Socialism and Christianity

From: Brent Baccala <>
Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000 21:40:50 -0500

Erick and Stacy Lee wrote:
> Hello!
> My friends and I have been actively trying to reconcile Christianity with
> the ideals of socialism and capitalism for the past several weeks. Your
> essay shed some valuable light on the subject and was a very pleasant read.
> In your attempt to define capitalism for the sake of your essay, you assert
> that you "in fact reject socialism completely." Aside from the facts that
> Marx patently rejected religion, and socialism under both Stalin and Mao had
> a particularly bad flavor, what is it about the fundamental ideas of
> socialism that you find unworthy of pursuit by the Christian church?

First and foremost, the socialist rejection of religion. Rejecting
man's spiritual existence leads directly to materialism, and materialism
quickly turns into brutal expediency. Communism, for example, trumpeted
a "worker's paradise" and talked about "from each according to his
means, to each according to his needs", but this was just propaganda.
The truth? Read the last six (or so) paragraphs of the Communist
Manifesto. Armed revolution - that's communism. Stick AK-47s into the
hands of the peasants, shoot up the country, take over the government,
install this brutal dictatorship of the proletariat - that's the
communist solution to all the world's problems.

Next, the political nature of socialism. Christianity is a pretty
non-political philosophy. That doesn't mean it can't be applied to
worldly leadership, but it doesn't prescribe any system of government.
In my opinion, there are several reasons for this. First, government is
about coercion; if people would do things voluntarily, there'd be no
need for government. Jesus didn't let himself get manipulated into a
position where he'd have to coerce others by force. He spoke; he
taught; he never forced. Also, his teachings speak directly to us as
individuals. He doesn't tell us to give our money to the government so
they can take care of the needy, or to give our money to the church so
it can operate charities. He tells us, directly, as individuals - "Give
to all those who beg from you". Christianity is, first and foremost, a
personal spiritual philosophy that each of us can put into effect in our
own lives, while political philosophies tend to be collectivist and
coercive by nature.

Finally, my perception of socialism as a "rational" force. The trend
seems to be that reason and science have worked wonders through
technology, and given us almost unimagined control over the natural
world. Perhaps the same techniques can be applied to men? Perhaps we
can design human society the way an engineer designs a bridge? So, for
the last two hundred years or so, political philosophers have been
trying to devise some "system" to run peoples lives. Socialism, with
its appeal to scientific thought and rational management, plays right
into this. Yet I believe that the way to live our lives was taught 2000
years ago by Jesus, and it's not based on reason - it's based on faith.
Reason presupposes that men can figure their own solutions to our
problems, and we've seen the results of that! The basis of Christianity
is the belief that Jesus came here to teach us the path to righteousness
and God, that we wouldn't have found by reason alone.

One of the beauties of Christianity is that after rejecting force and
coercion as tactics, just about the only thing you're left with are real
solutions to the problems.

Maybe I should write another essay on "Socialism and Christianity"...

P.S. Can I post your question on the webpage? You can remain anonymous
if you want

                                        Brent Baccala
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Received on 07 December 2000

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