In attaching any one political party affiliation to the creator of the universe, it seems we must either give our politics a major upgrade or deal God a significant downgrade.
In fact, a recent study found that the more people rely on the government for solutions, the less likely they are to seek answers from a benevolent God. Between 2008 and 2013 in the U.S., the study found, “better government services in a specific year predicted lower religiosity 1 to 2 years later.”
“If a secular entity provides what people need, they will be less likely to seek help from God or other supernatural entities,” the study’s authors concluded. “Government is the most likely secular provider.”
Apparently, though, some people are OK with that exchange. Late-night CBS host Stephen Colbert, a Catholic Sunday school teacher, recently announced his belief that God is a socialist. He semi-jokingly told his viewers, “Jesus didn’t charge lepers a co-pay.”
And in an article published last week by NPR, the 36-year-old co-founder of the West Virginia chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America proclaimed the Son of God was certainly a socialist during his earthly ministry.
“Possibly my mother would want to debate me on this,” Kelley Rose said, “but if anyone was ever a socialist, it was Jesus.”
Rose went on to acknowledge she “might be the only one in our little chapter that is a Christian.” There’s perhaps a reason for that.
Bruce Ashford, provost and professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, pointed out in an interview with Faithwire on Thursday that Scripture, for the most part, “does not speak directly to issues of public policy.”
“You can’t just take Christian moral teaching and translate it cleanly and efficiently into public policy in most cases,” he said. “So we have to be careful thinking the Bible speaks directly to economic policy.”
Ashford, who lived in Russia in the 1990s, went on to say socialism “tends to make an ultimate good or god out of material equality, and in more extreme forms, communal ownership of property.”
“When you make anything ultimate other than God,” he explained, “then the thing you’ve made ultimate becomes a club you use to beat down other aspects of God’s good creation.”
Socialism is entirely self-serving and absolute. As a result, anything that gets in the way of the principal, be it religion, education, art, or literature, must be defeated. A collective reliance upon one entity — the government — is necessary.
“We tend to put all of our eggs in the basket of politics,” Ashford said, “but God created the world to be an interlocking web of cultural activity that includes not just politics and economics, but art, science, education, family, church, business and so forth.”
He added, “It’s all of those sectors of society or spheres of culture that combine or coalesce to make a society healthy.”
The truth of the matter is, God just isn’t a socialist — or a Democrat, or a Republican, or a communist, or a libertarian — because for him to wholly endorse a social or economic framework would seemingly suggest such an ideology could eternally solve humanity’s ills.
God is not a guru, Jesus wasn’t just a good teacher, and the Bible isn’t a guide for how to live our best lives now. If the Lord and Scripture were intended to point us toward a saving political party, why would Jesus need to die on the cross? After all, if we worked hard enough, wouldn’t we be able to save ourselves by simply voting the right lawmakers into office and espousing the right political ideology?
We are fallen, intrinsically depraved beings, created in the image of God but distorted by our propensity toward sin. Apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ, which calls us toward hospitality, generosity, and selflessness, all virtues socialism provides for only temporarily, we are destined for destruction.
Not only does socialism, or any other political ideology carried out to its most extreme end, claim to be the ultimate solution to human suffering, it also dangerously assumes that left to our own devices, human beings will always act rightly.
A simple look at world history — the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin, Germany’s Adolf Hitler, China’s Mao Zedong — proves that most certainly isn’t the case.
Ashford, author of the new book, “Letters to an American Christian,” argued that while socialism might offer a “short-term Band-Aid” to those in need, it ultimately ushers in “long-term harm.”
“When you see a group of ships in a harbor, sinking with a receding tide, you’re watching equality in action,” he said. “But you’re also watching them sink.”