WHAT IS SOCIALISM – A DEFINITION:
Definition of socialism (Merriam-Webster):
- Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
- A system of society or group living in which there is no private property
- A system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
THE CONTEXT OF SOCIALISM
Is there a difference between Democratic Socialism, Socialism, and Communism?
- Democratic Socialism: “A democratic socialist believes that the government should provide a range of essential services to the public for free or at a significant discount, such as health care and education. Unlike socialists, democratic socialists do not believe the government should control all aspects of public and private life, only help provide basic needs and help all of its citizens have an equal chance of success.” (WorldPopulationReview.com)
- Socialism: (If you ask 100 different people for definitions of socialism you’ll get 100 different answers… so this definition is a very broad definition. Just know that there are different forms of socialism with different distinctives…) Socialism Strives for everything that Democratic Socialism strives for. However, Pure socialism would achieve this through authoritarian rule, rather than democratic means of election and decision making. People still are able to make products through business, but products are produced for the benefit of the state. Products are not created for profitability, but for social utility. In some forms of socialism, you can own private property, but the state can force you out if they think your property or business can serve a public service.
- Communism: Everything is property of the state, including business. Individuals in a proper communist society would not have money, as they would be given everything by the state according to what the government thinks their need is. Communism abolishes class distinctions as everyone is effectively treated equally, while Socialism allows class distinctions to exist, as there is the opportunity for some to achieve more wealth than others. Communism is an authoritarian philosophy that strives for complete control over the economic and political spheres. (WorldPopulationReview.com)
Why is the discussion on Socialism important?
- The concept of “democratic socialism” is being talked about more in the American political sphere since it is a topic that came up in our recent presidential election, and it is seeming to be a growing sentiment in our elected officials in one of the major political parties today.
- If the US leans into this more and more, it very well could impact our earnings, and how that is being used to go toward programs that are not honoring or upholding your personal and religious convictions.
- The impact really is on personal stewardship. It is possible that one will be limited on the what and how they steward what is in their possession, and also they will have little to NO say on their earnings that are now in the government’s hands through increased taxation.
THE BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO SOCIALISM
A Biblical foundation for our discussion
- Context: Takes place near the end of the period of the Judges, when Samuel is old.
- The Request: The Elders of Israel come to Samuel and say, “Give us a King”.
- Samuel’s Response: Samuel is troubled by the request and takes it to the Lord
- God’s response is two-fold:
- #1: Not His Will. He indicates that it is not His desire of what He wants for His people; He communicates His disapproval and says the people have rejected Him and served other gods and its out if this idolatrous heart that they are making this request. Instead of looking to God to provide and protect, they are looking for an earthly king to do these things for them. They wanted what we call today, “Big Government”.
- #2: Give them what they want. He says give them what they want. BUT, warn them of the consequences.
- The Consequences: The “6 takes” from verses 11-17. It lists 6 things that the king will take from the people. The idea of a King sounded so good to the people, but God says hold on, there are negative consequences that will result from your request. The freedom that the people enjoyed when they looked to God as King will be reduced under and earthly king.
America 2021 Parallels
- The more we as a nation have rejected God, the more we have looked to government to be in some ways, as a “god”. Said another way, as we’ve rejected God, we’ve looked to government to fill that void and serve in ways beyond the God-intended role of government.
- For example, there’s a tendency to look to Government as “provider”.
- 1 Timothy 5:8 – God has ordained the family to be the primary place of provision
- The idea of a big “King-like” government that promises free stuff sounds really good. It tickles peoples’ ears. The people of Israel thought it seemed really good to have a King. Samuel and God thought otherwise.
- There are consequences, or tradeoffs to looking to government to provide. We would do well to remember the “6 takes” from 1 Samuel 8. In short, the more we look to government to provide, the less personal and financial freedom we have.
- Socialism promises more stuff, and more government provision, but at what cost? And that is a question people really need to be asking before jumping on board with a more socialistic form of government.
Is it wrong for some people to have more than others?
- The Bible makes it clear that private property should be respected (Deut. 5:19).
- It has examples of those who are rich and those who are poor, and how to treat and serve one another (Matt. 19:21, Luke 14:12, Eccl. 5, Matt. 19:24)
- Jesus talks about wisdom regarding profits and wealth accumulation/multiplication (Matt. 25, Parable of Talents).
- Solomon, the richest man ever, also had a lot to say about wealth accumulation and wisdom. (Eccl. 5)
- The difference between a worldly view of wealth and a Biblical view of wealth is this: God calls His Church to bless people that have need. God calls those who have much to bless those who have little. Not by government mandate, but by God’s free grace. We are not to accumulate wealth to fulfill our own desires, but to give freely and abundantly.
“God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.” – Randy Alcorn
Socialism implies that government can be completely benevolent and trusted. However, the Bible teaches that all are sinful (Rom. 3:23), and that no one is inherently good (Rom. 3:12). Implying that government will be inherently good is contradictory to the Scripture.
Socialism puts the value and worth of a human being into the value of their work. But God created us in HIS image, giving us all inherent value as human beings (Gen. 1:27). Our worth is based on who we are as image bearers, not in what we produce as laborers. Christians are called to work (2 Thess. 3:10), but our value is not based on our work… it is based on the work of Christ.
How should Christians approach the topic of socialism?
- Should Christians Panic when they see “Socialism” in the headlines?
- Absolutely not! God is still, and has never abated his throne! He is the one that is in charge and He raises and releases those placed into ruling positions!
- Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He will accomplish His purposes for the church today, just as He accomplished His purposes in Israel in spite of their disobedience in asking for a King. His Sovereign Plan prevailed and will prevail in these days. Yet we are called to be active in promoting the ways of God in every realm of life, including in the realm of government.
- We should consider speaking to, writing to, and lobbying against those in leadership that lean this way. As we just laid out, it goes against what the Word of God says.
- “If a man (or woman) does not work, he will not eat.” (2 Thess. 3)
- I am not advocating letting people starve. But, I would rather put my money into the hands of God’s “Plan A” (the church), and let the church, with my assistance, serve those in hunger, and alongside that, share with them the Gospel…the life-changing message of Jesus Christ!
Isn’t Socialism really just trusting in the government rather than the Lord & His work through the Church?
- Socialistic legislation may take the chance to serve away from the church.
- Who does a better job at feeding the poor and the orphans? The church or the government?
- Who does a better job at doing what is overall pleasing to God? God’s Church or or the government?
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS // STEWARDSHIP APPLICATION
- God is in control. “We trust in the name of the Lord our God (Ps. 20:7)
“Socialism, for all its popularity in some circles, is not a biblical model for society. In opposition to socialism, the Bible promotes the idea of private property and issues commands to respect it: commands such as “You shall not steal” (Deuteronomy 5:19) are meaningless without private property. Unlike what we see in failed experiments in socialism, the Bible honors work and teaches that individuals are responsible to support themselves: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The redistribution of wealth foundational to socialism destroys accountability and the biblical work ethic. Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:14–30 clearly teaches our responsibility to serve God with our (private) resources (GotQuestions).
Derek Brown, who is the managing editor of WithAllWisdom.org, concluded his blog post titled “Free Markets, Socialism, and Biblical Stewardship” by saying:
“…what we must draw from our study is that Scripture does not promote socialism in any of its forms. Rather, in God’s good design, he has entrusted us with resources to steward and endowed us with the freedom to care for and multiply these resources in a way that brings him glory, provides for our needs, and blesses others. A free-market economy best enables us to fulfill this stewardship” (With all Wisdom).
- As Christians, as stewards of all that God’s entrusted to us, we’re called to live our faith 24/7 in every realm of life. We CANNOT turn off our faith or convictions when we leave the church service on Sunday morning. We are called to be salt and light, and not to be as a lamp that is put under a basket (as Jesus refers to in Matthew 5:15). Therefore I want to encourage everyone listening to be active. Specifically as it pertains to today’s topic, be active in teaching your children and/or grandchildren a Biblical Worldview and explain to them why socialism is problematic from a Biblical perspective. Second, stay active by voting and writing your elected officials on these important policy issues.
Remember, God is in control.
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