Dumb Hashtags: #JesusWasASocialist
Updated: Jan 27
As was inevitable on Martin Luther King Day this year, people started posting little-known factoids and quotations from the Civil Rights champion, some meant to celebrate his legacy and others meant to point out his numerous flaws, such as the the fact that if there was anyone that Dr. King did not want to be judged by the content of his character, it was himself, due to his adultery and other flaws.
One quotation appeared involving Dr. King's socialist beliefs:
This is of course a naive and Utopian vision which betrays a grasping, covetous mind. The best we can do is personally help each other, not try to "change the rules" to abolish inequality. Both the filthy rich and the poor are here to stay.
Despite the fact that human nature, common sense, and scripture indicate that there will never come a time when poverty will cease to exist---and thus socialism is a fool's errand---some genius decided to play smart:
Shem And what did Jesus say about rich people? Or what rich people should do with their money?
Shem is referring to Mark 10, in which 'the rich young ruler' comes to ask Jesus how to be saved. At a certain point in the conversation, Jesus says, "Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. And come follow me."
The young man is disheartened by this and leaves. Jesus remarks, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
A cursory glance at these verses might give someone certain impressions about what Christ thinks about wealth, impressions that might lend themselves to Marxist interpretations, but simply reading the rest of the chapter clarifies what Christ thinks about private ownership:
Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands (...)."
If there truly were Marxist intentions behind what Christ told the rich young ruler, it would be inexplicable for Christ to then go on to promise even greater earthly possessions a few sentences later. It takes ignorance and obsession to find Marxism in this passage.
Christ is not proposing a radical new economic system or commanding all his followers to become mendicants. He is making a statement about the cost of following him. We must be willing to lose everything for Christ. The rich young ruler clearly was not willing to lose his wealth.
"Give away all your possessions to the poor" was not a universal commandment. It was specific to this particular man, and served to indicate that he was not 100% committed to Christ. Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus spoke to many other rich men about salvation and did not require them to redistribute their wealth and become mendicants. The wealthy Zaccheus for instance, ecstatic over the teachings of Christ, spontaneously gave away (only) half his belongings to the poor and voluntarily made restitution for his wrongdoings. He did not abandon his job and his elite position. His enthusiasm and spontaneous charity demonstrated that he was 100% committed to Christ.
Mark 10 says that Christ loved the young man. He was moved by the man's questions. This would be a very strange reaction if Christ viewed him as some kind of evil oppressor like the Marxists talk about.
There's also another thing about rich people: When they lose their wealth, they often manage to become rich again. Wealth accumulation and wealth retention is a skill. It is likely the rich young ruler could have reacquired his wealth after he had learned humility following Christ.
The scriptures encourage private charity and voluntary restitution. This cannot be used to justify the forcible redistribution of wealth by the government. Finding socialism or Marxism in scripture requires a sledgehammer.
Shem, not recognizing that I was alluding to the very same passage he was referencing, replied:
Shem You obviously have never studied the Bible. Mark 10:25: 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. I'd quote more, but Twitter character limit. If you argue more, I will quote more.
Not a very intimidating response, except perhaps in its stupidity. Shem thinks that because Christ points out it is hard for the rich to be saved, it is wrong to be wealthy and the government is justified in forcibly redistributing wealth. This is an unjustified leap of logic.
Sidestepping the fact that his train has been derailed, Shem tries another approach:
Shem Please explain where the Bible likes people getting rich off of the expense of the poor and meek.
Shem's mind is warped by Marxist delusions to the point where he thinks people only get rich by oppressing the poor. The idea that people get rich by being clever or industrious or by being a good leader does not occur to him. He's going to be disappointed when I don't defend the straw man he holds up.
Next Shem imples that his ability to manhandle Scripture gives him the upper hand, despite the fact that all of his "scriptural" arguments are non-existent.
Shem forgot that my very first tweet in this thread was a quotation from Christ.
Despite its flaws---flaws which can be solved without abandoning the entire model--- capitalism is natural. Even Marx wrote about this. It is an organically-evolved economic system with its roots in primitive trade and commerce dating from the dawn of recorded history. In contrast, the forced altruism of socialism is quite simply unnatural and false. No one is a better judge of who is deserving of your charity than yourself. Anyone else trying to make you be altruistic is a meddler.
Marx was a deadbeat dad who refused to support his family by earning an honest living. He was lazy, and would have preferred if the government confiscated wealth and gave some of it to him. If he was truly destitute, he should have asked for help, not dreamed up a world where he could sit idly on his posterior and still get by. Human nature dictates that if given the option to slack off, an unfortunate number of people will choose to, yet this is the world socialists want. When the government provides for you, this allows you to survive doing the bare minimum, even if all that involves is trudging down to a government office to pick up your food stamps.
It is ironic that Marxists and socialists, champions of the working man, choose to vilify the rich, who despite their flaws are often the hardest-working people, facing greater stresses and dangers than the rest of us.
Marxism and socialism are philosophies for perverts. They presume that it is wicked and selfish for a man to look out for the welfare of his own family, requiring men to ignore what's best for their own households and instead adhere to someone else's vision of what's best for "everyone".
The Scriptures are a unified whole. If in your estimation one passage seems to be promoting some radical concept, but that concept is not developed elsewhere in Scripture, then your interpretation is probably wrong. Although the Bible recognizes the arrogance of the rich and a single rich man is told "If you abandon your wealth you will have treasure in heaven", this does not make mean the Bible is Marxist. The Bible treats wealth and the accumulation of riches as normal phenomenon, and does not discourage it.
But if Shem really has his heart set on another verse, I'll give him one.
ArtGainz@ArtGainz Enjoying wealth is a gift from God. Eccelesiastes 5: "Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God."