Jesus Was Not A Socialist
This isn’t meant to endorse any candidate, but now that Bernie Sanders is out of the race for President of the United States, I figured it was time for this blog.
Many Christians, especially the teens to 40 year olds, as well as those living in Socialist economies, believe that Jesus was a socialist. I want to take a few minutes to demolish that myth today. This is not an exhaustive work, and I do not have the time to focus on writing one, but this myth is so obvious that this shouldn’t take long. No worries.
- God designed Capitalism in the Old Testament Theocracy of the nation of Israel. The concept of personal financial responsibility and personal property ownership in the version of capitalism, which God instituted, had certain checks and balances built into the system. This included a safety net for the poor to go out and pick food from the edges of the farmer’s fields. It was capitalism, but a bit more compassionate than raw capitalism.
- Eleven of Jesus’ 39 parables were about money. He literally talked more about money than about heaven or hell combined. Jesus talked about money only second to the topic of the Kingdom of God.
Here’s a stunning passage:
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” - John 12:1-8
- Jesus had a treasurer and enough money to be robbed without the other disciples noticing.
- Jesus wasn’t offended about the personal property of Mary being used as she pleased rather than for the poor.
- Where is Jesus’ socialist moral outrage about caring for the poor being the top priority of money!? How could He be so insensitive to say, “You will always have the poor among you”? This does not fit with the modern sandal-wearing hippie version of Jesus!
Jesus was able to provide for a crew of twelve to travel full-time for 3.5 years and had private financiers:
“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” - Luke 8:1-3
6. Many have tried to say that the early church was socialist because some were moved to sell their property and bring it to the Apostles, but this was not given to the government to redistribute, and it was non-compulsory. Also in the very next few verses we read of Ananias and Sapphira lying about their property sale, and Peter says:
“Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” - Acts 5:4
Even Peter wasn’t a socialist and didn’t have socialist expectations of the early Christians.
There are countless counterarguments that can be brought up, taken out of context and misappropriated, but I cannot delve into every passage at this time.
Simply put, Ronald Sider wrote “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,” (1977) and convinced countless young Christians of the Jesus People movement that Jesus was a socialist. Then David Chilton the theologian and trained economist wrote a devastating rebuttal, “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators.” (1981) Ronald Sider even expressed that he was wrong after Chilton’s book was released, but the damage from Sider’s book had already been done. Now we have a confused generation of young Christians that have been warped by the institutions of the day and we the Fivefold leaders of the church must address these false doctrines (Eph. 4:14).
Jesus was not a socialist.
P.S. -- To be clear: Capitalism is defined as "an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state."
Whereas Socialism is defined as "a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole."
According to these simple definitions, a very strong case can be made for Jesus' teachings being capitalist in nature.