The comments on SHOULD CHRISTIANS PARTICIPATE IN POLITICS? have gone off the rail. Instead of discussing whether Christians should participate in government, commenters want to debate whether Christians should support socialism. Since I generally appreciate comments, even those I don’t agree with, I decided to create a more appropriate post.
Subject Of The Debate
Does Christianity favor or does it oppose Socialism? That’s the question.
When he added this comment, which includes a link to his website, Mo Johnson revived a debate I thought over. In fact, he changed subject of the debate. Here, in a latter comment, he explains his own position.
Hi all, glad to see the discussion.
There’s more to address than i can. For instance, of course, Citizen Tom is quite wrong about no “socialized” country ever succeeding. The truth is that only socialized countries have succeeded. It all depends how you define the term socialized. Obviously, all successful countries in the world today are “socialized” to one degree or another. The ONLY countries that have no “socialized” aspects are failed states like Somalia and Ethiopia. I suppose perhaps those are the kind of countries Citizen Tom yearns for us to be like. They are the best examples we have of what pure capitalism and limited government will bring us. (continued here)
Terms Of The Debate
To justify their ideology, Socialists often play word games. In particular, they play with the word justice. They call upon government to provide justice. However, government does not always have the responsibility of providing for justice.
Here is how fans of Capitalism define “social justice” and “economic justice”.
Justice, Social. Social justice is the particular virtue whose object is the common good of all human society, rather than, as with individual justice, the individual good of any member or group. It is one of the basic social virtues in the field of social morality. Social justice guides humans as social beings in creating and perfecting organized human interactions, or institutions. It is the principle for restoring moral balance and harmony in the social order.
Social justice imposes on each member of society a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development. To the extent an institution violates the human dignity of any person or group, organized acts of social justice are required to correct the defects in that institution. Actions such as “social justice tithing,” for example, recognize a personal responsibility to devote a certain amount of time toward working with others to improve the organizations and institutions in which we live and work.
Justice, Economic. Economic justice is a subset of social justice. It encompasses the moral principles that guide people in creating, maintaining and perfecting economic institutions. These institutions determine how each person earns a living, enters into contracts, exchanges goods and services with others and otherwise produces an independent material foundation for economic subsistence. The ultimate purpose of economic justice is to free each person economically to develop to the full extent of his or her potential, enabling that person to engage in the unlimited work beyond economics, the work of the mind and the spirit done for its own intrinsic value and satisfaction. (SeeWork, Leisure.) The triad of interdependent principles of economic justice that serve as the moral basis of binary economics are the principle of Participation (or Participative Justice), the principle of Distribution (or Distributive Justice), and the principle of Harmony (sometimes referred to as Social Justice).
Note that both definitions recognize that we have individual responsibilities, not social responsibilities. Society does not have a responsibility to provide social justice. Look at what just plain justice involves.
Justice. Functionally, justice is a set of universal principles that guide people in judging what is right and what is wrong, no matter what culture and society they live in. It is one of the cardinal individual virtues of classical moral philosophy, along with fortitude (courage), temperance (self-control), and prudence (effectiveness). Justice is based on the maxim of suum cuique, “to each his due,” or, “to each his own.” Justice as a moral virtue disposes one person to respect the rights of others and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity and fairness with regard to other persons and to the common good. The basis of justice is the dignity of each human person. Justice reflects the qualities of balance and equivalence. It holds that each person deserves to be rewarded for his virtues/good habits and good actions and penalized for his vices/bad habits and bad actions.
When someone monopolizes a property, if the public good requires it, we will call upon government and divest that someone of that property using eminent domain. Yet even then, justice requires just compensation.
The simple fact of poverty does not just justify theft. If a poor man steals to feed his family, we find his sin easier to forgive — we may even be tempted to applaud, but he is still stealing. Similarly just because Paul is poor, busybodies do not get to rob Peter on behalf of Paul. Busybody Robin Hoods cannot rightly use the simple fact of poverty as an excuse to create some kind of Utopia. Sneaking up on a rich merchant, threatening him with a knife to his throat, and stealing his money is robbery. Peter the Merchant may or may not be a selfish pig, but robbery is still robbery. Even when an officialized mob – government — “redistributes” the wealth, that mob steals.
If we want to help Paul, then we must each reach into our own pockets.
Previous Posts On Christianity Versus Socialism
Some time back I reviewed Nullifying Tyranny: Creating Moral Communities in an Immoral Society. That resulted in a five-part series. Here is the last post, WHAT DO CHRISTIANS HAVE TO DO WITH GOVERNMENT? — PART 5.
In addition, I have written a six-part series that examines the moral choice between capitalism and socialism. Since that series refutes many of the arguments offered by advocates for Christian Socialism, they may wish to prepare by doing a little opposition research. Here is the last post in that series, THE MORAL CHOICE BETWEEN CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM– PART 6.
REMAINING POSTS IN THIS SERIES
- In Part 2, we considered What The “Wise” Say About The Connection Between Socialism and Christianity.
- In Part 3, we took up the task of Defining the Kingdom of God.
- In Part 4, we asked our first question: Would A Socialist Utopia Be Compatible With The Kingdom Of God?.
- In Part 5, we asked our second question: What Is The Role Of Government In The Kingdom Of God?
- The end is Part 6, What Is The Role Of The Church In The Kingdom Of God?