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.”
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:
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.