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Socialism presumes an activist state that continually confiscates wealth by force

Is Socialism Christian?

By —— Bio and Archives--April 18, 2010

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imageAs Washington has lately moved to create massive socializing measures, such as the recent vote for Obamacare, a spiritual wrench has now been tossed into the debate. This might be titled, “Christ v. Communism.” Many liberals insist socialism is the most caring economic system ever conceived, an antidote to poverty, and the only true foundation for an equitable society. A number of leftists even boast socialism is how God’s Kingdom would operate if Jesus came back as King. Yet, to the contrary, many conservatives warn socialism presents the triumph of the exact opposite of paradise. Of course, it doesn’t help liberalism’s reputation that Karl Marx is the greatest name in socialist history, and Lenin, Stalin and Mao his chief acolytes. But who is correct on this question?

A host of celebrities have come out in favor of socialism, including filmmaker Michael Moore, who recently released, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” In a blog posted 10/04/09, Moore wrote, “In my new film I speak for the first time in one of my movies about my own (Catholic) spiritual beliefs….I pose a simple question in the movie: “Is capitalism a sin?” I go on to ask, “Would Jesus be a capitalist?”... I have come to believe that there is no getting around the fact that capitalism is opposite everything that Jesus taught…It doesn’t seem you can call yourself a Capitalist AND a Christian…” Is Moore correct that Jesus was an anti-capitalist?

This essay examines the debate of Christ versus Marx, by placing socialism’s ideology next to biblical scripture, then analyzing it. It also addresses arguments from the Bible that socialists often employ to support their ideas. It finally describes Christ’s views on property.


There is no single definition of Socialism, but Webster’s offers this:

1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; 2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state; 3 : a societal stage in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

Socialism supposedly seeks to create immediate material equality for all people by standardizing wages, confiscating from wealthier residents much of their personal holdings and also highly regulating and taxing industry. It legislates government control over property, handing over production and delivery of material goods to the state. Marxists believe socialism is a temporary half-life between capitalism and communism. Notwithstanding the technical definition of “socialism”—policies that augment taxes, or redirect wealth between different socio-economic groups, are socializing policy. Strategies reducing the economic profile of citizens, vis-a-vis government, are also socialist in purpose, building state power at individual cost.

In brief, socialism presumes an activist state that continually confiscates wealth by force. Individual property rights are abolished. Karl Marx called his communism “scientific socialism,” and modern leftists often demand socialism as tacit preparation for a Marxist atheistic regime, which flies in the face of some of its naive supporter’s so-called Christian goals. It’s worth noting Marx was simply the most successful post-French Revolution socialist during the theory’s fevered foment; and so the difference between Marxism and socialism is historically, in most senses, nil.


Since Christianity is based upon Christ’s New Testament life, logically speaking—no one can claim an economics which defies Christ’s teachings, or Biblical doctrine, should still be called “Christian.” Given the Bible’s scope and length, one cannot exhaustively treat any subject in such a short article. Yet, the Bible’s remarkably consistent across all 66 books means that to study a thematic section is to gain holographic understanding of the whole.

~The following headings in bold are socialist ideals which are then contrasted to biblical verses~

1. Socialism Holds There is No Private Property, the State Owns All: In Socialism, government holds all right to property ownership, even if all goods are not yet confiscated. But did Jesus really oppose property rights?

Consider: Exodus 20:15, 17—“You shall not steal,” and “You shall not covet…anything belonging to your neighbor.”

Also: John 10:10—“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

Analysis: The Ten Commandments form the center of the Old and New Testament law. Rules against theft and coveting, contained therein, demand pre-existing private property rights. Knowing this, would Christ then still insist government had exclusive legal claim to all property? Yet, even if government did own all property, would the Bible writers posit the state would wisely allocate property according to Christ’s standards?

2. Socialism Ignores Laziness: Socialism financially supports those refusing to work. So does the Bible teach that those avoiding to toil should still be paid?

Consider: Proverbs 6:6-8—“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

Also: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every idle brother, not living according to our teaching. You ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you…For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.”

Analysis: This question covers a key issue of the debate. Would the Apostles teach that those refusing to work should not receive church aid, yet were still eminently worthy of government welfare? (Those truly unable to work were supported by the early Church: James 1:27—“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows…”)

3. Socialism Teaches All Authority Belongs to Government: Does Christ teach all earthly authority is to be transferred to secular governments?

Consider: In John 19:8-11, Pilate asks, ““Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus replied, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above…”“

Also: Daniel 2:20-21—“Blessed be the name of God…he removes kings, and sets up kings…”

Again: In Acts 4:19-20, when the Apostles were ordered to stop evangelizing, they responded, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Analysis: The Bible teaches God appoints governments, so does it follow He allows His people to capitulate this authority to atheist regimes? If so, we must believe Jesus asks His disciples to obey a new political priesthood whose activities makes the Church redundant, and His own works irrelevant. Does this notion seem logically coherent? And as seen in the previous Acts verses, the Bible teaches a divine mandate exists above secular law. Are not Christians held to follow Jesus’ teachings above human law?

4. Socialism is a Branch of Humanism: Since socialism is an atheistic, humanistic philosophical system, would Jesus accept it?

Consider: Romans 12:2—“Don’t conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…to test and approve what God’s will is…”

Analysis: This passage seems to reject human-based values, suggesting humanism is incompatible with Jesus’ teachings.

5. Socialism Seeks a Heaven on Earth: Does the Bible call man to build an earthly paradise via government?

Consider: Revelations 21:1-4—“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”“

Analysis: Doesn’t the Bible portray Heaven, or the New Jerusalem, arriving after the return of Christ, as a perfect city? If Paradise does come to earth, will it really be delivered by secular atheists using Marxist doctrines?

6. Socialism Allows No Freedom of Action or Expression: Does the Bible ask Believers to surrender God-given freedoms to bureaucrats?

Consider: Galatians 5:1—“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Also: 2 Corinthians 3:17—“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Analysis: Didn’t Christ gave His disciples freedom in order to better follow His teachings? If so, does this freedom then simply get haded over to a secular governments? Regardless, history has shown socialism and communism have enslaved billions around the world.

7. In Socialism, the State Replaces Church: Should the church step aside to allow government to fulfill the task of helping the poor and downtrodden, and many other biblical duties?

Consider: In Matthew 22:15-21, Christ says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”“

Analysis: Jesus separates civil government and church. From a Christian perspective, can government simply replace the church? Could it ever have that authority; and if so, based upon what?! When government takes over Church mandated roles, like feeding the poor, etc, can it do so on a biblical model, or achieve Christ’s goals? And if government uses the Bible as model, doesn’t this destroy the “wall of separation” between church and state?

8. Critics Claims Jesus Hated Capitalism: Didn’t Christ express disgust at capitalist excesses at the Temple?

Consider: Matthew 21:12-13 “Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’”

Analysis: This verse focuses on dishonest hypocrites defrauding religious seekers in the Temple. Jesus was angry at the misuse of His Father’s house for sordid gain. Is it therefore reasonable to suggest Christ is putting down all trade in this passage?


“Don’t the following verses prove the Bible supports socialism?!!”

1. My Brother’s Keeper: Doesn’t the Bible teach we are our “brother’s keeper”?

Consider: Genesis 4:9 “Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. “

Analysis: Cain had already killed his brother Abel when he gave this reply to God. Therefore, is it ridiculous to claim this statement focuses on charity!

2. Sermon on the Mount: Doesn’t Jesus teach aid to the poor here?

Consider: Matthew 5:7; 42 says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy;” and “Give to him that asks.”

Analysis: While the Sermon on the Mount expounds the Ten Commandments, Jesus extols personal responsibility for the needy, but never proposes any socialist, ie state delivered, answers to charity.

3. The Good Samaritan: Here, two Hebrews and a non-Jew Samaritan passed a man beaten by robbers. Only the Samaritan stopped to help. Doesn’t this establish biblical socialism?

Consider: Luke 10:36-37 Christ asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”...” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”“

Analysis: Here, Jesus urges his disciples to offer personal aid to the helpless. Does this task therefore become a responsibility for the government, despite Rome never being mentioned in context?

4. Believer’s Held a Socialist “Common Purse” in Acts, Right?: Doesn’t this passage prove the Apostles shared all goods and were therefore socialists?!

Consider: Acts 4:32-35 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. None claimed his possessions as his own, but shared all they had…There was none needy among them. When those owning lands or houses sold them, they brought sale money and put it at the apostles’ feet; distributed to any in need.”

Analysis: If the first Church’s generosity was private and voluntary, is this the same as by government fiat? Further, doesn’t socialism exist by only by government intervention?

Later in Acts, when Ananias sold property, yet lied about the price, to secretly horde some money, God killed him. Acts 5:3-4, Peter says, ““Ananias, how is it…you kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?”“

This passage shows the Apostles definitively practiced private charity of free will voluntary giving, based upon personal ownership. Is this not opposite the definition of socialism? And under socialism, isn’t it true individuals can’t decide what property to donate, but government confiscates what it decides to?!

5. Isn’t Biblical Charity a Kind of Socialism? Doesn’t historical Biblical charity reveal a model that any just government can follow?

Consider: Leviticus 19:9-10 ” ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.”

Also: Jesus says in Luke 14:13-14, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

And: 1 John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

Analysis: In the Old Testament, charity (Tzedakah, Hebrew for “justice”) was delivered by individuals and the Temple, which was separate from the government. So, if the poor could keep food dropped during harvests, glean crops, and could ask the Temple priests for aid, isn’t this proof of a functioning non-government private aid? How could it be socialism if the farmers acted privately, under religious teaching, and the Temple was also a non-government undertaking?

The New Testament Church took on Jewish charitable practice to aid the underclass, both individually and corporately. Historically, it’s notable the idea of charity didn’t exist outside the Bible peoples. But can biblical charity be socialism’s model, if it’s motivated by belief in God, versus socialism’s atheism? Further, is voluntary giving fairly deemed “socialism,” at all? One is based on forced contribution, but the other through sheer spontaneous good will. And, one is arranged through a commitment presuming relationship to God; whereas, the other is simply delivered via an impersonal state. Biblical charity is a gracious free-will offering, but state funds are confiscated from citizens by force and delivered as impersonal aid to recipients without emotion.


Neither the Bible, nor Jesus condemn wealth, just its misuse. 1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth…but to put their hope in God…” The most renowned Old Testament patriarchs, such as Job, were often rich. He was described as “...the greatest man among all the people of the East,”(Job 1:3). Abraham was also prosperous, yet both men were famously pious. Christ criticized overemphasis on wealth, but supported property rights. Further, didn’t Christ claim that there will always be some underclass, when he stated in Matthew 26:11 “The poor you will always have with you…” Can a “war on poverty” realistically eradicate an entire class?

Jesus didn’t express any desire to hand over to government ownership of all property, which would then leave only the state able to fund charity. While Marx railed against capitalism, in an atheistic vacuum, Jesus protested religious hypocrisy. Christ’s ministry for the poor offered aid with religious enlightenment, not denial of God. His Apostles helped Him deliver to the destitute food and healing. Conversely, Marx categorized religion as an utter abomination. Is it then coincidental Marxist tyrants Lenin, Stalin and Mao all waged wars against peasants, killing millions? Socialism creates humanistic “heaven” on earth in defiance of Jesus, whom preached a Kingdom established on earth by non-violent obedience, the Golden Rule, and divine love.


Can we afford to ignore the obvious differences between Christian doctrine and socialist theory? First, Christian charity is both private and voluntary; yet socialism is public and forcibly collected. Again, biblical giving is motivated by religious belief; yet socialism is ostensibly an atheist system. Also, when Western leftists claim the Bible as a model for state socialism, doesn’t this contradict the liberal “wall of separation between church and state”? Likewise, wouldn’t it be patently illegal to use the Bible as a transparent source of public policy? Socialism only concerns present asset ownership; no worry is wasted on how redistribution damages future economies.

But, is it right to ignore longterm prospects of the poor to temporarily better their lot? This question is crucial since socialism has always degenerated economies, and communism eviscerates all free trade, except the black market. The resultant statist command economy is controlled by a small group of socialist “wise men.” But these planners can never successfully predict and map the myriad needs of a large country’s hundreds of millions of private consumers for the billions of unique economic decisions, normally made daily, in free societies.

But if socialism and communism are Christian, then clothes worn to worship, the cars taking Believers to service, the tithe put in the offering plate, the church building itself, and even each member’s personal Bible would all be state owned. Is this really Jesus’ plan? Consider this biblical view of wealth, in James 1:9-11, “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower…the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.” Here individuals are allowed private property, but God judges each person for its use.

Finally, a fact understood by both Bible writers and the Founders is the concrete relationship between property rights and freedom. A profound error of early socialist scholarship was thinking primitive societies owned property in common, and from this sprang human freedom. Modern research proved ancient societies allowed individually owned property. Like today, property ownerships gave them the option to act freely, since they weren’t forced to depend upon the state for sustenance. Instead, property holders became a class somewhat insulated from the whims of kings and despots. Yet now, this option will surely cease as soon as we surrender private property rights, in the name of progress, and therefore no longer have the power to declare our independence.

Kelly OConnell -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Kelly O’Connell is an author and attorney. He was born on the West Coast, raised in Las Vegas, and matriculated from the University of Oregon. After laboring for the Reformed Church in Galway, Ireland, he returned to America and attended law school in Virginia, where he earned a JD and a Master’s degree in Government. He spent a stint working as a researcher and writer of academic articles at a Miami law school, focusing on ancient law and society. He has also been employed as a university Speech & Debate professor. He then returned West and worked as an assistant district attorney. Kelly is now is a private practitioner with a small law practice in New Mexico.

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