Sunday, May 23, 2010

Capitalism: a Biblical Principle?

Obama’s “spiritual adviser” Rev. Jim Wallis has charged that the gospel as laid out in the Bible is about the redistribution of wealth; socialism in other words. I have determined for myself that this is an absurd view of Scripture and an abomination of the teachings of Christ and I'd like to share what I've learned.

Let’s start with the Decalogue, and have a look first at the Eighth Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.”

Now, if the Lord wanted us to be redistributing our wealth, why would this commandment exist? It can only matter, if what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours; if there was a proprietary ownership of goods.

How about the Tenth Commandment? “Thou shalt not covet…”

Again, if all things were held in common, it would be impossible to covet what’s already yours.
I have learned that God is not a redundant God; He doesn’t say something just because it sounds good, nor does He contradict Himself.

You may be saying “OK, but that doesn’t prove a thing, we are supposed to take care of the poor”, and you’d be correct, let’s move on.

For this, I’m going to quote straight from Matthew Chapter 25, KJV; the verses are bolded:

14 ¶ For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

The master calls his servants together and entrusts them with "his property" (not property held in common; the capital used was in private hands). Then, the master distributes the capital "to each according to his ability"; there was no concern for equality, none whatsoever.

We move then, into full fledged meritocracy, with the master rewarding the servants according to their efforts. The accountability rests with the individual, not the state, not the Roman's, but with each man.

Now, the slothful servant buried the capital, and was called "wicked and slothful", but was NOT given a handout, a share of the capital produced by those who were productive, but the investor takes instead from the slothful and wicked servant and essentially invests with the servant who was the most productive.

The capital is in private hands, and the owner is free to invest.
This is not the basis for a Socialist program, but a very capitalistic one instead.

The next example comes from Acts 5; again, the verses are bolded:

1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

It appears that Ananias agreed to give the entire sale price of his land to the Church (the church, not the state), yet Ananias became covetous and kept back part of the funds.

Peter tells Ananias in verse 4 that it was his own land; that he had the power over it. If the Church was practicing redistribution of wealth, why would Peter tell him this? Ananias’s only sin, and it’s a big one, was lying to God. The land was his to do with as he chose, and Peter understands this.

The last example that I’d like to use is from Act’s 4:

32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

People often use Acts 4:32 as a claim on Socialism, Rev. Wallis included; yet let’s look at the verse right before this:

31 ¶ And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

I’m sure you all know the contempt the Jews felt for the Romans; you can rest assured that the assembly here is NOT a city, state or country council, but a Church meeting.
So we see two things here. First, they are being moved by the Holy Ghost, and the MULTITUDE, or majority, of them that believed (not ALL of them), have willingly given their goods to the Church, and hold all things in common.

They’ve given willingly and freely because the Spirit has moved them, not because of a government mandate; not because their wealth has been redistributed by the state or the federal government; it’s also quite important to note, that not everyone of the believers participated in placing their goods in the common pool.

Charity is the pure love of Christ; giving willingly and freely. We are to give to the poor and the needy, but it's to come from our hearts; it seems these early Christians understood that.

I can’t claim any knowledge of the mind of the Lord, but I do read His word, and I employ common sense; the words that have come to me from the mouths of His prophet’s paints a far different picture than the one the Rev. Jim Wallis would have us believe.

The question is, what do you believe?


mommyx12 said...

Excellent post Jeannetta. Now we can only hope that monstrous president of ours follows your blog too!! It's so frustrating to want to get things put into his head. Obviously, he doesn't have a lick of sense so it probably wouldn't do much good anyway to "enlighten" him on issues.

Anonymous said...

You are completely correct. Yes, we are commanded to care for the poor. Those of us that are laissez-faire ultra-capitalist minarchists (or whatever those of us who want to live without the oppression of Big Mother are called) and Christians don't dispute that.

What the Bible does NOT stipulate is that individuals should be forced to care for the poor. Forcing people to do "good" (forced good is not true good, of course) was Satan's plan, not God's plan. Without agency, there can be no good nor evil. The war in heaven spoken of in the scriptures was about liberty, and it continues here today.

Jeannetta said...

Bastiatarian, that's what I was trying to get across, how could I have worded it better? I added a sentence that hopefully corrects the flaw.

Thanks for checking in, both of you :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I think you expressed it very clearly! I was just adding a "second witness" in a sense.

Jeannetta said...

Thank you :)