In an increasingly liberal society, many Christians are questioning whether or not Jesus was a socialist. Let’s talk about it!
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Colossians 1:15-20
Mentioned in Podcast
- Was Jesus a Socialist?
- Rendering Unto Caesar: Was Jesus A Socialist?
- From PragerU: Was Jesus A Socialist?
- From Beth Moore: Why I removed some of my commentary from a chapter of Praying God’s Word
- Evangelical Christian Credit Union
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Hey, everybody. How are you guys doing? Today is Monday, December the 9th. This is episode number 855. This is Mailbox Monday, and I’ve got some big questions we’re going to try to answer today, including, “was Jesus a socialist?” Stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
Thanks for tuning in today. I want to just remind you guys that we are in the brand spanking new beginnings of a new Bible study at MomStrong International. We are studying sanctuary. Where do we run when life is hard? How can we trust God through the whole process of struggle, of suffering? Even when we feel like things are going great, are we running to the Lord? Is He our sanctuary? I think you’re going to love this study. We’re so encouraged to see so many of you there. Today’s a great day to do it. So we’re just on week two of this study.
Also, we are right in the beginning of a Scripture Writing Challenge. And if you guys want something very simple to do with your children, with your family every day, just print that Scripture Writing Challenge. It’s free. You can print it, and then every day you can sit down with your kids at the table and write out that one verse. So we have a Scripture Writing Challenge available for you, for your children in the form of copywork, obviously for your little ones. Please don’t make your big kids do copywork. And then also for those of you who just want to have a way to get into the Bible every day. It is my heart to see you get off the bench and onto the battlefield. So check it out at momstronginternational.com.
Do you guys remember the first time that you balanced your checkbook? Calculator out, right? Pencil in your hand. Boom! Off by a buck 50. It’s frustrating, right? What if we could teach our kids how to manage their money and their account details early, so early that they aren’t thrown off by balancing their statement? I’ve been telling you guys for some time about one of our partners here at the podcast, ECCU, which is Evangelical Christian Credit Union. They have a lot of tools at your disposal, and they want to help your child become a great financial steward. If you’re like me, this was something that’s fascinating and really interesting to me because I didn’t get that from my own parents. And I’ll tell you guys a little secret. ECCU wants you to be successful in teaching your children how to be good financial stewards. Learn more about how they can help you on this journey at eccu.org/heidi.
All right. Before I get to answering your questions, today I want to remind you that coming up in January on the 4th through the 12th I’ll be at the FPEA marriage cruise. And then the 24th and 25th I’ll be in Frisco, Texas. The 31st through February the 1st, I’ll be in Houston, Texas. Going to get my Southern drawl on, y’all. I’m actually pretty good at it now. So, check out where I will be at heidistjohn.com/events.
All right. Today is Mailbox Monday, and I love to take your questions here. You guys are amazing audience. You sending me so many questions, and they vary in everything from politics to parenting, and I really appreciate it. So, thank you so much for doing that. If you want to submit a question, go to heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday and fill out the form. Try to keep your questions short and sweet and to the point if you can. And give me a little three- or four-word blurb as to what that question is about. That really helps us.
Also, we love to read your reviews over at iTunes for the podcast. Please continue doing that. We want to help you see the world that you live in through the lens of biblical Christianity. In other words, we want you to see God’s word as God defines it. So that’s why we have guests on the show that we’ll talk about all manner of things, including what I’m going to talk about today, and that is, “was Jesus a socialist?”
Now, some of you, your feathers get a little bit ruffled when I talk politics on here. But listen to me. Lean in, because this is important. We have to learn how to have conversations in the culture even when we disagree. And you guys have heard me come on the show before and say, “I was wrong. I was wrong about this opinion that I held,” or, “I was wrong about this person that I criticized,” or whatever it is. We have to be willing to admit it when we’re wrong. And we also have to be willing to stand on the conviction of God’s Word, even when it isn’t popular in the culture.
So, Crystal, I’m going to answer your question this morning. I loved this question. I’ve kind of been pondering the best way to answer it. I’m going to link back to several articles and a video today in the show notes from a Prager University. I love PragerU. I love what Dennis Prager’s done over there. Very, very well thought out.
But, the question comes from Crystal. She said, “Heidi, a couple months ago, you had a guest on,” that was Bill Jack, by the way, “and you briefly touched on the topic of socialism. And y’all kind of laughed and said you could have done a whole show on that topic. I would really appreciate that. With the election coming up, I feel this topic gets brought up so much. My own sister’s debating this as she’s becoming swayed that it is more in line with Jesus’ teaching. How should I respond to her and others in a biblical way to help them see that this is simply not true?”
So, the question is, “was Jesus a socialist?” As the United States … and in fact the Western world, right? We’ve got a daughter over in Europe right now. As the Western world is continuing to go deeper and deeper into socialistic ideas, and even into communism, communistic thinking, and Marxism, it’s not really a surprise that this mindset has crept into the church. It seems to me as if many Christians today are replacing the gospel with demands for social justice and we’ve exchanged biblical truths for political correctness. This is going to come back to a question I’m going to answer, if I have time at the end of the show today, with regard to a Christian Bible teacher.
I’m going to take some articles that I’ve read and sort of mix them all together and try to give you what I think is a very sound biblical perspective on this question. So you guys are familiar with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It shouldn’t be any surprise to you. I am not a democratic socialist. So you’re not going to hear me talk about socialism in glowing terms here at the podcast. And in fact, I’m going to do the opposite, and you’re going to hear me do that today.
So, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right? She declares herself to be a democratic socialist. Which by the way, you guys, run for your life. But, she pointed to her Catholic faith, which don’t even get me started. I don’t know how she can even call herself a Catholic with her incredibly ridiculous views on abortion and some other things. It’s incredible for me to even watch this woman.
But anyway, she pointed to her Catholic faith and the New Testament Matthew, the Book of Matthew, earlier this year when she was supporting her ideas on socialism to The Jesuit Review. And in that, she stated, “We are compelled to care for the hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, and yes, even the imprisoned.” You guys, for those of you who don’t remember Mikhail Gorbachev, this is like Ocasio-Cortez is taking her talking points from this dude, right?
So Gorbachev, an early proponent of the Jesus was a socialist belief, was quoted in an article that was written in the London Daily Telegraph in 1992, and he said, “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.” All right, so let’s take a step back. Because to me, this is like … It’s like a fad, right? So we discussed Jesus’ teachings on money like he was promoting socialism. But, his teachings don’t actually do that at all. And in fact, his teachings make it clear that he favored individualism, individual ownership, individual stewardship, and not collectivism, which is really what socialism is. I think we need to look at what socialistic Christians and progressive’s are touting it.
You don’t have to be a Christian to be able to step back and see the errors in what Gorbachov was espousing. You can be a person of any faith or no faith at all. You just have to be able to look at facts in history and study it for yourself, and you can even be a socialist, but one with open eyes and realize that Jesus wasn’t in your camp. He just wasn’t.
So we got to define the term socialism. And socialism, I’ll tell you what it’s not. Socialism is not happy thoughts. It’s not mere good intentions. It’s not everybody’s sharing everything with everybody else. In a modern political, economic, and social context, socialism isn’t voluntary. I’m going to say that again. It’s not like the Girl Scouts. It’s not like you guys going down and standing in your local grocery store with The Salvation Army bucket and ringing a bell, all right?
Socialism is not voluntary, and I think we need to get that in our head. So if it’s not voluntary, then what is it? Well, its central characteristic is the concentration of power, namely from the government, to forcibly achieve one or usually all of these purposes, all right? So here’s the first one, central planning of the government. Second one, government ownership of property. And third, the massive redistribution of wealth. So there’s no amount of we do it all for you, or it’s for your own good, or we’re helping people. Nothing is going to erase that rhetoric. And what makes socialism socialism is the fact that you can’t opt out, a point that has been eloquently made by David Boaz of the Cato Institute. Listen to what he said.
“One difference between libertarianism, which is a personal choice and a liberty-based system, and socialism is that a socialist society can’t tolerate groups of people practicing freedom. A libertarian society can comfortably allow people to choose voluntary socialism.” In other words, if a group of people, even a very large group, wants to purchase land and own it in common, they’re free to do that, right? The libertarian legal order would require that no one can be coerced into joining or giving up his property. So government, whether big or small, is the only entity in society that possesses a legal monopoly over the use of force. So the more force the government initiates against the people, the more it subordinates the choices of those people who were in subordination to that government, who are ruled to the whims of the ruler, that is the more socialist it becomes.
So let’s go back to the question. Was Jesus a socialist? Well, you gotta ask yourself, do you think that through the use of force Jesus would have said, “Absolutely. Take that guy’s land from him at gunpoint and give it to somebody else”? If we look at the main focus of what socialism is, Jesus didn’t do that. I first heard Jesus was a socialist, I don’t know, a long time ago…I remember my grandparents telling me that Jesus’ primary message was aimed at the souls of human beings. Jesus came because we’ve got a sin problem that condemns our souls to hell. He didn’t come as a social justice warrior. He didn’t come as a politician. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t get involved in the political process, right? Jesus was on a mission, and his mission, his primary mission was the gospel. Our primary mission should also be the gospel. His primary message was to tell us that we have an important decision to make, and it’s that either to accept him or to reject him as our savior. This is a personal decision. It’s a voluntary decision. It’s an individual decision.
Jesus was constantly talking about spiritual renewal as being critical and more important than material things, right? So you kind of … Someone said to me, “Well, Jesus said, render to Caesar what is Caesar, and then to God the things that are God’s when the Pharisees tried to trick him into denouncing a Roman tax.” Well, that’s true. He did say that, and it’s first found in the Gospel of Matthew in Matthew 22, and later you can find it in Mark 12. But you gotta understand something—everything depends on just what truly did belong to Caesar and what didn’t belong to Caesar, which is actually kind of a rather powerful endorsement of property rights.
Jesus never said it belongs to Caesar if Caesar simply says it does, no matter how much he wants, no matter how he gets it , or how we choose to spend it. And the fact is we can look at the scriptures with a fine-tooth comb and we’re not going to find anything about Jesus endorsing the forcible redistribution of wealth by political authorities. You’re not going to find anything like that, all right?
Let’s think about the 10 Commandments for a second. The eighth of the 10 commandments: You shall not steal. You guys, you shall not steal, period. It doesn’t say you shall not steal unless the guy has more than you do or you shall not steal unless you absolutely positive that you can spend that money better than the person who earned it. Or you should not steal unless you’re really hungry and then go ahead and steal. It does say you shall not steal. It doesn’t say you shouldn’t steal, but it’s okay to hire somebody else, like, say, a politician to do it for you.
So, socialism is dangerous ideology to which this generation of young people has been absolutely indoctrinated to thanks to the public school system and thanks to liberal universities all around the Western world that had been telling people now, because apparently we forgot about what happened with Chavez. We forgot what happened with Mau. We apparently aren’t looking to Marx to see what he did. Oh, no. We’re like, “Oh, let’s look to some of these other countries. They’re doing it right.” And these other countries that we call socialists that seem like they’re doing right, they’re actually not socialist. And if you look at some of the more socialistic governments out there, they’re taking upwards of 80% of your income from you. And you’re not giving that to them. They’re forcibly taking it. So, I just don’t think that we can say that Jesus taught that.
In Jesus’ teachings and in many other parts of New Testament, Christians, indeed everybody, we are advised and admonished to be generous, to care for our families, to help the poor, to assist widows and orphans, right? To exhibit kindness, to maintain a character that is above reproach. And how that got translated into the dirty business of coercive vote buying, politically-driven redistribution schemes is a problem for prevaricators with agendas. All right? It’s not a problem for scholars of what the Bible actually says and what it doesn’t say. So you got to consider the evidence. And ask yourself, when it comes to helping the poor, would Jesus prefer that we give our money freely to The Salvation Army or at gunpoint to the welfare department?
There’s an article that I’ve been quoting from quite a bit in my commentary today, sort of going back and forth between three different things in my own notes, and I love this part of the very end of this article, which I’ll link back to today for you in the show notes. This author says, “Jesus was no dummy. He was not interested in the public professions of charitableness in which the legalistic and hypocritical Pharisees were fond of engaging. He dismissed their self-serving cheap talk. He knew it was often insecure, rarely indicative of how they conducted themselves in their personal lives, and always a dead end with plenty of snares and delusions along the way. It would hardly make sense for Jesus to champion the poor by supporting policies that undermine the process of wealth creation that was necessary to help them. So in the final analysis, he would never endorse a scheme that doesn’t work and is rooted in envy or theft. In spite of the attempts of many modern day progressives to make him into a welfare state redistributionist, Jesus was nothing of the sort.”
I think it’s very important for us to understand that there’s a colossally big difference between generosity and your wealth being redistributed, and taken by force, and given to somebody else. It also assumes that the person who’s taking it is inherently good and will and will do it right. This is important question. I would love to have my friend Bill Jack come back on the show and talk to me more about this so that you guys can get a better handle on it. But the way that our country is going right now and the way that we’re seeing socialism being pushed in the Western hemisphere is frightening to me, and we need to be paying very close attention to how we are handling the study of socialism. Know what socialism is. You’ve got to know what it is and what it is not. The main thing is socialism is taking what you have by force. This is going to be an incredibly important issue in the upcoming election, and I hope you guys are going to be studying it, and talking to your kids about it, and engage. Engage in the conversation.
Really quickly, I’m going to tackle a question that’s been coming in from several of you regarding Beth Moore who wrote a blog post in July of 2019 about how she took out a section on homosexuality from her book Praying the Scriptures. I have recommended her book widely to you, and I’m not going to comment on Beth Moore because I haven’t researched it enough, but I can comment on what God says in His Word, and I can admonish you. Until Beth Moore comes out and says, “I believe that homosexuality is fine,” like Jen Hatmaker did, right? Jen Hatmaker came out and said, “You know what? If gay people want to get married, that’s totally holy before the Lord.” Whoa! Now we got a huge issue.
Beth Moore, I read her blog post, and I’ve also read Praying God’s Word. I actually liked what she said in it. I thought it was full of grace and full of truth, and I don’t understand why she felt that she needed to take it out. She said that she felt like she had overshot Scripture. Everything that I read in Praying God’s Word is not overshooting Scripture at all. But, I also did not see Beth come out and say that she thought homosexuality was no longer a sin. In fact, she said, “I hold firmly to a traditional Christian sexual ethic and continue to believe the Bible sets apart marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman.”
Now, we can argue that she could have gone further, and maybe she will. But men and women, until you know that someone has walked away from the teaching of God’s word, we need to be very careful how we treat each other in the body of Christ. I think that the enemy’s having a field day. And I don’t know about you, but I’m going to pray for Beth Moore. I have done her studies as an adult woman for many years and have been blessed by her understanding of scripture and by her love for other people. And unless and until she comes out and positively identifies herself as walking away from the truth and the authority of scripture in every area, including homosexuality … the Bible is not unclear on homosexuality. And I believe that she left those Scriptures in. So until we see her doing something that is outright off the rails, I’m going to say just pray for her. And maybe we need to pull back on the gossip a little bit.
I read her blog post. I’m disappointed, but I’m not devastated. And we need to be praying for her. We are responsible to talk about God’s Word in a context of both love and truth. So I want to just encourage you guys to do that and be studying the word as Paul said Timothy so that you can be a workman who does not need to be ashamed, who rightly divides the Word of truth. And I’m going to be loathe to attack another person, whether they’re famous or not, if I don’t have 100% truth, like in writing, that that person has walked away from the truth of God’s word. So, I want us to be very, very careful.
And if you see something that gives you reason to worry or reason to be doubting, then maybe in the quietness of our hearts rather than attacking people in public, we start saying, “Okay, Lord, this person, I have a check in my spirit. I’m going to pray for this person.” And let’s pray for each other, all right? That we would be full of grace and truth, that we would tell the truth of God’s word to our children, that God would give us opportunity, and that we could walk in the truth of His word.
I want to thank you guys for listening. I know that some of these are difficult topics, and I appreciate that you’re willing to jump into them with me. If you have a question that you’d like to see addressed, please feel free to shoot it to me at heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday. Have a great day, everybody, and I’ll see you back here on Wednesday.
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