By Roger Bayes
Socialism has several premises that are not Biblical in nature. Here are several that I feel are the most prominent.
The good of the many outweigh the good of the one.
This is the overarching premise from which all other premises are built. Its fallacy is that without the good of the one, the good of the many has no meaning. It is often thought that the teachings of Jesus actually reflect socialism. But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus’ teaching of Love your Neighbor as yourself is an act of an individual helping another individual. This is dramatically different from the resources being taken from each and every individual by the government and then redistributed to other individuals who did nothing to earn those resources with the government skimming just about any portion it deems necessary in the process. The actual definition of this process is extortion.
Some will point to the first chapters of the Book of Acts and take out of context the practice of the early Jewish Messianic Assemblies each believer selling what they had and combining it together so that “none lacked anything.” But let it be pointed out, these were individuals who were trying to follow literally the teachings of Jesus by preparing themselves for the coming of the Messianic Kingdom. This is a far cry from the government of Israel or Rome imposing these practices upon citizen. Let it also be understood, that these people sold their property to other individuals. It was not taken over and owned by the government. Also, the expectation of an immediate or soon Kingdom was never realized and the ultimate result was that the money ran out. These people had traded the means of a perpetual income system for a system that had hard and final limitations. The result was that there was a famine in the land – at least among the Assemblies – for which the Apostle Paul was actively gathering gifts from churches planted during his journeys to give aid. They had actually become poor en masse, literally believing that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom.
The premise never happens
The premise taught by socialism of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” sounds good, except this never happens. The reality is “from each according to his level of motivation to work for everyone else’s benefit over his own, to each according to needs that are determined by governmental fiat.” (Witness the current controversy of the government giving aid to every citizen due to Covid.) Not everyone’s needs are the same nor can they truly be determined. Who decides what your ability is, and who decides what the needs of each individual are? The premise fails. The Scripture plainly teaches personal responsibility. If one does not work he does not eat. The fruit of one’s labor remain the purview of the individual and the individual is then free to exercise benevolence when he encounters a need.
It depends on abundance
Socialism depends upon the abundance of resources though it is toted as the only fair way to deal with scarcity – which is not at all true, in fact it is one of the major lies. Socialism or more appropriately, Marxism does acknowledge the law of scarcity but it uses the term “limited resources.” In fact, socialism assumes that all resources are held in common. Translation: all resources are owned by the government. Many will say that there are different forms of socialism, and that there is room in socialism for people to own their own land, property, and such. However, the premise remains the same: the government determines what you can own and what you can’t and that line is determined by the government and it can be changed at any time.
Government becomes the Great Provider
Socialism makes Government the provider and disseminator of all resources which are government owned. Though it is often rendered by way of private enterprise, government regulatory measures are draconian. You will receive what they will allow, nothing more. That is, when the government mandates certain things, there is little recourse for differing needs. Though provision for differing needs can be made, the result is often complicated. (Witness the Affordable Care Act with its 5000+ pages of legislation and the 10,000 + pages of regulations.)
Government becomes the judge of morality
Government becomes the definer of right and wrong instead of the Bible. It is always in terms of what is right is good for the collective and what is wrong is anything that runs counter to the collective. (Social Justice). Socialism does not recognize any authority above itself. It is immaterial if there is a god or not. It views the mores of a society in purely materialistic terms. What may be common behavior can be determined to be “right.” Therefore it is “wrong” to disagree. This materialism is an artifact of Darwinism which looks at history of religion and religious mores in evolutionistic terms. So that what was once considered wrong by religion is now modified or can be changed because society has now evolved to a “higher” order. Socialism views right and wrong as that which can be commonly determined from societal behavior and does not recognize an absolute right or wrong emanating from a transcendent God.
Rights are sourced in government
Government is the definer of basic human rights, as opposed to rights that are granted by God. (Political Correctness) Certain things are defined as “rights” not because they come from a transcendent God but because the government has deemed them so. Witness the abortion, LGBTQ, and same sex marriage issues. Those rights are subject to change according to the whims of Government declaration, not rights that can be counted on and defended without change because they come from an unchanging God.
Government: from cradle to the grave
The effect of all the above is to make government god, mankind’s ultimate provider and disseminator from the cradle to the grave. It is the god of government that determines what a person’s basic needs are and the means by which they are provided. People are viewed as incapable of adequately providing for themselves. Therefore it takes the collective to instill, brain wash, and force conformity of behavior for the greater good. Consider the effects of universal mask wearing and the determination of what are essential jobs or services during the Covid 19 pandemic. Government becomes god and it doesn’t matter what God you believe in and follow, you are expected to bow to the wishes of this god.
Socialism is at war with private property
Socialism also wars against private property, which is the functional basis of human liberty. That is, what I have, I earned. It is mine to do with as I please and it is not yours. For you to take it without my consent is theft – which is what socialism ultimately does. This is definitely anti-Biblical. The concept of private property is imbedded within Torah law. One’s inheritance was to be protected. One’s property was to not be usurped by another. Out of one’s own means and diligent work sacrifices were expected. But it required property ownership – given that Old Testament law stipulated that all land belonged to God. Nevertheless, there was a permanency and a protection of the individual’s inheritance to insure that a goodly livelihood was possible to sustain a family.
What most people don’t realize is that the principle of personal, individual liberty, is a function of the opportunity to own private property, whether one owns anything or not. Without this one convention, personal liberty would cease to exist. It means that what I have is provided by the government and it can be taken by the government, if it deems that doing so helps the collective good.
Socialism is at war with production
Socialism wars against excellence and productivity. Consider that if I work and do not receive the full benefit of my labor because the government takes what I have earned to give to those who have not earned, it removes any basis and incentive for doing my best. Maximum productivity has to be maintained by force. It also reduces all supply to rationing of resources.
Socialism ALWAYS degrades
Socialism may start off with the governance by the many, but it ALWAYS and quickly degrades to governance by a few (Oligarchy) or one (despotism).
A false Messianic Kingdom
The desire of socialism is to create an utopia, for which all mankind yearns, but for it to work, there has to be an abundance of resources, and a benevolent authority to resolve conflict. This will only happen in the Messianic Kingdom. Instead of doing what is best for your self and your family, and out of that doing things the are beneficial to society, all effort is directed towards doing what’s best for the collective and thus attempting to create this utopia. We need to be reminded this utopia (Messiah’s Kingdom) is something that only God can create. Could it be that socialism is the materialists’ way of trying to “build the Kingdom,” but without God? Incidentally, I’m not sure if everyone grasps what “ruling with a rod of iron” truly means.
Is there a “Hyphenated Socialism?”
One last thought. Socialism is often defined by differing types – as if one type is more acceptable than another. I would submit that there are not differing types but rather, various degrees to which the principles of socialism are applied. I contend that to the extent socialism is employed is the extent to which we give up liberty.
Just some of my thoughts. What are some of yours?
Roger Bayes is Minister of Music at First Baptist Church, Sierra Vista, Arizona. He has been in this position for 37 years. He has also been a founder of and the conductor of Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra. His claim to fame is 5 grandchildren. Even though for many years of ministry steeped in Evangelical traditionalism, a dissatisfaction of the “company denominational line” and a hunger for the study of the Word of God has brought him back to his fundamental roots and a refreshing and satisfying dispensational view of Scripture.
Excellent article! I wholeheartedly agree. Now, if we can just convince the younger generation that it means losing freedoms, resources and having government own everything and make decisions for you!
Here’s what I understand Socialism to ultimately mean…
“You will own NOTHING and be Happy.”
Selfish Savage capitalism is also not biblical – not helping the poor and the needy, not protecting the vulnerable, not welcoming the foreigner