Tag Archives: Welfare

Jim Wallis debates Jay Richards on Christianity and economics

In this post, I have the video of a debate on the topic of what Christians should think about economics and economic policies. In addition to the video, I summarized the two opening speeches and the two rebuttals, for those who prefer to read rather than watch. We’ll start with a short biography about each of the debaters.

The video recording:

The debaters

Jay Richards:

Jay Richards, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute where he directs the Center on Wealth, Poverty and Morality, and is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. Most recently he is the co-author with James Robison of the best-selling Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late”.

In addition to writing many academic articles, books, and popular essays on a wide variety of subjects, he recently edited the new award winning anthology, God & Evolution: Protestants, Catholics and Jews Explore Darwin’s Challenge to Faith . His previous book was Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem (HarperOne, May 2009), for which he received a Templeton Enterprise Award in 2010.

[…]In recent years, he has been a Contributing Editor of The American at the American Enterprise Institute, a Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and a Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute. Richards has a B.A. with majors in Political Science and Religion, an M.Div. (Master of Divinity) and a Th.M. (Master of Theology), and a Ph.D. (with honors) in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Jim Wallis:

Jim Wallis (born June 4, 1948) is a Christian writer and political activist. He is best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine and as the founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian community of the same name. Wallis is well known for his advocacy on issues of peace and social justice. […]He works as a spiritual advisor to President Barack Obama.

[…]In 2010, Wallis admitted to accepting money for Sojourners from philanthropist George Soros after initially denying having done so. […]In 2011, Wallis acknowledged that Sojourners had received another $150,000.00 from Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

Wallis just came out this month in favor of gay marriage. He is also a strong supporter of Barack Obama, who is radically pro-abortion. Some pro-lifers have argued that Barack Obama has the same views on abortion as Kermit Gosnell, because Obama voted twice to allow abortions on babies who were already born alive.

The format of the debate

  • 20 minute opening speeches
  • 10 minute rebuttals
  • 10 minutes of discussion
  • Q&A for the remainder

SUMMARY

I use italics below to denote my own observations.

Jim Wallis’ opening speech:

My goal is to spark a national conversation on the “common good”.

A story about my son who plays baseball.

The central goal of Christianity is to promote the “common good”.

Quotes “Catholic social teaching” which values “human flourishing”.

The “common good” is “human flourishing”.

Is the purpose of Christianity is to make sure that everyone has enough material stuff or to preach the gospel?

When Christians go on mission trips, it’s good that they focus on things like human trafficking.

Democrat John Lewis is the “conscience of the U.S. Congress”.

John Lewis gets a 0% rating from the American Conservative Union in 2012.

John Lewis gets a 8% rating from the American Conservative Union in 2011.

John Lewis gets a 2.29% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.

Nothing is going well in Washington right now except comprehensive immigration reform.

Does he think that Christianity means giving 20-30 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, while skilled engineers cannot even get green cards, even though there is a shortage of them? Does he think that the other people in society who earn more than they receive from the government ought to be taxed more in order to provide more services and benefits to those who earn less than they take from the government?

Jay Richards’ opening speech:

Two topics: 1) what is the common good? 2) what should Christians do to promote the common good?

Catholicism defines the “common good” as “Indeed, the common good embraces the sum of those conditions of the social life whereby men, families and associations more adequately and readily may attain their own perfection.”

We have natural ends that we are supposed to be achieving and some places, like South Korea, are better for allowing that to happen.

The common good is broader and prior to any sort of political specification.

It’s not the political good or what the state is supposed to do.

It’s not about the communal good, as in Soviet Russia, where the communal good was above individual and familial good.

The common good is the social conditions that promote the things that we humans have in common as individuals and members of family.

The common good takes account of who we are as individuals and in associations with other individuals, e.g. – families.

Christians don’t have to be doing the same things to promote the common good, e.g. – pastors, entrepreneurs, etc.

The church, as the church, has as its primary goal making disciples of all nations.

But even in that capacity, the church should be interested in more than just conversions and saving souls.

We also have to care about God’s created reality including things like physics, education, etc.

How should Christians promote the common good in politics?

Question: when is coercion warranted?

In Romans 13, Paul says that the state does have power to coerce to achieve certain ends, like justice.

Most Christians think that there are some things where the state can use coercion, for example, to prevent/punish murder.

It is OK for the police to use coercive force to maintain public order and the rule of law.

But we need to ask whether other things are legitimate areas for the state to use coercive force.

We should only give the state power to coerce when there is no other way to achieve a goal.

We need to leverage the science of economics in order to know how to achieve the common good.

Jay Richards' main point in the debate
Jay Richards’ main point in the debate

Henry Hazlitt: “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”

For example, what happens if we raise the federal minimum wage to $50. What happens next for all groups? That’s what we need to ask in order to know which policies achieve the common good.

When it comes to economics a lot of things have been tried in other places and times.

We can know what works and doesn’t work by studying what was tried before and in other places.

Many things are counter-intuitive – things that sound good don’t work, things that sound bad do work.

Principle: “We are our brother’s keeper”. Christians have an obligation to care for their neighbors.

We all agree on the goal. But how do we do things that will achieve that goal?

We have to distinguish aspirations from principles and prudential judgment.

Principle: We should provide for the material needs of the poor.

Prudence: Seeing the world as it is, and acting accordingly.

Example policies: which minimum wage is best? None? $10? $20?

We decide based on seeing how different economic policies achieve the goal of helping the poor.

Jim Wallis’ first rebuttal:

Jesus commanded us to “care for the poor and help to end poverty”.

Actually, Jesus thought that acknowledging him and giving him sacrificial worship was more important than giving money to the poor, see Matthew 26:6-13:

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 

a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 

“This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 

11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 

12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 

13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

It’s not clear to me whether Jim Wallis thinks that preaching is more important than redistributing wealth to address material inequality.

I like what Jesus said in a TV series, even though it’s not in the Bible when an actor playing Jesus said to “change the world”.

Jesus never said to “change the world” in the Bible. Should we be concerned that he is quoting a TV actor playing Jesus instead of Jesus.

Here is a terrific story about Bill Bright.

I love Catholic social teaching.

Quote: “All are responsible for all”.

I go to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland every year. I spoke once at 7 AM on the 4th floor.

It’s a funny place for a Christian to be if they care about the poor – rubbing shoulders with leftist elites. He must have named a dozen high-profile people that he spoke with during the debate, as if he could win the debate by some sort of argument from name-dropping. He mentioned the Davos thing several times!

The greatest beneficiary of government actions to deal with the economic crisis was Wall Street banks.

I’m going to tell you a story about what a Washington lawyer says to Jesus.

I’ve had conversations with business leaders where I tell them to integrate moral truths.

I talk about the Good Samaritan parable.

Quote: “Do you love your undocumented neighbor?”

Quote: “Do you love your Muslim neighbor?”

Jay Richards’ first rebuttal:

Who is responsible for your own children? Who knows the most about them?

Parents should have more discretion over their children because they have more knowledge about their child and what’s best for them.

The Good Samaritan doesn’t show that government should confiscate wealth through taxation and redistribute it.

The Good Samaritan emphasizes voluntarily charity to help people who are not necessarily your immediate neighbor.

Some of the things we do should be for the good of other people in other countries.

But then we are back to leveraging economics to know what policies are good for those other people in other countries.

The principle of subsidiarity: if a problem can be addressed by a lower level of society (family) then we shouldn’t make higher levels (government) address it.

The best place to take care of children is within the family.

Only if the family fails should wider and wider spheres get involved.

Although we want to think of the common good in a global sense, we don’t want to lose sight of the fact

The financial crisis: we need to integrate moral truths, but also economic truths.

We don’t want to assume policies based on intuitions, we want to check our intuitions using economic principles.

Why did we have a financial crisis in mortgages, but not in commodities futures or technology, etc.?

Greed is a contributing factor in all areas of business.

Something more was going on in the mortgage markets than just greed.

There were specific policies that caused the mortgage lending crisis.

The root cause of the problem were “affordable housing policies” that lowered lending restrictions on low income people.

The policy ended up degrading the underwriting standards on loans.

Government intruded into the market and undermined the normal ways of

People were getting massive loans with no income, no jobs, no assets and no down payment.

The federal government created a market for risk loans by guaranteeing

There was a government imposed quota on mortgage lenders such that 50% of their loans had to be given to high-risk borrowers.

That is what led to the financial crisis. Not the free market, but intrusions into the free market.

These policies were well-meaning and implemented by people from both parties. But they had bad effects.

Joe Biden promises to confiscate all multi-round magazines, disarm church-goers

Gun ownership up, gun violence down
Gun ownership up, gun violence down

This is a repeat post, I just want to remind everyone where Biden stands on legal firearm ownership from his past comments.

In the wake of mass shootings by people who don’t obey the law, Democrat presidential candidates are vowing to confiscate ALL semi-automatic pistols and rifles, as well as ban magazines with more than one bullet. They believe that by taking weapons from law-abiding Americans, they will be able to stop violence committed by those who don’t care about laws. Will that work?

First, let’s get the news from the Daily Wire:

Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden went far to the left on the issue of guns on Monday, telling reporters that he wants to ban magazines that hold “multiple bullets” — which means all magazines.

Biden, who made the remarks while talking to the press during a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said there should be “no compromise” on guns as he also voiced his anger at the state of Texas for allowing people to carry firearms in places of worship to defend themselves from those who seek to harm others.

“And we’re talking about loosening access, to have guns, to be able to take them into places of worship, I mean, it is absolutely irrational. It’s totally irrational,” Biden said. “The idea that we don’t have elimination of assault-type weapons, magazines that can hold multiple bullets in them, it’s absolutely mindless.”

“It’s no violation of the Second Amendment,” Biden falsely claimed.

Biden’s extreme gun control push, if ever enacted, would effectively ban the overwhelming majority of handguns, all semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, and many hunting rifles which use magazines.

We’ve actually had a number of mass shootings where left-wing atheists attacked Christians during worship. I guess Joe Biden has an alternative plan for protecting Christians from far-left atheist Democrats. Maybe he plans to show up at the mass shootings in churches, and have a talk with the shooters about following gun laws.

Not to be outdone, here’s another candidate promising to ban all semi-automatic weapons, pistols AND rifles.

The Daily Wire reports:

Far-left Democratic presidential candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke announced over the weekend that if he is elected president, he intends to confiscate tens of millions of semi-automatic firearms from law-abiding Americans.

O’Rourke made the remarks while campaigning in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday when he was asked by a reporter how he plans to address peoples’ fears that the government is going to come and take many of their semi-automatic firearms.

O’Rourke responded: “I want to be really clear, that’s exactly what we are going to do. Americans who own [the technically undefinable sub-class of semi-automatic firearms referred to as “assault weapons”] will have to sell them to the government.”

It’s amazing to me that there is so much evidence that gun violence is caused by fatherlessness, but Democrats don’t want to do anything about it. If we stopped giving women welfare money for having babies before they are married, gun violence would dry up in a second. We’ve always had access to guns in this country, but it was wasn’t a problem when every child had a mother and father.

If strict laws were effective, then why do we see such high rates of gun violence precisely in Democrat-run areas where law-abiding people are prohibited from owning weapons to defend themselves from criminals? Mass shootings get a lot of press, but the truth is that more people died in Chicago last week in ordinary crimes than died in the most recent mass shooting in Odessa, TX.

The peer-reviewed research

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.

Excerpt:

Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[…]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people. The book by economist John Lott, linked above,compares the crime rates of all U.S. states that have enacted concealed carry laws, and concludes that violent crime rates dropped after law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry legally-owned firearms. That’s the mirror image of Dr. Malcolm’s Harvard study, but both studies affirm the same conclusion – more legal firearm ownership means less crime.

Related posts

19 out of 20 of the most violent cities in America are run by far-left Democrats

The most violent cities have been run by far-left Democrats for decades
The most violent cities have been run by far-left Democrats for decades

Trump has been talking A LOT about how the riots, looting and arson we are seeing are all being committed by far-left Democrats. But he also mentioned that it’s no accident that this is all happening in cities that have been run by Democrats for decades. When Trump offers to send in more law enforcement, the far-left Democrat mayors and governors turn him down, because they want to appease them.

So first of all, here are the facts from the far-left Washington Post, which is is committed to helping the Democrat party to win in every election:

FBI crime statistics for the most recent year available
FBI crime statistics for the most recent year available

The 19 cities in blue are Democrat-run. The only one that isn’t blue is gray – Independent-run. There are no high-crime cities that are run by Republicans. And the Democrat-run cities have mostly been Democrat-run for decades.

Now, the far-left Washington Post fact-checked Trump to say that the numbers above do not prove that “most” of the high-crime cities are run by Democrats, because 19 out of 20 is not “most” to a journalism major who writes lies for a living. But you be the judge yourself.

The Federalist confirms that this is not getting any better:

Since June, shootings and murders have surged across many of the country’s major cities. Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and New Orleans have all seen murders jump over 20 percent this year. The violence is heavily concentrated in the last few months, ever since protests have led to nationwide pressure on politicians to “defund” and “reimagine” policing.

Just as concerning is that these stats do not include data from the end of June and July. Data from New York and Chicago, recent data from which we do have, tells that the last few weeks have seen by far the worst of the violence. Murders and shootings in the Windy City are up about 80 percent, and New York has averaged at a 209 percent over these last weeks compared to the same times last year. It’s likely these disturbing numbers for the cities above only captures a fragment of the lives lost during unrest in which many protesters chant “Black Lives Matter.”

Many Democrat cities took advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to empty their prisons of violent criminals. They were delighted to do that, since they hate the idea of being judged or held accountable themselves. It’s part of their childish nature to oppose punishment.

So, why is crime more prevalent in Democrat-run cities? The answer is that Democrats prefer to side with criminals. When a criminal is shot by the police while resisting arrest and reaching for a weapon, the response of Democrats is to attack the police, charge them with crimes, and defund (abolish) the police force entirely. They think that eliminating the police will reduce violent crime. And that’s why they have soaring crime rates in those Democrat-run cities.

The American Thinker explains:

Liberal cities are governed by the guiding tenets of softness, misplaced “compassion,” and individual unaccountability. Examples include:

  • Hands-off policing style (NYC has long since abandoned the highly successful stop-and-frisk practices of the Giuliani years that led to low street crime).
  • Sanctuary cities, which give rise to higher incidents of crime, poverty, unemployment, and the wasting of taxpayer-funded public resources because of the undocumented population’s draining effect on the community.
  • The inexplicable decision of cities like Boston to no longer prosecute crimes such as shoplifting and breaking and entering, leading to urban stores not being able to remain open and be profitable (thus denying the community of a valuable resource).
  • Widespread locally approved abuse of the SNAP/EBT program, allowing its acceptance for alcohol and other nonessential items.
  • Explicit sanctioning of sleeping on the street or other common public areas and unrestricted public loitering.

Liberal policies have worked almost perfectly to degrade the quality of inner-city life for their residents to the point of abject unacceptability. Instead of raising the standard of living for all the city’s inhabitants, excessive giveaways (too often offered without requiring adequate, verifiable proof-of-need) and lax or missing enforcement of local laws and edicts have the opposite effect — such governmental practice only teaches people that they are forever unaccountable as regards the purported norms of society and that they will be given their daily sustenance for free, without putting forth any commensurate effort on their part. In short, overindulgence by local city governments denies the notion of ownership over their own lives to the lower strata of society. That notion of self-ownership over the control and ultimate destiny of one’s life is absolutely critical to a well-functioning society. Without that sense of personal responsibility, there is no civilized order.

Everyone who has looked at the problem knows that crime is caused by women who have sex with men who don’t commit to them in marriage. Almost 100% of the men in prison are fatherless, and that’s the result of the decisions of their mothers, or their mother’s mother, or their mother’s mother’s mother. Single motherhood is a problem with overindulging women and over-blaming men.And the Democrats participate in this by catering to the recklessness and irresponsibility of single mothers. It’s the same for all races – the common denominator to crime is single motherhood by choice.

Paying single mothers welfare money to have children out of wedlock (a Democrat priority) only makes things worse. And these are real children we’re talking about here, real children who have a right to grow up in a stable home with their biological parents. Democrat policy is not just abuse of the unborn – it’s also abuse of born children at the hands of their selfish, irresponsible mothers.

Interestingly, Democrat lawmakers were given an opportunity to solve what they say is the problem: the police being too rough on criminals. But when a bipartisan bill came up for a vote, they voted it down. They don’t want a solution, they want their base angry so they vote against Trump. They’ve had the reins of these cities for decades, and they haven’t solved the problem because they don’t want to solve the problem. White supremacists couldn’t do a better job of keeping black people down if they tried.

Two reasons why Christians and conservatives should not donate to United Way

Well, it’s that time of year again, when corporations bully their employees into donating to the United Way. I thought it might be a good idea to urge all Bible-believing Christians to avoid donating to the United Way.  Please share this post if you agree with it!

Let’s start with abortion. The United Way gives TONS of money to fund abortion providers.

In 2008, United Way affiliates send $1.9 million to Planned Parenthood:

The national United Way does fund Planned Parenthood; their website states:

United Way funded programs through Planned Parenthood include community health maintenance, e.g. communicable disease prevention; medical care service; family planning; health education; public awareness services; and family preservation and strengthening services, e.g. counseling and family life education.

Nationally in 2008, local United Ways distributed an estimated $1.9 million to Planned Parenthood agencies.

Any finances being donated to Planned Parenthood (even if not specifically for abortion services) will free up more of their money to be used toward abortion services.

In 2015, United Way sent $3 million to Planned Parenthood:

Last year, on the heels of shocking videos showing the Planned Parenthood abortion business selling the body parts of aborted babies, a new expose’ from a group that monitors corporations that finance the abortion giant reveals the United Way is a major donor. That expose found United Way agencies giving $2 million to the abortion giant.

A new expose’ released this week shows that figure has increased to $3 million.

In 2016, United Way sent $3 million to Planned Parenthood:

Analysis of the most recent IRS Form 990 filings and other documentation found 62 United Way affiliates sent $2,756,799 to Planned Parenthood abortion organizations in tax year 2016. 2ndVote’s latest findings indicate an increase of $168,806 from the $2,590,994 United Way funneled to Planned Parenthood in 2015.

We’re living in a time when abortion rights involves such issues as sex-selection abortions, race-selection abortions, covering up statutory rapists, Democrat support for infanticide, attacking Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, selling the body parts of unborn babies, etc. I don’t think we can count on United Way to come down on the right side of these issues. We’re already being forced to fund abortions with our tax dollars, thanks to Democrats. I don’t think we should give any more money to abortion providers and their secular leftist allies.

That’s abortion. What about gay rights? We’ve seen a lot of pressure on traditional values coming from the secular left lately. They redefined marriage AGAIN to deprive children of their biological mothers or fathers. They’re pushing for the Equality Act, which would have huge religious liberty repercussions for Christians.

Texas attorney Maria Martinez explains on the American Thinker:

The Equality Act is more draconian that any state or city conversion therapy ban to date because it takes away the traditional constitutional exemption for religious freedom.  The act specifically states that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) may not be invoked as a defense, marking the first time in history that Congress has limited the reach of RFRA.  This means that it could become illegal for Christian pastors, churches, schools, and ministries to communicate a message that sexual orientation or gender identity can change.  The Equality Act is unprecedented in its overreach, impacting even adults who are willingly seeking counseling.

By contrast, therapy of any kind that pushes a person toward same-sex attraction or gender transition is not impacted by the law at all.

Banning counseling isn’t the only thing the Equality Act will do:

  • Parents could lose custody of their children if they decline to assist in their gender transition.  Parents in Ohio recently lost custody of their female child because they would not give her testosterone supplements to help her “transition” to look like a male.

  • Doctors and hospitals could be subject to lawsuits for refusing to perform so-called “sex change” surgeries.  In California and New Jersey, Catholic hospitals are already being sued for discrimination for refusing to perform these surgeries.

  • Battered women’s shelters could be required to admit members of the opposite sex.  In Anchorage, Alaska, a male who was refused access to a shelter for abused and trafficked women sued the shelter for “gender identity discrimination.”

  • Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies that believe that children do best with both a mother and a father could be forced to shut down.  This has already occurred in at least six states in this country.

I wonder what United Way thinks about attacks on Bible-believing Christians by LGBT activists? All I could find on the Facebook page of the national organization was this:

United Way is pro-gay-rights anti-marriage anti-religious liberty
Where does United Way stands on gay rights vs religious liberty?

I don’t find that very encouraging, do you? And this is not the only pro-LGBT image I found on United Way Facebook pages. By the way, I saved a copy of their Facebook page, in case it disappears.

As a Bible-believing Christian, maybe I would be better off giving money to an organization that protects religious liberty, like Alliance Defending Freedom. I understand that many people who call themselves Christians think that the United Way’s positions are compatible with the Bible. But not everyone who calls herself a Christian actually takes the Bible seriously. Especially when it interferes with their career advancement and peer approval. This is especially true of people who work in Human Resources.

Please, don’t give money to the United Way

You don’t HAVE to give money to the United Way, just because the godless progressives in your office try to bully you into it. Instead, why not send the money to the Life Training Institute, or Ratio Christi, or Alliance Defending Freedom? These are groups do operate on Bible-based principles. I do think that Christians need to be careful about who they donate their money to. It doesn’t make sense for Christians to get up and go to work and earn money, and then give it away to anti-Christian groups who want Christianity to disappear from American life. Paul talks about how God rewards those who give gifts to partner for the gospel in Philippians. Make sure that you are not wasting your money on anything less.

Podcast: Was Jesus a socialist? Does Christianity teach socialism?

Let's take a deep dive into the Bible
Let’s take a deep dive into the Bible

I noticed that Christianity Today, which has turned hard left in recent years, is now openly endorsing socialism. So, I thought it might be a good idea to listen to this new episode of the Think Biblically podcast, which deals with the issue of Christianity and socialism. The hosts actually brought an economist on to define socialism, then they analyze the teachings of Jesus.

Here’s the description: (H/T Nathan)

It has not been uncommon for advocates of virtually every economic system to invoke Jesus in support of their views, though some of the most ardent advocates for both capitalism and socialism did not have any particular religious views themselves (Rand, Marx). Over the years, some of the more recent advocates of socialist type economic arrangements have appealed to Jesus and the gospels in support of such systems. Economist Lawrence Reed helps us sort out the application of the teaching of Jesus to economics and its relevance for economic life today. Join us for this provocative conversation as he tackles the question of Jesus and socialism.

Show notes, including a full transcript, are available at: biola.edu/thinkbiblically

Topics:

  • who plans the economy in socialism?
  • who should own the means of production in socialism?
  • how should wealth be distributed in socialism?
  • what tools does socialism use to provide people with health care, employment, security, etc.
  • which countries have adopted socialism? North Korea? Cuba? Venezuela? How about the Scandinavian countries?
  • what in the New Testament has caused people to think that Jesus was a socialist?
  • did Jesus ever advocate for concentrating power in the government in order to meet the material needs of people?
  • did Jesus ever advocate for voluntary charity in order to meet the material needs of people?
  • in our experience, is government seen to be more compassionate or less compassionate than individual people?
  • does voluntary charity have any advantages over forced redistribution by a powerful central government?
  • what about the example of common possessions among the earliest Christians?
  • what is the Bible’s view of wealth? is it always bad to be wealthy, or does it matter how you obtained it and how you use it?
  • what does the parable of the talents tell us about socialism vs capitalism?
  • what does the parable of the good Samaritan tell us about socialism vs capitalism?
  • what does the parable of the three different shifts of workers tell us about socialism vs capitalism?
  • what about socialist policies and higher tax rates in countries like Canada and Scandinavian countries?

I have to be honest. I think that some of the economics reasoning about the parables was a stretch, because those parables are talking mainly about other topics, not economics. But it’s true that the parables aren’t friendly to socialism even if they are interpreted as being about economics.