While some Christians may be attracted to the socialism espoused by Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential-candidate Bernie Sanders, one pastor is not.
John Piper, pastor, author, chancellor, and founder of DesiringGod.org, states that Christians need to make a careful distinction between the voluntary and involuntary care for others.
Citing Acts 2:44-45, Piper comments: “[I]n the church no one should go hungry. No one should be without a place to stay. No one should fail to get the healthcare they need. No one should go without a job if it is possible for believers to help them find one. And so on. All of this should happen through the free and uncoerced help of other believers.”
“’Thou shalt not steal’,” he writes, “makes no sense where no one has a right to keep what is his. The reason I stress that all of this is uncoerced, free, not forced, is because of a heavy emphasis that Paul puts on giving to the poor in 2 Corinthians 8–9. Freely, cheerfully, not under compulsion.”
Indeed, it is this free giving that is itself the gift of the Spirit and not an innate characteristic of human nature.
Socialism, on the other hand, involves “1) a social and economic system that through legal or governmental or military coercion — in other words, you go to jail if you don’t do this — establishes social ownership at the expense of private or personal ownership and/or you could say 2) where coercion is used to establish social control — if not ownership, at least control of the means of production in society.”
Piper identifies the contradiction inherent in socialist systems: “Socialism borrows the compassionate aims of Christianity in meeting people’s needs while rejecting the Christian expectation that this compassion not be coerced or forced.” There is thus a fundamental incompatibility between Christianity and Socialism.
Piper surmises that “history and reason and further biblical reflection lead to the conclusion that freedom and property rights lead to greater long-term wellbeing, or, like we say today, flourishing for the greatest number. And it should not go unsaid, lastly, that every economic and political system will eventually collapse where there are insufficient moral impulses to restrain human selfishness and encourage honesty and good deeds even when no one is watching.”
Read the full article here.
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