He isn’t necessarily capitalist, either, as both are human structures to approach the management and maximization of assets. God manages existence just fine without being anything we could adequately describe in such limited terms. It is very true that God wants every man and woman willing to give up what they have so that those in need can eat, be clothed and have shelter. However, if we were to compare the principles and examples of Biblical management and responsibility, we’ll see that God is still not a socialist.
Socialism (n.) any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods (Merriam Webster)
God is generally anti-big government
Socialism requires a heavy-handed government and the abolition of private property. If you read the Bible, you’ll see that God specifically designed property to be owned by humans, not by faceless central authorities. He gave land specifically to Abraham and his descendants. Isaac conflicted over private stock with his uncle, as well as private land. As the nomadic peoples began settling into the land we now know as Israel, God did not give all land to a central ruling authority, but let each tribe own its own parcels that families could own. After every seven years, any land sold would return to its original owner. Private property was a powerful element of early life so that people could manage the growth of crops and herding of livestock.
From Moses to Saul, God ruled his people through judges and prophets. They were emissaries of information, but they were not kings. They could not take private property, conscript soldiers, or otherwise rule over others. Instead they operated as arbitrators in disputes and when the people violated God’s law. Otherwise, the people ruled and managed themselves. Families, however large, ruled themselves in familial hierarchy, from which anyone, at any point, could voluntarily leave. When the people began to demand a king, God warned them that the central authority a king represented would cost them far more than their current lifestyle.
The people grew afraid, thinking that more human control of their exterior circumstances would create peace, but instead only instituted long reigns of terror as king after king terrorized the populace and set unnecessary wars in motion. The people moved from a variety of small states where the highest authority under God was an arbitrator and the simple rule of law to violent and unholy kings who used the people for their own personal gain. (A perfect example of an abused spouse who would rather stay with the predictably abusive husband than face the unknown by herself.)
God was against humans ruling over other humans arbitrarily. Socialism, however finely dressed, most often ends with a few “glorious leaders” who rule over the populace arbitrarily and “for their own good.” Those who don’t are so stagnant culturally that it’s paramount to spiritual death.
God is All About Freedom
I’ve written extensively here on ChristianMichael.org that God is all about freedom. It’s not because He wants you to do whatever you want, but because if you don’t have freedom, love has no meaning. Without freedom, helping the poor and needy has no merit or morality, and while people need to eat whether you feel altruistic or not, there are so many more factors to helping the needy than merely plugging their mouth holes with food.
You must always ask the difficult questions: Why are you needy? If I feed you today, are you going to use it wisely so you can feed yourself tomorrow? If you are incapable of feeding yourself long-term, are you putting yourself into a position where people can help you get what you need, or do you remain in circumstances that wastes the assistance you do receive?
God’s freedom must extend both to the freedom to rise from poverty and need and also to the freedom to face the consequences of poor decisions. This is not an easy thing to swallow, but love must come with accountability, or it is not love – it is an empty thing around which nothing good can long grow and nothing ill soon depart.
His freedom, though, is offered to those who ask, and while freedom from the circumstances which keep us bound will not come overnight, the freedom of our soul’s slavery to it can come in a moment.
READ PART II JULY 29