Christian Socialism?

There is a school of thought that socialism could work if it were driven by Christian principles. I disagree.

Christian socialism started becoming a major movement in England in the 1960s. The movement ties capitalism with idolatry and greed. Many years ago, a pastor told me that Karl Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto, believed that capitalism was the source of greed. He said that Marx was wrong; sinful human nature is what causes greed.

The terms “Christian” and “Socialism” are mutually exclusive. The legal term “Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius” (the expression of one thing is the exclusion of the other) applies here.

God tells Christians to feed the poor (and clothe and shelter them). But this isn’t best done through socialism, even when society has a Christian consensus. Taxing citizens, the government controlling the means of production and redistributing wealth – the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, doesn’t create as many goods and services as does free market capitalism.

Bill Gates, not a government program, was able to lower the price of computers, improve them, and make them so user friendly that someone as technically retarded as I can use them.

A problem with central planning (socialism) is that this system is out of touch with consumer needs. A corollary problem is that, as the government controls the means of production under socialism, it can control what you believe – it’s inimical to religious freedom. It could also hold up, or even stop, material it doesn’t like, under the influence of special interests, such as Christian movies.

I’m reading John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegory of the soul, the Christian walk. Mr. Bunyan was thrown in jail because he was a non conformist – he didn’t fall in lock step with the official government church of England. Not allowing religious freedom is why, to use an Archie Bunker quip, we kicked England out of this country.

With more wealth to go around, there is more for the poor. There is a greater harvest, and as was the case in Leviticus, there was sufficient grain on the margins of the fields for the poor. “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”  — Leviticus 23:22

Today in Bucks County, PA, churches and individuals have been feeding and clothing the poor. Caring Christians not only feed and clothe the homeless, but they minister them, addressing their spiritual/emotional needs.

Shortly after BO was elected, Pastor Rick Warren said that private funds for the needy has dwindled because of all the taxes. After the government extorts citizens’ money, they don’t have as great a harvest to share. Sure, you might say, under a Christian consensus politicians won’t squander tax money like the Skinny Socialist did with Solyndra.

But, as John Calvin believed, because of the total depravity of man, government and churches shouldn’t put their power centrally.  That is,  you shouldn’t put all your eggheads in one basket. Our government’s separation of powers is based on the Presbyterian model of forming presbyteries, where if a church is straying from God’s Word, an independent presbytery can call the wayward church out.

Likewise, Martin Luther started a practice where anybody, from any walk of life, can challenge the clergy by pointing to scripture. The pastor at the church I attend encourages churchgoers to study the Bible and be accountable.   By the way, a Lutheran is just an unfinished Presbyterian.

Free market capitalism allows for free choice. School choice is so called because it lets parents, rather than school districts, choose what’s best for your children. It’s your money. Under school choice, the money that’s put into the pot lets you use your taxes as you best see fit.

The economic free market and the free market of ideas, for example, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”, gives us the freedom to engage in the unfettered exchange of ideas in the search for the truth.

To bad a John Bunyan didn’t have those rights. Instead, a judge, whom he fictionalized in Pilgrims Progress as Judge Hategood, and his kangaroo court abridged this godly man’s rights.

Giving socialism a Christian name and endorsement does not change the outcome of a system that has historically brought misery on society. Woodrow Wilson, for example, a progressive (progressing to complete socialism) whose father was a pastor, was a dictator who threw anybody In jail who protested against WWI. He was as bad for society as was progressive President LBJ.

In the 70’s, evangelist Francis Schaeffer said that freedom in this country has been abused. To keep order in society, Dr. Schaeffer said, one of two things will have to happen. Either we will have to have a police state to control people from the outside, or we will have to have a Reformed Christian consensus to govern people from the inside.

I prefer the latter. It’s not big government that makes a society great; it’s personal responsibility and achievement.