Is there a difference between socialism and Christianity? If so, what is it? Are socialists the real Christians while others are hypocritical fakes? Do socialism and Christianity go together?
Since the nineteenth century socialists have claimed that anyone who doesn’t agree with them politically is self-seeking and doesn’t deserve to be called a “Christian”. In fact, Marx, perhaps the most famous name in the history of socialism, was strongly opposed to the Christian Church. Today, socialists are still more likely to be opposed to the Christian Church than for it, or they consider themselves to be the real Christians. If you vote on the “right”, they insist, you’re obviously greedy and don’t care about the poor-you only care about yourself…
The difference between socialism and Christianity is clearly seen in the book of Acts-sometimes used erroneously as a selling point for socialism:
“…all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45).
There are three important things to see in this passage. First, there’s no doubt that these first Church-age believers really were generous. Secondly, however, they were generous towards each other, not to the state’s coffers or the tax man. Thirdly and most importantly, the giving and distribution seen in chapter 2 was voluntary.
The obvious difference between a socialistic redistribution of wealth and real, original Christianity is that socialism demands and takes money from you in the form of high taxes, whether you want to give it or not, and uses and distributes it as the ruling elite decides. Sometimes it’s allocated to anything but Christian causes, such as abortion or sex-changes. Socialism takes your money by “law” with the threat of punishment, whether you want to part with it or not, and whether you can afford it or not: Christian giving is willing, voluntary, joyful, generous giving from the heart, and from wealth that you have earned from your own hard work and enterprise. Christian giving doesn’t tax people, whereas socialist economies take from everyone whether they want to pay or not. Socialism saps the will of many achievers and workers: why innovate and work hard if half of your reward will be taken away from you and given to someone who could work but won’t? Why work hard when your money is to be taken away without your say-so and given to individuals and cultures, who are poor because by their political policies there is no incentive or will or right to work for themselves?
The term “Christian” (“Christ-one”) was originally a title for those who were believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is not primarily about politics at all: it’s about repentance from sin, as defined in scripture, and faith in Christ’s sacrificial life, death and resurrection.
No, God doesn’t “vote” left or right: obviously he doesn’t vote at all. Instead he has his own standards which are fixed and eternal, independent of human reasoning. Those standards may or may not be followed by individuals on the left or the right of the political spectrum. However, socialism-solidly and often extremely “left” of center (if there is such a thing as “center”) is predominantly atheistic or at least simply secular. We can see this in the present-day use of the US Constitution’s “establishment” clause, being used by the “left” as a weapon against expressions of faith, and almost always Christian faith. The clause was originally and clearly intended to protect the free exercise of religion-all religion-without the ability of the government to establish and impose one on its people.
Socialism is often, as prescribed by Marx himself in his communist “Manifesto”, established or promoted by violent rebellion or the threat of it. In contrast the gospel is about love and mercy for all men-rich or poor-and obedience to established authority. See my post on the birth and aims of socialism:
Socialism is intrinsically opposed to the Church and to the traditional, Biblical family. You can see that in today’s world very clearly. Many on the “right” of the political spectrum are on the right not because they’re greedy, but because they see the extreme “left” to be at war against Christian social values and principles. And don’t forget that greed is not confined to the “right”-there are billionaire and millionaire socialists. You can’t get rich by giving it away now, can you?
My dad was the most godly man I’ve ever known, and the most generous. He lived in humility and holiness as much as any man does, and he considered himself a socialist. He felt that way because when he was a child the people who did all the hard physical graft-including his own dad-were paid little and worked long hours, receiving little respect from their employers, and socialism promised to fix that problem. I don’t think he realized that all self-respecting socialist societies, particularly at the time he was raised, were based on atheism, naturalism and secularism.
But given his life as an example, I don’t doubt that a socialist who may be wrong about a few Biblical doctrines as he was can also be a real Christian in the original, true sense-and a good one.
Socialism is fundamentally opposed to freedom of enterprise, conscience and thought, and attempts to shape all minds into its mold, most particularly now through indoctrination in education, and in the guise of entertainment.