RSS

Tag Archives: greed

Does the Bible Promote Socialism – Part 2

by Providence Crowder

Wealth is Not Evil

The Bible indicated that certain believers had been entrusted with riches (Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon, Job, etc.) and others had lived in poverty.  Although Christ encouraged the idea of community and admonished believers to care for the poor, He never guaranteed any man an income, poor or otherwise, nor did He rectify inequalities in material wealth (see the parable of the talents Matt. 25:14-30).  In the book of Luke, a man from the crowd asked Christ to make his brother share his wealth with him.  The man demanded, ‘“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’  But Jesus said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’  And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses’” (Lk. 12:13-14). 

 Jesus observed men’s attitudes towards money and possessions, and He addressed the very condition of their heart, which Scripture taught was deceitful and wicked (Jer. 17:9).   Christ rebuked men, both rich and poor; those who would make money their idol, those who suffered greed, those who coveted, and those who would seek after riches instead of seeking the kingdom.  Over and over again Jesus redirected mankind away from being consumed with material possessions and the accumulation of them, because serving God and serving possessions were incompatible.  Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matt. 6:24). 

 Community not Communism

Certainly some modern Christian communities have taken to modeling after the first century church in Jerusalem, where the believers were said to have given all of their possessions and they held all things in common (Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-35).  This idea of a communal church in which no property was privately owned and all things were shared equally has had some appeal for modern believers.  Yet, in the context of the early church, which suffered great persecution at the hands of the Roman government, community was all they had.  Until the rule of fourth century Roman Emperor Constantine, Christianity was outlawed and Christians did not share in the wealth that is common for some Christians today.  Christians held no positions of authority, they had no political power, and they did not live peacefully among other Roman citizens, and they could in no way look to their government for any type of assistance or help. 

 Because persecution was so severe in the land, these citizens voluntarily gave all they had for their common good, so that all of their brethren may both worship God AND eat.  Consistent with the teachings in the Bible, they did what they wished with their own property.  As in Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, the landowner proclaimed, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own things?  Or are you envious because I am generous?” (Matt. 20:15) These early Christians did not cling to material wealth or possessions but lived each moment not knowing if it would be their last. 

 The early church’s communal experience in Jerusalem ended as early as the first century with the scattering of the saints to other regions due to persecution (Acts 8:1).  And despite persecution, Christians preached the gospel everywhere.  They, like their Messiah, cared for the poor in spirit above all and in addressing the physical needs of a man, that man became more receptive to God’s message of salvation and redemption.  Christians were generous in giving and they served the underprivileged while sharing God’s message of love and hope to the unsaved masses.   Secular governments, on the other hand have robbed and oppressed in the name of righteousness, tyrants have abused their citizens in the name of goodwill; all under the guise of equality.

The Need for Evangelism

Many societies have felt the social and moral obligation to help those working poor who struggle to make ends meet and to provide for those who are unable to care for themselves; and rightfully so.  Still, with more people on the welfare rolls than ever before and billions of dollars being pumped into impoverished communities all over the world, poverty remains.  Resultantly, many Christian proponents of socialism have become, as Justo Gonzalez has asserted, “preoccupied with the existing social conditions” instead of focusing on Christian evangelism and discipleship.  Were the needy to know the true and living God, they would recognize that their existing social conditions are temporal and that their happiness doesn’t persist in material wealth.  Were the more fortunate to rightly know Him, their hearts and desires would be turned from self toward others, generosity would be instinctive, and they would take to the business of blessing other people.  Were people to know God through His Son Jesus, serving one another would be an inherent virtue.  However, because of the perpetual selfishness and wickedness of the ungodly, and because many in the church often fail to “remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10) in their clamor to erect buildings instead of building people, greed, vanity, and covetousness reign above charity.

Government “Charity”

In any nation, governments do not produce wealth but merely collect and redistribute it.  In a constitutional republic such as America, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land; and under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the authority to collect taxes so that the government may properly function in its governing.  As the Apostle Paul said, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing” (Rom. 13:1, 6).  Taxes do serve their purpose and through paying them, taxpayers receive some product, good, or service from their government in exchange for their money; as well, the citizens who pay no taxes directly benefit from the public services that are provided at taxpayer expense.  Yet concerning taxpayer subsidies to the poor, no such exchange exists.  Giving in exchange for nothing in return is charity.  Christian charity is voluntary; government charity is extortion.  The term government charity is an oxymoron because the term implies choice. Outside of our biblical responsibility to those in our family and of our household, no person should be forced to pay for another person’s education, health care, or housing. 

 Joel McDurmon has noted that although, “God does require that we not let our poor neighbors languish,” the question remains, “Does He authorize the State to use force toward this end?” That answer is no.  Government should not exercise force upon its citizens unless, as Charles G. Finney has warned, “It is demanded to promote the highest public good; it is the duty of government to inflict penalties when their infliction is demanded by the public interest.” But what if a man is poor and starving?  Should the government then force its citizens to feed the poor?  The biblical answer is no.  The Bible proclaims, “People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.  Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house” (Prov. 6:30-31).  And though most can empathize, stealing is wrong even in the worst instances of poverty.  Like Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. proclaimed, “It is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends.”  Government is not justified in stealing from one family to feed another. 

Jay W. Richards said: 

The government functions stem from our inalienable rights.  We have a right to protect ourselves, for instance, so we can delegate that right to government.  We don’t have the right to take the property of one person and give it to another.  Therefore, we can’t rightfully delegate that function to the state.  Delegated theft is still theft . . . Using the state to redistribute wealth from one citizen to another is different from general taxation for legitimate governmental functions, such as those enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  Rather than promoting the general welfare, redistribution schemes involve a group of citizens voting to have the government take property from others and give it to them.  Rather than celebrating such schemes, Christians should be holding them to the light of moral scrutiny.

Stay tuned for Does the Bible Promote Socialism Part 3, “So How then Can Government Help?”

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Does the Bible Promote Socialism – Part 1

by Providence Crowder

Was Jesus a Socialist?

Many people question whether or not Jesus of Nazareth promoted and supported the ideas of a socialist government.  That question can be emphatically answered no.   Socialism can be defined as “an economic theory or system in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned by the community collectively, usually through the state.  It is characterized by production for use rather than profit, by equality of individual wealth, by the absence of competitive economic activity, and, usually, by government determination of investment, prices, and production levels” (World English Dictionary).  By this definition, Jesus can be said to espouse some socialist views, but he does so only within the confines of His Church, not secular government.  Out of love for God and fellow man, Christ taught His followers to voluntarily and charitably give of their possessions to care for and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in society; the sick, elderly, poor, widow, and orphan.

The visible church, the people of God, was to be a conduit for healing and deliverance through proclaiming the good news that Jesus Christ saves; a message of hope to a lost and dying world.  All who acknowledged and turned from their sin, received Him and placed their trust in His name (whether rich in this world or poor) would be awarded eternal life (Jn. 1:12).  Through Christ’s example, His disciples were taught that preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, the worship of God Almighty, and righteous living were to be primary focuses in this life, not accumulation of wealth or material goods.  The poor were warned not to covet (Lk. 12:13-21) or be anxious about temporal hardships (Phil. 4:6), and the rich were cautioned not to trust in uncertain riches (1 Tim. 6:17) and admonished to give generously.  Because of sin, the poor and the rich alike were both spiritually depraved and in need of salvation.  The Church was tasked to share the gospel, while showing the same concern for the needs of all people as Christ did.

The Problem with Socialism

The concept of socialism in government (government sanctioned equality of outcome) is not biblical.  Joel McDurmon said it best when he affirmed that the Bible has “never spoke a single verse in support of government involvement in charity, health, education, or business . . . Where is universal health care in the Bible?  Where is government-guaranteed minimum wage in the Bible?  Jesus accepted wages to be negotiated between workers and employers, not guaranteed by government decree.”  Jesus never proposed that any secular king or government should take on the role of provider or savior.  Government was established by God to punish evil and promote good (Rom. 13:1-5), and administer justice (1 Pt. 2:13-15).  Its function was not to make victims of its citizens by robbing and forcing charitable acts upon the most productive in society to subsidize government prioritized charity; where its citizens were forced to succumb to that government’s definition of equity and fairness concerning one’s fortune, health, and personal sustenance; where acquiring wealth was considered criminal and immoral; where a man’s worth was measured merely by earthly standards; where Christ was nowhere preached. 

Besides increasing poverty through minimizing economic growth and opportunity, socialism creates a vast social and financial imbalance by placing most societal resources in the hands of a few bureaucratic bandits and politicians who relegate individual freedoms.  These bandits, as McDurmon has noted, “redistribute wealth evenly despite an individuals’ productivity.”  Thus, socialism reduces incentive and motivation, and discourages hard work.  Scripture taught just the opposite.  Individual responsibility, owning private property, inheritance of wealth, hard work in exchange of personal reward or profit, and wise stewardship were encouraged throughout Scripture.  Laziness, idleness, and gratuitously remaining a monetary burden to others were rebuked.  All able-bodied men, poor or otherwise, were required to work (Ex. 23:11, Lev. 19:9).  The poor were encouraged to help themselves; the disciples taught that every able-bodied individual was to work and contribute toward their own livelihood.  The Apostle Paul commanded this, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess. 3:6-10).  Other biblical passages support the same. Socialism remains unbiblical even, like McDurmon said, when you use the poor to try and justify it.

Some proponents of socialism claim the advice such as the Apostle Paul gave to the Church at Corinth in His second epistle to them prove equality of outcome is a biblical principle that should be held by all.  The Apostle stated,

 “I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.   And in this I give advice . . .  by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality” (2 Cor. 8:9-13).

 Essentially, Paul knew that all wealth belonged to the Lord, and men were mere stewards.  His advice and challenge for believers was to emulate Christ’s selflessness in giving.  People with material wealth, because of their abundance, were in a position to help the poor.  If everyone followed Christ’s example, then men’s basic needs would be met.  Jesus showed mercy to all people and He especially cared for the poor; He loved them, He rebuked them, He corrected them, He taught them, He fed them.  Believers should do the same. 

 Generosity was a principle strongly promoted throughout the Bible and the concept of giving was valued, not only so that none should lack anything, but so that money would not become their taskmaster.  Those who gave charitably were considered good stewards (1 Pet. 4:9-10).  Christian giving was always voluntary and “as each has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Cor. 9:7) unlike in socialist governments in which giving is coerced and involuntary.  Biblical charity involved choice.  God commanded men that when they gave, they were to give generously and do so without a grudging heart” (Deut. 15:10). 

Stay tuned for Does the Bible Promote Socialism Part 2, “Wealth is Not Evil.”

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Greed, Need, and Money

williams2.jpg

By Dr. Walter Williams

Demagoguery about greedy rich people or greedy corporate executives being paid 100 or 200 times their workers’ salaries is a key weapon in the politics of envy. Let’s talk about greed, starting off with Merriam-Webster’s definition: “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed.”

That definition is a bit worrisome because how does one know what a person really needs? It’s something my economics students and I spend a bit of time on in the first lecture. For example, does a family really need one, two, three or four telephones? What about a dishwasher or a microwave oven? Are these excessive desires? If you say these goods are really needed, then I ask, how in the world did your great-grandmother and possibly your grandmother, not to mention most of today’s world population, make it without telephones, dishwashers and microwave ovens? “Need” is a nice emotional term, but analytically, it is vacuous.

“Selfish” is a bit more useful term, and it’s the human motivation that gets wonderful things done. For example, I think it’s wonderful that Alaskan king crab fishermen take the time and effort, often risking their lives in the cold Bering Sea, to catch king crabs that I enjoy. Do you think they make that sacrifice because they care about me? I’m betting they don’t give a hoot about me. They make it possible for me to enjoy king crab legs because they want more money for themselves. How much king crab would I, and millions of others, enjoy if it all depended on human love and kindness?What about complaints about CEOs earning so much more than the average worker? Before looking at CEOs, let’s look at another area of huge pay differences.

According to Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list, Oprah Winfrey earned $260 million. Even if her makeup person or cameraman earned $100,000, she earns thousands of times what they earn. Among the celebrities earning hundreds or thousands of times more than the people who work with them are: Steven Spielberg ($110 million), Tiger Woods ($100 million), Jay Leno ($32 million) and Dr. Phil ($30 million). According to Forbes, the top 10 celebrities and athletes earned an average of $116 million in 2004 compared to an average of $59 million earned by the top 10 corporate CEOs.When Jack Welch became General Electric’s CEO in 1981, the company was worth about $14 billion. Through hiring and firing, buying and selling decisions, Welch turned the company around and when he retired 20 years later, GE was worth nearly $500 billion. What’s a CEO worth for such an achievement? If Welch was paid a measly one-half of a percent of GE’s increase in value, his total compensation would have come to nearly $2.5 billion, instead of the few hundred million that he actually received.

If a corporate board of directors could buy a $1,000 computer that could do what a CEO does, it wouldn’t pay him millions of dollars. If an NFL owner could hire a computer to make decisions that star quarterbacks make, why would he pay some of these guys yearly compensation packages worth more than $10 million? If just anybody could have played the lead role in “The Da Vinci Code” and have it earn $758 million at the box office, why would the film’s producers have paid Tom Hanks $74 million?

There’s another important issue: If one company has an effective CEO or a team has a star quarterback, it is not the only company or team that would like to have him on the payroll. In order to keep him, he must be paid enough so that he can’t be lured elsewhere.

You say, “Williams, what about those golden parachutes for failing CEOs?” Paying a failed CEO, or a spouse in the case of marriage, enough money to go away quietly might be much cheaper than litigation.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.