I normally do not focus on issues of doctrine on this site unless it somehow reflects public policy. I have no plans to do a post on the mode and manner of baptism, but I will not hesitate to discuss issues of morality. Over the past few months, I have seen many statist media figures stating that Jesus and His gospel argue for the idea of wealth distribution. What does the Bible say about this subject?
I am going to let you in on a little secret. Jesus was a Jew. He grew up in a Jewish family and during His ministry, He taught from Jewish scriptures. He even went so far as to declare in Matthew 5:17-19, that He had not come to destroy the Law of the Prophets. What did the Law of the Prophets teach about wealth distribution and property rights?
In the 20th chapter of Exodus we read:
Thou shalt not steal. -Exodus 20:15In addition:
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's. -Exodus 20:17These two commandments are polar opposites of the class envy and forced redistribution, which are the foundation of socialism.
Many statists point to passages such as:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:I am guessing the last part of the verse they just ignored since socialist governments have a consistent history of imprisoning large portions of the population, but I digress. What about the other things listed in the verse? Is government healthcare a fulfillment of the call of Jesus to care for the sick? Does the gospel advocate state sponsored welfare, when it calls for care of the poor?
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. -Matthew 25: 35-36
The idea that He was somehow a socialist arises from a serious misunderstanding of the purpose of His teachings . The ministry of Jesus was not about collective salvation, but rather, the salvation of the individual.
In the four gospels, Jesus does not expound much on the proper role of government in the lives of the people.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marveled at him. -Mark 12:17Also:
For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. -Matthew 26:11Government programs of forced wealth distribution actually rob individuals of the ability to choose to live the higher law taught by Jesus. By limiting their agency, socialism robs them of much of the growth that comes from living His teachings.
The bottom line
I do not think we can classify Jesus as a capitalist or socialist. His was a higher law that transcends earthly socioeconomic systems; its purpose was the salvation of individual souls. I doubt that on the Day of Judgment He will care much about which political party we supported.
While He did teach against many of the evils we see prevalent in the crony-capitalism that dominates our world; he was certainly no advocate of the envy and violence driven systems of socialism.