power in the government’s hands, you can force other people to pay for things you want done. The problem with this is that once enough people figure it out, you then fight over the government to see which pet projects it will fund. The power to tax people to fund Head Start and early childhood education, or to fund homeless shelters and soup kitchens, is also the power to tax people to fund military adventurism in Iraq and bailouts of investment banks that played fast and loose with other people’s money.

laureth's avatar

Acts 2:44–47 tells of selling all one’s belongings and giving to those in need. It is my understanding that in the earliest Christian communities, you had to pretty much give away everything you had, just to join. When did that stop, I wonder?

makemo's avatar

robmandu: “Private enterprise can do more for less money, on average.” That is probably true, but for who? Has there ever been any privately held schools for those kids living in the rough, incriminated suburbian areas, for example? If so, what could possibly yield larger profits from that, as compared to a school enterprise, housing only kids from wealthy families?

The inward sense of capitalism will always be to find the largest cash potential in everything, with a constant eye for cash return on investments. I find it a paradox, thinking about a charitable enterprises. Sure, there’s always one or a few good doers among the most rich people in the world. Bill Gates, for instance. Bono. Etc.

But those people represent an extremely minor clique, of which these people probably found out that they’ve got too much posessions in their hands, and that they better start unloading some of it (as well as possibly some bad conscience feeling awfully rich), before they start suffering from bad karma. The real people we’re dealing with, are the middle class, whom of which I’m betting the itch to share some of their wealth – in, say, saving the next vacation to a sunny island – isn’t that apparent after all.

Harp's avatar

I agree with rob that there is a serious discussion to be had about how good a custodian of our money our government is. The government is only as responsible as we insist that it be, and we’ve not been very good at calling our leaders to task. That’s as much our fault as theirs. I don’t think we fully appreciate how much work good citizenship demands.

The clinic I work for provides services (assistive equipment mostly), for severely disabled people. Virtually all are dirt poor and, if able to work at all, only earn minimum wage in part-time jobs. Most will rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical and equipment expenses over their lifetimes. Every community has lots of these people, but they’re pretty much hidden from the public eye in institutions or workshops. I see behind those doors every day.

These people are almost entirely dependant on government aid. If tax supported services like ours weren’t around, there’s no way that private charitable donations would fill that void. Our streets would look like Calcutta’s, crawling with beggars. Now, I’m sure that people would drop a bit of money in their outstretched hands and earn moral merit.

Instead, rob and cwilber and all the rest of us have some of our tax money siphoned off to take care of their needs. Most of you have no idea that you just bought a wheelchair for John Doe. Maybe that means that you don’t get the moral rush of dropping the coin in someone’s hand, but how important is that, really?

Situations like this aren’t the ones people bring up when they object to “big government”, but that’s part of what “big government” is. You don’t see this world of disability from as intimate perspective as I do, so it’s natural that you wouldn’t understand how vital your tax money is to that population. But it’s not just the realm of disability that flies under our collective radar; it’s many, many other desperate situations where tax money is making a big difference in real people’s lives, without our even knowing it.

If we rely on various causes being flashed on our TV screens or preached from the pulpitsto elicit charitable contributions, only a tiny bit of what needs to get done will get done. When I vote for government that fully supports social services, it’s not so that others will pay; it’s because I believe we must all pay or it won’t get done.

makemo's avatar

Amen. Maybe Harp is Jesus, after all.

Seesul's avatar

Hey, anyone who knows that much about chocolate, comes pretty close in my book.

makemo's avatar

What comes around, goes around. (Insert any other clichés here). I’d like to think, that you give to yourself when paying taxes. And IF, or rather, WHEN this collective treasury apparatus fails (due to the fact that it isn’t “perfectly evil (good?)” enough), it doesn’t mean you have to flip the coin and let private enterprises take over. That said, any kind of help and aid towards those in need, should be welcome, and one alternative doesn’t have to replace the other.

But my reason for asking the question, is that I’m really curious as to the underlying nature and sonsensus of what Christianity is all about. To the best of my imagination, I can’t for the life of me figure out how that can be ever so often equal to a right wing disposition. At least that’s how it is in my country, Sweden, where the Christian Democrats are among the most far away parties from socialism.

robmandu's avatar

makemo asked, “Has there ever been any privately held schools for those kids living in the rough, incriminated suburbian areas, for example? If so, what could possibly yield larger profits from that, as compared to a school enterprise, housing only kids from wealthy families?”

Well, there’s a little thing called free-market economy that gets in the way, especially when it’s disrupted by “free” public schools. There’s no room for competition.

But here’s thing… when there isn’t a government monopoly on business, then yes, private entities can thrive in poorer areas. If not, then there wouldn’t be grocery stores, movie theaters, gas stations, etc. in depressed neighborhoods either.

That said, I will acknowledge it’s pie-in-the-sky, though. I think if we were to withdraw all government subsidy from schools, put it in the hands of parents (likely as vouchers), and made the schools compete for those tuition dollars, we’d see a major shift/collapse of a lot of education infrastructure. It would likely get really bad before getting better. And in the short-term, it would be the underprivileged who suffered most… precisely the ones we’d be trying to help.

Harp's avatar

@rob, re ”...private entities can thrive in poorer areas. If not, then there wouldn’t be grocery stores movie theaters, gas stations, etc. in depressed neighborhoods either.”

Since September is “National Food Desert Awareness Month”, let me introduce you to yet another problem inner city communities face.

And this concerning movie theaters disappearing from Chicago’s inner city.

(gas stations do well because that’s where people have to do their food shopping.)

You’d think that market forces would rush supply into those demand vacuums, but no.

makemo's avatar

@Harp, link to the first article is defunct.

Harp's avatar

Hmm.. try this

robmandu's avatar

@Harp, I can only sympathize so far.

The Tribune article mentions a “15 block area” as a food desert. For argument’s sake, let’s say that’s a 15-block radius (which yields 900 square blocks)... then that’s approximately 1.5 miles distance to the nearest grocery store (approximate conversion rate). For folks living in a densely populated area with easy access to public transport, this complaint is a bit myopic.

Your second link about movie theaters provides its own explanation: ”“Fewer screens for big movies and lack of stadium seating can drive away audiences to theaters that have those features.” That’s true everywhere. Not just inner cities.

The last article is interesting… but I think the marketing issue depends on the specific downtown, urban area in question. Cities like Dallas, Indianapolis, and New York are likely better served due to having vibrant, burgeoning down/uptown communities on the rise. A city like Detroit though is still struggling to break thru. It seems like, on the whole though, most communities are aware of this issue and have been working aggressively to fix it, as it’s beneficial to all. Everyone’s just not “there” yet.

Judi's avatar

Robandu;
There are NOT a lot of gas stations and grocery stores in some of the poorest neighborhoods. It is a real problem. A whole community raised on Cheetos because the grocery stores don’t find the neighborhood profitable enough.

robmandu's avatar

@Judi, I live smack dab in the middle of major metropolitan suburbia, which is supposedly the land o’ milk & honey when it comes to having access to organic food groceries.

You know where the nearest organic marketplace is? Google tells me it’s: 14.9 mi – about 22 mins (up to 35 mins in traffic)

The nearest bus stop for me? Nearly 6 miles away.

Complaining that something is 15 blocks away (the Tribune article actually cited a much smaller distance), like that’s far, is not a real argument.

I suspect there’s likely a real reason why folks in the poorer areas of town don’t make the majority of their food purchases at grocery stores. Distance isn’t really one of them. I suspect a lot has to do with personal/family culture, individual health/dietary habits, and having other priorities.

Harp's avatar

The fact remains though, rob , that these are cases where the “laws of supply and demand” are out of whack.

From an article in Economic Development Quarterly:
“the poorest zip codes in 21 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas had only 55% of the grocery square footage that their wealthier counterparts had”

Is that a reflection of demand? No:

“The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (1998) reported that inner cities may have been under served by as much as 25% of existing demand. According to HUD’s New Markets: The Untapped Retail Buying Power in America’s Inner Cities (1999), inner-city neighborhoods had an estimated untapped demand of $8.7 billion for the 48 cities in which a retail gap existed. In the economically distressed neighborhoods of Chicago, for example, retail sales fell $2.3 billion short of the retail buying power of residents. Assuming that about 14% of this retail potential could reasonably be captured entirely by supermarkets and other grocery stores, about 28 new supermarkets (with annual sales equaling the national average of $11.6 million in 1999) would have to be developed in these neighborhoods.”

And if the inner city blacks are traveling out of their neighborhoods for multi-screen theaters with stadium seating, why aren’t developers building their new theaters in those neighborhoods?

And let’s remind ourselves that we’re talking about money that’s just sitting there to be earned, not charity. If we can’t even rely on the private sector to go where there’s money to be made, how can we realistically expect that it will step in when there’s no profit motive?

Judi's avatar

Thanks for adding the facts Harp. Lurve to you!

robmandu's avatar

Well…

Building and maintaining businesses in downtown/urban districts is amazingly expensive. That’s why we have skyscrapers downtown… price per square foot is incredibly high. Movie theaters require massive square feet. Combine that with decreasing theater attendance globally and it simply might not make financial sense to invest substantial monies in a downtown location when there’s plenty of cheaper opportunity in relatively nearby suburbia.

Supermarkets also require a lot of square footage, and often operate on razor-thin margins. Would you pay $6 for milk downtown when you could drive 10–15 minutes and buy the same thing for only $4? Expand that to your entire monthly grocery bill. (Since people often drive farther to get to a BJ’s, Costco, or Sam’s Club to stock up on groceries, I think the answer here is known.)

I think that the accountants whose job it is to size up the markets for a company’s expansion know better where their future profits lie than random journalists.

Hold up! I think I’m picking up on a theme here. Why do you think that companies aren’t going after all that “untapped potential”? If the profit’s there, and companies aren’t swooping in, what do you think their ulterior motive must be?

Finally, when I mention private charitable contribution, it need not necessarily mean for-profit companies. There’s lots of private charity happening everyday in every town in America… much of it in blighted, depressed urban zones.

Imagine if you had all the money that the government normally takes away from you as taxes for entitlement redistribution. And imagine if you could put it all towards the causes you most staunchly believe in. That’s what I’m talking about.

Harp's avatar

I’m not claiming there’s an ulterior motive at all. I’m simply responding to your implication here that the market will reliably take care of demand. That flow of money toward demand can get stymied by lots of complex factors. Just because there’s demand for this or that, doesn’t mean that it will show up.

I take your point that you’re talking about private charity, rather than for-profit companies. And I follow your reasoning about having individual control over the money that taxes remove from our control. That entitlement spending (58% of gov’t spending) includes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Veteran’s benefits, supplemental income for aged, blind and disabled…. Does who gets what really just come down to the whims of hundreds of millions of people writing checks? Just because we’re great at pulling out our wallets when tidal waves strike and get splashed all over the news doesn’t mean that we’re attuned to the constant low-level hum of the ordinary misery that surrounds us. We’re pretty darned good at tuning that out.

laureth's avatar

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070705/METRO/707050349

Interestingly, crime is another reason that the big grocery stores are abandoning the inner city.

robmandu's avatar

@Harp wrote, “Just because there’s demand for this or that, doesn’t mean that it will show up.”

Agreed when talking about business. There must be an opportunity for profit in order for a business to attempt to meet that demand.

For charitable work, it’s not about monetary profit. It’s about impact to lives. Hard to quantify and difficult to predict how it might manifest in any given situation.

@Harp also wrote, “Does who gets what really just come down to the whims of hundreds of millions of people writing checks?”

That is the question, isn’t it? Right now, we don’t know. The government is performing that duty. If we were to stop the government from doing that, and put those tax dollars back in the hands of individuals, there would most certainly be immediate, severe repercussions for those who rely on it. And who knows how long a charitable analogue for each of those would take to appear? If ever?

I’m still leaning in favor of the opinion that maybe the government should never have gotten into that business in the first place. But I recognize and share your concerns about what would happen if we attempted to make that change now.

Harp's avatar

@rob
Great to hear your thoughts. Always a pleasure to talk with reflective people.

TheKNYHT's avatar

@Judi Very good point: Jesus is establishing a kingdom where He is King, He isn’t a chairman of a socialist kingdom, nor is He a president of a free enterprise kingdom (i.e. capitalist nation).

@Robmandu: I admire your sensibilities and reasoning and agree quite a bit with what you had to say!

@Laureth: if you read the account in Acts, along with what Paul stated in his epistles, the believers in Jerusalem were under persecution, and of course those that professed Jesus as Messiah were excommunicated from the synagogue, which pretty much meant they were ostracized from society, losing their jobs, etc. So in that instance, they had all things common so that they could all survive. But this wasn’t S.O.P. in order to become a Christian.

To reiterate what others had said already with a bit of insight of my own, socialism is about taking from those that have and giving it to those who don’t. This is coercive, and is actually a form of legal theft, euphemistically called ‘taxation’. One can see how we are becoming socialist in our venues of conduct.
As a Christian I am quite able to manage my own charitable contributions (and I do) without any ‘assistance’ from the gov’t. Robmandu had a very good point that monies assigned for the poor by the government could easily be reallocated, say to Senators and Congresspersons Retirement Fund, or whatever else they would like.

Social Security benefits given to illegal aliens is a prime example. Other monies coming from tax payers granted to aliens and guest workers which allow them material possessions that some American’s don’t even have (though they pay taxes!).
One of God’s Commandments is “Thou shalt not steal” which means no one has the right to take what belongs to another because its their private property. Under socialism there is no private property. Everything becomes property of the State.

Also Jesus came in the Spirit, proclaiming His mandate of bringing liberty to the captives- –
Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

Socialism is about increased taxation, and limiting freedoms of speech, religion, expression, in exchange for oppressive laws, and regulations.
This is contrary to what Jesus Christ stands for.
But He isn’t a Republican or a Democrat either!

Harp's avatar

What happened to “render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar”?

Judi's avatar

@TheKNYHT ;
It is not contrary to what Jesus stands for at all. He doesn’t stand for freedom of speech or liberty, he stands for humility and servanthood. Loosing your life to find it. Even obedience to authorities whom you disrespect. It is not an easy road, but it is a royal road.

TheKNYHT's avatar

@Harp Nothing happened to it. I have always paid my taxes, and I always will. However I take exception when my tax money is used to support people who refuse to support themselves, or people who are here illegally, have paid no taxes, yet reap the benefit of this welfare state of ours.

Judi's avatar

@TheKNYHT ;
Remember the parable about the Servants who were hired in the vineyard? Some worked all day and some only worked an hour, but all got the same wages?

TheKNYHT's avatar

@Judi Hmmm, yes well certainly Jesus is all about liberty; the greatest liberty of all! We were all slaves to sin, and He has liberated us from this bondage. Freedom of speech? Jesus was commanded by the Pharisees to silence His followers who were heralding Him as the Son of David, a title of the Messiah. He disregarded that command, and went one step further: “I tell you the truth, if these were to hold their peace, the very stones would cry out.”
Jesus would even stand up for rocks to have freedom of speech!
Could you honestly see the LORD commanding His followers to remain silent re: the gospel in Communist China?
But of course I must also concur with your other statements regarding Jesus standing for servanthood and humility. Losing ones life to find it, is also a supreme example of liberty, for we are slaves to self until we learn to die to self, that Christ may reign supreme within us, His temple.

Judi's avatar

Jesus is about Liberty from sin. Not liberty from Caesar. The only people he DID condemn were the spiritual elite. If you read God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew, you will see that it is possible to obey laws and still do ministry by relying on God. He (Brother Andrew) never lied. The questions were never asked.
My daughter was a missionary in Vietnam. She never disobeyed the law. The only time she talked about her faith was when she was asked, and He (Jesus) provided many opportunities. People would ask why she would give up the prime of her life to teach English in a Communist country. That was an opening. People would ask if she would ever marry a Vietnamese man. She could answer, “I am a Christian and could only marry another Christian.” It would open dialog. She never broke Vietnamese law, she never proselytized, but the word of God was still spoken.
We are called to be servants. Let God inspire the stones, He is powerful enough! He is God and can not be silenced. Self righteous Christians, on the other hand…...

TheKNYHT's avatar

@Judi Romans 13:1–7 is the text most Christians use in this regard, however some of this, I believe doesn’t apply to us for certain reasons: the people in D.C. are OUR employees. We vote them in, we pay their wages, they work for us.
The issue was brought up re: Jesus and socialism, the particular view stated that these two are not incompatible, but they are indeed.
Socialism, especially the ideals of Communism, that extreme left brand of Socialism deems the State as the ultimate authority, thus any other authority must be subordinated, even annihilated. This certainly includes Christianity, and the Bible.
When confronting the Sanhedrin, who told Peter and John not to preach in “this name” again, Peter said, “Whether it is right to obey you rather than God, judge for yourselves. As for us we cannot help but speak of all that we have seen and heard.” Where the laws of man (especially socialism) contradict the commands of God, we are to obey God.
Now in regards to your daughter, and Brother Andrew, I have nothing but respect for their work, and this is an entirely legitimate form of ministry, for those to whom are called to it. But it wasn’t the ministry Paul was called to, or Peter.
All I’m saying is we need to keep our perspectives clear: obey the government in all things, unless or until we violate God’s command by doing so.
Socialism would deny us the freedom of proclaiming the gospel, and refraining from obeying God in favor of such a government would be a sin indeed. Jesus is about Liberty from sin? Agreed!
Thus I am at liberty from the sin of disobeying God in this respect, and I believe it may come to this, here in America, the land of the (for now) free. I see nothing so self-righteous in this, and I’m fairly certain you would not view me as being self-righteous for wanting to please God, rather than people if it ever comes down to a choice between the two.

Judi's avatar

@TheKNYHT; (You made me pull out my Bible to look that up! I was really thinking more about Daniel)
What I am saying is that God can thrive in any political environment. I have no need to fear. Daniel obeyed and obeyed until he was asked to sin. Only then did he disobey and was thrown in the Lion’s den. Even then God found a way to be glorified.
I am not afraid of political winds. They have changed over the centuries and will change again.
It is late and I think we are in sync on the important issues in our lives. I am sure we have bored those who don’t study the Bible to tears anyway. It has been an interesting discussion.

TheKNYHT's avatar

@Judi

In the essentials there is no disparity between us; just some niggling points, which we enjoy hammering out, thats all. “As iron sharpens iron…” sorta stuff.
I’m a warrior kinda guy, and when I see the winds of change, I tend to gear up, and stand ready, if you know what I’m saying.
And yes! God can and does thrive in any political environment, and the body of Christ has proven resilient over the millennia.
In fact, its when its under persecution that the church thrives the most! So we truly have nothing to fear in the way of political machinery that may well prove adversarial towards the saints. <//><

Harp's avatar

@TheKNYHT There seems to me to be a substantial difference between “Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar…” and ”...is coercive, and is actually a form of legal theft, euphemistically called ‘taxation’.” Isn’t Jesus saying that “money is a part of this worldly system, and as such is rightly subject to the will of those whom God has granted worldly authority”? And aren’t you saying “My money belongs to me, and so is rightly subject to my will. The government can force me to give it, but it’s not really theirs”? Sorry if I misunderstand you, but that’s the only way I can make sense of the word “theft” in your statement.

By the same logic, was God committing “legal theft” when he required under the Mosaic Law that everyone give a tenth of their income to su:pport the Levites and the poor? Shouldn’t it have been left to each person to decide what to do with his property? If God had the right to require this, then how do you make sense of Romans 13:1–7? ”...there is no authority except that which God has established…This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue”

TheKNYHT's avatar

@Harp I don’t have a problem with taxation (unless you want to talk about how our income tax was brought into law in 1913; I refer here to The Creature From Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin), but its abuses when tax money is used to support those who aren’t themselves contributing into the system (illegal aliens), or when money that’s supposed to go towards my social security retirement fund is bastardized for other uses (thank you former President Lyndon B. Johnson!).
Under socialism, my taxes would support things that I would have no say over whatsoever; taxation w/o representation ring any bells?
I likewise tithe to the church I attend, and this is in obedience to God’s will (He is God, He owns it all any way and is the only rightful Claimant), but as far as giving monetary gifts, there is no commandment, all offerings are on a free will basis.
2Cr 9:7 Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
Re: money belonging to this world; indeed yes, but what I work for, I earn, just the same as if I plowed a field, sowed it, tended to its crops, I’m therefore entitled to the harvest. Money is of course a means of transaction so that we can specialize in various fields of expertise, and trade for other goods via this monetary system.
In fact, though I earn my wages, the physical money itself belongs to the Federal Reserve that loans it on INTEREST to other banks, thus generating debt galore, but that’s a different ball of wax.
THANK YOU for your insightful question; I do hope I helped clarify, although I have a sneaky suspicion I may have muddied up the waters fluther, er, FURTHER!

Judi's avatar

Many illegal aliens pay plenty of taxes and never get to claim refunds due. They contribute to social security and many never make claims because they fear their illegal status will be detected.

Harp's avatar

@TheKNYHT In a socialist government, the people can have just as much say about how their tax dollars are spent as they do in any other form of government. As long as they’re freely electing their policy-makers, they’re fully represented.

Romans 13 doesn’t seem to be distinguishing one form of government from another when it says “The authorities are God’s servants”. Would you imagine that God approves of “his servants” building roads, but frowns when they issue food stamps? Or that he likes defense spending, but not health care spending?

I don’t get the impression that the bible portrays God as being overly concerned about the deservedness of those who receive his blessings, so I don’t see why his servants should get overwrought about it

toleostoy's avatar

To call Jesus Socialist, Capitalist, Marxist, Bolshevik, Republican, or Democratic is anachronistic. Jesus was Jewish, mostly Pharisaical, and supported the Kingdom of God. That being said, Jesus seems to me to suggest that hording money for personal betterment while failing to acknowledge others’ needs is not good. Whatever way you decide to care for others is probably okay; just do it.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
makemo's avatar

@toleostoy
I’m aware of the anachronism in associating Jesus with that of being a socialist. It’s by way of saying, as in eg. “Jesus rocks!”; apparently he’s not alive and if by the word “rocks” one would mean rock ‘n roll culture, that would be considered also an anachronism, since, obviously, rock wasn’t invented back then. Likewise, I was assuming it would be obvious that I’m not attempting to imply that socialism was established during the days of Jesus.

Comparing “Wasn’t Jesus a socialist?” and “Wasn’t Jesus pretty much a socialist?” (see?), there’s a subtle yet tangible difference in the interpretation, don’t you think.

What I meant to say, was, if you consider the idea of socialism and try to interrelate its underlying values with your interpretation of Jesus’ – at least I, for one, can sense some common ground.

And to the gist of my question:

Among those who think otherwise, I’d be curious to find out what, in the way you regard the nature of Jesus’ being, would possibly intermix with a capitalistic outlook on life. And consequently – if your conclusion leads to no correlation therewithin – how does it make sense, saying you’re a follower of Jesus, while, at the same time embracing such thing as capitalism or calling oneself an anti-socialist?

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