I'm writing this to try to find out what the Bible has to say about socialistic concepts and, by extension, socialism itself. Socialism has already penetrated U.S. society in the form of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Socialistic health care seems to be looming over the horizon. What's a Christian to think? We'll see.
First of all, let me preface by saying that I am no economist or sociologist and have not done extensive research into this topic. I have tried to be as open-minded and unbiased as possible in this post, while letting the Bible guide my thoughts. That said, let's tare the scale and define socialism for the scope of this post. I know that socialism can take many different forms, so my definition is this: a socio-economic system wherein the government has extensive control over wealth re-distribution and general welfare (among other things). It seeks to minimize the individual needs, while championing the common good over all.
I'm a Christian, and not a citizen of this world, so I seek to find what the Bible has to say about socialistic concepts. God never explicitly commanded us to be socialists, and so there is no direct mention of it in scripture. However, let's take a look at some telling examples and scriptures.
Acts 2:44 - 45
44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
It would seem as though the early Christian church is the ideal to which socialists aspire. However, I believe there is one element that makes ALL the difference here: Jesus Christ. All the believers were one in heart and mind, with Christ as the focal point. Galatians 3:28 mentions that we are all one in Christ. When a government tries to implement socialism, the government itself is at the head; Christ is most definitely not at the head (especially with governments that separate church and state so stringently). It's like trying to perform the surgical procedure of a head transplant; first, it's gruesome, and second, it wouldn't work. The socialistic concepts seen in Acts are similar to what contemporary socialists would want the government to do, except nowadays, the giving would be compulsory, as opposed to voluntary and from the overflow of the generous heart. I also personally believe that the distribution of goods was much more efficient in Acts because there was no labyrinthine bureaucracy to navigate. However, that last sentence remains a personal thesis of mine, because the Bible mentions nothing about how efficient the distribution of goods was.
Solidarity is a big selling point of socialism. This says that we are all one, we are all equal, or at least, we are all made equal by the government. In the church, this can be possible, because we have Christ to bind us. However, in the world, this is not entirely possible. Per 2 Corinthians 6, we are not to be yoked with unbelievers. There is no harmony between Christ and Belial. Likewise, since not everybody in the U.S. is a Christian (far from it), it cannot work to try to "unify" all citizens and rally them under the government.
Basically, a socialist government tries to emulate the function of the church, except with the glaring flaw that Christ is not the head. I believe that since Christ is not the head of any government of this world, socialism can never reach the ideal that is exemplified in Acts.
What do you say? Do you agree? Am I crazy? Is my analysis flawed? Let me know.
In Part 2, I delve into the specifics of what the Bible says about welfare, and I will give you my own opinion on socialism, in case you were wondering.