The “Christian Left”?

I keep running into this idea that Jesus was a socialist.  There was a meme going around during Christmas with various “Christmas Heroes”.  There’s a quote misattributed to former President Jimmy Carter about how you can’t say you want a Christian nation if you object to your tax dollars being used to help the poor.  All over the place people on the left arguing “Jesus was a socialist.”

Utter rot.

Now, full disclaimer.  I am not a Christian.  I grew up in a sort-of Christian religion (many dispute that characterization because of differences in the nature of what more conventional religions call the trinity and in the belief of ongoing revelation and prophecy, but I go with a more basic definition, summed up in Simon Peter’s declaration “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God”) but I long since found I could not believe it any more and once I separated from that one, none of the other Christian sects appealed to me any more.

However, I understand Christianity far better than these Christian left people.

Christ taught giving.  Giving means taking ones own property and passing it on to someone in need.  Nowhere did he advocate taking from others by force and “redistributing” it.  He certainly did not advocate taking from others, using what’s taken to fund a huge government bureaucracy, and pass out a pittance of the remainder to the poor (have to justify that bureaucracy somehow).

Nowhere in the Bible is there a passage similar to this:

NewAgeLittleRedProgressiveTranslation

When people advocate socialism enforced by government, they are advocating using force to take from some to give to others.  Nowhere in his teachings did Christ advocate that.  Nowhere.

This is where some people say “but Christ said Render unto Caesar.” Yes.  He did.  In response to a question intended to trap him.  Context matters.  Christ had rising popularity among the masses which concerned the Jewish leadership greatly.  So they planted the question of whether they should give tribute to Caesar.  If Christ had simply said “yes” he would have lost his popular audience and his ministry would have died right there.  If he had said “no”, he would likely have been arrested (“we caught him forbidding tribute to Caesar” was one of the charges the Sanhedrin laid against him when handing him over to the Romans for execution).  And his ministry would have died right there.  Instead, he asked for an example of the tribute money, asked whose picture was on it, and gave his famous answer.  And if people followed him in that, the Roman reprisal, destruction of Jerusalem, and diaspora would have occurred before much of Christ’s mission was fairly begun.  If you accept his divinity, you have to accept that he knew this and gave the answer that allowed him to complete his mission.

But did “render unto Caesar” mean an endorsement of everything that tax funds were used for?  Did he endorse gladiatorial games?  Wars of conquest?  The capture and importation of slaves?  The use of government troops to put down slave revolts?  Let’s not be absurd.  Just because the Roman government did something with tax monies, or modern governments do something with it, “Render unto Caesar” is not an endorsement of that use.

Government is force, pure and simple.  That’s essentially a definition of government:  the legitimizing of the use of force.  Socialism imposed by government has nothing to do with Christian charity.  It is, in fact, very nearly the exact opposite, wearing a mask to confuse the unwary.

Beware of Socialists who come to you in Sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Woe to you agents of government and socialists.  Hypocrites!  For you are like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful but within are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanliness.

Advertisements

30 thoughts on “The “Christian Left”?”

  1. “But did “render unto Caesar” mean an endorsement of everything that tax funds were used for?  Did he endorse gladiatorial games?  Wars of conquest?  The capture and importation of slaves?  The use of government troops to put down slave revolts?  Let’s not be absurd.  Just because the Roman government did something with tax monies, or modern governments do something with it, “Render unto Caesar” is not an endorsement of that use.”
    Were his exact words “render unto Caesar that which is his,” or something to that effect. It’s been a long time since I opened a bible after working so hard to forget it! Haha! But there was a time when I was better read than most of the hard Christians. If that is indeed what he said, then I take it to mean that he was advocating rebellion. After all, that which was Caesar’s, was Rome, not Jerusalem. Roman money was Caesar’s, and if they simply quit accepting it as valid currency, they would not need to give him any of their own. Like you said, if he would have flat out said “rebel against Caesar!” he would have been arrested.
    Regardless, yo make an excellent point with regards to socialism and taxation.
    #taxation is theft!

    1. Taxation is theft? This implies government, in all its forms, is illegitimate. This is an endorsement of anarchy,which has as much chance of working as Marxism.

      1. Depends on your perspective. I never said I endorse a complete removal of all societal structure. On the contrary, I am in favour of community centered organisation and leadership, as opposed to national, federal and global empirical models. Just because the only form of societal organization is the empire model, does not mean it is the only one that is viable.

        1. “Just because the only form of societal organization is the empire model, does not mean it is the only one that is viable.”

          I think you might have stated that better. Rather than say, “just because the *only* form of societal organization is the empire model”, one would be more informative in saying, just because empire was the normative end result of agrarian cultures, we do not have to accept that as the normal end result in a worldwide industrial society. Industrial society’s highly productive networks require freedoms of action that empires will not allow without restriction.

          1. You know what I mean! I was typing that on my darn phone, and if you knew how much freaking writing I’ve been doing these past weeks, you understand. Seriously, my brain is burnt out! 😲

      2. Most people in my experience who use the expression “Taxation is theft” (technically, it’s extortion) are well aware that some level of government is necessary and that requires some level of taxation. The phrase serves as a reminder, however, that when you fund something with taxes you are taking money by force from someone else to do it. As I have argued elsewhere ( https://thewriterinblack.com/2014/12/24/there-ought-to-be-a-law/ ) any law, which includes any tax, means that you are willing to see people killed to make it happen. So make damn sure it’s justified before you do so. If it’s not worth seeing people killed over it, then do it some other way.

        I find the level of justification in: “We hold these truths to be self evident…that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

        “To secure these rights.” That and only that justifies the use of force that is government.

    2. The wording was “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God, that which is God’s.”

      The tradition I follow doesn’t exactly have a tradition of “charity”, but rather one of hospitality–to be open handed with those under your hand. It also has “industriousness” and “self reliance” as cardinal virtues.

      1. Yes, you are a heathen, if I am not mistaken. As am I. But I was raised in the church, regrettably. However, that background does arm me with knowledge.
        I still think that by the wording, his message could be construed as rebellious. Also, if we are to take his existence as fact, then it is also highly likely that when the bible was compiled, some words were changed to alter context and meaning, which could implicate the church in distorting his message of rebellion as one of subordination to god via the church. Just speculating.
        I agree about hospitality vs charity. Nothing wrong with a bit of charity, but sometimes it is wasted on those who will not help themselves.

        1. Well, Asatru leaning Agnostic is how I usually describe. (I follow the Ways without necessarily believing in the gods–which is fine generally since if the gods do exist, they don’t care what one believes, but rather what one does and how one lives. I have also found most believers in Heathenism/Asatru are much the same in that regard.) A friend of mine used the term “agnostipagan” which I like. Another term that friend used was “god blind”. If the gods do exist, they haven’t seen fit to reveal their presence to me. Fair enough. Soon enough I will know. In the meantime I find the Way congenial and suits the inherent human need for ritual and symbolism.

          As for charity, there’s a difference between a hand up and a hand out. I’m much more likely to help someone who is trying their level best to make it on their own than someone who sits around crying about how bad they have it.

          Benjamin Franklin said it well: “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

        2. “Nothing wrong with a bit of charity, but sometimes it is wasted on those who will not help themselves.”

          Jesus said, “And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” He didn’t say, “If a man asks for your shirt, size the guy up and if he is worthy, give him your cloak, too.”

          Wasn’t it Jesus who also said, “God helps those who help themselves.”? No, wait. That was Benjamin Franklin.

          1. Yeah, well, I’m not a Christian, and certainly don’t live my life according to things supposedly said by Jesus. Just because some believe he was a god doesn’t make it true, nor does it mean everyone else has to believe the same.

          2. I’m a little shaky on what being sued at the law and paying over what’s demanded has to do with charity.

            Consider also: Jesus is reported to have preached all day and into the night on more than one occasion yet it takes about a half hour for someone to read every word he is quoted as saying. Either he repeated himself a lot or there’s a lot he said for which we have no direct record (actually, none of it is a direct record since the books of the New Testament were written well after Jesus’ death). For the extra we have the words of his disciples, things like Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (Note: “Would not” not “could not”.)

            There is no “Christian obligation” to enable deliberate moochers.

  2. Fact Check: “However, I understand Christianity far better than these Christian left people.”

    We rate this as…true.

  3. I believe you are part right and part wrong about “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” It is by no means a mandate for socialistic government activities, and anyone claiming such is putting words in God’s mouth. However, Romans 13 and 1Peter 2:13-17 describe a clear function of government, the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right, in other words, law and order. For this reason, we Christians are to submit to the government provided that it does not make sinful demands on us. As the apostles said in Acts 5:29, We must obey God rather than men, in response to a demand to stop preaching Christ. The commands to submit to government and Jesus’ statement to render unto Caesar were made under Roman rule. The Romans were pagan and used their tax money for many unChristian things, but paying taxes was not an endorsement of the actions of the state by God or man, merely submission to the ruling authorities.

    1. Looking for the part where I was wrong. There are things I did not address in this post, like whether there were legitimate functions of government (a topic I have delved into elsewhere), but this post was strictly about whether Jesus was a socialist and endorsed socialism.

      1. I have no beefs with your point that Jesus was not a socialist and have a big problem with those who claim that Christian charity requires socialistic measures. As the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. I believe that someone can legitimately use socialistic measures to accomplish Christian charity, but the Bible does not require it. Furthermore, I also believe that there are better and more efficient ways to accomplish Christian charity.

        What I objected to was how you characterized government as force. I could be wrong, but it sounded like you were characterizing all governmental force as a negative. Hence, my point that God commands us to submit to governmental authority, even if we don’t necessarily like it (and I often don’t like it, especially when I get the impression that it is being exercised not for the public good but for the benefit of some control freak’s ego or some other misuse). The only exception is commands to violate God’s law. For example, if the government uses my tax dollars to do sinful activities, it is using its money that it rightfully took from me but will be held accountable by God for what it does with it. However, it compels me to do that sinful activity, I have the responsible to refuse to do so because I am accountable to a higher authority, God. In that case, my submission to governmental authority would likely consist of submitting to the penalty for refusing to comply, whatever that penalty is.

        1. What I objected to was how you characterized government as force. I could be wrong, but it sounded like you were characterizing all governmental force as a negative.

          Government is force. But force is not necessarily a negative. Someone attempting to rape my daughter is using force and in that case it’s a negative. If I shoot the bastard trying to rape my daughter, that’s a use of force, deadly force in fact, and I consider that a good thing in that situation.

          What differentiates government from other organizations of humanity is that government is permitted to initiate force to accomplish its ends. I cannot use force against another individual in most circumstances without the credible threat of force against me or someone else (the case of the bastard in the first paragraph here as an example). I mention uptopic the example that all laws, in the limit of non-compliance, carry th death penalty: violate the law and they will use force to compel your compliance. Resist that use of force and they will use greater force, up to and including the point where they will kill you. It has to be that way. If they don’t have that ultimate sanction, they don’t have laws, they have a set of strongly worded suggestions. Because otherwise there would be a point where someone could say “no” and make it stick. This is not to say that there should be no laws (or no taxes) but that one has to very carefully consider what is subject to law or tax remembering that in the end it means you’re willing to kill to make it happen. So it’s pretty clear that government is force. Good, bad, or indifferent, it is force. One forgets that at ones peril.

          I discus that a bit more here: https://thewriterinblack.com/2014/12/24/there-ought-to-be-a-law/

  4. The whole sentence matters, Matthew 22:21: “Jesus said ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.'”

    First, the easy part, everything is God’s, so we are to use everything for God’s purposes.

    But, what is Ceasar’s. Does having your picture on something that is God’s make it yours? No. The picture does not change the fact that everything is God’s, so we are to use everything for God’s purposes.

    That is the beauty of Jesus’ answer. It appears to honor Ceasar, thereby avoiding the trap, but does nothing to contradict God’s exclusive ownership.

  5. The socialist Christian is he who bows low to those who offer a meager allowance for being an obedient and passive citizen. He will know soon enough that God is dead because he will have murdered him in the bargain.

  6. What the “render” passage also communicates is that Jesus’ interlocutors there were already compromised because they were carrying Roman coins around. That’s a point of the story almost always overlooked. The men trying to trap Jesus had already sold their souls to Caesar.

  7. Jesus on Charity

    And so Jesus said, “Do not bother helping thy neighbor, because really, who has time for that shit? Yea I say, instead vote for Caesar to send armed men to take from the unrighteous and give a fair portion of that taken to the righteous. The rest shall go to Caesar and his friends for their trouble. For it I say verily unto thee that taxation is the soul of kindness.”

    —Saint Karl’s 2nd Letter to the Progressives

  8. For I was hungry, and you tweeted something in support of food stamps. I was thirsty, and you shared a Facebook meme. I was sick and in prison, and you stuck a sign in your yard campaigning for some guy who wanted other people to do something. Enter into your rest.

    From the New Left Living Paraphrase

  9. Writerinblack, you can add to your arguments:
    In the gospel of Luke, 18:18-25 Jesus tells a rich ruler who wants to get into heaven and says he obeys all the commandments to go and sell everything he has and give it to the poor. This is commonly claimed as evidence that Jesus was a communist. But the question to ask communists is: whom of his disciples did Jesus send after the ruler to ensure the ruler sold everything and gave it to the poor? The answer is, almost certainly nobody. It was entirely up to the rich ruler to give away his wealth. Under communism the ruler would have had no choice, a communist government would have taken it under the claim that the property belongs “to the people.” Communism is coercive, true Christianity is not.
    Another passage: Acts 4:32-5:11 The Christian church in Jerusalem acts communally. It is not Communism because it wasn’t required that everyone who became Christian give up their property and goods, did not immediately give up all they owned to the Apostles (as an aside, this is a clear sign that a cult is NOT Christian). People gave as they saw a need. This passage also includes the story of two church members who sold property, then publicly gave most of it to the Apostles, and publicly claimed all of the proceeds of the sale were given. They were mysteriously and suddenly struck down dead. I think there is a problem if you consider explanations from theologians after communism was defined by Marx, either side may be influenced by their supporting or opposing Communism, so look at explanations from theologians and apologists before Marx. The couple were struck down for lying in public to the Apostles, and dishonestly seeking greater respect and possibly status thereby. It’s been put forward that they almost certainly would not have been struck down if they had simply said that they were only donating most of it (I know, not provable).
    Another passage, James 2:15-18 is first of all about faith versus works, but note that the writer doesn’t tell his readers to petition the government to provide more to the poor, but to do it themselves. Under Communism, the government supposedly takes care of the poor, and as Bernie Sanders proposed in one of his speeches, charity should be unnecessary. Christianity calls on Christians – not on unbelievers, to be charitable. But it is okay for unbelievers to be charitable if they feel so moved.

    1. When the rich man did not sell his property and give it to the poor, Jesus did not send a couple of large, strong disciples to forcibly divest the man of his property for redistribution. Forcible divestiture is the core element of socialism and communism. Christ forgave a lot of people their sins without requiring that they impoverish themselves (he did require them to give up things that were particular problems–“go, and sin no more” where the sin in question is quite clear from context). In that case I suspect he saw that particular individual had excessive attachment to material goods which is why he gave that particular individual that specific instruction.

      In one of his parables he used the example of taking large sums of money (a “talent” was a unit of some substantial weight. It could be either of gold or silver. In the parable, Jesus does not specify, but even silver would be a goodly sum of money) to moneylenders to have it returned with interest. (100% return on investment? Either the interest rates were loanshark-worthy or the master was gone a long time.) The servant who did not make capital gains investments with the money entrusted to him was stripped of his money and cast out.

    2. There may be a better explanation for Lk. 18:18-25. Jesus has just asked the rich young ruler if he knows the commandments. The ruler’s response is that he has kept them from his youth. At this point Jesus tells him to sell all his possessions and give to the poor, which saddens the ruler. This response demonstrates that he is not obeying all the commandments. Number 1 is “you shall have no other gods before Me.” The ruler has another god, his wealth. His problem is not that he owns wealth, but that his wealth owns him.

  10. When Jesus asked His challengers, “Whose image does the coin bear?” they knew Whose image they themselves bore.

    And when the goats are separated from the sheep, the question will not be, “When I was hungry/thirsty/cold, what Welfare State schemes did you support?” (There won’t be a “But Caesar was my cut-out” exception to the Commandment forbidding coveting thy neighbor’s goods either.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s