Was Jesus A Socialist?
In a way I am a little ashamed that I need to write this article. I guess I have been guilty in principle of what God wrote through Hosea: that His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Recently it has become a popular theory that Socialism/ Social Justice is a Christian concept. Some “Millennials” seem to be asking questions and asserting things about God/Jesus and the apostles that need to be dealt with.
There are some of us who know that, when taken seriously, Socialist policies are detrimental to society. Though I have major political problems with the idea of Socialism, this article will be more spiritually focused.
The problem comes for me, when people start asserting things about the Lord that are absolutely untrue. What we will discuss in this article is a statement that a young person who was in my youth group some years ago, recently affirmed: that Jesus/God and the Apostles were all Socialists, and that Christianity is a socialistic ideology.
But before we begin we must define what we mean by the term “Socialist.” (The term “Social Justice” will also be used under the same umbrella.)
According to Merriam-Webster:
Definition of socialism
- 1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
- 2a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
In order to fully understand Social Justice/Socialism I would suggest one study about Karl Marx. This study will not cover such a broad scope, however, the system which he advocated is still being pushed by many who do not recognize the danger to where his philosophy leads: Communism.
The cornerstone to Social Justice/Socialism is the idea that all men are entitled to the same amount, or, an appropriate amount of wealth. Since the Government is over each individual, the government then determines the ownership and administration and distribution of goods (more commonly known as the distribution of wealth.) Therefore, individuals actually own nothing, but the Government owns, and gives as it sees fit. Government then becomes god!
To put it in terms that are easily understood it goes something like this:
Joe goes to work each day at 6:00 a.m. and works anywhere from 8 to 12 hours per day. Based upon his work ethic and his skill set he is able to climb the ladder of success.
However, Jack does not work quite so hard, his skill set, while unique to him does not really help the employer beyond the beginning wage. He doesn’t work overtime hours, and to be honest, his work ethic is lacking.
Social Justice therefore demands, that Joe and Jack’s boss give them both equal pay. It does not matter that Joe works more hours than Jack, and it does not matter whether or not Jack ‘pulls his own weight.’
Social Justice demands that Jack and Joe must both have equal amounts of ‘goods.’
The same could be said about Jim, who doesn’t work at all, but lives with his mom, and allows her to support him! Socialist’s believe that it is only right, that the Government take from Joe, and give to both Jack and Jim.
For young people, perhaps the following analogy might help you.
Tina is in college working very hard. She wakes up very early each morning. She studies during breakfast. The hour before her 8:00 a.m. class finds her reviewing the previous day’s notes. She is tired from hours of study the previous night, as she has done since coming to College. Yet, she continues to study to stay on top of her grades.
After class she grabs a quick bite to eat, then off to the library she goes to study. Tina’s parents are proud of her, she has made straight A’s for 2 whole semesters, and her future looks bright.
Enter Martha: Martha is a nice person, and as sweet as she can be. However, Martha is very social. She spends most of her nights at social events and parties. She is quite popular and very well liked. However, Martha does not spend adequate time in her studies and so, the fact is, she has managed only D’s in most of her classes and is failing out of one of them.
But, the teachers at this University begin to practice “Social Justice.” That is, they believe all the students should share their grades. So, since Tina is doing so well, and Martha is not, the teachers take 2 letter-grades off of Tina’s scores, and redistribute them to Martha. Now, Both Tina and Martha are equally blessed in the ‘goods’ rendered by the teachers. Both have managed to carry C’s home to their parents.
This is “Social Justice” This is Socialism.
Socialism when boiled down - In the end shows that individual choice and individual effort have no consequence.
This is NOT Christianity!
Allow me to prove that statement in a number of ways.
If we try to apply the principles of Social Justice / Socialism to God’s Word, it shows the error of this ideology. God has always had laws and principles that prove that individual choices and individual efforts are rewarded accordingly.
Old Testament Passages/Principles
Genesis 4: Cain and Abel
And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Jehovah. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” (Gen. 4:3-5).
Cain brought a sacrifice of the fruit of the ground. It was a bloodless sacrifice in this instance. Abel brought forth a bloody sacrifice, and the fat thereof. But the Hebrew writer makes it even clearer:
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts: and through it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4).
One brother offered his sacrifice according to faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. (Rom. 10:17)
One brother’s sacrifice was accepted by God and he was rewarded for his choice and actions to obey. The other brother (Cain) was rejected!
That is not Social Justice! God should have instructed Abel to ‘share’ his sacrifice with his brother! Actually, to be more accurate, Cain should have just taken half of his brother’s sacrifice for himself, and offered it to God, because that would have been a more accurate picture of Social Justice.
But that is not what God expected, why? Because God has always taught that a person is responsible for his own action, and will be rewarded accordingly.
Genesis 6-8 The Flood of Noah
When God looked out and saw the wickedness of all the world He decided he would destroy the world. But, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God said that he would spare Noah and those who would obey and get into the ark.
But, Social Justice would demand that Noah portion out of the wood, a portion of the workers, a portion of the pitch, a portion of the animals…etc… so that everyone could have their own ark!
It is simply not ‘fair’ for God to give salvation only to one person. The Socialist’s God should have portioned out salvation, so that each individual would not be completely saved, but that all would be equally lost.
Obviously this is not how it happened! Why? Because God has always taught that a person is responsible for his own actions and will be rewarded accordingly.
Exodus 12 – The Exodus/Passover
When God was going to free Abraham’s seed from Egyptian slavery, He commanded that the people put blood upon their doorposts and mantles. He gave them instructions to obey, and then saved those who did obey!
But, Social Justice says that He had no right! The Egyptians had the “Socialist’s” right to take the blood from the lambs of the Jews (against the Jews’ will), put it upon their own doors, and thus be spared.
Not only so, Social Justice would demand that God had no right to condemn some of them or save others of them. For all of them deserve the same ‘reward’ regardless of their actions in life.
Again, this is not the way God is. He is not a “Socialist” and he does not adhere to human ideologies like “Social Justice.”
Joshua – Joshua 24 “Choose You This Day”
When Joshua stood to deliver his farewell address, he gave them a truth about God! God allows people to choose. He gives freedom of choice! If they choose obedience to God, they will be rewarded. If not, their reward will be completely different!
On and on, passage after passage, in every single book of the Bible we see this principle displayed. God rewards individuals according to their own works.
Yet, this principle is completely inconsistent with Social Justice. Social Justice demands that all men receive the same reward regardless of their actions!
New Testament Passages/Principles
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, (John 1:12)
The socialist should cry, “foul” against God, because everyone should automatically become children of God. It should not matter if each individual obeys or not, for the Socialist demands that every person gets the same or similar reward.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be condemned.
“But, that is not fair” is the socialist’s cry. Social Justice demands that each person, regardless of action should get the same reward. God must redistribute the wealth of the faithful, so that all can receive the similar reward.
34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Again, if God were interested in “Social Justice” he would not dare make a statement like that. If God is truly no respecter of persons, as the Socialist sees it, then it should not matter whether a person “worketh righteousness” or not!
So then, the socialist should conclude that the words of the verse should be redistributed to say something like:
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But every nation, is accepted with him as they already are.
However, that is obviously not what the verse says. Clearly then, God does not subscribe to the Socialist Ideology.
Faithful / Unfaithful
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Thes 1:6-10)
Notice, for those faithful Christians who were under persecution in this life, the reward for faithfulness would be ‘rest.’ However, such a reward does NOT await those who are not choosing to follow Christ, nor for those who have never heard of Christ. Their reward is ‘everlasting destruction.’
But, the Socialist God would never act in such a way, instead of offering complete salvation to some souls and condemning others, he would take part of salvation away from the saved, and give them partial salvation, and use the other part of their salvation to give to the others, so that they could be partially saved as well.
And no one would be completely saved! This is the “Socialist God.”
The Working/Eating Principle
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (2Th 3:10)
The Apostles certainly did not prescribe to “Social Justice.” How could Paul, inspired by God, write that if a man does not work, that man has no right to eat? Did he not realize, that if a man does not work, it really doesn’t matter, because Socialists will simply redistribute the food of the ones who are actually working?
The principle is laid down in the Old Testament Law:
(Lev 19:9) And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
(Lev 23:22) And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I [am] the LORD your God.
- He did not say that part of the field was to be given to the poor; he said leave the corners for the poor to harvest.
- He did not say to go and give the lazy ones your food, he said, leave it to the poor, so that they can work (glean) and have food.
I learn then, that God expects us to show kindness to the poor, but it is not by redistributing wealth. The field owners were showing mercy, by allowing the poor to work in their field.
The principle is laid out clearly in the book of Ruth, when Ruth was allowed to work in the field of Boaz. The Government did not just say “hey, that lady doesn’t have any food, so… send the food police to take the food from Boaz and give it to Ruth!” No, Boaz of his own free will CHOSE to allow Ruth to work in the field, and by doing so she gained her food. Ruth needed first to get permission to glean in his field; she didn’t just assume that she was entitled to his goods. She asked, and OF HIS OWN FREE WILL he allowed her to work in his field.
Luke 12:13-14: Jesus Refuses To Redistribute Wealth
And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (Luke 12:13-15)
When Jesus was asked to support redistribution of wealth – to tell one brother to share the family inheritance with the other – Jesus refused. How dare he? Why not just tell them to divide the inheritance evenly, to redistribute the wealth so that all get the same amount?
To do so would be to teach covetousness. Jesus’ whole point was to warn people about the struggle with covetousness - wanting something that rightly belongs to someone else!
Social Justice teaches people to covet! To desire the goods that rightly belong to someone else. And Jesus wouldn’t support it!
Parable of Talents (Matt 25:14-30)
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 25:14-30)
How could Jesus teach such a parable? “Socialist Jesus” would not dare say that one servant was entitled to more reward based upon his skill-level and his work ethic. In fact, “Socialist Jesus” should have never said that one person has more ‘talents’ than the other. All servants should have had equal talents to begin with!
But they did not! God rewarded them according to their talent and the way they used the finances/talents that were given to them.
What would compel “Socialist Jesus” to not give any reward the person who did not work appropriately? “Socialist Jesus” should have said, “Take from the faithful servant who had five talents, and give some of his talents to the slothful servant who did not work, so that all will be ‘fair.’
But that is not what Jesus said! Why? Because Jesus knew, being God, that man is rewarded for the way that he acts in this life.
Sinful Principles involved in Social Justice
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. (Exo 20:17)
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mar 7:21-23)
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Heb 13:5)
As mentioned earlier, Socialism teaches people to covet! To covet is to desire something that is rightly someone else’s, to hope that someone will give you something that you have not done anything to receive.
Social Justice teaches people to be lazy. The Bible is filled with principles and warnings about being lazy.
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat.
Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest.
The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, So he begs during the harvest and has nothing.
Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food.
Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks.
1 Cor. 9:24-27
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
These passages tell us that not all people will receive the same exact reward in this life. People who work diligently will be able to be satisfied with material goods. Paul states in 1Corinthians 9:24-27 that not everyone who runs gets the prize, so he continues to run, so that he does not in the end analysis, he gets nothing and is cast away!
If these passages were written by a Socialist God, then:
- The lazy would never go hungry because they would have right to take the goods of others.
- Those who would rather sleep all day would not go hungry because they would be able to take other people’s food.
- The lazy ones, who do not work past autumn, need not worry because they are entitled to the redistributed goods of others.
- And Paul need not worry about continuing to run the race because he would receive the same reward as those who would continue running!
Socialism is based on the involuntary transfer of wealth from one citizen or group of citizens to another or others, which is nothing less than theft!
Taking a person’s goods against that person’s will is stealing (Ex. 22:1-4; Gen 44:8 etc).
Socialism takes a person’s goods against that person’s will.
Therefore, socialism is stealing.
Stealing is a sin (Lev. 19:11; Luke 18:20; Eph. 4:28; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
Socialism is stealing
Therefore socialism is sin.
Obviously, God does not subscribe to the principles involved in the Socialist system.
Some passages misused to ‘prove’ Christianity is Socialistic
The Rich Young Ruler! (Mark 10:17-22)
To cut to the heart of the story; when Jesus met with the rich young ruler, he told him to sell what he had and give to the poor. In order for this man to truly follow Jesus, Jesus knew that his riches would be in the way of this man’s following.
It is also interesting to note that Jesus did not instruct every person in this fashion. Yet, Jesus in stating this to the man gave him an option. If the man had chosen to do it, he would have done so of HIS OWN FREE WILL!!!
Jesus did not take the man’s money against his will and give it to the poor. In fact, a bit later, Jesus stated a simple fact of society, that there will always be poor people (Mark 14:7).
The Early Christians:
In the book of Acts when the Bible mentions:
And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (Acts 2:44)
This passage is not a socialistic passage. Because it does not say that the authorities came and took people's belongings and distributed them to other people. Rather, this teaches true SACRIFICIAL GIVING!
To give, according to your own will as a free will offering, to help those who need it, is called sacrificial giving - NOT Socialism!
Again notice in Acts 5
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. (Acts 5:1-4)
This passage does not teach Social Justice! This teaches that it was wrong to claim you sold a certain possession for an amount, when in fact you sold it for more and decided to keep back part of the money.
Notice vs 4 says “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?”
This passage teaches that the property rightly belonged to the couple. Even after they sold the property, the money was still under their authority; they could do whatever they chose with the money.
The problem was not that they were not willing to give; the problem was the lying that was involved in the giving!
The Principle of “Giving All Possessions Away”
Now, as children of God we do give to help those in need. However, to claim that everyone who is a Christian must give all his possessions away is a wrong conclusion both scripturally and logically.
The logical consequence of giving all your possessions away would be that you would not be able to help anyone in need. If you gave all of your possessions away, how could you obey the Lord’s instruction to give to others in need?
But, supposing it were the case… If a person was to choose to give away his goods, whether 10 percent or 100 percent still this has nothing to do with Socialism/Social Justice! Because he does so of his OWN FREE WILL!
Young friends, and those who are not sure what socialism is: please do your research! And by all means, do not tell me that God/Jesus and Christianity all support the fundamental principles of Social Justice. They clearly do not!
Christians and The Redistribution of Wealth
Christians believe in the “redistribution of wealth” just as passionately as the most enthusiastic socialists. However, we believe that the redistribution of wealth is to be voluntary, not involuntary; sacrificial, not forced!