Some say Jesus is a Socialist. I say no. If anything, Jesus was an anarchist. Lumping Jesus with Socialism bugs the crap out of me. So I wrote this. It all hangs on one verse: Acts 2:45. I’ve listed 5 of the 18 related verses below. Next, this post is a bit of a heavy lift. It’s worth making a spot of tea before reading all of it. I’ll not make you wait for the four things that I can’t stomach from those who want Jesus to be a Socialist. And no, this isn’t one of those list posts. I don’t like those either. These are my four: collective condemnation, the absence of mercy, idolatry of the law instead of God, and buffet faith. There is more after I post related verses below the photo.
God Said . . .
So Not Bougie, Seriously, Period, End of Story, I’m NOT Kidding, Literally NOT Bougie!! Jesus is a Socialist! Asshole!
Let’s start with collective condemnation. You’ll find apologists and preachers who say that Jesus saved us all from sin. We can’t do anything to prevent that or enact that. It’s all Him. Maybe. I don’t have room in this piece to dive down that rabbit hole. Salvation and discipleship are personal under the Reformed Tradition dating back to the 15th Century. Each of us is accountable to Christ for our sins. The rest is God’s business. Those that say Jesus is a Socialist don’t let go and let God. Instead, they nurture resentment for evil rich people and evil corporations.
Christian Socialists point a quivering finger of accusation at the wealthy and at corporations. Both of these are bougie and bougie folk need to come correct for Christian Socialists to be happy. They make an impossible demand–all bougie folk must come correct or Christian Socialists will keep screaming in protest. It is further impossible because those tagged as bougie and needing to be held accountable can’t repent. We are damned from birth and will die shunned and condemned. Not just that, but the sins of our ancestors irredeemably stain us.
Contrast that with the promises of Christ. I found at least 25 bible verses on Repentance. Show me where in all that has been written by Socialist leaders there are similar words. One example, Matthew 3:11 ESV, John says, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Repentance and redemption are core values for us. It is a key promise that if we devote our lives to Christ he will redeem us from our sin. This isn’t collective salvation, though. It is individual salvation. Each of us has to surrender to Christ to gain redemption.
I Love MY Law and Hate Your Law
Were that the law would be enough. It isn’t enough. This is a huge blind spot for any degree of Socialism. The story arc of the Old Testament is that God’s people would come correct for a while. Then they’d drift away from God and get into trouble. Whereupon God would rescue them one more time.
This goes on until it becomes clear that an unbreakable loop across history took root. Something radical had to happen. Something crazy and absurd–Jesus.
The problem for legalism and Socialism is a legalist political philosophy isn’t the majority that mostly behaves. It’s the intractable minority that just won’t get with the program. Nothing in recorded history has been able to cure their dissidence. Yes, we have a criminal justice system and these folk do catch consequences. We still have them and their crimes in spite of all the laws and social policy in place to prevent their criminality.
Now, if you have read this far then hopefully you will stick it out. My good friend finds Democratic Socialism to be good and Socialism to be bad. She is Christian so Christian Democratic Socialists are her tribe. One of her core beliefs is that the world is divided into evil, wealthy capitalists and the other 98% who are being shat on. She owns her own salon, owns a single-family home on a half-acre lot, is married with a daughter, and counts herself among the 98%.
Next, a couple of quick facts: about 0.15% of the world’s population owns a car. Two, about 0.12% of the world’s population owns their own home. My friend and her husband own two cars and their own home. Not very 98%.
Go Fix Yourself
Here is my point: at the core of anything Socialist is a demand that we view the world with angry hearts. Even Democratic Socialism declares that the problem is capitalism and the answer is community ownership of the means of production. Christian Socialism demands that a category of people and organizations has to conform to their idea of fairness and justice. This declaration is childish nonsense that can’t work.
Here is why it can’t work: there is no end to it. Like a victim of abuse attempting to placate the abuser, we try harder only to find that our Socialist abusers move the target. At first, it was a minimum wage. Did that. Then it was a bigger minimum wage. Done. Now through COVID-19 unemployment relief, the push is to guarantee a minimum income to every American citizen. Because it’s only fair. Yet the consequence isn’t less misery. Quite the opposite. Misery abounds and is on the rise.
One more. We are told that the problem with gun crime is the gun. So the answer is increasingly strict gun laws interfering with the lawful ownership of a gun. This has had two effects: criminal ownership of guns is increasing and gun violence in Democratic (Socialist) cities is getting worse. What’s the answer: instead of trying to get rid of guns, figure out how to change the behavior of criminals so that they get caught and jailed or stop committing crimes. The problem with guns isn’t the gun–it’s the asshole using the gun to commit a crime. But again, like an abuser, Socialist leaders can’t be satisfied. No matter how strict the gun laws are they circle back to the same mantra: “what we need are reasonable gun control laws.”
You Were Born Fucked
Next, let’s talk about Mercy. Socialism, even Democratic Christian Socialism, is the product of sadistic addicts. It does not countenance mercy. Instead, it takes sweeping swaths of classes of people and tags them as either bourgeoisie or proletariat. Like Feudalism which is its grandmother, it shoves people into castes based on ancestry. I am a WASP. Critical Race Theory says I am racist. I will remain racist even after I die. In a caricature of collective grace, this label is given to me regardless of what I do to repent and redeem myself. No amount of self-criticism or kowtowing before a shrine to Mao is sufficient. I’m just white and thus, just fucked.
Why do this? To fix injustice, we are told. The cure to racism is . . . racism. An eye for an eye. Never is it considered that evil isn’t in the bourgeoise. It is in the dark hearts of every Socialist. Their simmering resentment against racists (bourgeoise) is never completely soothed by revenge or vengeance. Instead, like an addiction, more vengeance eats more of the soul and generates an increased need for more vengeance. I know, some Socialists are like functional addicts in that they are constantly bargaining with the Devil over how much of their soul he will eat. This isn’t better.
Step Work. Or the Twelve Steps. This is a path to redemption absent from anything Socialist. Where Socialists shove resentment in our face, Reformed Faith promises redemption through repentance. Jesus did this for all of us. You can have redemption too by uttering a simple prayer and then living out your discipleship as one of the Saved.
Nobody for President
Back to Christian Socialism. Community-controlled organizations aren’t better. It is still people that run them. Good people in leadership are nice but rare. The lack of good leadership complicates decision-making. It still doesn’t have an answer for troublemakers. Actually, troublemakers often find themselves in charge because all the nice people fade away.
Socialism also has no answer for cheaters. For Socialism to work there has to be perfect compliance. All X must be Y. Except that there is always a bit of X that isn’t Y and thus, makes a mess of it. Unless you surrender to the cross. Then the bit of X that isn’t Y can be worked with through grace.
What is witnessed in places where Socialism, even Christian Socialism or Democratic Socialism controls the majority of the populace is that corruption and cheating become necessary. The populace can’t acquire what they need through legitimate means. Instead, it is grey and black market capitalism that fulfills the needs of the populace. Evil magnified despite the best efforts of the Socialists. Or . . . individual salvation through Christ who died for us.
All for One or Their Will Be Punishment
Where Socialism insists on collective guilt, Reformed Christianity teaches that our faith and salvation are individual. Each of us can gain the promises of Christ through a personal confession of faith. Socialism, even Democratic Socialism or Christian Socialism, does not allow repentance and reconciliation. Once accused one is guilty. One is guilty simply by our place in society and there is no relief from our guilt. This is a caricature of the oft-repeated, “we are all sinners.”
To say that Jesus is a Socialist is to declare that He taught that salvation is collective. Which . . . maybe. This denies a core precept of Socialism: that the collective guilt of the bourgeoisie cannot be repented. Socialism does not allow mercy. One is born bougie and will remain bougie unto seven generations past one’s death. “I was born this way,” takes on a perverse meaning with this precept.
Under the Reformed tradition forgiveness of sin is available to each of us. The beginning of it is a simple prayer, “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. . . You died for my sins and rose from the dead. . . Come into my heart and life. I will trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.” Upon giving one’s life to Christ you gain the responsibility to live out the prayer you just prayed. The truth of your prayer will be shown in the life you live having uttered the Sinner’s Prayer.
More Law More Better
The Way of Jesus of Nazareth is distinct in one key respect: Grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” There are many other religions that are legalist and shame-based. The way to perfection is through laws. Punishment is through shame. Sadly, you can’t escape the shame. One is taught that perfection cannot be achieved in one lifetime. Instead, life is a ceaseless striving to be better with the sad knowledge that all that work will not be enough.
You see this in the answers of Socialists. It cannot be true that personal salvation is the answer. So instead, there is perpetual, personal shame and one more thing: a codependent insistence that others, the world, bend to ones will. We have to come correct so that the Socialist can be happy. Which, maybe . . . but Socialists are impossibly unhappy abusers. We can’t make them happy. So life becomes an irresolvable struggle.
What do Socialists say is the answer to the struggle? More law, more control. The law is the Way, the Truth, and the Life everlasting. More structure to control God’s creation. God made this. He isn’t exactly amenable to being told what to do. So instead, Socialists find themselves in an infinite, impossible loop. More law, more control creates more chaos necessitating a rinse repeat and ending in death. This is the better way?
Legalize “I” Dolls
Socialism, even the diminished Christian Socialism, has become a pseudo-religion of legalism. It began as a thought experiment and through Mao Zedong, became a religion. Christian Socialists deny that their soft allegiance to Socialism is idolatry. Deny all day. It is idolatry. Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before[a] me“. We all know that our God is a jealous God. Well . . . Cancel Culture. You can’t be just a little Christian and just a little Socialist. To be accepted among Socialist circles you have to give your life to the cause. There is no middle.
To be a revolutionary is to be Communist or Socialist. Anything less is to be a dilettante. You are either down for the cause or you are bougie. Protip: you are probably bougie. Only a select few with the right adjectives can own the title of proletariat. Everybody else is shameful and shunned.
You are never enough as a Socialist. It is a super critical task to stay WOKE and be with the fashy set. Every word, every deed, even your dreams are suspicious. A small thing: is it more WOKE to ask for paper or plastic bags at the grocery checkout counter? Getting this wrong can get you shunned. You can’t deviate even a little from the orthodoxy of the day.
Super King Buffet
Which leads us to . . . buffet faith. We all have that phase of our youthful lives. There is no mission, vision, or purpose. We just know that the elders are wrong. Swimming around in our upbringing is a smorgasbord of faith traditions, ethics, and philosophies. Because Marx and Mao have dominated popular, secular culture for perhaps 170 years, the counter to Christianity is some flavor of Communism or Socialism.
Submitting to the elders is a non-starter. We can’t shake the feeling that their old ways are not revolutionary. There must be a new way, a better way. Those who don’t shout fealty to the revolution are dangerous and must be dealt with. So we journey to the wild side and find sex, drugs and loud music.
In our village among our tribe we get a lot of affirmation and debauchery. It feels SO good. The angst and resentment we brought with us is celebrated as our truth. We are right, they are wrong, the arguments against us are bourgeois and thus, evil.
Some of us, though, keep listening to Christian Music and can’t shake a hunger for Christ. We won’t give up our backslid life. It’s too good. But we have friends we love at church so we dither. Instead, like one does at a buffet, we cherry pick the bits of Socialism and Christian Discipleship to cobble together a buffet life never committing to one and always a bit wavering on the other.
You Can Change the World
Later in Exodus (Exodus 23:13) God tells us, “Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips. Omnia quae dixi vobis, custodite. Et per nomen externorum deorum non jurabitis, neque audietur ex ore vestro.” This is the choice: fealty to a pseudo-religious political philosophy made popular by sadistic addicts or give your life to Christ. You can’t have a little of both. Socialism demands your soul as does Christianity. The difference is that Christ will give you life and Socialism will slowly bleed the life from you until the only thing left is a hate-filled husk of your former self.
I’ll leave you with this: There is something everyone can do. You don’t need to be Christian. You don’t need any special education or training. What you have right now is enough. Who you are right now is enough. All it takes is a little personal inventory. There are people in your circle of influence that need things you can provide. It isn’t always material. Sometimes it’s just listening. You’ll know when it happens. Then, do the thing. Important: do it without any hope of a return or desired outcome. Then do it again and make it a habit of doing small acts of kindness with great love–Mother Teresa. That’s what I ask of you. Those evil corporations, capitalists, principalities, and powers? God’s problem, not yours.