Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


If You Want to Use the Bible to Make a Point, It Helps to Actually Read It.

Art Hughes, over at the Tennessee Democratic Party website, has posted a claim that Jesus was a socialist. I've read claims like this before, and they always make me laugh since it requires the Son of God to endorse an atheistic government.

Not too likely.

Because Jesus believed and taught the concept of the rich giving to the poor, was he a socialist?

There are multiple mistakes in this first opening statement. First, socialism has little to do with the rich giving to the poor. The classic definition of socialism is:

Socialism refers to any one of various economic theories of economic organization advocating state or cooperative ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities/means for all individuals with a more egalitarian method of compensation based on the full product of the laborer.

There's nothing about "giving" in there. Instead, socialism is all about the government taking ownership of the economy and dictating who gets paid how much. There is no giving, only taking.

Next, Jesus did not advocate that the rich give to the poor, but that everybody gives to God.

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into a the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two b small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Here is a widow who is giving all that she has to the Jewish Temple, certainly a rich organization at the time, right? Yet Jesus praises her devotion to God, praising a poor woman giving to a rich temple. To take Jesus's ministry and make it all about taking from the rich and giving to the poor to produce a more equal outcome is a tremendous distortion.

We should not have to have a tax system at all, like the Muslims (the same Christian God) who believe it is an obligation to take care of their poor and do so voluntarily.

Wow. Did you know that Muslims worship the same God as Christians? That would come as quite a shock to the Muslims, since they believe that all infidels, which includes all Christians, must convert and will be converted to Islam, either voluntarily, or by the sword.

Another interesting point is this bit about taxation. Apparently, Art believes that a tax collected by the church isn't really a tax, even when the church is the government. Also his use of the word voluntary is a bit misleading, given the consequences in Islam for failing to give

Mark 14;7…”you will always have the poor with you.”“When ever you want to you can always do them good.”

Let's provide some context:

3 And while he was at c Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Hmmm. Mary Magdelene has just anointed Jesus's head with an expensive oil, that cost almost a year's wages. Think about that for a minute. A denarius was equivalent to a day's labor and the jar of ointment cost more than 300 denarii. The apostles, particularly Judas, were outraged that she "wasted" a year's labor on a single man, instead of using the money they could have gotten through selling it to help the poor. Apparently, Art thinks Judas had the right idea.

Deut 15;4,5…”adherence to GODS’s laws would largely prevent poverty..”

Another bit of twisting. Again, let's add the context:

But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— 5 if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today.

Poverty would be prevented, but not by a forcible or even a voluntary redistribution of wealth, but by living soundly, no man would become poor. This passage in Deuteronomy is pointing out that poverty is the result of bad choices, not random circumstance. If you live according to the Word as given, without variance, and without exception, you will not be poor. Verse 7 then says that there will be poor, which tells us that men will fail to live up to that standard of obedience. The passage goes on to say to help your brother when he is poor, to lift him up so that he can stand again.

What this passage does not say is that we can eliminate poverty through giving, or through the social redistribution of wealth, as Art implies.

Lev 19;9,10,23.22,24;19-20…the had the right to “glean” in the harvest fields…..therefore did not have to beg for bread or resort to stealing.”
Luke 16;14..”The money –loving Pharisees had little interest in the poor.”
Pro 14;21,28;27…”the Jews were under obligation to assist the poor”
Luke 19;8..”half of my belonging, LORD, I am giving to the poor.”
Luke 14;13,14…”when you spread a feast invite the poor, cripple, lame and blind and you will be happy.”

These passages all deal with giving to the poor, and have nothing to do with a government taking from you and giving some of it to the poor. They speak of charity, not welfare, and there's a big difference. These passages also speak of giving with a glad heart, not having a government take what it wants from you and give some of it to who it decides is worthy.

10 Reasons Jesus was a Socialist

This should be fun.

1. Jesus owned nothing.

On the contrary, Jesus owns everything as the Son of God. All things are His, including us. He will come again and will reign on earth as He now reigns in Heaven as Prince of All.

2. Jesus argued for the dissolution of the family and the establishment of communes.

Notice there are no Scriptural references here. Jesus argued that people should follow Him for their salvation, and that those who did would become His Family, just as His mother and brothers were His Family. He didn't try to dissolve the family; he tried to strengthen and broaden it. If you read the Bible, one of the most striking images is of the Church as the Bride of Christ. Why would the founding family unit be used as a metaphor of our relationship with Christ if Jesus wanted to dissolve the family? As for the establishment of communes, in Acts we read that the early church was established on communist lines, with no personal property, and community ownership of all funds. It worked for a while because each and every member of the group was dedicated to the Lord, to following God and His rules, not mans. An earthly commune cannot last because it will be dedicated to following man's law, not God's.

3. Jesus loved all people regardless of ethnicity or class.

Yes he did, and that included the wealthy and the industrious. Can socialists say the same? I didn't think so.

4. Jesus revolted against the imperial government, established religion and finance capitalism (usury).

Wow. One of the reasons the Jews rejected Jesus was that He didn't lead a revolt against Rome. In fact, He told the Jews to obey Roman law, to pay their taxes, and to live under the oppression. He told the people that when they were required to carry a Roman soldier's equipment for a mile, to carry it two miles. If they were struck by a Roman soldier on the cheek, they were to offer the other cheek. When Pontious Pilate ordered the Crucifiction, Jesus could have avoided it, but He followed the Roman law, even to death.

As for established religion, well, he certainly had a lot of disdain for the Pharisees, but He had the highest regard for Judaism, quoting from the Scriptures constantly, and explaining them to those who misunderstood. He ordered his disciples to go out and spread His Word, to create a body of believers, and he gave those believers orders to carry out. Seen in this light, He wasn't revolting against established religion, but correcting the mistakes and removing the corruption that had grown into the religion. As for finance capitalism, well this passage should clear that one up.

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into a the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.

In this parable, we see that gifts are to be used for increase, to become greater. Failure to use those gifts is "wicked and slothful" But pay very close attention to vs 17, which speaks of bankers and interest. Finance capitalism is not condemned in the Gospel. Usury, on the other hand, is condemned. The conflation of the two terms is a modern distortion.

5. Jesus taught that we should act as one body, one blood.

Absolutely. Show me a socialist country where everyone is treated the same and I'll buy this a socialist teaching.

6. Jesus taught that his kingdom (ie nation state) is in the heart and not below the feet.

Wrong again. Jesus's kingdom is the Earth and everything in it, on it, above it, and under it. Read Revelation.

7. Jesus taught that we should fight for Justice and 'turn the other cheek' to petty morality.

Really? Where? he taught that we should forgive sinners, but not that we should disregard the sin. There's a big difference here, and I challenge anyone to find any teaching in the Gospel that says we can disregard morality. Being freed from judgment under the Law does not free us from our obligation to honor it. Jesus Himself said that the Law still has a place:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

8. Jesus was a laborer and a teacher.

And that makes Him a socialist?

9. Jesus practiced healing and forgiveness.

Only socialists forgive? Only socialists can heal? Now Art's just getting ridiculous.

10. Jesus taught that you can't be an imperialist and a disciple at the same time.

No, Jesus taught that you can't be concerned with earthly treasures and be His disciple at the same time. In order to follow Christ, you are required to give up your fleshly life, your earthly concerns, and follow Him.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Imperialism is too small to fit this message. You can't be a socialist and then a disciple. You can't be a communist and then a disciple. You can only be a disciple first, living in the world, but not being of the world. The more your focus is on earthly matters, like how much the CEO makes, or whether the bank's charge too much interest, the less your focus is on what really matters.

Art engages in an especially pernicious revision of Biblical principles to make his case. What makes it so bad is that not only does he misrepresent Jesus the man, he misrepresents His Divine Message of Salvation. Art's Jesus might be able to feed a lot of people's bodies, but he can't save anyone from damnation. Only the Jesus of the Gospel can do that. Forget the politics, forget the economics, forget all of the things of the world; know that we as humans are corrupted from our original perfection, and that only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ can we be redeemed to God.

That's a much bigger and more important message than "Jesus was a socialist."
Posted by Rich
Christianity 101 • (0) CommentsPermalink

***Due to Spammer activity, comments have been temporarily disabled.
Please contact us by email if you wish to comment and we will enter it manually

Commenting is not available in this site entry.


Bible Verse of the Day

Monthly Archives