Written by Ben Lane
When Lawrence Reed, author of “Was Jesus a Socialist?” spoke in the Benson Auditorium last Thursday, his speech quickly morphed into a justification of capitalism as a Christian cause that denigrated socialism as a less-Christian form of government.
Christians should not be worried about Jesus’ political ideology — he was a carpenter over 2,000 years ago who probably had no semblance of what a socialist or capitalist government was. He, everyone who bought into his speech, and everyone on the opposite end who thinks socialism is more Christian, is missing the purpose of Christianity: I can be Christian and be a socialist. I can be Christian and be a capitalist. I don’t see the issue as long an individual gives to people who need help.
The question “Was Jesus a socialist?” is explosive to Christianity like fuel is to fire. It immediately draws the mind to think Jesus was a capitalist instead of considering who he is. It’s divisive, shortsighted and completely unnecessary.
Throughout my Bible classes at Harding — though my studies may be less in-depth than Reed’s self-proclaimed reading of the New Testament three times in its entirety — I have never had the slightest hint of a favorable economic system. This line of questioning is useless and will only further divide our University, our families and our friends, our nation and our world. Most importantly, it will further divide Christians from their neighbors in need.
How can Christians approach the world if we divide ourselves on political lines? Does Christianity depend on an economic ideology? Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. Who cares if you are a socialist? Who cares if you are a capitalist? Who cares whatever title you place on yourself or whatever title you were born into? It doesn’t matter. Jesus commanded we help those in need around us; he didn’t command we base our government on an economic ideology.
When we get to the pearly gates, Jesus will not ask us if we are a socialist or a capitalist. Matthew 25:34-35 says this will be the final judgement:
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”
Matthew 25:40 goes on to say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.”
We are wasting our time discussing Jesus’ economic policies. To the college of business administration, who hosted the event, and to those who justify capitalism’s shortcomings using Christianity, I’d like to remind them that the love of money is the root of all evil. To those who say socialism is a Christian cause, I say to them that non-compulsory giving is a fundamental belief in Christianity.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul,” Mark 8:36.
Harding is better than this. Jesus is the poor and the needy, and it’s our purpose to help him — not to argue over his economic ideology. Twenty percent of Searcy residents are living in poverty while we listen to the Larry Reeds of the world preach about money. I think we can make better use of our time.