Manspeak


Is God Socialist? by Tyler Thayer
November 6, 2008, 7:00 am
Filed under: Thought Initiative | Tags: , , ,

thoughtintiative

by Tyler Thayer

The people of the United States have just chosen the new president-elect.  As usual there is controversy; however, compared to recent elections, it has never been so intense about the topic of our country’s economic/political system’s future.

The Republican Party has accused Obama of being a “hard left” “quasi socialist,” and we have constantly heard the phrases “spreading the wealth” and “redistribution” with both positive and negative overtones.  We have all heard someone say that “Obama wants to take from the rich to give to the poor.”  On the day of the election I heard a priest yelling it like this: “Obama wants to take the hard earned money from the people who work every day for it, and he wants to give it to the bums.” 

Now, whether or not you agree with these charges, Obama is the president-elect and will take office in just a few short months.  Obama will try to push certain programs and policies that are socialistic in nature.  One could possibly reason and ask that if God is sovereign and Obama is the Lord’s chosen and anointed leader for the United States, is God in favor of socialism?  Does socialism align with Christianity, or does capitalism fit better?

The US is already partially socialistic (it can really be seen with the recent bail outs), but now that Obama will be in the White House next year, there is a good chance that the US will be moving further into the realm of socialism.

Perhaps it would be unfruitful to really debate whether God is socialist or capitalist, so maybe the more important question is about the Church.  Recently, I had a good discussion with a close friend about socialism and capitalism and which was best for the role of the Church in compassion oriented ministries.  So I ask you the following three questions: 

  1. Can the Church perform its duties, as informed by scripture, more effectively under an economic structure that is laissez-faire capitalism or socialism? 
  2. Does it really matter what form of economic/political system the Church exists in?  Can it perform its duties equally as well in a capitalist system as a socialist system?
  3. Is the Church in any danger if Obama really does bring this country’s economic/political system to the hard left and forms a mostly socialistic society and government?
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Here’s a link to a letter from Touchstone magazine describes the subtle subversion of Christianity by the process of making Christianity immoral that is at work from the Democratic party. The democratic party is practical atheism.

Bayly prefaces it: “The Gentiles, even–or perhaps especially–the religious ones, have not changed their opinions about people who regard them as morally unclean, nor will they fail to punish them for it when they gain sufficient power.”

Some quotes from the letter: “One of the most common defenses for Democratic loyalties is to assert the moral equivalence of the two parties, to claim that their respective errors leave the Christian to vote for the one he thinks most Christian, or least unchristian. If the Democrats endorse abortion, sodomy, and the like, Republicans cut social programs for the poor. This is a plausible and attractive argument except for one thing. We know with certainty that abortion and sodomy are evil, but we do not know with any certainty whether any particular disbursement of funds for the poor is good or bad or mixed… ” It goes on to describe the manner of subtle subversion, saying “… Enlist dim and compromised Christians by representing to them that the party standing for all these things is the party of Christian charity because the public resources it uses to assist in killing some children are used to feed others. Do these effectively, and one can talk as much about God and be as religious and true-blue American as one pleases. …”

In the conclusion: “Our call is not to vote Republican, but to think and act like Christians in the political arena as much as any other. We doubt this can be done in cooperation with the Democratic Party any more than it can be done with Nazis or Communists, for we recognize little substantive difference between explicit and practical atheism. ”

http://www.baylyblog.com/2008/11/to-self-professing-christians-who-vote-democratic.html

Comment by Mike J

I perused the blog that Mike J. put up and I found it be legalistic in nature. It stopped just short of calling those Christians who vote Democrat non-believers by saying, ” those who would call themselves Christian.” I find it to be rather insulting.

To me, the real moral equivalency argument comes into play with the “morality” of public leaders. What is the line that one crosses before someone becomes godless? Is having sex in a Minnesota airport sinful? Is the love of money over God not sinful? We have all crossed that line.

The type of logic this article uses makes it seem that abortion and gay marriage are the worst sins because Christians allegedly don’t commit them. The unsaved people in the Republican Party are just as unsaved as the ones in the Democratic camp. They just reach out to naive voters.

Comment by David Wells

As far as the whether socialism is better, that doesn’t really play as much a factor as whether we have the rights granted to us under the Constitution. It makes it easier for us to evangelize because we only endure persecution in the court of public opinion. But it is up to us to look out for the poor, no matter what kind of economic system we are in.

Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42).

Comment by David Wells

Dear Mike J,

The powers that be (lunch buddies I discuss theology with) have encouraged me to respond to your political dribble. I’d like to preface this dissertation, by saying “you don’t pee in your drinking water, why on Earth are you mixing politics with your religion?.”

With that said, let us continue in our journey to show how what you said is not only wrong (granted you quoted much of this), but wholly un Christian. Yes, if I were a man of labels I’d call you a Levitican. To find out more about your kind please address this article:

http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/002675.html

Let me sum up what this article (and you) are saying with a few points.

1) The democratic party can best be equated with the Nazi Party, the Communist Party, and Practical Atheism.

2) I don’t want you to vote Republican per say…but if you vote Democrat you sure can’t be a Christian! (i.e. vote republican or you’re going to hell).

3) Giving to the poor – we ain’t sure if thats a good thing or not…but dudes having sex with one another sure isn’t God pleasing!

If you can not see the error of these words from the simple sumnation of them, then I by all means will explain it for you:

You see Mike J,

The Nazi party and the Communist Party are words deep rooted in America’s history as relating to atrocious people and nations which we had to snuff off this planet in order to preserve our way of life. They are emotionally charged words. Comparing someone to hitler, as opposed to say the Easter Bunny will always have a detrimental effect on the mindless mob of humanity.

To those who enjoy thinking, however, it phases them not. For we, my friend, can see through it. Time for a check list!

Nazi vs. Democrat (Go!)

Nazi
– needed more living space for Germany, thus they obliterated poland
– that wasn’t enough so they burned through france
– then there was the whole 6 million Jews murdered
– 20 million Russians with no guns…wiped off the earth
– but lets not forget all the homosexuals they tortured, starved, and eventually ended their suffering with a bullet (or fire) (see i can use emotionally charged language too!)

Democrats
– Movers and shakers of america for a few reasons:
– Black rights (as in they got some)
– Campaigned women’s rights (as in they could vote now)
– Animal Rights
– Minority Rights
– Gay Rights
– Social security for those who can’t help themselves cuz…well, they went off to fight the NAZIS in WWII (ungrateful republicans maybe?)
– Veterans Rights

Its not that I couldn’t possibly believe the Nazis and the Democrats could be the same…its just that I ask you to show me some evidence. When I think about it…one party murdered gays, the other is trying to let them visit their gay friends in hospitals. One party killed millions through starvation in concentration camps…and the other is trying to save millions through social reform. But then again..giving money to the poor and needy, that couldn’t have possibly have been what Jesus wanted us to do?

On to your second point. Being a democrat is not Christian. Okay, little hypothetical situation here Mike. Lets say you have this huge ability to heal people, like anyone. If they are sick, you can treat them. Sounds great huh? I mean, most Christians would jump all over that. But lets say, that in order for that to happen, you had to give up some money. Not a lot of money, just, maybe instead of owning a ferrari you could have an Rx8. And I know I know, Jesus wants us to have nice things while others starve, but hear me out here!

So you got the money now, and the ability to heal people, but you just need it to function and work together, bring the ability to the people in other words. If thats what you truly want, then happy birthday to you because we got a democratic congress and president! It may just happen.

Now, enough of the sarcasm that just so tears up your thoughts, lets get legit here.

Jesus sacrificed everything so we could gain everything. Why on Earth would we not do the same for others? You think you are a good Christian because you give 10 percent tithes every sunday? God calls us to do way more than that, he says give it ALL AWAY. And you know the funny thing about your ideas, God never told us to force people not to sin. Not once did He ever force anyone not to sin. If God doesnt do it, why do you have the audacity to do it?

Gay sex, its a sin. But you can’t use you’re religion as a political vehicle, how many times have Christians done that and sucked it up in the end? Inquisition? Bloody Mary? Give me a break, where in the bible do you get the right to force people to obey God? WHERE? WHERE? WHERE? Thats not pleasing to Him. He likes real faith!

And who in their arrogance would look over this verse in James:

James 1:27
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

But you can’t make up your mind whether its good to give your money to the poor? What did Jesus command the rich young ruler to do? Sell everything you have, GIVE IT TO THE POOR, and come follow me. Are you not that man?

Practical Atheism? Was the entire early church just practical atheists? All of them, selling everything they had and sharing it among them…gah those atheists, heathens! Sharing? giving? loving? what on Earth, those aren’t Christian qualities? But forcing people to obey God, yeahh, now thats following Jesus right up to when He died on the cross.

I love to break it to you. The Early church was the purest socialism to ever impact this Earth – and its a crying shame the church today is so far from it.

Comment by James Baby

Dear Mike J,

The powers that be (lunch buddies I discuss theology with) have encouraged me to respond to your political dribble. I’d like to preface this dissertation, by saying “you don’t pee in your drinking water, why on Earth are you mixing politics with your religion?.”

With that said, let us continue in our journey to show how what you said is not only wrong (granted you quoted much of this), but wholly un Christian. Yes, if I were a man of labels I’d call you a Levitican. To find out more about your kind please address this article:

http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/002675.html

Let me sum up what this article (and you) are saying with a few points.

1) The democratic party can best be equated with the Nazi Party, the Communist Party, and Practical Atheism.

2) I don’t want you to vote Republican per say…but if you vote Democrat you sure can’t be a Christian! (i.e. vote republican or you’re going to hell).

3) Giving to the poor – we ain’t sure if thats a good thing or not…but dudes having sex with one another sure isn’t God pleasing!

If you can not see the error of these words from the simple sumnation of them, then I by all means will explain it for you:

Comment by James Baby

You see Mike J,

The Nazi party and the Communist Party are words deep rooted in America’s history as relating to atrocious people and nations which we had to snuff off this planet in order to preserve our way of life. They are emotionally charged words. Comparing someone to hitler, as opposed to say the Easter Bunny will always have a detrimental effect on the mindless mob of humanity.

To those who enjoy thinking, however, it phases them not. For we, my friend, can see through it. Time for a check list!

Nazi vs. Democrat (Go!)

Nazi
– needed more living space for Germany, thus they obliterated poland
– that wasn’t enough so they burned through france
– then there was the whole 6 million Jews murdered
– 20 million Russians with no guns…wiped off the earth
– but lets not forget all the homosexuals they tortured, starved, and eventually ended their suffering with a bullet (or fire) (see i can use emotionally charged language too!)

Comment by James Baby

Democrats
– Movers and shakers of america for a few reasons:
– Black rights (as in they got some)
– Campaigned women’s rights (as in they could vote now)
– Animal Rights
– Minority Rights
– Gay Rights
– Social security for those who can’t help themselves cuz…well, they went off to fight the NAZIS in WWII (ungrateful republicans maybe?)
– Veterans Rights

Its not that I couldn’t possibly believe the Nazis and the Democrats could be the same…its just that I ask you to show me some evidence. When I think about it…one party murdered gays, the other is trying to let them visit their gay friends in hospitals. One party killed millions through starvation in concentration camps…and the other is trying to save millions through social reform. But then again..giving money to the poor and needy, that couldn’t have possibly have been what Jesus wanted us to do?

Comment by James Baby

On to your second point. Being a democrat is not Christian. Okay, little hypothetical situation here Mike. Lets say you have this huge ability to heal people, like anyone. If they are sick, you can treat them. Sounds great huh? I mean, most Christians would jump all over that. But lets say, that in order for that to happen, you had to give up some money. Not a lot of money, just, maybe instead of owning a ferrari you could have an Rx8. And I know I know, Jesus wants us to have nice things while others starve, but hear me out here!

So you got the money now, and the ability to heal people, but you just need it to function and work together, bring the ability to the people in other words. If thats what you truly want, then happy birthday to you because we got a democratic congress and president! It may just happen.

Now, enough of the sarcasm that just so tears up your thoughts, lets get legit here.

Jesus sacrificed everything so we could gain everything. Why on Earth would we not do the same for others? You think you are a good Christian because you give 10 percent tithes every sunday? God calls us to do way more than that, he says give it ALL AWAY. And you know the funny thing about your ideas, God never told us to force people not to sin. Not once did He ever force anyone not to sin. If God doesnt do it, why do you have the audacity to do it?

Comment by James Baby

Gay sex, its a sin. But you can’t use you’re religion as a political vehicle, how many times have Christians done that and sucked it up in the end? Inquisition? Bloody Mary? Give me a break, where in the bible do you get the right to force people to obey God? WHERE? WHERE? WHERE? Thats not pleasing to Him. He likes real faith!

And who in their arrogance would look over this verse in James:

James 1:27
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

But you can’t make up your mind whether its good to give your money to the poor? What did Jesus command the rich young ruler to do? Sell everything you have, GIVE IT TO THE POOR, and come follow me. Are you not that man?

Comment by James Baby

Practical Atheism? Was the entire early church just practical atheists? All of them, selling everything they had and sharing it among them…gah those atheists, heathens! Sharing? giving? loving? what on Earth, those aren’t Christian qualities? But forcing people to obey God, yeahh, now thats following Jesus right up to when He died on the cross.

I love to break it to you. The Early church was the purest socialism to ever impact this Earth – and its a crying shame the church today is so far from it.

Comment by James Baby

There’s a bit of a flaw in your argument Jbaby: the early church wasn’t socialist because it wasn’t government law. The debate is not over whether Christians should give to the poor. Christ makes it clear that we should. The debate is over whether the government should do it.

I don’t believe the government should do it because people will have no incentive to work if the government is going to give them the same amount of money no matter what they do.

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Comment by David Wells

Aside from the sarcasm, James Baby, you made some really good points.

Although, I would like to repeat my question and redirect this conversation: Would the church be better able to execute some sort of compassion ministry if the economic system was more socialist in nature or purely capitalist? And why?

One thought is that if the economic system was purely laissez-faire capitalism the members of the church would be able to wholly dedicate their resources to the local church that would reach out to the local need. It is best this way because the local church is better equipped to build relationships with the people in need.

If people were free to redistribute their wealth and free to accumulate more wealth without government interference, the church would in effect have more resources to execute its compassion ministry. Because the church would be taking care of the people in need, the gospel would also be shared. This argument would also state that it is only the church’s place to take care of the needy and poor, and that it is not the place of the government to take care of them.

What do you think?

Comment by Tyler Thayer

David,

Socialism in its purest form would have no government, no boundaries, no nationalism.

To your second paragraph. We are the government, as a republic with representatives our ideas and beliefs should be transitioned into the public square.

Comment by James Baby

Tyler,

Same thing I said to David.

Us = our government.

Comment by James Baby

That would be anarchy or Marxism in its purest from. Secondly, we are not our government. Having things in the public square does not mean that it is the government doing the works. Socialism as an economic system means giving our elected officials more sovereignty over our personal lives.

Government (at the federal level) should do a few things: run a national bank, defend our borders, make peace abroad, uphold the law/run the courts, and distribute any surplus back to the taxpayers.

Our state governments are best for doing public works. One of the best pieces of government legislation came from Nashville, not Washington in the form of the HOPE scholarship. Federal dollars can help pay for it. But I am not in favor for federalizing everything because it doesn’t work.

Comment by David Wells

The reliable source on everything:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

Comment by David Wells

In brief, the church has not done well in the current system or there would be less reason for a more socialistic approach.

It could do equally well in most economies depending on our willingness to submit our lives to Christ (to the extent of sacrifice).

There is the rub though, I’m a sinner and haven’t done a real good job of sacrifice with what I have, so I know my first temptation when I see a larger portion of my paycheck go toward taxes is going to be to cut back further. “Afterall, now I’m giving through my paycheck.”

Our hope is that we are given the grace to continue sacrificially giving and to do so ever-increasingly.

Is the church in danger? Hmm, the answer here would be quite nuanced for a blog comment. Jesus will have His Bride but she may not look like she does today or like we think she should.

Comment by Bill S.

My, oh, my, this is a lively discussion! I will weigh in and hope it’s helpful, not harmful!

Tyler, to answer your questions:

1. I think the best system is l-f capitalism because I think that’s the best way to ensure the members of local churches have the resources to make a serious dent in local poverty.

2. If we are merely talking about the church’s duty to the poor, then I think the church’s ministry to the poor is severely limited if we move farther toward socialism. The church’s duty to the poor is to meet physical needs and spiritual needs. Poor people need salvation more than bread and water. Christians are called to offer both. This is truly the only way that the poor can be helped. Sure it’s great to feed the hungry, but if we don’t tell them how to quench their thirst for God, they will starve in his absence for eternity! The government is only interested in meeting material needs. To them, you are a number that gets allocated a certain amount of money per month. In almost every case, any kind of financial counseling or learning life skills is optional. To me, this doesn’t sound like charity.

God loves and calls Christians to show charity, but charity that is forced isn’t real charity. We’ve become so pragmatic/utilitarian that we have forgotten the beauty of a heart that loves to give and care for those in hard places. Part of God’s purpose in allowing poverty and calling us to tend to people in need isn’t just so their needs are met, but so that people might see our good works and give glory to God in heaven! And, then, maybe ask why– opportunity for the gospel!

3. Yes and no. Yes, the church is already hindered in its ministry to the poor. I make good money, more than I deserve!, but currently, I am forced by the government to give them 30% of my income. Then, every dollar I spend, I pay another 10% to the city and state. So, I only get to have 60% of what my employer pays me. By the time I give 10 to 15% to the church I love and trust so much (Thank you God for CCK!) then I am left with only 45 or 50%. Boy would I love to be able to give 30% of my income to the church. And, I would know their goal is to provide for physical needs and to preach the gospel!

However, I say no, because when people have less economic freedom, they tend to get fearful, as we have seen with the stock market the past few days. When the money they have been putting their hope in is shown to be less trustworthy, then they may be willing to hear about the firm foundation of Jesus Christ!

There are my answers. Now for my soapbox!

The Bible gives us no reason to look to the government to fulfill roles he ordained to be fulfilled by the church. God has made it clear that he isn’t about building a kingdom for himself on this present earth, but he’s about establishing his kingdom through the church, through transformed and redeemed sinners. This is why the disciples were so incredibly confused by Jesus’ life and death! God will have a kingdom on the earth, but it will be the new heaven and earth, established when he returns. Until then, the church is the vehicle for truth, real change and real hope!

In response to, I think, James Baby: If we want to use Christian morality to judge government, then I have a few questions:

The Bible tells us that stealing is wrong. Stealing is taking something that isn’t yours and calling it yours, usually done by force. The government steals 40% of my income every month. How can we as Christians tolerate such rampant immorality? What about stewardship? The Bible calls us to be wise and prudent with our money. Have you read many bills that our government has passed? They are not wise with the money they steal from tax payers. And, don’t even get me started with pre-emptive war!

The bottom line is this: The problem with Capitalism is that people are greedy. The problem with Socialism is that people are greedy.

The only real hope for people to be released from their love of money is for them to fall in love with Jesus. A God given, Spirit-born love for Jesus will lead to a generous life, even when you are poor, because God has been so generous to wipe away our sin and credit us with Jesus’ righteousness!!!!! This is what you see in Acts, genuine charity and generosity, not socialism or communism.

Now that I have aired my assumed valuable opinion, please correct me where I am wrong!

Comment by Kevin Shipp

Kevin and James, ummm if you could post longer responses, that would be great.

Comment by Caleb H.

hahahaha. i am too wordy!

Comment by Kevin Shipp

1 & 2. Socialism, by its very nature, tries to take on the role of the church within the community. It takes “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” In a socialist government, church members have less money to give and, thus, the church would have less resources to use.
Capitalism (at least laissez-faire capitalism), on the other hand, tries to give maximum liberty to each individual and allow them to do with their money as they wish. As a political science student, I thinks its almost self-evident that capitalism is better for the church.

James Baby: I find it very odd that you are so sarcastic to Mike J about his views on politics and mock him for wanting to force his social views on others and yet you want to force your Christian morality (helping the poor, etc.) on the rest of the country in the form of economic and health care policy. Aren’t you wanting to do the exact same thing that you are condemning him for doing?

Just like how not everyone in the country wants Christian social values enforced, not everyone in the country thinks we should give to the poor and provide health care to everyone at the expense of everyone else. In one paragraph you yell at him for trying to push others into believing in God (wanting to ban gay marriage) and two paragraphs later you yell at him for not pushing liberal economic views, which are influenced by Christian morality, on others. Do you not see something wrong with that?

Comment by Justin Day

Kevin Shipp,

Pre-emptive war and taxing are related?

Aight, in a less fun loving manner (i.e. no sarcasm), I will answer your question with a challenge!

Go one day without using anything a tax pays for. No roads, no postal service, no police officers (better hope the bad guys don’t do this challenge the day you do) [that wasn’t sarcasm…its legit], no buses or public schools (schooling is another topic altogether), no TVA, no army to defend you, no NASA to design those memory foam mattreses we all love (shooting in the dark with that one).

And then lets not forget the thousands of tax dollar funded scientific breakthroughs in medicine; go ahead and throw a few diseases on you for that day.

My point? If you would rather not be taxed, then don’t reap the benefits of the tax either or else YOU are stealing. The social contract is a dandy way to explain it better.

Comment by James Baby

Caleb,

I never meant to comment on this to begin with…I was bored, and some people wanted me to. Long posts = intimidation, I normally steer clear of it, but comparing democrats to nazi’s got under my skin.

Comment by James Baby

Justin Day,

I don’t condemn.

In the hearts of men (and women) everyone knows it is good to be selfless. It doesn’t matter what religion you are a part of. Ghandi was by no means a Christian, yet he wanted to end suffering. It is not hard to convince anyone and everyone that ending suffering is a good thing, or that providing the ability to live to people is a good thing.

People living in Great Britain (where they have a national health care) laugh at us. In one interview, when asked about American health care not being for everyone, she exclaimed, “everyone has the right to live, why would anyone deny that?”

And England is one of the most liberal anti religious countries you will find! (among the youth that is).

If non religious folks have that kind of compassion, why would our government not?

Second point there Justin. God never forced people to not sin, right. But you just compared that to me saying the government should take care of its citizens and show compassion. Which is something God demands of us.

To convince a christian, I would tell them that^

To convince an atheist I would use a different tactic.

Secular government is fine…but even secular governments have humanity.

Comment by James Baby

I wanted this to have its own post, because it is important:

America is ranked 37th in the World Health Organizations ranking of the worlds health system.

We are ranked 37th, right above Slovenia.

The number one on the list is France – which has nationalized health care.

Do you want true capitalism with the best effects? Implement a nationalized health care system but keep private ones too. They will all compete with one another.

If you have not watched the movie Sicko, I encourage you to do so. I hope i’m not the only one who isn’t so biased on the issue that I only read and watch and listen to things that are Pro my opinion.

Never dismiss something because it goes against you current belief. Rather, take it into consideration so you may reaffirm your belief or change it to a better one.

Comment by James Baby

Please, I implore you to read this article on the American health care system:

http://allcountries.org/health/usa_health_care_2008_nyt.html

Something you wont find in the article but is important to note:

pharmaceuticals drugs in America are marked up on average 3000 percent. How could that be? Drug companies, and private hospitals work together to get the most money out of their patients. They are a private organization which means they run off of supply and demand. Drugs are always in demand so long as people are sick, so they can essentially charge what ever they want – its like OPEC with oil, or ENRON was with energy (rolling black outs).

If we were to nationalize our health care system we would be SAVING money, and everyone would benefit. Health insurance is a ton, and many families can’t afford it. The ones who can’t, are generally in the lower income bracket and have lower income hazard jobs.

Construction workers for example are at a great risk of injury, yet are less capable to pay for insurance than a white collar worker. Hospital bills of THOUSANDS can put one and his/her entire family under.

Comment by James Baby

There is definite merit to James’ argument. One of the things we consider ourselves entitled to is life (also liberty and the pursuit of happiness). Who can retain that right if doctors won’t treat them?

There is also merit to James’ response to Kevin. The government isn’t stealing if the people elect the representatives and the president to be a government for them. We hire the government and it works to earn our money (supposedly).

But there is a gap between the private duties of a citizen and the role of government. Just because we can petition our elected officials does not mean they will do what we want. There is so much bureaucracy and government that, in a way, a lot of the power has left our hands.

The government would do best to stick to what it is hired to do. No government can do the things we should be doing ourselves, such as giving to the poor. Is it an act of compassion or merely law if we allow ourselves to be taxed more to a system that will take months and months to set up? Or is it compassionate to start that compassion ministry yourself, uniting people for a social cause and using it to preach the gospel?

Comment by David Wells

Here’s another line of questions to consider:

Why would you want your government to do it? Why wouldn’t it work better at the private level? How could we keep this government agency for goodwill accountable?

Comment by David Wells

I think the most effective system is the one God is with. He appoints both Socialism and Capitalism. He appoints all government and rule. Furthermore, success in ministry is rated not by baptisms or people reached but the eternal good of those reached. Thus it is pointless to discuss if there is no God with that ministry.

I think I favor Monarchy… Just to totally obliterate the conversation. I see it in the Gospel. Christ is our king and our life should reflect his rule. The church’s only government should be stewardship of what he has given us as our king. I think that Capitalism fails when it doesn’t have perfect knowledge of the situation. (And does so every four years.) Socialism is inefficient in the use of what it has.

Comment by Dave McCarthy

I think the same applies to government as does church ministries. If God is not watching over us, we watch, elect leaders, and even defend ourselves in vain. If God doesn’t build this country, we labor in vain. The captivity and wars of Israel in the OT should show us this.

Comment by Dave McCarthy

You guys bring up some great points!!!

I am definitely not the best arguer (is that even a word?!). I am not even the best at articulating my own opinions! HAHAHAHA There are a million things spinning around in my head, but I’ll try to share what I think is most important.

My argument about taxation being a form of stealing was an attempt to show a hole in some of the logic being used here. It probably wasn’t a good argument! HAHAHA.

Here’s my main point. As Christians, If our hope and method for bringing about moral change is in the government, then I think we have misplaced our hope. The only hope we have from God’s word for people to be transformed is through the Holy Spirit invading a person’s life through the Gospel. The bible gives us no other hope for genuine, lasting, transformation. Furthermore, I think a lot of Christian responsibility has been shirked because Christians decided to delegate certain aspects of our ministry to the government. Again, we have no biblical mandate to do that.

Comment by Kevin Shipp

Also, I think the less the government interferes with the church, the better. If you want to appeal to the Constitution of our country, then the government has no right to interfere with any church, but there is no restriction on the church influencing the political process in our country. In my view, Christians should vote for leaders that secure the most freedom and leave the most resources in the hands of the church in order to carry out her ministry.

Comment by Kevin Shipp

James Baby,

First off, I hope you don’t misunderstand. What is most important to me is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that we, as Christians, have the freedom and right to proclaim it and live it. If you and I agree on that, then that’s huge and we can agree on a lot! Politics is NOT the Gospel, nor is it the most important thing in life. Governments come and go, kings and kingdoms come and go, but God and His Kingdom are forever! So, if we have that in common, we are friends.

Second, I wasn’t trying to link taxation and pre-emptive war. I was saying that an argument can be made that each is immoral when the government does it. I don’t think taxes are stealing. I think taxes on INCOME is very similar to stealing, though, but I give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. (There was no federal income tax in America until 1916!) It seems pretty clear to me that the reason it is necessary for the federal government to tax us as much as it does is because they are spending tons and tons of money on things that the Constitution gives them no authority to do. For example,

1. The war in Iraq
2. The war in Afghanistan – (see letters of Marquee and Reprisal for piracy, in our case, airline piracy)
3. Social Security (though I do think vets should have assistance for retirement, but that should fall under our Defense budget not SS)
4. Medicare (Goes bankrupt every year around September. Also, Medicare only reimburses doctors, etc, a fraction of what it costs to treat a patient, so they have to raise overall prices on everyone else to cover the expenses. My wife knows this first hand, she’s a PT)
5. Medicaid (See above)
6. The Department of Education – (should be delegated to the states, and there is no argument against the fact that most private schools provide better education than public schools, plus public school teachers do not make squat!)
7. Hundreds of military bases on foreign soil
8. The Department of Homeland Security (That’s what the Department of Defense is supposed to be doing, but it acts more like a Department of Offense)
9. The Patriot Act (See Bill of Rights)
10. The pressure the government (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc.) put on baking institutions to make unwise loans to unwise people
11. The bailout of those banks

All these things cost tons and tons of money! Trillions! There must be a better way to use our resources. I think our government has proven to be a poor steward of our finances. It seems to me that individuals, private businesses, and churches/non-profit organizations could do a much better job providing for people’s needs. However, in our present situation, the incentive for people to meet these needs isn’t there, partly because we have come to EXPECT the government to do it, and partly because a large portion of our resources are taken by the government through income and payroll taxes.

Comment by Kevin Shipp

James Baby, I don’t really understand your response to my comment. I agree with you that we shouldn’t force people into obeying Christian ethics, but that doesn’t only apply to social policy. That standard applies to all realms of government policy, which includes economic and health care policy. You have to use the exact same reasoning on your views that you’re using on Mike J.’s views.

The Bible never tells us to force our beliefs on others, but it does say that all people are held accountable to God. I agree that it’s a huge leap in reason to extrapolate that as a proclamation to make Christian morality part of law, but the same reasoning applies to your views on economic and health care policy.

Christ tells us throughout the Bible the evil in loving money and in our responsibility to aid the poor and down trodden in society, but He never tells us to force those beliefs on others. We’re called to proclaim His truth, but not to force it upon others. Not only is it inefficient to use government as a tool for aiding the poor, it’s immoral to make other people spend their hard earned money on charity and health care based on our Christian ethics.

You can’t use one set of criteria to judge the fairness of social policy and another set of criteria to judge the fairness of economic and health care policy; you have to use the same standard across the board.

Comment by Justin Day

Justin,

My response to your comment, which it really is evident I you didn’t understand, i shall more clearly explain:

To say “giving to the poor” is exclusively a Christian ideology would be a misnomer.

Better?

Comment by James Baby

Something that would be better to explain in person:

My original intent for saying we should not use government to force people to not sin was not because “there are many religions in the United States.”

It was because it would be unbiblical, and un christian. Remember me talking about how in the past the Church has done such a thing? The Inquisition, Bloody Mary’s reign? I said it was bad because it is anti-God, one could call it sinful!

HOWEVER, setting up institutions to take care of people’s health and keeping them out of absolute poverty (as apposed to relative poverty), are biblical things, are gospel centered works.

Justin, we are comparing apples to oranges.

Comment by James Baby

I wanna say something too! I wanna say something too! I’m just too dumb.

Comment by joshcan

I am a conservative, or I have been but with the recent economic problems and job losses I have been questioning my views.

1. It’s is a Christian’s responsibility to give to the poor.
2. As a citizen with voting privileges it is my responsibility to vote for a candidate who believes the same.
3. We have the highest paid CEO’s in the world! taxing them more to help others will NOT hurt them. Limiting their salaries to save jobs if someone making 30 million in a year takes a cut and only makes 20 million, they’re still not hurting and they have an additional 10 million that can pay debts and employee salaries rather than laying people off and stifling their ability to give to the poor.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and I think I have been thinking wrong my whole life…

Comment by Noah

Maybe you haven’t necessarily been thinking wrong your entire life…things change when circumstances change. Or at least economic and political thought will always change. However, the one thing that never changes through any situation or circumstance is Christ and him crucified. The guarantee of Christ will never change, not even the slightest bit. Hmm…now that is is comforting in times of horrible economic down turn.

Comment by Tyler Thayer




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