Right is Right

Should Bible-believing Christians be politically conservative?

One of the surprises of my online interactions over the last few years has been the discovery that some who take the Bible very seriously are, nonetheless, leery of political conservatism, especially in its American form.

But I believe this antipathy toward conservatism is due to a combination of factors, none of which have to do with what the Bible teaches. Rather, it stems from confusion about what conservatism is, lack of awareness of relevant biblical principles and more than a little influence from popular liberal stereotyping.

To chip away a little at the definitional and biblical misunderstandings, I offer five reasons why Bible believing Christians ought to be politically conservative.

1. The Bible is an ancient book revealing timeless truths

Many have pointed out that conservatism is about conserving. More specifically, conservatism is about preserving old solutions to problems it sees as old problems. In the conservative way of thinking, human nature has not changed over the millennia nor have the problems that arise from human beings living together with limited resources.

Conservatism holds that we are not only dealing with the same old problems we’ve always had to deal with (though in new forms), but the best solutions are also ones discovered long ago. Since we are not wiser than our predecessors, it follows that the wisdom of the ages will not be improved upon much by us.

Christians who take the Bible seriously ought to have a very similar outlook. In Christianity nearly all of the great events happened long ago, and even those that are yet to come are built on the foundation of what has already happened. Believers are redeemed through a price paid thousands of years ago and are being transformed into the likeness of One who is, Himself, ancient beyond calculation (since He has no beginning).

In Christianity we see the present as part of God’s working of “all things according to the counsel of His will”—a counsel (plan) formed before the foundation of the world. And the glorious future that awaits us is, likewise, the completion of that same old, old, plan.

Plus, Christians who strive to live according to Scripture are in the habit of constantly looking back to an ancient text for timeless principles that we believe are just as relevant today as they were when God inspired them.

2. The Bible upholds the value of personal property

In various ways and to varying degrees, the alternatives to conservatism take a dimmer view of personal (i.e., individual and family) property. But the Bible does not encourage us to think that communities sharing property is a better idea than families and individuals owning property. The fact that the Mosaic law everywhere assumes personal property is significant.

Some might argue that the Mosaic law assumes slavery as well, but the covenant stipulations include some noteworthy efforts to mitigate slavery as well as some noteworthy efforts to strengthen the idea of personal property.

One example is the law of the Year of Jubilee. Every fifty years, dramatic events were supposed to occur under the covenant. Debts were canceled, Israelite indentured servants were freed, and land was returned to the families who originally owned it (Lev. 25:39-41).

Ezekiel 46:16-18 also refers to the Year of Jubilee and further emphasizes the importance of private property. Some see the passage as referring to the Millennium, but regardless of the time of fulfillment of Ezekiel 46, the Lord emphasizes the propriety of land being truly owned by families.

Thus says the Lord GOD: “If the prince gives a gift of some of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. 17 But if he gives a gift of some of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his until the year of liberty, after which it shall return to the prince. But his inheritance shall belong to his sons; it shall become theirs. 18 Moreover the prince shall not take any of the people’s inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property.” (NKJV)

3. The Bible commends a strong relationship between work and prosperity

Though Scripture assumes the wisdom of private property more often than it states it, this is not the case when it comes to the relationship between our work and prosperity. Proverbs 14:23 tells us that “in all labor there is profit.” Proverbs 6:6-11 challenges the “sluggard” to “consider the ant” and imitate her habit of working diligently to lay up for the future. And Proverbs 24:30-34 points out that being a slacker is the path to poverty. All of these passages (and many more) are predicated on the principle that people ought to see their material prosperity as directly related to their own work.

But the New Testament is explicit on this point. The Roman Empire wasn’t exactly a welfare state, but even in that environment, a significant number of people were interested in getting as much as possible from those around them without doing honest labor to earn it.

As Paul was bidding farewell to the Elders of Ephesus (Acts 20:17 and following), he saw the need to warn them about “wolves” who would come in the future to harm the church. As part of his warning, Paul simultaneously emphasized both the need for Christian charity and the importance of working to produce what was needed.

I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (20:33-35)

Speaking to the Thessalonians the apostle was even more direct.

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. (2 Thess. 3:10–12)

Conservatism has long emphasized that a healthy society is one in which people do their work with a strong sense that they will benefit in proportion to their diligence. Accordingly, conservatism rejects policies that result in people seeing less and less relationship between how hard they work and how well off they are. Liberal and progressive policies tend to erode the correlation between hard work and prosperity.

Though the Bible calls us to care for the poor and needy, it discourages us from approaching the problem of poverty in ways that discourage personal labor and resulting personal profit.

4. The Bible refutes popular notions about greed

I doubt there has ever been a time in history when more people were more confused about the nature of greed than today in western civilization. First, many confuse self-interest with greed and accept the stereotype that conservatism is pro-greed. But in reality, conservatism assumes greed (as one of the constants of human nature) and respects its close cousin, self-interest. Conservatism understands that people are interested in their own well being and that they are most productive when their labor will advance that well being.

Similarly, the Bible assumes self-interest. Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and Paul wrote that “no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it” (Eph. 5:29). The Bible not only assumes this kind of self-interest, but roots it in the principle of stewardship. “To whom much is given, from him much shall be required” (Luke 12:48) and we will all give an account for what we did with our lives (2 Cor. 5:10).

Liberals (and evangelicals influenced by them) also reveal greed-confusion when question the desire of individuals to keep more of the money they earn rather than giving more of it to the government. “We shouldn’t be so greedy,” they opine. “We should think more of the common good.” But if citizens’ desire to keep more of their earnings is greed, what is it when government agencies and officials want more of those same earnings? Why should we believe that it’s greed when we want our money but virtue when the government wants our money? We both want the same thing!

Confusion abounds regarding the relationship between greed and persons’ or businesses’ efforts to increase their wealth. Non-conservatives frequently identify some arbitrary level of wealth as “enough” and label effort to obtain more as “greed.” But how is the “enough” cut-off point determined?

More importantly, how does this way of thinking harmonize with what the Bible teaches about labor and profit? If it’s true that diligence and productivity increased wealth, should extremely productive people stop being productive at some point so that they avoid getting richer? Is it biblical to tell a man he must stop working because he has enough?

Of course, many do pursue wealth with a greed motive. But what about the low-income guy who goes to the corner store and buys a lottery ticket in hopes of gaining a few million dollars he didn’t work for? Greed is not a problem that only plagues the rich. Conservatives understand this. And the Bible reveals it as well.

5. The Bible is clear that human society will not save itself

For now, we’ll forgo an in-depth look at Herbert Spencer (and many others) and the modern concept of progressivism. Suffice it to say that conservatives understand that human beings acting collectively will never usher in a Utopia. Human civilization has progressed about as much as it ever will by human means (and in many places it is now in decline).

By rejecting the idea that collectivism (especially socialism) has the potential to establish a new order that eliminates crime, poverty, war and a host of other ills, political conservatism once again finds a friend in the Bible. Some non-premillennialists may lean toward the view that Christians will slowly bring about a better world until, eventually, Christ returns to receive the Kingdom. But a better reading of Scripture is one that focuses on the narrative of human failure. In the end, Christ Himself cleans up the successive, messy failures of human beings to achieve a perfect society—and He shows us all what a perfect society looks like.

Conservatives are sinners like everyone else. And they often fail to consistently discern the implications of their own principles. Worse, many leaders are classed as “conservative” simply because they hold to a few of the same conclusions (regardless of how profoundly non-conservative their thought processes may be). But conservatism itself, rightly understood, is far more compatible with biblical thinking than any of the alternatives.


Aaron Blumer, SI’s site publisher, is a native of lower Michigan and a graduate of Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC) and Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). He, his wife, and their two children live in a small town in western Wisconsin, where he has pastored Grace Baptist Church (Boyceville, WI) since 2000. Prior to serving as a pastor, Aaron taught school in Stone Mountain, Georgia and worked in customer service and technical support for Unisys Corporation (Eagan, MN). He enjoys science fiction, music, and dabbling in software development.

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There are 34 Comments

rogercarlson's picture

Aaron,
Interesting article. I agree with the vast majority of it. One question though. With the points you made, could you not also have made the case for Libertarianism? Just thinking this through

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Roger... it sort of works for aspects of libertarianism. There is overlap in conservative thinking and libertarian thinking, but historically conservatives have highly valued law and order and have been cautious about liberty, while still highly valuing it as well. For example Burke argued powerfully and eloquently against the version of liberty being promoted by the radicals in France (that lead to Robespierre and the Reign of Terror). Several of our founding fathers were also very leery of too much democracy for similar reasons: that human nature is such that it needs restraint from outside authority. Today's libertarians tend to not share the view that government exists to restrain moral evil as well as to promote national defense... many of them want to limit government to pretty much just guarding the borders and, internally, just handling a few of the worst sorts of crimes. This is not a conservative view of what societies need from their governments.
And Scripture does not limit government's function so severely either (Paul is very broad in Romans 13). So conservatism agrees w/libertarianism that not everything morally wrong ought to be illegal (and that government becomes oppressive when it goes too far in this area) but it tends to differ on what sorts of morally wrong things should be illegal and be government's concern.

Chris, thanks for the link I'll take a look... and maybe post a response.

Mike Durning's picture

Aaron,

I am a conservative politically, but I hope my church folk aren’t quite sure. I’m not appreciative of the direction of your article. So let me gently push back for a few moments.

1). Concerning point 1, isn’t there a difference between the timeless truths of Scripture and the timeless truths of, say, laissez-faire capitalism? Like several thousands of years?
2). I concede point 2 to some extent, but isn’t the year of Jubilee actually a repudiation of property rights, since land I procured can be taken back and given to the original owning family? I suspect the effect of this would be to lower land sale prices based on the pro-rated years remaining till the next year of Jubilee. It means I’m only renting land, but never actually buying it. If I am the current male head of the owning family, it means I can never really sell it. In what sense then do I own it? Am I not just a caretaker for a nebulous clan-owner team?
This reveals the ultimate difference: that ownership in an ancient agrarian culture has a different scope than ownership of, say, a modern factory.
3). In point 4, you challenge political liberals’ attitude with regard to profit and self-interest versus taxes. Great points, but I do wish to point out that Solomon, the wisest man alive to that point, had an unusually high tax-rate. It was so high that his successor was unable to sustain the same high rate because he did not have the same established trust and love from the people. I know, kingdoms and constitutional republics are different, but that’s part of my point. Drawing too close a comparison between the Bible and modern conservative political values IS mixing apples and oranges.
4). Your point 5 is well taken for both sides. Christian Conservatives are as guilty of attributing Messianic qualities to their guys (think Reagan, 1980) as the liberals are for their guy (Obama, now). And too many Christian political conservatives spend all their days desperately consumed by the endless parade of emails about the latest attempt by the government to take our guns or our freedoms, and worry and fight these battles as though they were equal in importance to the gospel. I told our people that I was extremely bothered by the amount of energy poured into the fight against ObamaCare in comparison with the amount of energy poured into sharing the gospel with others. A true Christian attitude ought to include the idea that systems, structures, and even governments come and go, but the gospel and the church go on.
___________

Politically conservative churches alienate 50% of the potential hearers for the gospel by adding a new stumbling-block. “Not only must I accept my hopeless state as a sinner and put all my hope and trust on Christ to be part of this church. Now I must change all my political thinking and be ‘saved’ from liberalism. I don’t know if I can swallow that.” An old friend of mine from the United Kingdom used to tell of going door-to-door to share Christ with people, and getting the response “No thanks, we’re not supporters of Mr. Paisley!” That’s what happens when the gospel and any political system are married to each other too long.

When it comes to politics, Aaron, I’m close to as conservative as they come. I’d love to attend a Tea Party. I want us to return to the gold standard. But great caution must be used in how I meld my political conservatism and my Christianity. I don’t let my skepticism about global warming cause me to lose the greater picture of the fact that we are caretakers for the creation. I oppose abortion, but tell our people that they ought to be open to foster care and adoption if they are opposed to abortion, since the same conservatism that opposes abortion would shudder at certain kinds of mothers raising those kids. I oppose homosexual activity, but I really don’t want the government defining marriage, which is a religious institution. How can I claim I don’t want the government interfering in religion and then ask them to define a religious institution?

Let’s be careful, folks. I would argue our churches are too political already.

Charlie's picture

Aaron,

I see your article really only deals with the economic aspects of conservatism. Along that line, I wonder if you've ever made a historical inquiry regarding the origin and early reactions to capitalism. It seems inevitable that church people have always been conservatives. Luther and Calvin both resisted the proto-capitalism of their day. Although Marxist historians often point to a conjunction of Protestantism and capitalism, the conservative (Bible-believing) Christians tended to be wary of laissez faire ideas such as those promoted by Adam Smith. It was really the liberals and the deists who embraced capitalism, as its deregulated economy fit well their notion of morality as conforming to invisible laws (Smith's "invisible hand") embedded in the universe. The stricter Calvinists, at least, who had always maintained the civil use of the law (the government exists to restrain evil), were appalled by the idea that seeking one's own rather than the good of others - a direct contradiction of Philippians 2:4 - when extended across a whole nation, would actually produce the best for everyone. Of course, it's possible that they were just conservative out of habit rather than for good reasons, but then again, maybe you are. When discussing issues only indirectly referenced in the Bible, historical consciousness becomes even more important because there are fewer statements that directly contradict the prevailing paradigm, in this case, political conservatism.

Also, I find your examples highly selective, and the use of them suspect. I want to bring up two counter-points. The first major account of economic policy in the Bible (at least that I can think of) is in Genesis 47. I'm not sure what the Egyptians' economic situation is before this event, but by the end of it, Joseph has established something of a nation-wide feudal relationship between Pharaoh and the Egyptians. After Joseph's actions, Pharaoh owned all the land and charged all the citizens 20% income rent to farm it. The priests are excepted, but that's because they're already on the royal payroll. The narrative doesn't really comment on whether this political/economic setup is a good thing, but the tone is generally positive, as the narrative is part of the larger story of Joseph's rise to power. So, if one were to take this as a biblical model for politics and economics, it sure contradicts social conservatism. The people don't technically own the land, and there is no separation of church and state. If one declines to take this as a model, it becomes increasingly difficult to state exactly which Scriptures do offer us the real biblical model and why.

My second counter-point is one you already referred to, the year of Jubilee. I believe this event directly refutes the point that you were making with it. The Jubilee is a clear limitation on the rights of personal property. If you have a field, and you want to sell it for 10 years, but the Jubilee is in 4 years, you legally cannot sell the field. The government will not allow you. Under this system, one couldn't become the kind of property magnate produced by capitalism. You can't officially own real estate (in the rural areas at least) except for your own ancestral holdings. Now, you may be able to continually buy people out, but they always have the right to refuse. The other land isn't really yours. Other than the year of Jubilee, I think a thorough study of the Mosaic economy would uncover quite a bit of government regulation regarding economic activity. Granted, you might respond, "But that was under the Old Testament theocracy," which is a true statement, but one that would require quite a bit of modification of your first point, that the Bible reveals timeless truths. Where were these timeless truths manifest in the OT?

I don't have a very concrete political or economic position, but I think almost anyone could make a "biblical" case for their position by a selective use of examples. Remember, at one point the Bible was supposed to be the strongest argument for monarchy against republican governments.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It's interesting how folks jump from "private property & a strong labor-reward mechanism" to "capitalism." I didn't say anything about capitalism.

But I'll say something about it now. There's more than one sense of the term out there. The idea of corporations funded by shareholders who participate in the profits the corporation earns is a relatively new phenomenon and it's accurate to speak of early reactions to it, etc. However, the idea of "private property & a strong labor-reward mechanism" is not a new idea and is only "capitalism" in a very loose sense.

Conservatism's attitude toward capitalism tends to be an extrapolation from it's attitude about other things. I think the extrapolation is pretty solid, and most conservatives do as well. But there is a great deal of variety of belief about the degree to which capitalistic enterprises require the restraint of law and government.

About year of Jubilee... though there is a limit on the term of a sale of property, where does the property go when the Year of Jubilee occurs? It goes back to an owner. So really, the limitations there amount to establishing a leasing situation that makes the ownership of the land permanent. This is stronger property ownership than we have anywhere today.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Mike Durning wrote:

1). Concerning point 1, isn’t there a difference between the timeless truths of Scripture and the timeless truths of, say, laissez-faire capitalism? Like several thousands of years?

I'm not really all that interested in "laissez-faire capitalism" because the term has pretty much become pejorative. No true conservative believes that corporations should not be regulated at all. So the laissez-faireness of the mix is pretty subjective. But as for capitalism in general, it's really just a more complex version of what farmers and other merchants have been doing in free markets for millennia. I don't see how getting investors together to finance a venture and share in the outcome is something profoundly different from forms of commerce that preceded it.
Mike Durning wrote:

2). I concede point 2 to some extent, but isn’t the year of Jubilee actually a repudiation of property rights, since land I procured can be taken back and given to the original owning family? I suspect the effect of this would be to lower land sale prices based on the pro-rated years remaining till the next year of Jubilee. It means I’m only renting land, but never actually buying it. If I am the current male head of the owning family, it means I can never really sell it. In what sense then do I own it? Am I not just a caretaker for a nebulous clan-owner team?
This reveals the ultimate difference: that ownership in an ancient agrarian culture has a different scope than ownership of, say, a modern factory.

I think I probably covered the Jubilee point in my response to Charlie. The fact that shorter term leases were permitted doesn't alter the underlying arrangement of property ownership. It's a profoundly anti-collectivist approach to things. As for "a different scope of ownership," perhaps. It's not clear to me how a different scope weakens the point.
Mike Durning wrote:

3). In point 4, you challenge political liberals’ attitude with regard to profit and self-interest versus taxes. Great points, but I do wish to point out that Solomon, the wisest man alive to that point, had an unusually high tax-rate. It was so high that his successor was unable to sustain the same high rate because he did not have the same established trust and love from the people. I know, kingdoms and constitutional republics are different, but that’s part of my point. Drawing too close a comparison between the Bible and modern conservative political values IS mixing apples and oranges.

Not sure exactly where your going with this point. I haven't claimed that everybody in the Bible followed the wisest "labor-reward" arrangement. Solomon excelled in wisdom but also foolishly married foreign wives who stole his heart away from YHWH. My point is just that the policy he chose doesn't argue one way or the other. It's just what he chose. But I think the idea of workers who feel deeply that their labor correlates to their material prosperity is clear in Scripture, and the rest is application. "Modern conservative political values" is kind of a buzz word these days. Which values? The ones I specifically mentioned? I think I showed that the ones I mentioned are very much in harmony w/biblical values.
Mike Durning wrote:

4). Your point 5 is well taken for both sides. Christian Conservatives are as guilty of attributing Messianic qualities to their guys (think Reagan, 1980) as the liberals are for their guy (Obama, now). And too many Christian political conservatives spend all their days desperately consumed by the endless parade of emails about the latest attempt by the government to take our guns or our freedoms, and worry and fight these battles as though they were equal in importance to the gospel. I told our people that I was extremely bothered by the amount of energy poured into the fight against ObamaCare in comparison with the amount of energy poured into sharing the gospel with others. A true Christian attitude ought to include the idea that systems, structures, and even governments come and go, but the gospel and the church go on.

There are excesses. I'm not for any of those things and they are unrelated my argument. Your final sentence doesn't really correctly identify what our choices are. Affirming that there is wisdom in arranging society in one way rather than another does not require anyone to deny that systems, structures, governments come and go or that the gospel and the church go on.

Mike Durning wrote:

Politically conservative churches alienate 50% of the potential hearers for the gospel by adding a new stumbling-block. “Not only must I accept my hopeless state as a sinner and put all my hope and trust on Christ to be part of this church. Now I must change all my political thinking and be ‘saved’ from liberalism. I don’t know if I can swallow that.” An old friend of mine from the United Kingdom used to tell of going door-to-door to share Christ with people, and getting the response “No thanks, we’re not supporters of Mr. Paisley!” That’s what happens when the gospel and any political system are married to each other too long.

Well I'm not really talking about political churches. But I am talking about proclaiming the whole counsel of God and making wise applications of biblical principles to the choices we face today. I would personally not sleep well if I did not occasionally point out to my congregation that there are ways Scripture speaks quite clearly to some of the "political" options on our tables.

Mike Durning wrote:

When it comes to politics, Aaron, I’m close to as conservative as they come. I’d love to attend a Tea Party. I want us to return to the gold standard. But great caution must be used in how I meld my political conservatism and my Christianity. I don’t let my skepticism about global warming cause me to lose the greater picture of the fact that we are caretakers for the creation. I oppose abortion, but tell our people that they ought to be open to foster care and adoption if they are opposed to abortion, since the same conservatism that opposes abortion would shudder at certain kinds of mothers raising those kids. I oppose homosexual activity, but I really don’t want the government defining marriage, which is a religious institution. How can I claim I don’t want the government interfering in religion and then ask them to define a religious institution?

Let’s be careful, folks. I would argue our churches are too political already.


I'm not really talking about the boatload of issues people normally lump under the heading of "conservative." My goal is to promote the deeper essence of conservatism as a way of thinking. It does tend to lead to certain conclusions, but if we jump to the conclusions, we really aren't doing conservatism. This is what ills so many supposedly conservative politicians. There is no conservative thought process going on in their heads. They simply laud what they believe to be conservative positions either because they think this is the best wave to serf on at the moment or because they have a brand loyalty. No, there is no need to "become political" in church to teach conservative thinking.

Andy's picture

Thanks, Aaron, for raising a timely topic.

Money, Greed, and God http://www.amazon.com/Money-Greed-God-Capitalism-Solution/dp/0061900575/... http://www.discovery.org/p/9 ]Jay W. Richards provides a thorough treatment of the topic of economics from a biblical perspective. He completely debunks and exposes Jim Wallis as a flake (my word, not his).

Wayne Grudem wrote http://www.amazon.com/Business-Glory-God-Teaching-Goodness/dp/1581345178... Business for the Glory of God a few years ago, and I'm eager to pick up his new book http://www.amazon.com/Politics-According-Comprehensive-Understanding-Pol... Politics - According to the Bible in a couple months.

The http://www.acton.org Acton Institute, while certainly no Fundamental Baptist organization, provides some great resources on the topics of politics, economics, sociology, law, etc. from a Judeo-Christian perspective. As a parishioner, I want my pastor to focus on preaching Christ. That said, I also want my pastor to believe in the authority of Scripture to the extent that he recognizes that it holds a position of authority in the realms of the family, society, law, politics, economics, medicine, education, arts, etc. It's not the pastor's job to implement biblical change in each of those spheres, but it is his responsibility to equip parishioners to understand the power and authority of the gospel and of Scripture in all of the realms in which they live and work. (I think I have inadvertently made a case for a liberal arts education for aspiring pastors. At the least, a pastor should be well-read.)

Another way of framing this...the pastor has a specific responsibility to proclaim the specific grace and revelation of God, namely Christ and Scripture. However, to effectively do so, a pastor must have at least some understanding of and appreciation for the general grace and revelation of God. A pastor must not neglect nor undermine the general, lest he also undermine the specific. I haven't added much to this discussion, but perhaps the resources above will spur on someone else' thinking.

jimcarwest's picture

I can't understand why a pastor might want to hide from his congregation what his views are about the issues commonly associated with conservatism unless his views are not biblical or unless he feels the Bible has absolutely nothing to say on the subject. If God has revealed something in His Word, it is ours to speak.

I don't recall in my study ever reading the word "conservatism" or "laissez-fair capitalism" anywhere in Scripture any more than a lot of other things we often address in the light of Scripture. Salvation truth is not the only thing we are called to teach. There are ethical standards that must also be addressed. We usually do this by citing Scriptural principles that have application to current situations.

The principles regarding the year of Jubilee would not necessarily apply to current economic policy since they were part of a theocratic system of government operating under a monarchy. Monarchy was not the original plan for Israel; God warned it would allow for all sorts of violations of His original plan.

Solomon and his reign are certainly not lauded in Scripture for being the ideal example of moral or social behavior. Conservatives do not hold his rule up as the model for taxes, property ownership, or a number of other functions of government.

Your point about some Christians who get so wrapped up in fighting the current political battles while they ignore the weightier matters of the gospel is well taken. This is no excuse, however, for Christians not being involved in combatting ObamaCare and other socialistic attempts by the Chicago Mafia to so change our government that the work of the Gospel will be affected adversely. I for one think that Christians should be able to "walk and chew gum at the same time." To remain aloof from the battle is to put the church's future ministry in jeopardy. Many of our nation's earliest leaders understood this and took a firm stand that has blessed our nation and contributed to its becoming the greatest influence for missions and ministry in the history of the Church, in my opinion. Were some of their generation offended? Yes, but that is the cost of speaking the truth.

I think you may have used hyperbole in describing the "new stumbling block" as demanding that 50% of the hearers of the church's message today believe they must change their political thinking and be saved from "liberalism" along with believing the gospel. It is the liberal media that describes consrrvative churches in this way -- the same media that says that no rational Christian could possibly believe in creationism as being "scientific." That same media assumes that only a "cultic" Christian could possibly be part of a fundamental (oops), conservative church that doesn't preach a "social gospel" and doesn't have for its goals the establishing of "social justice" in our world today. That is the insinuation of Jim Wallis who was mentioned by another writer.

I know some preachers who "oppose abortion" but who would not preach against it because it would "polarize" people. As for marriage, it is not a "religious" institution; it is a social institution established from the beginning of time to regulate the family and procreation. The church certainly has as much responsibility to oppose same-sex marriage, sodomy, pederasty, and polygamy as it does in expressing its views about taking care of the earth, in my opinion.

Jesus addressed a number of issues that don't expressly relate to the gospel without fearing that men might mis-interpret His primary purpose in coming to earth. Keeping balance and choosing priorities in ministry without failing to address issues that are of interest to modern thinking is all part of staying relevant.

B L Wilkins's picture

One of the real problems with such an article as this concerns definitions. What is meant by "political conservative?" Then others mention capitalism and libertarianism, and the ensuing comments appear to reflect differing definitions. Let us not forget that much of what is found in Classical Liberalism is maintained by present day Conservatives. Definitions of words being used are thus most helpful. I do realize that your points, in themselves, reflect a modicum or more of definition. Aaron, maybe give us, as best you can, straight-forward definitions as you see these issues. I ask this not so that we can quibble over definitions, but so that a frame of reference for your statements might be had. A writer has the right to express a word as he understands it. That would be helpful for me, anyway. If my definition might differ slightly, that is fine. At least we know what we are talking about. Now, if this were to degenerate into a mere argument over definitions, and an ignoring of the content, then I will express ahead of time my regret for bringing up the issue.

Rob Fall's picture

In 17th Century Germany, rural property was rarely owned as a free hold. It was commonly a lease hold of 90 years or three generations. In many parts of the US and Great Britain, buildings strand on ground leases. Property in the City of London is famous for this status.
The key is the understanding of how much if any state control or ownership of property exists in a given society.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
It's interesting how folks jump from "private property & a strong labor-reward mechanism" to "capitalism." I didn't say anything about capitalism.

But I'll say something about it now. There's more than one sense of the term out there. The idea of corporations funded by shareholders who participate in the profits the corporation earns is a relatively new phenomenon and it's accurate to speak of early reactions to it, etc. However, the idea of "private property & a strong labor-reward mechanism" is not a new idea and is only "capitalism" in a very loose sense.

Conservatism's attitude toward capitalism tends to be an extrapolation from it's attitude about other things. I think the extrapolation is pretty solid, and most conservatives do as well. But there is a great deal of variety of belief about the degree to which capitalistic enterprises require the restraint of law and government.

About year of Jubilee... though there is a limit on the term of a sale of property, where does the property go when the Year of Jubilee occurs? It goes back to an owner. So really, the limitations there amount to establishing a leasing situation that makes the ownership of the land permanent. This is stronger property ownership than we have anywhere today.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Andy... appreciate the links. I desperately need to do more reading on the subject. Though I've been reading and reflecting on these things for years, I wasn't making good notes and it was also mostly along time ago. So I need to do some catching up and gap filling etc. I'm not an expert on the subject.

B L ... definitions. Well, I can recommend Russel Kirk's A Conservative Mind as a helpful place to start. The first chapter or so on Burke is very valuable in itself.
It's hard to make crisp definitions because many of these terms overlap and intertwine and also refer to things that are in flux. But I can certainly tell you more about what I mean when use these terms.

Capitalism, as I use the term, is what happens when people pool funds for a business enterprise and organize their stake in the effort by number of shares. The more shares you buy, the more of the enterprise you "own" and the more of it's profits you are entitled to receive.

Libertarianism: As I see it, the category of Libertarian and the category of Conservative generally overlap because both believe in limited government and the moral superiority of freedom. But I think it would be fair to generalize that, historically, conservatism is more interested in wise government than small government and more interested in virtue than liberty. The libertarians I know are generally in favor of less law in quite a few areas where "other conservatives" I know (including myself), would not be in favor of less law. For example, more than a few libertarians are not in favor of illegalizing abortion and tend to favor legalizing drugs, etc. These can't serve as a litmus test for "libertarian vs. conservative" but they do illustrate some differences in thinking regarding where government restraint should leave off and where liberty should begin.
So, maybe a good image this this: if conservatism and libertarianism both make lists of their values and prioritize them, they have many of the same values, but in lib., liberty is either at the top or very near it. Conservatism would tend to rank it lower, though not a great deal lower.

Another difference is that libertarianism tends to be more populist. Historically, conservatism is not in a big hurry to empower the common man for more than he ought to be empowered for, and more inclined to try to match governing power with governing competence.

I'm generalizing alot here and will probably get straightened out by someone better equipped to make important distinctions.

Conservatism: well, the term is used in reference to a way of thinking, to a set of positions on current issues (the most shallow use of the term), to a disposition/attitude. I use the term in reference to all three at once most of the time: in all three it's about preferring something old and/or current over something newer or a proposed change, in the belief that those who have gone before us had a clue what they were doing. Hope that helps some.

Political conservatism: by this I mean the conservative way of thinking in areas normally thought of as political--areas having to do with public policy, basically. The distinction is not entirely real, because all problems that have to do with people are political. "Politics" is really nothing more than the business of dealing with people in groups. This is another reason why the "I'm not political" attitude is unrealistic. It relies on a distinction that isn't real. If you care about the problems groups of people face, you are political.

Hope I'm not just adding mud and making things less clear.

Mike Durning's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I think I probably covered the Jubilee point in my response to Charlie. The fact that shorter term leases were permitted doesn't alter the underlying arrangement of property ownership. It's a profoundly anti-collectivist approach to things. As for "a different scope of ownership," perhaps. It's not clear to me how a different scope weakens the point.

Aaron, I’m not finding that response. Must be slow today. Can you give me a post number? I see others responding to your response, but not the response itself.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
There are excesses. I'm not for any of those things and they are unrelated my argument. Your final sentence doesn't really correctly identify what our choices are. Affirming that there is wisdom in arranging society in one way rather than another does not require anyone to deny that systems, structures, governments come and go or that the gospel and the church go on…

Well I'm not really talking about political churches. But I am talking about proclaiming the whole counsel of God and making wise applications of biblical principles to the choices we face today. I would personally not sleep well if I did not occasionally point out to my congregation that there are ways Scripture speaks quite clearly to some of the "political" options on our tables.

But I’m not sure that many of those passages speak what people think they do. Witness the recent case where a noted preacher defended Capitalism by referring to the parable of the talents. Too often one man’s idea of Scripture speaking plainly to the political options on the table looks to others like a forced interpretation based on pre-conceived notions.

So I guess I’d need to hear what those “wise applications” are to know what I thought of them.

More on this under my response to JimCarWest posting soon.

Mike Durning's picture

jimcarwest wrote:
I can't understand why a pastor might want to hide from his congregation what his views are about the issues commonly associated with conservatism unless his views are not biblical or unless he feels the Bible has absolutely nothing to say on the subject. If God has revealed something in His Word, it is ours to speak. .

Actually, I feel that many of them are neither Biblical or Unbiblical, but rather abiblical. The Scriptures support no conclusions.

jimcarwest wrote:
Solomon and his reign are certainly not lauded in Scripture for being the ideal example of moral or social behavior. Conservatives do not hold his rule up as the model for taxes, property ownership, or a number of other functions of government.

I know. Nobody holds up his reign as a model. I’m just making the connection between the fact that he was the wisest man alive up to that time, and he had high taxes. So when certain organizations send emails to my people urging us to vote for candidates (perfectly fine ones, from my conservative perspective) who will stand for Biblical truths such as the Pro-Life position and low taxes, I bristle. I don’t think the Biblical defense for one is near as strong as for the other.

jimcarwest wrote:
Your point about some Christians who get so wrapped up in fighting the current political battles while they ignore the weightier matters of the gospel is well taken. This is no excuse, however, for Christians not being involved in combatting ObamaCare and other socialistic attempts by the Chicago Mafia to so change our government that the work of the Gospel will be affected adversely.

Prove to me that ObamaCare is unscriptural. I think it’s foolish, but if I start preaching against every foolish thing the government tries to do, I’ll never get back to Scripture!

It is clear that the ultimate result of “socialistic attempts” would be to adversely effect the gospel. But I think it’s probably conspiracy theory to think that this is their goal.

The degeneration of our society into a socialist state is a direct result of the underlying godless philosophies of the people in our nation. As a whole, we run from responsibility, and interpret liberty as “no restraint”. In such nations, governments are compelled to retain order and keep the system running by increasing regulation which by its very nature diminishes freedom. Of course, this process accelerates. Government fills in the gaps and more people count on government to do so.

All of this cries out for us to address core issues from Scripture. “If a man WILL not work, neither should he eat.” Great example. That I can preach. But one politician’s plan to solve the welfare state? C’mon people. Politics is the art of the possible. These guys let us down every time. Stop counting on politicians.

Even when they do try to address a moral problem by force of law, it backfires. Remember prohibition?

If you want to change America, work toward a real Revival. Only that can stem the tide.

jimcarwest wrote:
I think you may have used hyperbole in describing the "new stumbling block" as demanding that 50% of the hearers of the church's message today believe they must change their political thinking and be saved from "liberalism" along with believing the gospel. It is the liberal media that describes consrrvative churches in this way -- the same media that says that no rational Christian could possibly believe in creationism as being "scientific." That same media assumes that only a "cultic" Christian could possibly be part of a fundamental (oops), conservative church that doesn't preach a "social gospel" and doesn't have for its goals the establishing of "social justice" in our world today. That is the insinuation of Jim Wallis who was mentioned by another writer.

I deny your charge that I was using hyperbole. At least half of this nation is skeptical of conservative political positions. Many (mystifyingly) are still enamored of liberal-think. Why should I make my church a conservative political powerhouse, and thus alienate potential believers who might later come around to see some of these things that we consider important by raising an issue that has nothing to do with the gospel? If I mock Obama from the pulpit, will I stop him? No. That kind of preaching only makes the “faithful few” believe that they are still a moral majority (no caps please). But it very well might alienate the 4 democrats and 1 socialist who now attend our church. I will be baptizing the socialist soon. Let’s see that happen at Falwell’s church. Teaching my socialist to vote Republican is pretty low on my list of discipleship topics.

jimcarwest wrote:
I know some preachers who "oppose abortion" but who would not preach against it because it would "polarize" people. As for marriage, it is not a "religious" institution; it is a social institution established from the beginning of time to regulate the family and procreation. The church certainly has as much responsibility to oppose same-sex marriage, sodomy, pederasty, and polygamy as it does in expressing its views about taking care of the earth, in my opinion.

Well, I’m not one of the preachers who don’t preach against abortion. I preach against it hard enough that a woman left our services crying the last time. I’m not gloating. I feel bad for her sorrow. I also feel bad for her children that never saw the light of day.

The idea of marriage being “a social institution established from the beginning of time” is readily provable from the Bible. It is not provable from an evolutionary perspective. It is a social issue from within our religious perspective, thus…religious issue.

I preach against same-sex marriage because it’s not marriage. I can preach against it with equal facility whether it’s law or not. I can preach against the Episcopal church down the road if they do it.
I preach against sodomy, pederasty, and polygamy. I preach against them as they arise in the text as I preach through books of the Bible. I do not dedicate whole sermons to “the political situation.”

By the way, I also preach that we should love those trapped in such sins as homosexual practice. I never preach against homosexual sin without making that point with equal strength. I will not have our church be mistaken for a Fred Phelps clone.

Aaron Blumer's picture

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Mike, the part about the Year of Jubilee I referred to is at the end of post #6.

Aaron wrote:
About year of Jubilee... though there is a limit on the term of a sale of property, where does the property go when the Year of Jubilee occurs? It goes back to an owner. So really, the limitations there amount to establishing a leasing situation that makes the ownership of the land permanent. This is stronger property ownership than we have anywhere today.

About the passages that speak to political options on the table. I agree w/you about the parable of the talents. But in that particular case, the problem is not understanding the nature of parables. They use familiar experiences/stories to make a point and the experiences themselves are neither endorsed nor condemned, just familiar.

Some of examples of what I meant--these are all applications of biblical principle:
- opposing abortion: derives from passages about life and murder
- opposing increased taxation: this one is complicated. Though applying Scripture to particular tax questions isn't simple, applying Scripture to beliefs about taxation is not so difficult. When you have a political philsophy that, as a matter of principle, believes a host of social ills will ultimately be solved by government programs, biblical principle encourages us to vote for leaders likely to pursue wiser policy (in this case, the principles include avoiding eroding the relationship between labor and prosperity as well as the princple that humans acting collectively are not inherently more virtuous than humans acting individually, the fact that we will not bring in a socialist utopia, etc.).
- crime policy: Rom 13 suggests that a Christian attitude toward law is that if a law is on the books it ought to be enforced or removed. This has implications for the immigration debate as well.
- war: again, have to oversimplify, but it's quite significant that no nation in Scripture is ever condemned for defending its borders or protecting its sovereignty. When this would apply to a particular policy question depends on lots of factors. I do pretty much believe in just war theory, though not everybody's version of it. But in any case, applying principles to the question of national defense is often a factor in comparing candidates for high office, for example.
- environment: Scripture has much to inform our thinking on this issue including both our stewardship of the planet but also dominion over it. The uniqueness and value of human life over other life forms answers a great deal of animal rights nonsense. The fact that God is personal and distinct from His creation answers pantheistic influences in environmentalist thought.

So that would be a quick survey. "Preaching" a particular position on a policy decision or candidate is seldom appropriate or necessary in my opinion, but I believe preaching to the thought process that underlies these decisions and equipping people to look at them through a biblical lens is well within the scope of biblical pulpit work. I have sometimes gone so far as to point out that candidate A says he believes X and this is a position the Bible does not support. And we do put information out in the lobby when elections come around, listing candidates' positions on issues of importance to believers.
(Sometimes this stuff is really hard to find, especially for local candidates)

Paul J. Scharf's picture

"But I believe this antipathy toward conservatism is due to a combination of factors, none of which have to do with what the Bible teaches. Rather, it stems from confusion about what conservatism is, lack of awareness of relevant biblical principles and more than a little influence from popular liberal stereotyping."

Aaron, I agree with you. Right after Obamacare was passed we had a few people here come out in support of a "right" to healthcare and other social justice mumbo junk. IMHO, these people are simply ignorant, and are like sheep heading for the slaughter.
I have also noticed a tinge of, "I am so too smart for my own good that I can dissect what the Bible teaches and tell you why the Bible is not really a politically conservative book..." This is really just old-fashioned modernism re-packaged, either by people who think they know more than they actually understand or else are closet liberals.
And yes, we all know that the terms liberal and conservative have changed in their connotative meanings through the years. But this is not about being cute with words.
I do agree that the pulpit is no place to preach politics -- and by that I mean party politics or endorsing candidates from either the Wicked Party or the Stupid Party. However, I do not consider talking about the Biblical case against confiscatory taxation to be politics. And make no mistake about it, it is a Biblical case, not just a nice little political belief I have because I like it and it makes sense in my own pea-brain.
No offense, but it seems like some folks could really benefit from top-notch courses in history and economics. (It so happens those were the two best courses I had in Bible college, believe it or not. H:) )

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Richard Pajak's picture

[quote=Paul J. Scharf ]"

"Aaron, I agree with you. Right after Obamacare was passed we had a few people here come out in support of a "right" to healthcare and other social justice mumbo junk. IMHO, these people are simply ignorant, and are like sheep heading for the slaughter."

I see your argument is based on debasing those who have expressed a contrary opinion to yours. They might not mind you insulting them with terms like "ignorant" but such abuse does not put you in a pleasant light.

"I have also noticed a tinge of, "I am so too smart for my own good that I can dissect what the Bible teaches and tell you why the Bible is not really a politically conservative book..." This is really just old-fashioned modernism re-packaged, either by people who think they know more than they actually understand or else are closet liberals."

Are you not guilty of the same arrogance?!

And before you attack me, I point out that I am not a socialist and in fact tend to be generally far more right wing than the current wet conservative party in the UK.

Richard Pajak

Richard Pajak's picture

"Teaching my socialist to vote Republican is pretty low on my list of discipleship topics." (Mike Durning)

Irrespective of what you consider wrong about "socialist" viewpoints just imagine the potential of harnessing those socialist caring instincts in your church member toward the building up of fellow church members. His socialist inclinations are only negatively perceived if those same energies are not used for the Lord's work.

Richard Pajak

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Richard Pajak wrote:
"Teaching my socialist to vote Republican is pretty low on my list of discipleship topics." (Mike Durning)

Irrespective of what you consider wrong about "socialist" viewpoints just imagine the potential of harnessing those socialist caring instincts in your church member toward the building up of fellow church members. His socialist inclinations are only negatively perceived if those same energies are not used for the Lord's work.

Socialism is a doctrine of demons which is rooted in atheism (at worst) and covetousness (at best). It is not a "caring instinct." I cannot show my care for you by robbing other people and giving you their money. The Bible calls that stealing. Socialism has no correlation to the Lord's work whatsoever. It is rooted in the satanic utopian dream of bringing in the Kingdom without the King.

Hopefully, it would not be too far into the discipleship process before a new believer would come to see that on his own without the subject ever being brought up in terms of political parties and candidates.

Have him start by reading William Bradford next Thanksgiving. He called socialism an experiment whereby the Pilgrims thought for a time that they had been "wiser than God."

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
Teaching my socialist to vote Republican is pretty low on my list of discipleship topics.
I'd be way more interested in teaching my socialist church member (if I had any of those)to think biblically about the nature of man and role of government. How he votes is for him to figure out. But in my experience, when folks get the underlying principles sorted out, that part's pretty easy... and they also understand that it's not about a party brand ("Republican" has probably never been synonymous with "conservative").

Will have to do some more research on this point, but it seems theoretically possible to be socialist in terms of economics but not be progressive in the sense of believing that increased collective ownership and collective power will eventually be the key that solves the problems of poverty, crime and war. But every form of socialism I'm aware of incorporates a very strong aversion to individual responsibility and a preference for paternalistic (or maybe maternalistic) government that somehow wisely cares for every need (even though it is necessarily far removed from the daily experience of most of its citizens).

But many monarchies have had that quality as well, and the case against that kind of role for govt. ends up being more of a wisdom argument than a biblical one (Though a "wisdom argument" is ultimately a biblical one, it's several steps down the application ladder.) It just isn't wise to run a nation in such a way that people are encouraged to remain immature, rather than grow up and learn to be responsible for their actions (which includes the freedom to experience the pains as well as the joys that result from their choices).

The inescapable bottom line, though, is that in Scripture, (1) individuals are responsible (and therefore ought to be free) to work to provide for their own families and achieve prosperity and (2) poverty and crime are the results of sin (directly or indirectly) in the world and societies do not have the power to truly solve these problems. These emphases are much at odds with every flavor of socialism I've encountered (not to mention being at odds with foundational idea of private property).

But people do hold to logically inconsistent ideas. So some affirm these biblical ideas and cling to socialistic attitudes toward government at the same time, not realizing the two are incompatible.

Edit: "Caring instinct"... I do think many lean toward socialism precisely because it seems more compassionate, and that does reflect well on individuals who lean that way for that reason (as R Pajak was alluding to). But the greater compassion there is illusory given the true nature of the problems involved

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Many monarchies have had that quality as well, and the case against that kind of role for govt. ends up being more of a wisdom argument than a biblical one.

From a dispensational perspective, this issue relates directly to the entire flow of the Bible. All of history is progressing toward the installment of Christ as King over a worldwide theocratic Kingdom centered in Jerusalem.
We would love to have that kind of a kingdom right now -- it just so happens that there is no individual on earth who is qualified to take the throne.
Confusion on this point led to another doctrine of demons -- "the divine right of kings" -- which led to bloodshed for probably millions of common folks through the centuries. And, as you state, monarchy and socialism are related, and both butt heads directly with the teachings of Scripture.
Both are sold to the great unwashed as the nanny state which will kiss all their hurts. But each is ultimately about a lust for godless power.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Mike Durning's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
However, I do not consider talking about the Biblical case against confiscatory taxation to be politics. And make no mistake about it, it is a Biblical case, not just a nice little political belief I have because I like it and it makes sense in my own pea-brain.

Please present this case here. I would very much like to be persuaded.

Richard Pajak wrote:
Irrespective of what you consider wrong about "socialist" viewpoints just imagine the potential of harnessing those socialist caring instincts in your church member toward the building up of fellow church members. His socialist inclinations are only negatively perceived if those same energies are not used for the Lord's work.

Richard, you are absolutely correct. I hope this newer believer will become a very active member in such areas as our church benevolent ministries, or some kind of “Big Brother” program (Mentoring). When he sees how individuals can do so much more than the loving state can do, I hope it will sway him.

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Socialism is a doctrine of demons which is rooted in atheism (at worst) and covetousness (at best). It is not a "caring instinct." I cannot show my care for you by robbing other people and giving you their money. The Bible calls that stealing.

Wow, Paul! Don’t hold back. Tell us what you really think!

I’m going to disagree with you. Communism in the Marxist/Leninist sense and the Socialism that helps transition to it is clearly godless, since it is rooted in a modernist approach that puts the state in the place of God and illegalizes or strongly discourages Christianity (think USSR).

But Socialism in some of the broader senses is a logical but misguided misapplication of Scripture. Though many rejected Christ as Savior, His teaching has changed the world in terms of policy within the state and in diplomacy between nations. Attempts to enforce the Golden Rule rather than to live it through the Spirit’s power, however, will ultimately fail.

Some commentators feel the early church may have been playing around with the attitude underlying socialism (Acts 4:32-5), and several early church era cults attempted to return to it or even to full-blown communism, but were strongly refuted by the church. Many Western European leaders have couched their Socialism in Christianized terms (the golden rule, etc.). Arguably, the various collectivist systems might work if everybody had no sin nature, but sin nature makes it impossible to maintain it as a productive system. Most humans will never work as hard for their fellow man or for their nation as they would for themselves or their family. Particularly when they know that nobody else will be doing so either. Thus, “Christian Socialism”, as some call it, only works in a theoretical sense, but never practically.

And Paul, you’re just wrong about one thing. The Bible does not call “taxes” stealing. It calls them “taxes”. We pay them because the government tells us to do so, and God tells us to obey the government except where they order us to violate God’s law. What the government does with them afterward is none of our business as submissive Christians, and is only our concern as Americans because we have the voting booth.

I point you toward the example of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis. Joseph was complicit in Pharaoh’s plan to own all of Egypt and make everyone a share-cropper. Why was this? It may have been the final act in a power-play between the Egyptian priestly class and the Pharaoh. But Joseph took a side – and most people here would say it was the wrong one, politically. A guy who is lifted up as a positive example of godly living in a pagan world chose the dictatorial state with only one property right – Pharaohs. Now Pharaoh’s state was in some ways the opposite of Socialism, but it illustrates my point well because he used confiscatory taxation to leverage himself into direct ownership of the entire nation’s means of production (land). And Joseph helped.

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Socialism has no correlation to the Lord's work whatsoever. It is rooted in the satanic utopian dream of bringing in the Kingdom without the King.

On that, I agree with you 100%, as a premil dispensationalist. There are, however, still a few guys who believe the church is supposed to usher in the Kingdom so that Christ can return to reign over us. They would be shocked to know that their dream is actually satanic.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Mike Durning wrote:
And Paul, you’re just wrong about one thing. The Bible does not call “taxes” stealing. It calls them “taxes”. We pay them because the government tells us to do so, and God tells us to obey the government except where they order us to violate God’s law. What the government does with them afterward is none of our business as submissive Christians, and is only our concern as Americans because we have the voting booth.

So governmnet is incapable of stealing??
Yes, we are supposed to pay our taxes even if they are confiscatory. I never said anything to the contrary.
No, it is not none of our business what the government does with the money. I disagree. I wonder if you would take the same approach if you had lived in Stalin and Lenin's Russia where millions of people were butchered to foster the dream of a communist paradise. The government is accountable as a steward to God, and we will also be accountable for how we respond to government.
The fact that we "Americans...have the voting booth" is not an accident of history, or just the way things happen to work here.

This is not a cop out, but I am simply going to have to bow out of this discussion. I would love to write dissertations on low taxes, Joseph, socialism in the 20th century, etc., but those simply are not options for me today. I think I have spoken my peace. Wink

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Thomas Sowell has recently written a great example of what I mean when I say the compassion of socialism is illusory.
An excerpt....

Thomas Sowell wrote:
Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing "compassion" for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.

Read the rest: [URL=http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/the-real-public-service.html The Real Public Service[/URL ]

As for government's ability to steal, certainly there is some point at which collecting a tax is robbery. We've obviously passed that point when a King or Revenue Service collects 100% of someone's earnings! But where exactly is that point? It isn't possible to say, biblically. But that doesn't mean the point doesn't exist. (It's kind of like asking how many whiskers does it take to make a beard? Can't possibly say, but the beard still exists... and most of us know one when we see one!)

No, really, the important question is not where that line is but the philosophy behind it. Socialism, in its purest forms, does not accept that there really is a line. Everything belongs to everyone and, "everyone" is represented by the government. So, it's impossible for the govt. to "steal" what already belongs to it.

Mike Durning's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
So governmnet is incapable of stealing??
Yes, we are supposed to pay our taxes even if they are confiscatory. I never said anything to the contrary.
No, it is not none of our business what the government does with the money. I disagree. I wonder if you would take the same approach if you had lived in Stalin and Lenin's Russia where millions of people were butchered to foster the dream of a communist paradise. The government is accountable as a steward to God, and we will also be accountable for how we respond to government.
The fact that we "Americans...have the voting booth" is not an accident of history, or just the way things happen to work here.

This is not a cop out, but I am simply going to have to bow out of this discussion. I would love to write dissertations on low taxes, Joseph, socialism in the 20th century, etc., but those simply are not options for me today. I think I have spoken my peace. Wink

Paul, I hate to respond, since you are bowing out, but I feel I must. I point out that the New Testament orders to pay taxes, submit to government, and pray for leaders were all given in the context of the Roman Empire, who did MANY things with their tax dollars of which Christians would not approve. I'm sure that our government's abuses are pretty mild in comparison with those of Nero, for instance.

Richard Pajak's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Socialism, in its purest forms, does not accept that there really is a line. Everything belongs to everyone and, "everyone" is represented by the government. So, it's impossible for the govt. to "steal" what already belongs to it.

I don't really think that a pure form of socialism exists.Though essentially holding right wing views I do have some views which would be considered left wing or socialist and I think that, (apart from Paul Scharf and maybe some others on here) most people have a mixture of ideas as well which would not fit comfortably into a box.
There is rather too much demonising going on about those with "socialist" views. A few centuries back you would have been burning some of us at the stake for expressing ideas that you consider demonic.
I think there is a greater error in demonising others than holding "socialist " views.

Richard Pajak

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Well I'll agree that poeple's views in the areas of socialism vs. the alternatives tend to be quite mixed. But this does not legitimize all the mixes. Thinking clearly about the underlying principles leads to parts that fit together into a coherent whole.
As for the lack of pure socialism anywhere, I think that's true. It's been attempted, but is so flawed that it cannot hold its own for long.

Perhaps others do, but I have not demonized anyone for holding socialist views. I'd much rather interact with the ideas and explain the problems.

Richard Pajak's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Well I'll agree that poeple's views in the areas of socialism vs. the alternatives tend to be quite mixed. But this does not legitimize all the mixes. Thinking clearly about the underlying principles leads to parts that fit together into a coherent whole.
As for the lack of pure socialism anywhere, I think that's true. It's been attempted, but is so flawed that it cannot hold its own for long.

Perhaps others do, but I have not demonized anyone for holding socialist views. I'd much rather interact with the ideas and explain the problems.

Sorry Aaron, it was Paul who did that in his comments.

Richard Pajak

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Richard Pajak wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Perhaps others do, but I have not demonized anyone for holding socialist views. I'd much rather interact with the ideas and explain the problems.

Sorry Aaron, it was Paul who did that in his comments.

Richard,

To speak about "doctrines of demons" -- a Scriptural term (1 Tim. 4:1) -- is not to demonize you or anyone else personally. It would seem like appropriate language, however, particularly in this case where we are talking about doctrines which are at least kissing cousins to the communistic system which has taken many millions of lives in the last hundred years.

I would admit that I probably take a little different approach than the one Aaron states above. I really have no interest in interacting with socialist views for the purpose of exploring why an individual holds to them or what I can learn from them. I would feel that way about other issues where I have strong feelings -- but not socialism, not on SI.

It is sort of like interacting with an evolutionist. I can get that from any of a myriad of sources, and what is it really going to solve anyway?
Frankly, I would expect something more and different from SI readers and posters. Which, ironically, was at the heart of Aaron's original article...

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

JobK's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I'd be way more interested in teaching my socialist church member (if I had any of those)to think biblically about the nature of man and role of government.

I am curious. What causes you to believe that a recently saved socialist is any less likely to have a Biblical position on the nature of man and the role of government than a recently saved conservative? Or more to the point, that a recently saved conservative is any more likely? Many conservatives possess their political views for reasons that have nothing to do with the Bible. Further, many more conservatives possess their political views based on popular or common cultural or moral beliefs that seem similar to Christianity, but are actually distortions of it. To make use of a trite example, I used to regularly hear the callers on conservative talk radio and listen to the callers, and read the comments on conservative blogs and discussion boards and encounter lots of statements that cannot be called legitimately Christian in any context.

Now allow me to grant you in this instance that Christians should be politically conservative for Biblical reasons, that "right is right." Even with that being so, it is thoroughly improper to assume that anon-Christian conservative is "right" for the "right" reasons. Such a person may well be conservative for reasons that have nothing to do with the Bible, including one who is conservative for very wrong, sinful reasons. Thus, there are certainly no small number of conservatives who need to be taught to think biblically about a lot of things.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

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