Bible-Believing Christians: Either Socialists Or Liars

Bible-Believing Christians: Either Socialists Or Liars September 4, 2018

What do our Bible-believing Christians do? Fight for policies and elect politicians who seek to remove hope of health care for the vulnerable, that yank food from their mouths, that make housing even more unaffordable, that deny a communal social good of making sure the least among us has adequate and safe shelter, nutritious food, the kind of medical care that leads to health, not just crisis care with its temporary bandage over pus-filled wounds.


Bible-Believing Christians put Jesus in the trashI read a commentary the other day about what some people see as the stakes in the fall elections:

For many obsessed with politics, the upcoming midterm elections are perceived as a fight between good and evil that will determine the fate of the nation. In the narrative framed by true believers and much media coverage, it’s a fight between those who are convinced that President Donald Trump can make America great and those who dream of a socialist future.

Now, the writer went on to stay that most simply don’t fit this tight dichotomy. A significant majority of us stand somewhere in the middle and hold far more nuanced positions.

Nonetheless, something hit me: Any person who claims to be a “Bible-believing Christian” has no choice but to support socialism. Why? Because a socialist-type economy with special and intentional care for the poor and for those unable to contribute to the general economic health of the society is one of the primary themes running through the Scriptures.

However, I think it is fair to say that Evangelicals, who loudly proclaim themselves as faithful “Bible-believing Christians” and who also soundly placed Donald Trump into the highest office in the world, most definitely do not support a socialist economy, one with particular care for the distressed. Truly, they are all for a free market, let the chips fall where they lay, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, cut the social safety net, economy.

Essentially, their economic world-view makes every single one of those “Bible-believing Christians” liars. They most definitely do not “believe the Bible.”

Let’s talk for a moment about what the Bible says where the poor and dispossessed are concerned. Keep in mind that the Bible uses the phrase “widows and orphans” to represent people with an inadequate economic and social support system.

That particular world was structured around household economies of extended families headed by a patriarch. There, all females were embedded in the households of some male. The male would first be their father, second their husband, and upon his death, her oldest son. If, in the worst tragedy that could befall a woman, no son is available, she is cast out on her own.

Bible-Believing Christians or liars?Again, the household was the economy–if someone is not part of an extended household, that that person was stripped of any means of financial support and would be reduced to begging to stay alive. Unprotected widows, because of their lack of ability to contribute economically to some other household, faced certain starvation. Orphans, those with no parents, faced the same fate unless some other extended family group took them in, but that usually resulted in a state of oppressed slavery.

In other words, the “widows and orphans” phrase represents the most vulnerable members of the society at that time.

If you have never done this, do a quick Bible search of the verses where the phrase “widows and orphans” is used. The results are eye-opening. Time after time, we see that a just society is judged solely on how well those with power and means treat the most vulnerable.

Perhaps my favorite understanding of this worldview comes from the Psalms: “Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God gives the desolate a home to live in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious live in a parched land (Psalms 68: 5,6, NRSV).”

Or, as it reads in the great paraphrase, The Message, “Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in his holy house.  God makes homes for the homeless, leads prisoners to freedom, but leaves rebels to rot in hell.”

Who are the rebels? Those who refuse justice to the poor, the dispossessed, the vulnerable.

Again, how is God described in the Bible those Bible-believing Christians profess to follow without question? Father of orphans, champion of widows. Father: loving, caring, protecting, providing, guiding. Champion: fighting endlessly for their cause, expending energy on their behalf, standing up against those who would in anyway deprive or oppress.

Now, note the way Luke, physician, historian, early follower of Jesus, traveling companion to Paul, describes the earliest church in its phase of most rapid growth:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 42-27, NRSV,

This is the church in its purest form–this is what happens when the Spirit of God to falls upon the people and radically changes their lives in ways that mimic the way the Kingdom of Heaven works.

This, my friends, is the core of true Evangelicalism, the real Good News. And this, my friends, is socialism at its very best.

Now, what do our Bible-believing Christians do? Fight for policies and elect politicians who seek to remove hope of health care for the vulnerable, that yank food from their mouths, that make housing even more unaffordable, that deny a communal social good of making sure the least among us has adequate and safe shelter, nutritious food, the kind of medical care that leads to health, not just crisis care with its temporary bandage over pus-filled wounds.

That is an anti-biblical as it gets.

Again, “Bible-believing Christians:” either wholeheartedly support a socialist governmental structure or acknowledge that you are liars. At this point, I think most are just liars.


Photo Credit: David Hayward, AKA “The Naked Pastor,” used with permission.

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  • Matthew

    I have heard it said that evangelicals give a lot (if not the most) money to charitable causes. I think the main point is they think the church should help those in need, not the government.

    Personally, I think the government and the church need to work together to promote human flourishing.

    • jekylldoc

      I heard that if you take out donations to church, evangelicals come in behind the general population. I don’t think this sort of comparison is very helpful, but there are sure a lot of generous, caring people among the evangelicals that I know.

  • Linda Coleman Allen

    This is an excellent summary of evangelicals. Actions speak louder than words. You don’t have to guess that they are doing good, it is plain that they are not.

  • Markus R

    Let’s just dispense with history and economics which have proven, over and over, that socialism is (1)theft and (2) eventually fails, harming the entire populace.

    • jekylldoc

      Because Sweden and Denmark are such scary, failing places to live. We all know that.

      • Reese

        Oh yes, those complicated countries, homogeneous and very small, unprotected from invaders and of absolutely no help in the worldwide fight against evils. Socialism works better there than at most day-care centers…

        • jekylldoc

          It certainly is not true that they don’t help in the worldwide fight against evils. It is true that they do much more of that in the form of development assistance, and much less in the form of military spending, than the U.S. or even the U.K. But when you look at the drop in birth rates due to economic development where they have given, it is easy to make a case that they have done much more to fight the evils in the world.

          You seem to suggest that they can only afford socialism because we pay for a big military. In fact our military is bloated and wasteful, and spends a lot that doesn’t keep us safe. Furthermore, if we ran our health care system like they run theirs (which are more effective), the savings could cover our extra military spending with money left over.

          • Matthew

            Western Europe is going to have to increase its military spending as well. Trump is demanding it and Macron has hinted at it.

          • jekylldoc

            Well, that might be a good idea, just as it might be a good idea for the U.S. to ramp up development assistance. We are seeing many poor countries reach the edge of being economically competent (e.g. Indonesia, Kenya, India) but their choice between freedom and domination systems may depend very much on whether dictators know they will be resisted and enterprise knows their country will be permitted to succeed.

  • Nimblewill

    From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.

    If done out of love its Christianity. If forced on you by the government it’s theft/socialism.

    • jekylldoc

      I am kind of sympathetic to this view, if only because I have some relatives who won’t work unless they are forced to. But I have been giving it some thought – charging taxes to pay for public education is not theft. But it is “to each according to need”. It seems to me there is a role for compelling people to do what is right.

      Democracy may not be fully voluntary – each of us would rather have themselves as dictator, in most cases. Is it wrong to force democracy on other people rather than letting them fight it out to see who gets to be the tyrant? Again, it seems to me there is a role for compelling people to do what is right.

      Now, I am an economist, and I have relatives who won’t work unless forced to. So I don’t think Marx’s proposal is necessarily a good definition of “what is right.” But where you draw the line between complete government abstention and complete government imposition of equal means may depend on a lot of things that need to be analyzed more carefully. The case for intervention may be more about good sense, as with public education, than about imposing morality and one kind of justice.

      • Nimblewill

        As a public educator I completely agree with you and I agree that people need to be compelled to do what is right. I’m fine with my tax money going to feed and educate children. I work in a system that is mostly below the poverty line, with near 70% receiving free and reduced lunches. We need good roads, good police and fire departments, and schools. It’s socialism, but its for the good of the whole. It also leads to a capitalist infrastructure that compels people to get the most from said education. I listened to a Jordan Peterson talk this week where he discussed the inability of people with an IQ below 83, (10% of the population) to do anything productive and how we as fellow humans should respond to that 10%. Its complicated for sure.

        • jekylldoc

          My shiftless relations may be in that 10%. Scary to me that Jordan Peterson may be more charitable than I am.

          • Nimblewill

            He doesn’t have an answer but he’s pretty adamant that we shouldn’t through money at the problem. He says that Republicans have it wrong when they say to get off you butt and get a job and Democrats have it wrong when they say anybody can do anything.

          • Cynthia Brown Christ

            When do democrats say democrats can do anything.I have siblings who lived off the government, but their IQ was probably below that 83 number mentioned above. When I see the fruits of my life vs the lack of fruits in theirs I am saddened. But it is not just because they are lazy.

            Some People need to be helped to be able to fit into a society. And then, there are some who still cannot fit, and then nearing old age there are even some more who cannot fit.

            It is our job to help them. What is the alternative? Giving them a pill to kill themselves? WEll then, yes let’s do that. But now what alternative is there for these people? Living on the street begging.

            In the old days, and even now in countries with more respect for their family members, the family cared for these people. Today, there needs to be programs for these people. Period.

            IF they are not being cared out of my taxes, how about the taxes of those who have become rich on the back of me, an individual who has worked my whole life for the benefit for the 1%.

            Many countries manage to provide medical care. ALL economically advanced countries do. We can too. And, as the greatest country ever, we should be able to give them the pittiance they need to get on til they die, hopefully not in the street.

    • So, are you saying the government should not provide help for its citizens? Just curious, do you believe the United States system of governance (Bill of Rights, Constitution, Declaration of Independance) were founded on “Judeo-Christian” concepts?

  • Reese

    If we’re all in the hammock, who pays for the hammock? Who rocks it, repairs it, renews it?
    .
    Now cometh the call for Hammockracy; a future by elected Hammockists who espouse full hammockization of all of us through Hammockist government. A liberal former UMC preacher has the temerity to call us non-hammockists out and suggest we are not “Christian” and are even liars?
    .
    Devout Hammockists never consider “supply side” reality (where do needed things come from, or who pays for them to be invented, delivered?), they are totally “demand-siders”, demanding not only free education, but free monthly money to everyone, free food, free housing, free medicine/medical care… Hammockists demand a free ride, but offer no specifics on how to pay for it. No respect for the “hard work” of generations, they’ve no understanding of the self-respect and personal power that hard work brings. No respect for the “risk vs. reward” courage which leads those of self-determination to build a better life through investments in labor, products and services. No understanding of how a growing economy works: the more people that WORK, the more wealth created, the more there is to share! No acceptance of the critical role of personal decisions, either good or bad, in lifestyle.
    .
    Hammockists despise capitalists! Hard work, risk, all those things which improve our lot are discounted, only their demands for a free ride in a nice hammock for all is considered worthwhile. I deeply resent any accusation that we Christian capitalists do not act within Christian values. We share our profits, we share the fruits of our labors, we deliver toys and food at Christmas, clothes and care at crisis, more, we pay a ton of taxes, much of which is used for the many safety nets of our society.
    .
    But, Hammockists are not satisfied with safety nets, of which we have many for those in need, they want hammocks for everyone. Name a nation which has led the way in providing a better life for their people through hammockism!
    .
    I have never reached full 10% “tithing” to a church, but my civic contributions through Lions Club, United Way, Salvation Army, Scouting, Little League, battered women rescue and other things take me to a level of giving that I believe responsible. Only through my hard capitalist work can I make these contributions. I reject this absurd article 1000%. I believe in both Jesus AND the importance of self-reliance and self-determination as keys to a happy life. And, I believe in golf.

    • It is interesting to note, first off, that both capitalism and socialism are modern inventions. Neither are “Biblical,” in the sense of being a driving force in any ancient civilization. Kingdoms were built on the backs of serfs, slaves and the poor. Neither capitalism nor socialism were possible until the rise of a middle class. Even as the industrial revolution enlarged the middle class in America and Europe, the gap between the poor and middle class widened. The economy of the American South was built on slavery and the poor. We fought a war over the Biblical “rights” of economic exploitation of the poor. In the North the poor worked in sweatshops, mines and crammed into dirty, crowded tenement housing.

      The “Biblical” right to exploit the poor continued in the form of segregation for the next century, bolstered by appeals to “States Rights,” and, of course, the Bible. Miscegenation was viewed by good white Christians in the South as contrary to God’s design for mankind. Gradually, the same spirit of entitlement that characterized the upper 1% filtered on down to much of the middle class: Blacks were poor because they were lazy. Homeless are in the predicament they are in because they aren’t willing to work…a hint of which I can detect in your statement.

      Laissez faire capitalism, allowed the rise of tycoons and monopolies. The rich became richer and the poor became poorer. Eventually the weight of selfish few, gorging themselves at the expense of the many collapsed the entire teetering edifice, the market crashed.

      So here’s where it gets interesting, what economic program brought us out of the Great Depression? What got America going again, providing jobs, housing, food? Capitalism? Libertarianism? Nope! Under FDR, progressive idealism was practically applied to America’s problems in the form of…you guessed it, socialism. Socialism saved America.

      The aversion to socialism and the lauding of capitalism you have so aptly described comes from a place of privilege, paints a heavily redacted, rosy eyed myth of how our economy and governance has evolved, ignoring the injustice and suffering libertarian capitalism has caused. The gains the Western world has made in living conditions, medical treatment, hunger has not come from “trickle down economics,” not from the largesse of huge corporations, nor their reinvestment in society using the huge tax breaks Trump gave them. The only answer to human greed and the avarice of the wealthy that has been consistently shown to work, has been progressive legislations, starting with Teddy Roosevelt (the only progressive Republican I can think of), FDR, and a steady stream of progressives working for social justice.

      I disagree with your assessment 1000%.

    • The aversion to socialism and the lauding of capitalism you have so aptly described comes from a place of privilege, paints a heavily redacted, rosy eyed myth of how our economy and governance has evolved, ignoring the injustice and suffering libertarian capitalism has caused. The gains the Western world has made in living conditions, medical treatment, hunger has not come from “trickle down economics,” not from the largesse of huge corporations, nor their reinvestment in society using the huge tax breaks Trump gave them. The only answer to human greed and the avarice of the wealthy that has been consistently shown to work, has been progressive legislations, starting with Teddy Roosevelt (the only progressive Republican I can think of), FDR, and a steady stream of progressives working for social justice.
      I disagree with your assessment 1000%

    • So here’s where it gets interesting, what economic program brought us out of the Great Depression? What got America going again, providing jobs, housing, food? Capitalism? Libertarianism? Nope! Under FDR, progressive idealism was practically applied to America’s problems in the form of…you guessed it, socialism. Socialism saved America.

      • Ivan T. Errible

        I thought it was World War 2!

    • The “Biblical” right to exploit the poor continued in the form of segregation for the next century, bolstered by appeals to “States Rights,” and, of course, the Bible. Miscegenation was viewed by good white Christians in the South as contrary to God’s design for mankind. Gradually, the same spirit of entitlement that characterized the upper 1% filtered on down to much of the middle class: Blacks were poor because they were lazy. Homeless are in the predicament they are in because they aren’t willing to work…a hint of which I can detect in your statement.
      Laissez faire capitalism, allowed the rise of tycoons and monopolies. The rich became richer and the poor became poorer. Eventually the weight of selfish few, gorging themselves at the expense of the many collapsed the entire teetering edifice, the market crashed.

    • This is my third attempt to reply. I have broken my comments down into sections to avoid the spam filter.
      It is interesting to note, first off, that both capitalism and socialism are modern inventions. Neither are “Biblical,” in the sense of being a driving force in any ancient civilization. Kingdoms were built on the backs of serfs, slaves and the poor. Neither capitalism nor socialism were possible until the rise of a middle class. Even as the industrial revolution enlarged the middle class in America and Europe, the gap between the poor and middle class widened. The economy of the American South was built on slavery and the poor. We fought a war over the Biblical “rights” of economic exploitation of the poor. In the North the poor worked in sweatshops, mines and crammed into dirty, crowded tenement housing.

      • Reese

        Wow! So, many words. In reply, I must quote my president yesterday as he addressed President Obama’s speech about him, “I fell asleep.”

        • Glad he’s your president. Now could you please put a muzzle on him?

    • “The reality is more interesting. The new socialism is both thoroughly American and pretty damned radical. Much of today’s “socialism,” like Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, has deep roots; it’s basically the left wing of New Deal and Great Society liberalism, promising free higher education and universal health care, stronger unions and more support for affordable housing. These were once the bread and butter of the Democratic Party.”

      “The new socialism is also radical in its ambition to integrate economic justice with racial justice. This isn’t entirely new—it was Martin Luther King Jr.’s late program, and a recurrent ambition on the left—but it is a far cry from just harking back nostalgically to a more secure, unionized, white 1950s America.“

      “Since it arose in the same 19th-century ferment that produced abolition, mass democracy and feminism, socialism has posed this question: How wide is the gap between the world we have and the world it is possible—here and now—to create? How might we close it? The question remains explosive and urgent. It’s good to have it back.”

      https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/09/05/socialism-democratic-dsa-america-219604

  • I think the assessment is generally correct, although I would not characterize the average White evangelical as lying but as both self-deception and being deceived. This is different than the act of consciously lying. What has happened among White evangelicals is a gradual blending of nationalism, consumerism, racism and capitalism. Sort of like slowly raising the heat on the lobster pot. The poor lobster doesn’t realize it’s being cooked. Likewise, white evangelicals (well, some 70ish % of them), don’t realize they’ve sold out and have been deceived until the narrative has become second nature. It is why they don’t understand kneeling during the national anthem. The concepts of inequality elude them. Combine that with the narrative a bunch of rich white men in politics spoon feeding them what they want to hear, and you end up with capitalism=Jesus, America=Jesus, flag=Jesus, white entitlement=Jesus. Big business=Jesus. It is manipulation of the masses appealing to man’s basest nature.

    • Cynthia Brown Christ

      That was truly an awesome post.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Nixon is lord!

  • John

    The underlying assumption here is that the state (government) is the primary and/or preferred vehicle to fulfill the social mandate seen in scripture. Depending on such a structure will always leave you disappointed, and I really don’t think you can make a sound biblical case placing this responsibility primarily on the government.

  • Joseph Quesnel

    So, let me get this straight– If people don’t support your highly questionable connections between modern socialism and the Bible, they are somehow liars?

    Has anyone ever told you liberal Christians that you are very nasty and unaccommodating people? Seriously. You are everything you accuse the religious right of being — nasty, black and white thinking and intolerant.

    I am not surprised that Christians of a more orthodox and conservative understanding don’t want to engage with you.

    Patheos is once again showing me your true colours.

  • Joseph Quesnel

    Also the intolerant boob who wrote this cannot see how you can provide for some govt redistribution to the poor and disadvantaged WITHOUT being “socialism.” What do you call govt funded education, Medicaid, Medicare, Food stamps, a progressive form of taxation.
    “Socialism” is generally defined as the public (read: state) ownership of the economy and means of production. Very few countries actually have even close to that. Even China, Vietnam, and now Cuba are moving away from that.
    There is much in the biblical text that allows us the freedom to define and figure out how to help the poor without automatically saying there is only solution.
    You also need to look at the empirical evidence that points out that markets deliver well being to most segments of the population. Planned economies impoverish everyone. China pulled hundreds of millions out of poverty when it moved to private property, privately run agriculture, and freer markets.
    This whole post just makes me shake my head.

  • You seriously understate “Bible-believing Christians’ ” view of socialsm as “not believing”: downright hostile is more accurate. They are so anti-socialist they label those who are not socialist (Obama and HRC) as socialist. (Socialists harshly criticized Obama and Clinton.) They think socialism is heresy, anti-American, and treason.