Does Socialism Ever Work?
Years ago, during a job interview — strangely enough, for a job at Chilis — even stranger, I was asked if the tenets of socialism would ever work. I replied that it would work only in a purely voluntary context as in the days of the early church where in Acts we hear of those in the church with more giving eagerly to those with less and a sharing of all things. In this context, and especially when taken within a purely Christian context man is still faced with the reality that God is ultimately the provider of all things and the goods came through the willing hands of a friend, not anonymously through the hands of an agency. I think that redistribution in this finely defined context is a glorious thing; I think that as a form of government (read force) it is a grievous violation of the first commandment and as a form of government that is what is strives to be. The Devil doesn’t show us the opposite of the good and tell us that it’s the same, he shows us his version of the good and tells us that it’s better.
Roosevelt & Obama
Franklin Roosevelt is widely looked upon as one of the greatest presidents this country has had. We think of our forefathers are being smarter than this; that they wouldn’t fall for his lies the way our generation fell for the lies of Obama. But they did.
Why was he so great? Apparently he saved the country from the Great Depression. Like the lie that Lincoln “saved the Union,” this is so amazingly ingrained into the psyche of the average American as to be unchangeable even when all facts fail to support it. He saved us by going into debt, by taking from one American and giving to another, by stealing the use of gold (real money) from any American, by expanding the federal government’s payrolls, by reducing trade and extending what should have been a mild recession into a decade long depression. And even though the average American suffered much, much longer than he would have under a free-market solution, the fact that everyone was in the same boat and all surviving somehow masks all the facts. He became a god in that he and he alone seemingly had the power to provide for us. And that’s where the first commandment comes in. When we surplant God in His chosen role of provider we attempt regicide. No, not the killing of Regis Philbin (that genius!), but the killing of the king.
What Work Should the Church Be Doing?
When the church gets in bed with the world in this way all sorts of mischief ensues. Where was the church during the depression? Where was she during the emergence of the “great society?” Was her god too small to face the challenges of hunger and homelessness? Clearly the church performed a role. My grandmother fed the bums who came looking for a meal at their farmhouse. I recall my mother doing the same thing at several times in my childhood. They were being Jesus. They didn’t steer them to the shelter or the clinic.
But in far too many other instances the church went along with the world and embraced the government god as her personal lord and savior. A Christian doesn’t need to know the first thing about macro or micro economics. He just has to know and believe that stealing is wrong. When told that he must endorse stealing because it is the only solution to this complicated economic situation he can quietly rely upon God’s words and not his own understanding of these things to pass him through the trial.
Laurence Windham in a recent sermon challenged the church to be the church. If so the world would be turned upside down like it was in the book of Acts. If we cared for our own poor and sick and a few besides, there wouldn’t be a demand for the government aparatus. If we took our children out of their schools there would be no need for them. Don Schanzenbach mentions one of the many negatives of public schooling and that is the property tax (in Every Thought Captive, July/Aug 2010). A tax that means that you and your descendants can never really own your land. You are essentially leasing it from the government and can lose it overnight if you can’t pay what is essentially a school tax.
The Church Caring for Her Own
Laurence also tells a story from the early days of Saint Peter Church. A young mother’s husband left her and several children. The church, though very small at the time, undertook the responsibility to care for their needs though this stretched them well beyond the comfort zone. The tension of accepting real charity from friends was too much for her and she eventually left the church and the next one she joined signed her up for the anonymity of the welfare program. A church was no longer able to be Jesus to her and her and her children’s lives quickly went down the path of unrighteousness.
The spheres that God established for Himself, the individual, the church and the state are not to be violated. When they are disasters occur. Since we have more power over ourselves and our church then the government, there is where we need to start making changes. We can reduce the harmful impact of the government’s intrusion into our lives by refusing its unconstitutional services. We can reduce the harmful impact of the government’s “helping hand” by being the church (read: Jesus) to the poor, the widows and orphans in our midst. We can honor the king at all times, giving Him all that He is worthy of and by not seeking to overthrow His rule.
Opportunity for the Church (pssst, that means you)!
We Christians are challenged every day with the opportunity to do what the world says is the solution. Or we can rely upon God’s Word. The choices we make on a daily basis with our own lives and our own families and our own churches either builds up or breaks down our society (read: lives). Today it is broken; tomorrow’s news hasn’t yet been written.
This article was first published in Every Thought Captive magazine, 2010.