You are hereThe Power of Biblical Social-ism

The Power of Biblical Social-ism

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By Virgil - Posted on 27 October 2008

The recent article by Jim Wallis on “Faith Priorities” really prompted me to think about some of the important issues raised by Wallis, which are really issues that come up often in every election cycle. They are especially highlighted this year because of the economic downturn the world is experiencing as a result of the melting financial markets. It is also a good time for me to yet again try to promote what I believe to be a Biblical way of living, the kind of active social living which Jesus would have liked his followers to pursue and promote.Socialism, as having been traditionally defined since the Industrial Revolution, has involved an active criticism of the wealthy, an advocacy for the redistribution of wealth, and the pursuit of an egalitarian sort of society, which would supposedly lead to an utopian life for all participants. We have seen this sort of Socialism fail miserably over and over again, mostly due to the greedy nature of humanity and man’s inability to put others above himself; in this same context, we see the same greed and failure to treat others as one’s self leading to the current economic crisis we find ourselves in. This is what prompts me to consider the fact that neither system is what Jesus would have promoted as a viable economic system.

This does not go to say that Jesus came to bring about economic utopia; and that seems to be the primary problem with Jim Wallis’ premise. Wallis seems to falsely conclude that because there are over 2,000 verses in the Bible dealing with poverty and the poor, then the primary purpose of the Bible must be a permanent resolution and solution to poverty. Furthermore, Wallis takes his premise to the next step: namely that because the Bible speaks at length on poverty and the poor, we should be justified in taking away from the wealthy in order to fill the needs of the poor via a proxy entity called the government. Now, please do not misunderstand me, Wallis is not making those claims in these words; I am simply paraphrasing him in an effort to understand and analyze what he is proposing.

There is no question that all those priorities presented by Jim Wallis are critical to a healthy society, and he is justified in considering them important, but again, the mistake seems to be in mapping Biblical language to an already established social paradigm which Wallis considers acceptable. But what if “socialism” has little or nothing to do with directly feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and saving starving children from dying? What if the Biblical narrative is deeper and more nuanced than Wallis’ superficial reading; and this is being said without attempting to minimize the importance of those actions.

In Matthew 5, I believe Jesus uses the Sermon on the Mount to help his audience (and us of course) understand what social-ism should be all about. Interestingly, Jesus seems to be advocating what would have been considered at the time a fairly extreme level of social activism, which is strangely not the kind of activism promoted by either the right or the left today!? The very first statement coming out of his mouth is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” And to seemingly make things even more confusing, in another place he states “The Kingdom if not of this world,” which is in apparent contradiction with Wallis' premise which suggests that the Kingdom can somehow have a political connection with our political system. Jesus continues to present this new reality of the Kingdom using some interesting contrasting and fulfilling language: mourning – comforting, gentle – inheritance of the earth, hunger and thirst – satisfaction, merciful – receiving of mercy, etc. The message is clearly anticipatory in nature: “...your reward in heaven is great...in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.” (v. 12)

The message of Jesus in Matthew 5 is at its very core Jewish and covenantal in nature – he is addressing His people, His own social context, in the premise of and established Law, not a Law which would be abolished, but fulfilled (see Matthew 5). The rewards are just as well covenantal in nature; Jesus here is not offering a lesson in economics, in dealing with poverty, in ecology and social studies. He is expounding on legal understanding of Scripture in order to clarify what this “new covenant” which he was bringing about means, and in order to help his audience understand what the “new” is about, he is referencing the “old,” the Law which was about to be fulfilled; Law vs. Kingdom.

In a clear sense and in the context of Matthew 5, the Law meant poverty in spirit – the Kingdom is wealth beyond imagination; the Law meant spiritual darkness – the Kingdom is light; the Law meant fasting from God – the Kingdom means feasting in the spirit. This kind of imagery is being portrayed expectantly over and over again throughout the Old Testament and is being portrayed as having already arrived in the New Testament; without any equivocation, Jesus is proclaiming: the Kingdom of Heaven is here, it’s among you, it is inside you! There is a clear and primary spiritual aspect to what the Kingdom of Heaven is expected to be: a real and tangible relationship with our Creator thanks to Christ, which leads to a secondary physical aspect of the Kingdom, namely the manifestation of God’s presence and our relationship with Him into the world around us, into our relationships with our families, communities, friends, nation and enemies.

With this understanding, and in this context, it seems to be unreasonable for Christians today to read the Bible as an instructional book having a primary mandate on how to handle poverty on planet Earth; the message of the Bible is primarily a covenantal one, a narrative of God’s people being led out of slavery and out of spiritual poverty by Christ…out of the old, into the new. It is a picture of a “spiritual” reality; however this new reality, -- which we call the Kingdom of God, the Presence of God, or whatever else folks have called it – manifests into our physical environment, and it is still being worked out by Christians today. Many of us are still ironing out the implications of what it means to live in the Kingdom of God today. The Scripture leaves a great deal of it up to us. In the book of Revelation we are simply being told that as the Church, we are here “for the healing of the nations.” We are not being told what this means exactly; we are not being told if this healing is to take place using Democrats or Republicans, left or right politics, black or white, dollars or euros. In fact I believe that it is this traditional social dualism presented to us which does not allow us to move beyond the politics of what it means to be a healing force in the world, and be the true biblical social-ists which we should be.

It is this kind of heart-driven social activism that should flow out of our understanding of the Kingdom; I do not believe this social-ism has anything to do with redistributing wealth, with U.S. elections and with politics, and with much of what is being said by politicians today. I say this mostly because I believe that when we pass on our healing responsibilities to a government entity, it is clear that we are attempting to abandon our Kingdom-responsibilities and pass them on to another group of people. This creates a disconnect between the spiritual, heart-filled nature of the Kingdom of God and the physical realities and manifestations of this Kingdom.

With one week left to the 2008 elections, I wanted to take this time to write about some of the things I had on my mind; I hope it gives everyone encouragement and helps us all realize that we are ultimately partners with God in this New Creation, and should be actively involved in the growth and promotion of the Kingdom, a Kingdom which has very little to do with politicians, and a whole lot to do with being active for the King. That is the kind of socialist I want to be.

chrisliv's picture

Hey,

There's a new Lew Rockwell article that picks up this theme, too.

I'll post the link and first paragraph below.

There's another one there, too, on FDR, that dovetails nicely on this theme. I'll post its link too, and the last two paragraphs of it.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone
--------------------------------

http://www.lewrockwell.com/anderson/anderson232.html

Bringing Back the (Nonexistent) Golden Days

"I admit to reading the "God’s Politics" blog every now and then, not because I think that Jim Wallis and his friends from the Sojourners cult actually are channeling the voice of God, but rather to see how people continue to politicize the Gospel in the name of politics. Claiming to be speaking for God is something that one must approach with some fear and trepidation, and, if one really is speaking for God, then perhaps the first thing in order is to tell the truth..."

And:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory168.html

FDR Is Everywhere in Sight

"... It is funny that FDR is so universally beloved on the left and right. He imposed counterproductive economic fascism, destroyed food while people starved, imposed gun control and drug control at the federal level, created Fannie Mae (which has continued to cause economic troubles), drafted plans to round up rightwing and leftwing activists without due process, conscripted ten million Americans into the military, waged total war on civilians, brought nuclear weaponry into the world, stuck tens of thousands of U.S. citizens into concentration camps, set up a censorship office, palled around with Stalin, turned away exiled Jews back to Nazi control, was all around deceitful in foreign affairs, and did not actually bring America out of the Depression, in terms of economic well-being for the American people.

"Today, everyone reveres Franklin Roosevelt. No one significant in either major party wants to repeal the New Deal. To the contrary, almost all wish to build upon it. Black wants to know where FDR is. Truth is, he’s everywhere in sight."

rfwitt's picture

Who are the poor? Jim Wallis and his leftist friends make no distinction. There are thousand of people who remain poor because of government entitlement programs. The choices and behavior of people has much to do with so-called poverty in America. How many times have I met people from foreign countries who came here poor and within a generation are living quite well in this country. The "poor" are simply another voting bloc that the left uses to keep in power. The "war on poverty" has been lost and will never be won by leftist. Now the left is mining the "middle class" for votes by promising them that the left is for them and the right is for the "rich". Envy does it's work. It brought about the Federal Income Tax.
Richard Wittemann..

Virgil's picture

Richard, I understand your frustration, but you are not saying anything different than what I pointed out above - you are not giving anyone any real answers and you are continuing the kind of propaganda which "the rightists" have been using for the last several decades, it's all the left's fault, we worship the god of capital.

Okay, thousands of people are in poverty because of entitlement programs - what then? There are thousands of people who are now poor because greedy corporate accountants stole all their 401k savings.

Who are the poor?

rfwitt's picture

Virgil,
Who worships the "God of capital"? I'm pretty sure that no one on this site does. You want to help the poor. It's really simple. Do you know someone who is poor and in need. Go and help them. And when you do don't go and blow your trumpet.
Richard.....

Jaytouhare's picture

I think the Israelite "Jubilee" was a great concept. It certainly wouldn't fly today though. I think most would see it as "handout".

I think the idea that one individual basically has the "right" to accumulate as much wealth as they desire would be seen as "evil" by the majority of humans up until a few thousand years ago.

Were "primitive" hunter gatherer type cultures aware of things that we are not? Are we missing something? Is it possible that there are more benefits for the individual (even the "rich" indiviudal) than drawbacks living in a society where everything is shared?

Besides the obvious (there's only a finite amount of "stuff" - people who hold on to more than they need will be depriving others who may not have enough), are there other societal consequences for "taking more than you need"?

Parker's picture

Jay: I think the idea that one individual basically has the "right" to accumulate as much wealth as they desire would be seen as "evil" by the majority of humans up until a few thousand years ago.

Parker: Individuals have a right to own the wages of their labor as well as to own property. People who object are guilty of the sins of covetousness and envy.

Jay: Is it possible that there are more benefits for the individual (even the "rich" indiviudal) than drawbacks living in a society where everything is shared?

Parker: Why can't everyone be forced to take at least a few economics and business 101 classes before being allowed to opine on topics of business and economics? Listen, citizens of socialist countries are far less better off than citizens of capitalist countries. (Only the dictators live richly.) Capitalism generates and distributes enormous prosperity to the greatest number of citizens of a nation. Socialism forces everyone to live at bare subsistence levels (except for the dictators, of course).

Jay: Besides the obvious (there's only a finite amount of "stuff" - people who hold on to more than they need will be depriving others who may not have enough)

Parker: If we were trading dirt or rocks back and forth, you'd be right. But we're not. We transform inputs into new things and transform those new things into new things.

Jay: Are there societal consequences for "taking more than you need"?

Parker: Yes, good consequences. The person who has more than he needs for personal subsistence uses the extra capital to start businesses that hire 10, 100, or even 1,000 other citizens who now can make a decent living and support their families, too. The wealth is used to generate more wealth and jobs, which then is reinvested to generate even more wealth and jobs, which in turn in reinvested to generate even more wealth and jobs. After a few decades, that single person's extra dough has raised the living standards/quality of life for thousands of others and created enormous wealth distributed abundantly to the greatest number of citizens.

Jaytouhare's picture

Virgil: "We were just talking about the Jubilee concept last night at church, covering some of the very points you are bringing up! It seems that God in his wisdom put in place principles to protect his people from the mistakes of borrowing too much or being so obsessed by wealth that we care about "stuff" only and forget about the Creator."

Me: Well, we're coming from different places. I'm not a Christian. Just thought I'd clarify that first. Nevertheless, I think the Jubilee concept is interesting. And it does surprise me a little that it gets so little attention from Christians.

Virgil: "On your second point, I am not sure if I agree with the premise that there is only a finite amount of stuff; now if you are talking in the physical sense, sure, but in the context of economics, one can actually create wealth by working hard and exchanging at a profit."

Me: Yeah, to clarify another thing, I know very little about economic theory. But I've heard of this idea before. On the surface it sounds true enough... :)

Virgil: "The key question is, are we responsible as Christians (not as Capitalists) to minimize the profit we are making when we exchange goods and services, or can we profit as much as possible from others without any biblical consequences? Any thoughts?"

Me: I struggled mightily with this when I was a Christian. There are so many mixed messages on this in the Bible, imo. I gather it doesn't seem overly clear to you either. :)

Parker: "Individuals have a right to own the wages of their labor as well as to own property. People who object are guilty of the sins of covetousness and envy."

Me: Ok, that's how you feel I guess. I don't think I would agree (certainly on that last part). Didn't the Jubilee apply to land ownership too? Wasn't everything sort of "divy'd up"?

Parker: "Why can't everyone be forced to take at least a few economics and business 101 classes before being allowed to opine on topics of business and economics? Listen, citizens of socialist countries are far less better off than citizens of capitalist countries. (Only the dictators live richly.) Capitalism generates and distributes enormous prosperity to the greatest number of citizens of a nation. Socialism forces everyone to live at bare subsistence levels (except for the dictators, of course)."

Me: Ok, chill out Parker. We're not all economics professors here. When I brought this up I wasn't really referring to "socialism" in the regular sense. I was referring more to the economic systems of some "primitive" type cultures, where, nobody (in many of these cultures there were no actual "leaders", at least not in the sense that what we would typically think of) actually even seemed to want to have "the right" to own anything. What interests me is why.

Me: Are there societal consequences for "taking more than you need"?

Parker: Yes, good consequences. The person who has more than he needs for personal subsistence uses the extra capital to start businesses that hire 10, 100, or even 1,000 other citizens who now can make a decent living and support their families, too. The wealth is used to generate more wealth and jobs, which then is reinvested to generate even more wealth and jobs, which in turn in reinvested to generate even more wealth and jobs. After a few decades, that single person's extra dough has raised the living standards/quality of life for thousands of others and created enormous wealth distributed abundantly to the greatest number of citizens.

Me: Yes, there's that idea again. Again, I know little about economics. It would probably be wise of me to invest a little time reading up on various economic theories.

I think perhaps though that maybe (just maybe) there may be other benefits that you may not be aware of. "Economic benefits"? Perhaps not. But maybe there is something better than economic benefits?

tom-g's picture

It is difficult for me to follow any of these comments since no absolute primary truths or first principles are set forward as the basis for them.

Virgil's original article, as I understand it, is based upon his own private interpretation of social gospel Christianity. This ,I think, is set out in his equating the biblical work of healing the nations as something that can be accomplished by both Christianity and government, as a result the healing of the nations cannot be dependent upon Christ or his gospel.

It is also interesting to me to see a person who is a member of what I define as a religious socialist organization, (the RCC) advocating a contradictory economic capitalism system (anti socialism) as the expression of religious socialist Christianity (the RCC) in action.

It is also interesting to me to see no one referencing the scripture to see how a nation whose king was God, was legally required (Kingly mandate) to care for the poor the indigent the widows and orphans and strangers among them. With a current GDP of approximately 15 trillion dollars that would equate out to the federal government collecting 1.5 trillion dollars in taxes just for that purpose alone to distribute (welfare, according to the King?). Then to that would be added heave offerings and love offerings etc. (state, county, community and individual).

In addition, since the U.S. capitalist system is not able to compete in the world market with socialist and communist nations and currently owes these socialist and communist nations hundreds of trillions of dollars, somewhere there seems to be a fly in the ointment.

Perhaps we might find an answer if we looked to the biblical record with God as King. (in God We Trust)

Tom

Parker's picture

Tom: It is also interesting to me to see a person who is a member of what I define as a religious socialist organization, (the RCC) advocating a contradictory economic capitalism system (anti socialism) as the expression of religious socialist Christianity (the RCC) in action.

Parker: Holy smokes, where to begin. The RCC is not an economic system, nor does it claim ownership over the finances and property of its members. Thus, it has nothing to do with socialism. In the RCC, generosity and charity are preached as virtues but ultimately left up to the individual to decide. The individual has the decision-making power over his or her own charity.

Tom: It is also interesting to me to see no one referencing the scripture to see how a nation whose king was God was legally required (Kingly mandate) to care for the poor...

Parker: The Jews indeed had a mandated tithe/taxation administered through the Temple leadership. Christians don't disagree about helping the poor or tithing and taxation. They disagree on who manages that process. In America, We the People decide how much we should be taxed. ("No taxation without representation.") In socialist countries, The State decides.

Christians who advocate socialism are violating all biblical principles of work, wages, and property ownership. Socialists argue that all wages and property belong to the State, and they hope the State will then distribute that money equally to all workers (after the bureaucracy and rulers get their take first). Sadly, socialism never works out well for the poor, and it also destroys the wealth-creating power and economic freedom of individual citizens. In the end, the socialist dictators are the only ones who prosper.

tom-g's picture

Dear Parker,

Perhaps I am mistaken in my understanding of the political and legal structure of the RCC, if so I apologize.

I understand all power is concentrated in the hands of one person, the Pope. Also all properly and assets of the RCC are owned by the RCC. Also every baptized member of the RCC is at the mercy of the power of that one man or through his subordinates for their religious (RCC) life or death, through the power of baptism and excommunication. Also the dictates of the RCC extend to every facet of human life and any individual who deviates from those dictates is religiously executed. (excommunicated)

If you would examine the extreme poverty that exists in Catholic nations, I think you will see that your last statement fits the RCC perfectly: "In the end, the socialist dictators are the only ones who prosper." (The Pope and his subordinates with the vast undistributed RCC wealth while catholics die from poverty and starvation.)

Just as a simple question: What is your estimate of the monetary wealth of the RCC? And in your estimation, over 2000 years, has the RCC been as successful in distributing its wealth to the care and benefit of its impoverished and starving members, as for instance has the atheistic, communist dictatorship of China has been for its citizens in just 50 years?

If my understanding is incorrect I apologize.
Tom

Parker's picture

TomG: I understand all power is concentrated in the hands of one person, the Pope.

Parker: We do indeed have a head pastor, but that doesn't mean all power is in his office. The Pope rules in tandem with all the bishops. And this corporate ruling body is restricted to *matters of doctrine* and also restricted to decisions by the ecumenical councils. In other words, they can't make stuff up, and they only exist to preserve the apostles' teaching. The RCC is a doctrine preservation society of sorts.

TomG: Also all properly and assets of the RCC are owned by the RCC.

Parker: Would you expect them to be owned by the Southern Baptist Convention? Maybe I'm missing your point.

TomG; Also every baptized member of the RCC is at the mercy of the power of that one man or through his subordinates for their religious (RCC) life or death, through the power of baptism and excommunication.

Parker: Yes, the Church's ordained bishops have real delegated authority from Christ, and also the power of excommunication (Heb 13:17; Acts 20:28; Matthew 18:17-18).

TomG: Also the dictates of the RCC extend to every facet of human life

Parker: No. Only matters of faith and morals. And, yes, these are a matter of spiritual life or death because Christ's teachings are a matter of spiritual life or death. No human is at liberty to disagree with the teachings of Christ and the apostles and have eternal life.

TomG: If you would examine the extreme poverty that exists in Catholic nations

Parker: Poland, France, Italy, and Ireland are examples of extreme poverty? Countries that are poor are so not because they are Catholic, but rather because they are run by socialist dictators. The Catholic Church has repeatedly and openly denounced Socialism and Communism.

TomG: Just as a simple question: What is your estimate of the monetary wealth of the RCC?

Parker: With a billion members in our one single denomination, the RCC budget should be huge, if every member gives just $1 each year.

Tomg: And in your estimation, over 2000 years, has the RCC been as successful in distributing its wealth to the care and benefit of its impoverished and starving members

Parker: Absolutely successful. The RCC is the largest charitable organization on our planet by any fiscal or material measure. We run more adoption agencies, hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, schools, etc. than any other organization. That's our money and effort at work.

Ed's picture

Parker: Absolutely successful. The RCC is the largest charitable organization on our planet by any fiscal or material measure. We run more adoption agencies, hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, schools, etc. than any other organization. That's our money and effort at work.

Me: Yes, it should be duly noted that hospitals were founded by the monks (these were the original hospitals), orphanages, schools, etc. It is pure fabrication for anyone, Christian or otherwise, to attempt to slam the RCC in the area of charity.

In addition to charity, the monks of old were instrumental in agriculture, beer-making in Europe (they brought it there from Egypt, if memory serves me), wine-making, and industry.

The dominant economic theory of the RCC is a free market view, sometimes called "distributism." It is a basic understanding of small business, and contractual labor that makes each human accountable under God of his/her resources. In a sense, we are all self-employed, choosing to work or not, and where, and receiving the benefit, or lack thereof, of that work.

Someone may disagree with some of the doctrinal conclusions of the RCC, but grasping at straws to criticize them is unchristian. I loved John Paul II, and I love Benedict; not because they are anything, in my view, but because they are my brothers.

ed

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Parker's picture

Thanks for your comments, brother Ed.

Devout Catholics and protestants must develop strong coalitions and alliances based on our common social concerns and Christian heritage. If we do not do this soon across this country, we will see our christian freedoms and heritage stripped by liberal tyrants.

The liberals already forced Catholic Charities in Boston to cease its adoption service. They did so by mandating that Catholic Charities had to place children with gay couples.

The same issue is about to hit all Catholic hospitals when Obama passes the "Freedom of Choice Act," which lifts all state restrictions on abortion. Once that act is passed by liberals, Catholic hospitals and doctors will be required by law to provide abortions. When they refuse to partake in abortions, they will lose their medical licenses and Catholic hospitals will be forced to shut down. It's coming fast.

Devout christian denominations of all stripes must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Ed's picture

Parker,
The time may be coming when Catholic Charities (and its Protestant counterparts) ignore the state licensing requirements for these services. Personally, this is why I am libertarian.

When did the State obtain the power to license charity? When did the church bow its knee to the power of the state? I know some Dan-Brown types will claim it was when Constantine became emperor, but the monks did charitable work without state approval long after that.

If we are doing God's work, and Obama feels a need to stop us, let him slay us in the streets...that's what Socialists do, after all. They kill the productive and seek to destroy the good, after they steal the wealth. Hmmm - steal, kill and destroy. Perhaps our friends Al and Chrisliv has a point about the state...

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Parker's picture

ED: The time may be coming when Catholic Charities (and its Protestant counterparts) ignore the state licensing requirements for these services.

Parker: Are you saying that you think our charity organizations can break the law and get away with it? Once Massachusetts made gay marriage legal, the Catholics were instantly law breakers for denying gays the right to adopt at Catholic Charities. The state told Catholic Charities to either participate in evil or shut your doors. This will be the same dilemma for Catholic hospitals. After Obama passes FOCA, doctors and hospitals who refuse to offer abortions will be shut down completely.

Ed: When did the State obtain the power to license charity?

Parker: Catholic Charities can only do their work freely in public until the police and FBI teams raid them and put them in prison.

Ed: When did the church bow its knee to the power of the state?

Parker: What do you suppose happens to doctors when the State strips them of their licenses and bans them from working in hospitals? Do they keep practicing at home in secret with steak knives?

Make no mistake about it, Ed: Catholic hospitals that refuse to offer abortions will be given two choices: abort babies or close up shop permanently. They will close shop, and Obama will pave them over with grand monuments to himself (just like all communists do).

Ed: If we are doing God's work, and Obama feels a need to stop us, let him slay us in the streets

Parker: Better yet, why not simply get christians to elect people who won't slay us and our children in the streets for doing God's work? Let's all elect people who won't make performing God's work illegal and punishable by fines and imprisonment. Liberals will make gay marriage and abortion the law of the land, and all who refuse to participate will be sent to jail or worse. Speaking out against it may also become "hate speech" and punishable by fines or jail time.

ED: Chrisliv has a point about the state

Parker: Chrisliv is about to have his family members and churches rounded up and put in prison because his theology foolishly preferred that Pagans run the state in his place. He foolishly thought that Pagans would allow him freedom to practice his faith. They will not allow him or his co-religionists to practice the faith openly. If he speaks out against abortion or gay marriage, he will be put in jail for hate speech.

tom-g's picture

My goodness all of this emotionalism because of an analysis of the political and legal structure of the RCC.

It is my understanding that all assets of the RCC are owned solely by the RCC corporately which is acknowledged as a separate and distinct NATION with a single dictatorial head. In and of itself this would satisfy the term socialism as a definition The Nation of the RCC is composed only of the Pope, its dictatorial head, and only those he employs which are all ordained by him as his vicars, male and female. No person other than the Pope and his ordained vicars are citizens of the RCC nation. Therefore none of the hundreds of millions of individuals and groups around the world that voluntarily choose to associate themselves with the RCC nation has any legal right or claim on any of the monetary or economic assets of the RCC nation nor any legal right in determining or choosing its dictatorial head or any of the nations ordained citizens or any of the laws that govern the nation and those that choose to voluntarily submit to be governed by them.

All assets are for the benefit of the RCC nation's ordained citizens as dictated by the Pope. And all of its citizens, except by choice, are provided for life with an annual income, food, clothing, shelter, health care and retirement benefits. Thus, no ordained citizen involuntarily ever suffers starvation or economic deprivation for life.

My understanding of such an organization is contained in the definition of Socialism. That the RCC is a religious organization and not a civil organization does not mitigate against its being defined as socialism.

I have attempted to give an explanation of why I would equate the legal and political structure of the RCC with socialism. This has not been to single out only the RCC since many other religious and political organizations operate in the same manner. If I am mistaken in my understanding or explanation, I apologize.

Tom

Parker's picture

Tom: It is my understanding that all assets of the RCC are owned solely by the RCC corporately which is acknowledged as a separate and distinct NATION with a single dictatorial head.

Parker: The RCC is indeed an organization, just not a socialist one. Neither my money nor property is confiscated by the RCC. If I choose to give a tithe, I do so out of my free choice.

Tom: In and of itself this would satisfy the term socialism as a definition The Nation of the RCC is composed only of the Pope, its dictatorial head, and only those he employs which are all ordained by him as his vicars, male and female.

Parker: You are right to note that the RCC has a hierarchy, but hierarchy isn't what makes something socialist. Microsoft has hierarchy and ownership of assets, but it isn't a socialist organization either.

Tom: No person other than the Pope and his ordained vicars are citizens of the RCC nation.

Parker: All baptized Catholics are citizens of the RCC nation. Also, Popes have no more ownership of RCC property than Bush did of U.S. property during his stay at the White House. The organization itself is the owner---the individuals who govern it (Bishops) come and go as they take office and later eventually die.

Tom: all of its citizens, except by choice, are provided for life with an annual income, food, clothing, shelter, health care and retirement benefits. Thus, no ordained citizen involuntarily ever suffers starvation or economic deprivation for life.

Parker: Why would Catholic priests not receive income and shelter for their labor? And why would the Church deprive its workers? What organization thrives by doing that?

A socialist organization is one in which all individual members are forced to relinquish all their earnings and property to the governing leadership in exchange for inclusion.

tom-g's picture

Dear Parker,

I am sorry that I have been unable to clearly express the relationship I have indicated of the political and legal equation of the RCC and Socialism.

There are two major reasons I think for our miscommunication. The first would be your misidentification of the relationship of the hundreds of million individuals who define themselves as "Catholics" These individuals are not members of the legal and political entity of the RCC, these individuals are the voluntary "Customers" of the RCC. As customers and not members they are the major source of revenue of the RCC and they have no political rights or privileges to participate in the determination of the dictatorial head or any of his vicars or in the formulation of the laws of the RCC. Nor do any voluntary "Catholic" customers of the RCC have any economic claim of ownership, control, or distribution of the wages and benefits, annual revenue, or capital and assets of the RCC.

The second major problem is your improper and invalid definition and understanding of the term Socialism. A Socialist system is "Government" (RCC) ownership or control. Its contrary is a "Market" system which is "Private" (individual) ownership or control.

As I understand it, by all valid criteria the RCC would be accurately defined as Socialist.

Tom

Parker's picture

Tom: As customers and not members they are the major source of revenue of the RCC

Parker: Catholics are organizational members and stakeholders.

Tom: they have no political rights or privileges to participate in the determination of the dictatorial head or any of his vicars or in the formulation of the laws of the RCC

Parker: You correctly note that there is a legitimate authority structure in the RCC. But to suggest that organizations with hierarchies are "socialist" would be incorrect on your part. The RCC is nothing more than a non-profit organization that performs x,y,z charity work funded voluntary by its membership.

Tom: Nor do any voluntary "Catholic" customers of the RCC have any economic claim of ownership, control, or distribution of the wages and benefits, annual revenue, or capital and assets of the RCC.

Parker: Rather, the RCC is like any non-profit organization that performs various services and is funded by a membership. Non-profit organizations have hierarchies, paid staff, and voluntary membership support. So it is with the RCC. Such is not socialism. (Unless, you think all organizations with such a structure are "socialism.")

tom-g's picture

Dear Parker,

I am pleased to see that you agree with my assessment of the RCC as a socialist organization. Unfortunately you do not at the present time feel comfortable with that designation. Perhaps the time will come when you will be able to recognize and admit that "A rose by any other name still smells as sweet." Just as socialism by any other name is still socialism whether civil or religious, large or small.

This is not a condemnation of the RCC, but a simple recognition of the truth of its form of legal and political organization. Nor am I unique or original in this understanding of the RCC.

Tom

Parker's picture

Tom: I am pleased to see that you agree with my assessment of the RCC as a socialist organization.

Parker: You have a wrong understanding of socialism. But, since in your definition all non-profit organizations are socialist, you by necessity must characterize the RCC and nearly all christian denominations as socialist.

Tom: Unfortunately you do not at the present time feel comfortable with that designation.

Parker: Well, it's just factually wrong, that's all. I can't feel comfortable with errors.

Tom: This is not a condemnation of the RCC, but a simple recognition of the truth of its form of legal and political organization.

Parker: Do you believe that all non-profit organizations are socialist? Most non-profit organizations have hierarchies, have paid employees, and have members who fund them through charitable donations. Does this make them "socialist" in your view?

Tom: Nor am I unique or original in this understanding of the RCC.

Parker: No matter how many people say 2+2=5, it's still wrong.

Virgil's picture

We were just talking about the Jubilee concept last night at church, covering some of the very points you are bringing up! It seems that God in his wisdom put in place principles to protect his people from the mistakes of borrowing too much or being so obsessed by wealth that we care about "stuff" only and forget about the Creator.

On your second point, I am not sure if I agree with the premise that there is only a finite amount of stuff; now if you are talking in the physical sense, sure, but in the context of economics, one can actually create wealth by working hard and exchanging at a profit.

The key question is, are we responsible as Christians (not as Capitalists) to minimize the profit we are making when we exchange goods and services, or can we profit as much as possible from others without any biblical consequences? Any thoughts?

Parker's picture

Virgil: The key question is, are we responsible as Christians (not as Capitalists) to minimize the profit we are making when we exchange goods and services, or can we profit as much as possible from others without any biblical consequences? Any thoughts?

Parker: Are you advocating price fixing or profit-margin fixing? It's Economics 101 that prices must be set by forces of supply and demand to work properly.

And since you didn't offer a reply, I want to say again that Capitalism is simply christianity applied to the sphere of work -- namely, that individuals have a right to own property and the wages of their labors. Socialism denies it. Socialism is both unbiblical and unreasonable.

Virgil's picture

Richard, read my message again. The "rightists" are worshiping the god of capital, not you.

Also, please read my article again - I have no problem with your simple suggestion, so I am not sure why you are combative :)

Parker's picture

Virgil: The "rightists" are worshiping the god of capital, not you.

Parker: In what way? Through what practices? Again, capitalism is merely the right of individuals to own the wages of their labor and to own private property. Socialism, in contrast, denies this.

Capitalism is based on biblical concepts about work. Socialism is not.

rfwitt's picture

Virgil,

"It is this kind of heart-driven social activism that should flow out of our understanding of the Kingdom; I do not believe this social-ism has anything to do with redistributing wealth, with U.S. elections and with politics, and with much of what is being said by politicians today. I say this mostly because I believe that when we pass on our healing responsibilities to a government entity, it is clear that we are attempting to abandon our Kingdom-responsibilities and pass them on to another group of people. This creates a disconnect between the spiritual, heart-filled nature of the Kingdom of God and the physical realities and manifestations of this Kingdom."

Well said Virgil. I was not disagreeing with what you wrote. I believe what you said was right on target.
You're right I was spouting my frustration with the propaganda of both parties (political ads)especially those on the left who believe more rigidly that the "end justifies the means".
Thanks again for the article.
Richard...

Parker's picture

The battle for the future of America and the world is not about individuals--it's about collective groups of individuals: special interest organizations, business sector, unions, educational sector, state and federal governments, large denominations, etc.

In modern times, these collective groups have migrated towards the basic "Red State" v. "Blue State" divide with regard to values and agendas. Blue organizations are heavily socialist and secularist; Red organizations are heavily capitalist and religious.

The Blue organizations are winning in the U.S. because they are well organized by "community organizers," who join them together for collective action. Such organization consolidates leverage and power, magnifying the effort of these groups many times beyond the sum of their parts and individual members. Red organizations are to this day largely unorganized and are dying due to their reliance on their old inefficient organizational structure: The Inefficient, Divided Republican Party.

The need of the hour for people of faith everywhere--i.e., people who support Christian ethics, the family, constitutional government, human rights, a PG-rated public square, the right to personal ownership of property and wages, etc.--is collective organization and goals. Without this, those of Red State values will be eradicated by Blue organization forces of law and culture.

It's a united-we-stand world out there, and every group that is not well organized with other large collectives will lose all influence and voice. And over a generation, they will go extinct.

Virgil's picture

Parker, do not confuse "capitalist" with "religious." That is the exact point I am trying to bring up in the article - there is very little connection between capitalism and religion. If there was a connection, things would be different today in the financial markets and in the lives of most people in this country.

Ironically, we hear Muslims condemning loaning money with interest to others and pursuing sound biblical ways of living, while Christians could not care less about such goals and ways of living. We can stand to learn a lot from other people...capitalism has a lot of the answers...but it doesn't have all of them; we as individuals need to led God guide our hearts to do the right thing, not the government.

Parker's picture

Virgil: "do not confuse "capitalist" with "religious." there is very little connection between capitalism and religion.

Parker: Hi Virgil. Capitalism is simply christianity applied to the world of work and labor--namely, the individual's right to personal ownership of wages and private property, along with encouragement to be charitable.

Virgil: If there was a connection, things would be different today in the financial markets and in the lives of most people in this country.

Parker: Not true. Americans indeed have the right to keep their wages and own property and apply themselves freely to industry through hard work and entrepreneurship. So, the christian religion applied to the sphere of work has functioned quite well in America. (And even the poor in this country are infinitely more comfortable than the poor in other countries, due to the efficiency and wealth-generating power of capitalism.)

Virgil: Ironically, we hear Muslims condemning loaning money with interest to others and pursuing sound biblical ways of living, while Christians could not care less about such goals and ways of living. We can stand to learn a lot from other people...capitalism has a lot of the answers...but it doesn't have all of them.

Parker: No disagreement there.

Virgil: we as individuals need to led God guide our hearts to do the right thing, not the government

Parker: "Governments" are among the many types of collective groups of individuals that have power to accomplish things. Individuals acting alone are powerless in modern society. It take collective action by individuals and leaders to establish society and its way of life that affects all individuals. That's just the way reality works in democratic societies. Collective action is the way things get done in a mass society not governed by kings or dictators. And no one does it better than liberals, which wield enormous influence through coalitions like MoveOn.org, NAACP, ACLU, Democratic Party, among others. These coalitions magnify leftist power tenfold or more simply by collective organization and agendas.

Sam's picture

hey Virg,

As a historian, I am currently chronicalling every Arminian that has participated in the death of another. Therefore, Arminianism is to blame. Just a jab, brother...:)

Sam

Virgil's picture

I am not an Arminian :)

Sam's picture

right...

mazuur's picture

Boy, I have about three things to chime in here with, but I will/am refrain(ing). :) Don't want to dump any fuel into this pending train wreck.

-Rich

P.S. Although, it has been awful quite around here lately..... :0

-Rich

StephenGreer's picture

I say this mostly because I believe that when we pass on our healing responsibilities to a government entity, it is clear that we are attempting to abandon our Kingdom-responsibilities and pass them on to another group of people. This creates a disconnect between the spiritual, heart-filled nature of the Kingdom of God and the physical realities and manifestations of this Kingdom.

I completely agree with this. Ever since I started reading the Sermon on the Mount as a whole and not as segmented parts, I've really started to see Jesus as not just Savior but also as Teacher, Rabbi. He really does offer "life more abundant" if we're willing to listen, but it's unfortunate that a lot of Christians, of either political persuasion, don't pay attention. It's why I can't vote for Obama; the message is, "We can do it...if you'll vote for me." Evidently if we don't vote for Obama, we can't change anything. And here I thought that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Silly me...

Virgil's picture

Stephen, good points, and really that is the main problem with the Democrat/Left message in general. The logic is flawed: the assumption is that because the Bible talks at length about poverty, then we need to put in place a government that will try to stop poverty by literally stealing wealth from some in order to give it to others.

That is simply flawed thinking.

By the same token, the problem with the right is: the almighty market will eventually work things out and poverty will be dealt with one way or another. This is also flawed thinking in that just as the first option, it completely ignores the utter failure of the human heart to consider the well being of others first, and this is the message of Christ. It denies both political realities we are facing today in the U.S. and sadly, we are failing as Christians to even notice this.

Thanks for the note - we need to reveal the nuanced and rabbinical aspects of Jesus' message to our friends and families; I am convinced that such efforts could really lead to the kind of healing the book of Revelation speaks about.

StephenGreer's picture

I agree. On either side, I feel like Christians will just give money without actually making any effort to personally work with others, or tell others about Jesus and leave it at that. No real effort to go out an work for change without political rhetoric or bent. James 2:14-17 has to be a very unpopular passage for a lot of people. Our faith, literally (I believe) our confessed loyalty to Christ, is dead without helping our brothers and sisters. It's false piety like the Pharisees practice in Matthew 6. Of course, I'm just as guilty as anyone about spending my time on others, but I'm working on it! :)

I think that God is working in more and more people's lives to reveal this truth. I see more examples around me the more I look, but you're right, the emphasis needs to be there. Fortunately, it's also creeping in. I think that a book like The Divine Conspiracy would not have been as popular a decade or so ago. But Willard's example is one that really inspires; the man's tenured at USC in philosophy and an outspoken Christian!

In any case, I think it's a matter of time before people begin to step forward more vocally about this aspect of what it means to follow Christ.

Virgil's picture

In any case, I think it's a matter of time before people begin to step forward more vocally about this aspect of what it means to follow Christ.

It is the nature of the Kingdom; you hear the sound of inevitability? :)

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