It’s Christmas 2021, and Jesus Is Still Not a Socialist

by | Dec 25, 2021 |

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It’s that time of year again where we celebrate the giving of gifts, Santa Claus, Covid tests, and mask-wearing at the Christmas dinner table. (Psst Psst… who? Oh yeah!) And the birth of Jesus Christ! How could I forget?

As it usually happens when Christian holidays come around, ideas of who Jesus is and what he stood for becoming topics of conversation. Members of progressive Christian movements and other leftist groups often say how Jesus was a socialist and use that as a means to demonize those who believe in capitalism and/or traditional Christian orthodoxy.

From what we read in the Bible, Jesus does not directly tell us how he feels about this topic or similar topics like economic and political structures, the way government is ruled, how government should tax, etc., all of which simply seemed not to hold as much importance with him as the forgiveness of sin and to be the bridge that connects man with God. But that will be the topic for another day. For today though, let’s look deeper and see if the Progressives are correct. Was Jesus a socialist?

Given what we read and know about Jesus from the scriptures, I think it’s fair to say that a reasonable hypothesis can be made regarding his thoughts on socialism. As for those who say he was a socialist, they point out several different areas of scripture to back up their claims.

First, in the book of Matthew, a wealthy man comes up to Jesus wanting to know what he must do to get into heaven, and Jesus tells him to sell all of his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. This leaves the rich man to walk away sad and gloomy. Progressives see this as an admission from Jesus that the wealthy must have their wealth redistributed among the people in an effort to bring about equity, making him a socialist. The problem with this theory is how the distribution of money occurs when it comes to socialism. In Jesus’ instance, he tells the man what he should do, but he doesn’t force him to do it–-it’s the man’s choice whether he will sell and give to the poor or hoard it for himself. In giving the rich man a choice, Jesus shows where the man’s heart is.

In socialism, no one has a choice. The government simply takes individuals’ money and spreads it out among the masses, making it so that people are not freely giving from the heart, which is what a genuinely caring society does. Therefore, in this instance, Jesus does not show himself as a socialist.

Continuing, after the rich man leaves, Jesus goes on to say how it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Progressives look at this as evidence that rich people can’t get into heaven, but, of course, there are multiple problems with this idea. When people think of the “eye of the needle,” often they associate that with an actual sewing needle, and obviously, a camel can’t fit through that. But that’s not the type of needle Jesus was referring to: Back in Jesus’ time, when entering a city, people and animals had to pass through a small gateway called a “needle,” and camels had to go on their knees to get through. This was certainly not an easy task, but it was doable.

Therefore, the example is not to say that wealthy people cannot get into heaven, but rather that the lure and possession of great wealth often stand in the way of a person’s relationship with God, making it tougher to get there.

Another passage from scripture that progressives like to point out to back up their claims comes out of the book of Acts, in which Christians were selling all of their possessions in an effort to help meet each other’s needs. An argument can be made that the way they were living would imply they were pro-communism. However, that argument falls apart with the understanding that what they were doing was completely voluntary and probably necessary at that time for the early church. However, nowhere in scripture is it commanded or expected as a means of living for all who would believe in Christ in the future. If Christian believers wanted to live this way, nothing in scripture would stop them from doing so either. What’s essential to understand, though, is that it must be by one’s free will (free will being one of the most important biblical concepts to understand) that they choose to do this. Jesus wants us to help the unfortunate with our giving, but it must come from the heart rather than government compulsion.

If that’s not enough to convince you that Jesus was not a socialist, then we can look at Matthew 2: the parable of the talents (talents referring to a sum of money.) It begins as follows: “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property, To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.”

The story continues to tell how, upon the master’s return, the two servants who were entrusted the greater number of talents had invested them in order to make large gains for their master, while the third servant did nothing but secure the talent. The master goes on to praise the first two and reward them with more money in their care, but chastises the one that did nothing and takes away what little he entrusted him with in the first place. This parable shows that Jesus taught the value of hard work and proportional reward for it, rather than even distribution of wealth despite work ethic. The idea that everyone should receive the same of everything simply flies in the face of not only common sense, but what Jesus taught.

Socialism literally encourages mediocrity; its construct is designed to destroy people’s desire to do more to make gains. Then again, socialists might try to argue the flip side: that greed, or in their words, “capitalism,” creates greed-obsessed individuals and a society that is stacked against those who have less, which scripture clearly shows us that Jesus would be against. But capitalism in its purest form does not do these things, nor does it encourage greed to the point of harming others. Instead, it simply rewards those who use their abilities to the extent they use them. Nothing more. Nothing less.

What progressives may not understand is that not only was Jesus not a socialist, but socialism in and of itself breaks several of the Ten Commandments. The eighth commandment says, “Thou shalt not steal.” One might ask, “how is making everything equal stealing?” Well, if you have to forcibly take from some to give to others, that by definition, is stealing.

Next, the tenth commandment God gave Moses was, “Thou shalt not covet.” If we feel bad because we want something someone else has, we’re coveting, and that’s exactly what socialists are doing when they constantly say that people “have too much” or that “they don’t deserve what they’ve got.” And not only are they coveting, but these socialists are discounting the efforts people have gone through to get those things they have. They discount the work people have put in and the risks they have taken to achieve their goals.

Upon further examination, I think it’s safe to say that Jesus was not a socialist. He was far from it. Many of the things he said, parables he preached, stories he told, and messages in the Bible all back up the fact that governments should not be responsible for making life “equal” for all people.

Jesus, and the Bible as a whole, do not preach equality of outcome but instead emphasize people working hard and making intelligent decisions. That being said, Jesus still calls on his followers to meet the needs of those who find themselves in a tough place. But does that make him a socialist? No, it most certainly does not.

Tom Wiermann

Tom Wiermann is a devout Christian, husband and father. He is passionate about the United States of America and desires to see it once again become a beacon of freedom for the world. As a former New York City school teacher, coach and adjunct professor, Tom enjoyed teaching students from the middle school to graduate level. His hobbies include being a sports and fitness enthusiast as well as hiking and traveling. He thoroughly enjoys doing volunteer work with his church youth group and homeless ministry.

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Guest
Guest
4 months ago

Re: Acts 2: There were thousands of people in Jerusalem for the festival from all over the Jewish world. Suddenly many of them found themselves saved and part of a new religion – naturally they wanted to stay and learn from the disciples. So the early Jerusalem believers pooled their resources and made ways for these folks to stay. Not socialism at all – simply early Christian charity at work.

Thomas Golembiewski
Thomas Golembiewski
Reply to  Guest
4 months ago

Even if it was socialism (which I agree that it wasn’t) the Jerusalem church was the poorest in the New Testament. Through his Epistles, Paul is constantly asking the other churches to send money to the church in Jerusalem because they were so poor. If it was socialism, it was a miserable failure.

Jasmine Orante
Jasmine Orante
4 months ago

God gave man free will. That is NOT compatible with socialism. Jesus was all for helping your fellow humans, forgiving their trespasses against you, etc. He was NOT all in on government nannies telling you how to run your life while handing over all your resources to them to waste on their own vices.

Individual liberty and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY are the main tenets of the constitution of the USA, and that is based on our GOD GIVEN RIGHTS and limitations imposed on government.

Jesus was not a socialist. He would be called a Christian conservative today, if not branded by a pack of liars as a socialist.

AEC
AEC
4 months ago

It’s clear that the comon property of the earliest Christians was completely VOLUNTARY SHARING. No tax extortion. The pompous leftists are more like the Caesars, who sacked and looted their victims and used the fruits of their theft for bread and circuses for the privileged class.

j. bailey
j. bailey
4 months ago

The limits of Christians freedom is the Spirit of the law, that God writes in our hearts. Jesus sacrifice on Calvary by no means opened the gates of carnal/physical freedom to Christians, but rather takes our obedience to the Spirit of the law, to the highest level. The Spirit of the law written in our hearts, says thou shall kill, thou shall commit fornication, etc. Use your liberty/freedom to serve one another, not yourself. Galations 5:13 Not withstanding, there are thieves and vultures in the Church, and will be, until Jesus comes back. So be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16), as you use your spiritual freedom in this life.

What gets contrasted time and time again in the New Testament is the ‘zoe’, the spiritual life, against carnal living. The physical freedom afforded by empire or the state government, that I lived before my Christian conversion, before my new birth into Christ, can only be translated into a Christian useful freedom, if it is used in the service of Christ. So whether it be capitalism with its literally unlimited personal freedom for the rich, or communism/socialism with its restricted personal freedom, if the freedom that you have is not used in the service of Christ, then it is sin.

In the first centuries, little overall Christian physical freedom was witnessed by the fact of at least ten major prosecutions by the Roman empire against Christians. Physical freedom belonged to the most powerful. The literally millions of Roman empire crucifixtions, can be interpreted as the imposition of the will and desires of the most powerful, over the lesser powerful. Jesus’s resurrection upset that equation.

Christian religious freedom as sought by some pilgrims from Europe, was an outgrowth of the Reformation where Luther thought that the German nobility could just as easily pocket the monies collected by the Holy Roman Catholic Church and the pope. And so religious freedom (the inception and growth of protestantism) and capitalism have grown hand in hand over the centuries, with the King (the noblest of the rich) determining the religion of the country, for a long time in Europe, as well as determining who were free, and who were serfs.

Religious freedom and personal freedom have always been tightly interwoven since the inception of America, just look at the amendments to the Constitution. The hundreds of years of religious wars on the European continent have helped shaped that religious freedom.

Still this rather recent expression of freedom, does not erase the historical fact that Christian communal living, having all things in common, was and remained a basic feature of the early church for centuries, as well as monastery life. Only modern day Ananais and Sapphiras deny this historical fact. Personal freedoms were cast away, to spiritually follow Christ. From Jesus’s disciples forsaking all that they had to spiritually follow Him, personal freedoms went ‘out the door’, so to speak. No big I’s, and little you’s, no ‘puffed up’ people in the Church, who think they are God’s gift to the Church.

The churches mentioned in the book of Revelation used their spiritual and physical freedom in different ways. The church at Smyrna typified by ‘tribulation and poverty’ (the lowly Church), versus the church at Thyatira, Jezebel’s abode, a carnal church, and Pergamos, a church of ‘fornication’ (Revelation 2:14). The call is to repent, and live a repentant life, the ‘zoe’ (the Christian life).

If your physical freedom engenders a carnal life, it is better to forego those physical freedoms, ‘for conscience sake’, to qoute Paul. But, not for ‘your own conscience sake’, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 10:29) But for ‘Jesus’s conscience sake’! Because it would probably hurt ‘Jesus’s conscience’ minutely (and it adds up), to know that someone grossly abused their physical and spiritual freedom, and went to Hell, while those people at the same time knew, that the wages of sin is still eternal death.

Romans 8:5,6—”For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

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