Socialism in the Bible?

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Socialism in the Bible?

Postby smackus maxiumus » Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:38 pm

Here's a bit of scripture that I read the other day that got me thinking about the current state of the global economy.

"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you."

James 5:1-6

I'd be very careful about suggesting that this endorses socialism in any way, but it makes me wonder about the widening gap between the rich and the poor — particularly in this country.
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Socialism in the Bible?

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Re: Socialism in the Bible?

Postby Edwards1984 » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:34 pm

The issue with those who try to teach socialism from the Bible boils down to this:

1) Socialism attempts to rid the evils of the world through the government. The Bible clearly teaches that social evils like poverty, corruption, etc., will always be with us (Mt 26:11) and nothing will ever truly get better (just read the first few chapters of Ecclesiastes). Certainly we are told to care for the poor, help the impoverished, be charitable, etc., but the Christian faith recognizes that things will only get better when Christ returns and all is made right.

2) Socialism is "charity" enforced by the state, whereas charity in the New Testament church was something done willingly by the members (cf. Acts 4:32-35). You did not have the apostles going door to door with guns and taking money from the believers. They weren't forced a tax higher than other religions to take care of their social needs. Certainly Christians are expected to be charitable, but again, it is not something that is forced upon us.

3) Riches are never flatly condemned in scripture, only a love of riches which supersedes love for God, your neighbor, etc. Socialism and concepts like "spreading the wealth" see wealth as a bad thing, or see wealth as something that causes a person to be demanding. While wealth is not in and of itself a blessing from God (which is where Prosperity Gospel heresy trips up), neither is it a crime against God. On this latter note, the passage in James mentioned in the OP is, really, not about any kind of socialism, but is merely attacking corrupt landowners who had lived luxuriously and against the Law of God, and James reminds them that the day will come when God will judge them for their injustice. This kind of wealth is certainly evil and wicked, but, again, wealth in and of itself is not.
"And how the Lord has a little left me, how weak do I find myself! O, let it teach me to depend less on myself, to be more humble, and to give more of the praise of my ability to Jesus Christ." Jonathan Edwards (from his journal)
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Re: Socialism in the Bible?

Postby smackus maxiumus » Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:24 am

Here's a random thought: If wealth is a bad thing, why would one want to spread it around?

Socialism/communism isn't a viable economic system because, in my opinion, it lacks one vital element to make it work: No profit motive, no reason for innovation. You simply end up with a quota system. As an automotive enthusiast, I can clearly see the difference between vehicles produced under the Iron Curtain and those made in the West. The difference is startling. Look up the Trabant 601 to see what I mean.

Having said that, I have a thought: When did the government become the enemy? No one would agree that speed limits, stop signs and traffic laws are a bad thing, so why do we consider rules and governance in the financial sector to be a horrible thing? If the government is so bad, who do we have to blame? If the foundation of our government is "we the people," we only have to look in the mirror to find the problem when things go awry.

My reason in posting this is that I'm curious as to how this scripture figures into the socio-economic power structure nowadays. I have a sneaking suspicion that too many corporate interests are infecting the ideology of the church — especially now that it's considered a powerful voting bloc. Am I suggesting the church start voting democratic? Hardly. However, I wonder why we're not asking tougher questions of Republican politicians and business leaders.
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Re: Socialism in the Bible?

Postby sketcher » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:36 am

Well, we need to consider the meaning of the Scripture before we can use it to rubber-stamp a belief or a bias we might have already. Start with exegesis.

Were these workers simply underpaid, or were they day-workers who were depending on a daily wage, which the master of the house flat-out didn't pay, either in full, or at all?

James 2:6-7 also says that rich people were oppressing the brothers, dragging them into court, and blaspheming God's name. But how exactly were they oppressing the brothers, and why were they dragging them into court? If we don't know the answer to that question, we can't say definitively that the rich in America are doing the same things today. Whatever James was referring to constitutes oppression, but we need to know what exactly it was that he was referring to.
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Re: Socialism in the Bible?

Postby little_tigress » Wed Oct 30, 2013 9:01 pm

Yeah, I wouldn't say that this is endorsing socialism. But it does speak to our attitudes as Christians towards our finances which are given to us by God Himself. If He blesses us ith money, He expects us to use to wisely and bless others. If we weren't so selfish with our own money (and God knows I can be this way too), I think there'd be a lot less hurt and hunger in this world.

Its because the church has been neglecting its duty to care for the people around it, that the government needs to step in and care for its citizens. But the responsibility is actually ours.
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