Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

Capitalism and Christian Socialism

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Let’s get radical for a week. If You’ve been reading the bible, without fail you have come across a call or two to an economic system that makes Americans uncomfortable.  It looks like socialism, and that’s okay, because our system is very close to ideal for nurturing this kind of community.

"All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."

download (2)Is written twice in Acts. In Luke “John the Baptist replied, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’” and Jesus commented on that teaching my making it harsher “If someone demands your coat give him also your shirt”

Jesus consistent call to disciples is to drop everything and follow him, whether everything is just their fishing nets, or it is great wealth as it is in the case of the rich young ruler.

“One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

And now many of us respond to these calls in the same way Rich does?

I Understand! I believe Jesus understands! He says it’s hard to do, a hard pill to swallow, I think there is grace for salvation in the midst of our disobedience to that call. Nevertheless the call persists, it will not go away.

There is a piece of this where we don’t want to part with our stuff, I’ll grant. But I think the larger portion is that American Christians do not want to admit that a strong teaching from the Bible seems to call us to socialism! Particularly not when capitalism seems so helpful to our prosperity and socialism in other countries has been a repeatedly failed experiment. So we squint our eyes, and we determine that the Bible must not be saying that, for if it did it would be wrong.

But there is another alternative.

Socialism as a political movement is a failed experiment. It turns out that the overhead required for a government bureaucracy redistributing wealth leads to abuses and is not conducive to equality the real world. That has never been what Jesus called us to.

In the Old Testament there was a governmental edge (bringing food to the temple for the poor) but the giving was always, always voluntary. Jesus never encouraged the installation of a economic political system. Nor a Christian political system for that matter.

hsubuntuarewe2Jesus encouraged sharing

It turns out a laissez-faire capitalist environment is just about ideal for this sort of non-governmental socialism (aka sharing) because if I have capital, and I can do whatever I want with it, then I can hold it communally with my neighbors. In a socialist political environment if I have capital I think I should share with the poor but the government thinks it should go to the war effort I am out of luck.

Of course capitalism is still built on greed, and this implies that there will be people who will not share, and who will choose to manipulate and accumulate as much as they can in life. But that’s fine “What have they to do with you, follow thou me” we can choose to share with those people or not, but in our smaller community, we have a viable model in our land.


Written by RyanGaffney

August 19, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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