“Jesus is no free marketeer,” social researcher Gregory Paul wrote in his On Faith column in the Washington Post.
Paul claims the early chapters of the biblical book of Acts confirm Christianity is a religion based on socialism simply because some early believers sold possessions and donated the money to help the less fortunate.
“Now folks, that’s outright socialism,” Paul trumpets about an effort that sounds more like a first-century version of Goodwill in Kentucky to me.
Paul claims “pro-capitalist Christians who are aware of these passages wave them away even though it is the only explicit description of Christian economics in the Bible.”
Lexington Herald-Leader religion columnist Paul Prather wrote in a column released during the recent Democratic primary entitled “Why Bernie Sanders is the most Christian candidate” that the curmudgeonly senator’s “positions sometimes sound a lot like Jesus and his disciples: feed the poor, love your neighbor, heal the sick, welcome the immigrant.”
If, however, the researcher Paul was right in his assertion that the Gospels contain the seeds of socialism—which Sanders blatantly planted and helped grow during his failed presidential bid—then caring for the sick and poor would not have been done voluntarily and out of a sense of personal responsibility, but rather through coercion.
Those early believers chose to help their poor brethren.
There’s strong evidence in the Gospels that Jesus not only doesn’t endorse redistribution—taking from those who earn through work, saving and investment and giving it to those who want it but to whom it doesn’t belong—he opposes it outright.
When Christ was approached by a man in Luke 12 wanting him to use his power to force his brother to share his inheritance, not only did Jesus refuse the man’s request to equalize the wealth—asking “who made me a judge or a divider over you?”—he rebuked the man for his envy.
In his famous Good Samaritan parable, Jesus tells of a traveler who chooses to use his own resources to help a man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead alongside a road.
A socialist would have instructed the man to write a letter to the emperor or get in touch with the government to find out what program was available to help him.
Sanders’ campaign was all about how he would compel productive, successful Americans to fund such programs by using the force of government, which is found at the end of a gun.
Lawrence Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education, concludes that if the Good Samaritan “had said this is not my responsibility, we need politicians to get involved here; we need some redistribution to get you some help, we wouldn’t be calling him the Good Samaritan today, we’d be calling him the Good-for-nothing Samaritan.”
How could anyone argue that socialism is working in Venezuela, where people face starvation as shelves empty, prices rise—a box of powdered milk (fresh milk is nearly impossible to find) currently costs $703 with a dozen eggs running $150—and desperation levels reach the point where Venezuelans are turning to their own pets for food?
Did Jesus and the early believers endorse an economic policy that results in starvation and slavery as families and children descend into the abyss of poverty while their own government threatens to force everyone to go into the fields and work?
Christian economics? Hardly.
Sanders refused to respond when asked by Univision about what’s happening in Venezuela.
What a shocker.
Still, even the most committed atheist can come up with the right answer to: What’s socialism good for anyhow?
All he has to do is look at every experiment of wealth redistribution in history, and he’ll easily have the right answer: “nothing.”
Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute; Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.