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Is socialism biblical?

Is socialism biblical?

Click here to ask Chuck your money question

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Chuck Bentley

Dear Chuck,

In his State of the Union Address, President Trump declared that “America will never be a socialist nation.” Some say the Bible supports socialism. Does the Bible support it or any other specific economic system?

Unsocial 

Dear Unsocial,

I’m glad you asked, because I fear many people are supporting an economic philosophy they really don’t understand. To many, it sounds good on the surface, maybe even compassionate and fair, a way to close the income inequalities that exist. In reality, it is none of those. 

Remember, Robin Hood is a fairy tale. It should never be attempted as an economic system and it is certainly not supported in Scripture. God’s Word prohibits taking from the rich and poor alike.

Daniel J. McLaughlin, columnist with Townhall Finance, recently argued that those who endorse socialism are naïve; they have never studied its history or lived under it: 

It is not just an alternative form of government. It is a different way of life, one that is entirely incompatible with what Americans take for granted, the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, which have set the backdrop for the amazing economic development and progress.

Margaret Thatcher warned that the problem with socialism is that “you eventually run out of other people’s money.” 

I have heard it said that socialism truly does usher in equality: equal misery for all.

Venezuela’s Misery and Socialism

Dr. Anne Bradley, with the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, identified how Venezuela Took the Fastest Route to Poverty, in an article released February 1, 2019. 

Eliminating prices and making things free or nearly free is the fastest road to poverty and ruin. Making something free doesn’t make it less scarce. It just means we have to find another way to finance those free things.

Printing money to finance the “free things” in Venezuela resulted in hyperinflation. Prices are needed, Bradley defends: “They are powerful market signals. Policies aiming to eliminate them are the surest, quickest way to poverty.”

Frank Vernuccio, in an article posted on January 17, 2019 in The Affluent Investor states that “Venezuela adopted socialism – the very same brand being promoted here in America.” He cites an article at the Mises Institute written by two Venezuelans, who explain this reality:

Ultimately, the lesson we learned is that socialism never, ever works…It was very common during the years we suffered under Hugo Chavez to hear these pundits and economists on TV saying that this time, socialism is being done right. This time, the Venezuelans figured it out. They were, and are wrong.

Socialism is Not Biblically Supported

Having traveled the world, I’ve witnessed the devastation of socialism and communism. People struggle to overcome barriers that their governments impose and suffer as many of their resources are taken from them. They lose the incentive to work which is contrary to God’s plan for us. Inevitably, systems that are centrally controlled are corrupted, leading to widespread economic pain. 

Issues like debt, lack of margin, and no motivation arise instead of financial freedom, generosity, and biblical ambition. 

The Bible teaches that God gives resources to people, to individuals with private ownership and personal responsibility, and holds them accountable for stewarding these resources. The ability to work and steward our gain is a tremendous privilege in a free society where one can achieve according to their desire to work.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15 ESV)

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23 ESV)

If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. (1 Thessalonians 3:10)

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. (Proverbs 24:33-34 ESV) 

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35 ESV)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23 ESV) 

Work brings dignity and joy. It benefits the family and society, and provides the means of giving to others who cannot work. Economies where individual work and achievement are not rewarded will eventually collapse; dishonesty, greed, pride, and immorality will take over.

Last Thanksgiving, Jerry Bowyer shared how the pilgrims discovered abundance after a period of socialism and starvation. Decades later, our founding fathers, aware of the destruction caused by unleashed political power, created a limited government based on a constitution. The separation of powers, complete with checks and balances, were an attempt to protect the citizens of America. Private property rights and the freedom to enjoy personal advancement are supported by the 10 Commandments.

Although we hear a lot about socialism today, America does not need it. What we need is a return to the Biblical values that support capitalistic freedom governed by transformed hearts in a people that are willing to generously care for their neighbor.

It is easy to say we want someone else to care for our neighbor; it is hard to take that responsibility personally. But God said that along with our freedom to prosper is our responsibility to extend kindness by caring and sharing. Taking from others to achieve equality is not the right way or God’s way.

By the way, if you’re struggling with credit card debt or feeling trapped with too many bills, get in touch with our partners at Christian Credit Counselors. They can help you with a plan to escape! 

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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