One Man Versus Socialist Jesus

What?! Yes, some people actually believe Jesus was a socialist (or would have been a proponent of it). I’m sorry. I should not have stated it that way (I don’t want to belittle anyone by any means). Frankly, it just ain’t so.

From my understanding, which is limited, socialism calls (at least to some extent) for people to regulate each other by agreeing to share what we are entitled to as per our natural rights, thus ensuring that all men enjoy what’s rightfully theirs according to natural law. Again, my understanding is limited, so please mind any inaccuracies with some mercy.

Now, Jesus really only commanded but a few things, which were all summed up in loving God, yourself, your neighbors, and your enemies. At first glance, one might assume that this appears to call for socialism. However, what is love? How is it executed? Is socialism the best conduit for love?

What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me…sorry, had to do it). There are several different forms of love. What is love Jesus calls for? Without getting academic, it should suffice to say that Jesus calls for unconditional love. It is the sacrifice of one’s own benefit for the benefit of another (time, money, words, space, goods, etc) without anything/anyone forcing you to do so, and without any expectation of receiving anything in return.

So, is socialism an adequate (let alone, the best) conduit for the love Jesus is looking for?

(1) Love is voluntary socialism
(2) Love is the sacrifice of one’s own benefit for the benefit for the benefit of another: socialism
(3) Love asks for nothing in return: socialism

Now, for love to be love, all three variables must be true (socialism underlined). Even if there was one socialism, love would not exist as Jesus calls for.

Does that mean that Jesus love cannot exist in socialism? No! Of, course it can! What this means is that the socialistic giving/sharing is not in agreement with Jesus’ will. So, to say that Jesus was/is socialist (thereby calling all Christians to be socialist) is erroneous at it’s foundation.

As much as Jesus calls for love between individuals, he is primarily interested in the individual. He wants the individual’s genuine will to evolve towards His own.

If a decision is forced on you, you have not made that decision. It is therefore not a reflection of your will. To become better individuals, and thereby a better society, we must be fully responsible for each and every decision we make. That is why I fight any move toward the intrusion of one’s will by either their neighbor or their government.

We must choose to help one another without violating one another.

First, we must check ourselves.

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8 Comments

  1. Great blog entry!
    Freedom of choice is one of those ‘irrevocable’ rights given us by God. The problem with socialism is that once it becomes the tenet of the land, choice is dictated by the many, no longer existing as an individual right of expression.

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  2. “If a decision is forced on you, you have not made that decision. It is therefore not a reflection of your will. To become better individuals, and thereby a better society, we must be fully responsible for each and every decision we make.”

    Very wise.

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  3. Your argument about free will certainly has merit, but playing devil’s advocate here since you have requested critical feedback in other forums: the danger in it is the result of “to each his own” in a fallen world. Love is not a biblical suggestion; it is a mandate for all who believed, which is why the early church resembled a socialist colony more than anything else. That is not to say, of course, that the same should be extrapolated as true or desirable in the present day outside the church (e.g. government), but within the church, a kind of “free will socialism” should be the norm, considering that Jesus responded “Love the Lord your God… and love your neighbor as yourself” when he was challenged to articulate the greatest commandment.

    We must have a system of government, naturally, but it makes far less sense to argue for or against one than it does to examine their relative merits through the lens of what scripture says. I think that is what you are trying to do here, but I wonder if an argument against Capitalist Jesus (which is the Jesus we indisputably have in the United States) would come as readily.

    So, will you be writing “One Man Versus Capitalist Jesus” soon as well? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    1. True, love is a mandate (the greatest commandment) according to scripture. However, God does not force us to love one another. Rather, He leaves the decision to the individual as to whether or not he will obey His command. In fact, love itself requires choice, not force (by either God, self, or others). So, if indeed a collection of truly “free-will” socialists (though really just good Samaritans) wished to do so, they could label themselves “socialist.” In fact, this most likely happens quite a bit (especially in capitalist nations).

      I was motivated to write this post in response to many people’s statements that “Jesus was/would be in favor of a socialist government.” My particular argument is not necessarily capitalism vs. socialism, but really less government vs. more government.

      Thank you very much for your critical response! I truly enjoy being prompted to analyze my thoughts. If I haven’t satisfactorily responded, please let me know how I can clarify. Thanks again.

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  4. “In fact, this most likely happens quite a bit (especially in capitalist nations).”

    Actually, the numbers don’t support this at all, which is one of the main reasons people who are concerned with social justice start talking up Jesus’ “left-leaning” teachings. (For your reference: The US is one of the lowest giving nations as a percentage of GDP.
    http://www.gatesfoundation.org/annual-letter/2010/Pages/rich-countries-foreign-aid.aspx)

    Again, the free will argument holds, but if you are going to make a case for limited government vs more government, then I’d suggest making that case on its own merit. it doesn’t make sense to say that Jesus would have supported or denounced any kind of government, as nothing in his ministry suggests this.

    As written, you seem to be making the case for free will versus government involvement. Another factor to consider in this is the level at which people who self-identify as Christians tithe. Within that group, evangelicals are the most generous, with an average of approximately 7% of income–well less than the 10% typically cited by the OT scriptures. This begs the question: if people who know the commands aren’t giving of their own volition, then how are we to care for the social needs of the world, domestically or otherwise? At the very least, it should not come as a surprise that government (ineffective and wasteful though it often is) would move to remedy.

    My point: if we want smaller government, we must have more generous hearts, which is an awfully tough sell in a capitalist society, what with no man being able to serve two masters and all…

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    1. I completely agree with you. Like I said, the post was only meant as a reply to many other posts I’d read that were proclaiming that Jesus was/would have been in favor of a socialist government.

      Statistics will never be accurate in regards to charity as many people view self-reporting of charitable gifts as inconsistent with the giving spirit. We can never know how many people give anonymously to people or through unsponsored venues (simply directly giving an individual gifts).

      Indeed, it would be silly to simply use Jesus as a means to bash socialism. This post was merely meant to proclaim my belief that the very forceful manner by which a socialist state distributes wealth is against the nature of charity.

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  5. I think there is a helpful critique that Jesus offers to both a capitalist and a socialist form of government. From the reading I have done it seems that he was much more interested in the formation of the people of God to provide a living critique of the government and to remind the rulers of this world that they are not God and that their powers are not limitless.

    I think a more probing post would be to test the ideas of freedom and individuality that you assume. One has to wonder how free the choice of Paul or Jonah was when encountering a strong revelation of God.

    I don’t have any great thoughts on this. I’m just pondering this question. I read an article recently by David B Hart where he wrote:

    “Freedom, as we now conceive of it, presumes โ€” and must ever more consciously pursue โ€” an irreducible nihilism: for there must literally be nothing transcendent of the will that might command it towards ends it would not choose for itself, no value higher than those the will imposes upon its world, no nature but what the will elects for itself. It is also worth noting, somewhat in passing, that only a society ordered towards the transcendental structure of being โ€” towards the true, the good, and the beautiful โ€” is capable of anything we might meaningfully describe as civilization, as it is only in the interval between the good and the desire wakened by it that the greatest cultural achievements are possible. Of a society no longer animated by any aspiration nobler than the selfโ€™s perpetual odyssey of liberation, the best that can be expected is a comfortable banality. Perhaps, indeed, a casually and chronically pornographic society is the inevitable form late modern liberal democratic order must take, since it probably lacks the capacity for anything better”

    You can read more here if you are interested http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-pornography-culture

    I am leaning towards an idea that the primary act of Christianity is not one of manifesting freedom (at least not a freedom as illustrated by the enlightenment and expressed in American history) but one of obedience as we give up our rights and surrender to the truth of Christ and that it is not a victory of the individual but a submission of the individual will to that of the community as we are no longer primarily concerned with our self but that of the body of Christ of which we are a part.

    Sorry for the length and the diversion from your primary topic. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Please do not be sorry! Your reply is very thought provoking. Indeed, powerful revelations from God can certainly strongly influence one’s will. I do still believe, however, that the individual can still decide to refuse it. After all, Moses was very reluctant to God’s calling for him to lead the people out of Egypt. He eventually conceded once God gave him a helper.

      You are right. The argument between capitalism and socialism is quite trivial in the grand scheme. What is really needed is for the individual to willingly (even joyfully) decide to place God and others before himself. As more people (including myself of course) genuinely grow toward perfection in this manner, the family, society, government, nations, and the entire world would gradually come along.

      Sadly, the world is decaying. That also is a promise from God.

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