There’s an article going around Facebook called, “How Should Christians think about Socialism?”
The author admits he isn’t an expert in economics or political science , neither am I, but the author, John Piper is a pastor and I would like to give a little help to this author’s stance by offering some biblical evidence of Socialism, the poor and how Christians should view it.
First, I will ask you to agree with me on one biblical principle. Then how Christians should think about Socialism should be a no-brainer. I ask you to agree with me that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a jealous God. He reminds us over and over not to forget Him, especially when all of our needs are met and especially when times are good (Deut .8:11 and Deut. 6:12)! And as far as Socialism is concerned, there are three key tenets to Marxism and Socialism that Christians should not ignore. The three tenets are the view of religion, the sovereign role of the State and their leverage of the poor.
First, according to Marxism, religion is the “opium of the masses” and was only a tool for the ruling class to overcome the working class. Vladamir Lennin viewed religion as source of retarding human development and thus needed to be completely outlawed. Religion was so looked down upon that many members of the Russian Communist Party, once they died, would not even allow their corpses to pass through a church. Instead, their coffins would be lifted into the graveyard and placed directly into the ground.
The second tenet is that the State becomes the primary benefactor of rights and provisions, thus giving it all power, including power over life and death. The state will use all means necessary to maintain control over it’s people in the name of revolution and overcoming the bourgeois, those middle-class people too concerned with wealth rather than the common good. It is also the state that determines how much education an individual can receive based on obedience to the State, not ability and potential. It’s merit system is based on a false sense of equality, thus producing bricks and not finding precious stones ( a whole other topic we will get into later). But remember, our Creator always wants alters of stones, not bricks. Only Pharaoh required bricks.
The third is that Socialism only leverages the poor for the sake of gaining control for the controlling elite. Socialism is built like a pyramid. Millions and millions make up the base with an empty middle section and a select elite that control the entire structure. The elite leverage the poor and their needs, control and gain, while the needs of the people continue to suffer oppression. There is a fascinating biblical reference to this during an exchange between Judas and Jesus in the book of John that we will explore in just a moment.
But let’s take a look at Joseph, the famine and the subsequent slavery of the Israelites. We remember that Joseph was a man of dreams, sold into slavery, wound up in Egypt and had the ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dream that foretold the coming years of both feast and famine. But it’s what happened between Genesis 50 and Exodus 1 and the pride that came through a fattened government that gives us the clues as how slavery came about. Remember, Joseph implemented totalitarian socialism in Egypt in order to survive a crisis.He was given those ideas to by the Creator to survive a temporary crisis. It was those ideas that saved Israel, Egypt and all those around them, but the key word is “temporary crisis.” The people who came to Egypt for food didn’t have much, but they could survive because they handed over all their land and assets over to the government at the time for grain.
At the time, this was a great idea. One that was designed to save many lives. But something happened between the last page of Genesis and the first page of Exodus, when some three to four hundred years passed. A pharaoh rose up “that knew not Joseph.” The fact that this Pharaoh did not know Joseph is a major clue as to what made this Pharaoh such a blasphemous leader in the eyes of God. This meant that generations passed where both the people and the leaders forgot who gave Joseph the wisdom to interpret those dreams for Pharaoh, who it was that gave Joseph the wisdom to execute extraordinary structures of planning in storing grain and who the actual Deliverer was during the temporary famine.
It was our Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Joseph was just the vessel and Joseph knew this. Yet, the Pharaoh rose up that knew not Joseph meaning that they forgot both the story of Joseph and how their Kingdom grew so fat from the people willingly turning over their land to the government in trade for grain. Egypt grew arrogant. Israel became under bondage and thus the famous story of the Exodus begins.
Now let’s go back to that premise I asked you to agree with me on which is that God is a jealous God. Remember those two scriptures I cited?
I am only going to go through the first for the sake of time. It is Deuteronomy 8:11, but I am going to cite verses before and after because this verse predicts exactly what happens to people’s hearts when all is given and provided for, including the hearts of leaders of nations.
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deut. 8:10-14)
Isn’t that what happened to Egypt BEFORE the slavery? Pharaoh became proud and lost all respect for the God of Israel that gave Joseph the wisdom necessary to survive the crisis of the famine? That wisdom of storing grain was specifically for the famine, not for long term ideology, lest we forget the God of Israel who sent the famine and sent the answer necessary to survive the crisis. There is something very interesting to note here. In John 12:8, when Jesus quoted the previous scripture in Deuteronomy almost verbatim, it came in response to something very interesting that Judas said in John 12:5-6. It reads,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
See any parallels?
Judas just leveraged the poor for the sake of his own agenda. Judas also tried to make others look greedy, but in reality Judas was the real thief. Much like the ideology of socialism.
The real danger lies when a society is forced to look to a government to meet all of their needs, a government in which their core agenda is to remove faith in any god through the removal of liberties of thought, idea explorations or research. For example, books owned must be approved by the State or a person will be declared an enemy of the State. According to Marx and Lennin interpretations, “religion is the opiate of the masses” and faith is seen as a barrier in which people become handicapped. I would dare say that those are completely contradictory to that which the Father desires for His people. According to the Father, the more faith a person has, the more peace and power a person has (Is. 32:17 & Matt. 17:20). Socialism cannot function unless government becomes god and the masses believe there is no God.
However, we are left to wrestle with the socially appealing aspects of socialism, namely meeting the needs of the poor. This is where I would say that has never been the role of a government, but the role of the church (I am using that word not according to the Biblical definition, but according to the estates of the realm).
The Bible has already illustrated for us what happens when government become too fat. It becomes haughty. It becomes untruthful and then it starts shedding innocent blood. Sound like a familiar refrain? Proverbs 6: 16-19,
These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
I know that Democratic Socialists say they differ from the Soviet model, however we must remember three important countries that are democratic socialists: Brazil, Venezuela and Greece. These people are already facing the haunting words of Leon Trotsky as their leaders face impeachment, food shortages and citizens are still held and killed as political prisoners. Trotsky stated:
“In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.”
He has done three things in this passage. He’s manipulated the Bible reference II Thes. 3:10. He has now declared disobedience to the State as punishable by death and he has made himself like a god, to control the masses. But remember, our God, YHVH, the King of the Universe doesn’t even try to control people, only dictators do.
And that my friends is where the core tenants of socialism leads. It leads to the State becoming their “god” which too easily becomes a tyrannical government, one where abuse and oppression abound.It leads to slavery as written in the Bible and also written in our history books over and over again, bringing us to one of the ultimate battle of the gods . . . Tyrannical governments. Except in Exodus, He shows us which God wins!
But not before a battle of demonstrative powers through ten plagues, magicians and sorcerers took place . . . a lesson we do not want to repeat.
The solution is simple, if we remember what God told us:
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deut. 15:11)
This command is to the people of the land, not just the government or the clergy of the Church. Can you imagine a society where the people are taught, “If you see a need, you meet it?” If America chooses “Cronie Capitalism”, the masses will keep desiring Socialism. But, to quote Dr. Carson, if we couple “capitalism with compassion,” only then will there be no more room for desiring the false pretenses of socialism
©Olivia Reid, 2016
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