Is love a community project? Why the question? Well, Christian Socialists would have us believe love is a community project. Why? Well, this is one of those arguments over individualism. As this old post, INDIVIDUALISM, stated, individualism is what we make of it.
How does original sin manifest itself in us? Consider the nature of nature of individualism. We can make individualism about self love, or we can make individualism about the love of God and neighbor. We can make individualism either about a haughty pride in our self or respecting the worth of others.
When we make individualism about self love, an odd thing can happen. We can find ourselves castigating individualism because not all individuals adopt our agenda. This is essentially what Socialists do when they condemn all individualists as selfish.
Consider what Socialism is supposedly all about. Sharing. Socialism is about using the power of government to force the selfish rich to share their earthly possessions with the poor. That puts the individuals in charge of the government in charge of everyone else’s wealth. So, is it surprising that the individuals in charge of the government might not want the individuals they rule to exercise their individual rights?
In a nation with a Christian heritage, what is the best argument for Socialism? Love. Supposedly, Christian love redefines Socialism as Christian Socialism. Here is what Encyclopedia Britannica says about the origin of Christian Socialism.
Early in the 19th century, the French philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon expounded a “new Christianity” primarily concerned with the plight of the poor. Saint-Simonians believed that the keynote of social development would be a spirit of association, with religion as the dominating force, that would gradually supplant the prevailing spirit of egotism and antagonism in society. They advocated (among other things) that inheritance rights be abolished so that capital could leave the hands of self-seeking capitalists and be placed at society’s disposal. The Saint-Simonians imagined this and other related actions would effectively end the exploitation of the poor. (from here (britannica.com))
Because it requires government power and the use of force, Christian Socialism is essentially the same thing as just plain Socialism, the use of government force to redistribute the wealth of a people. Consider how we are actually implementing Socialism. An atheistic political party — the latest self declared members of vanguard of the proletariat — would have us achieve a wonderful spirit of association, unselfish Christian love in Christ? The amazing thing is that some Christians are serious about Socialism.
When we let government redistribute our wealth, what are we trying to accomplish? We are trying to show our love for the needy by actually helping them. James put it this way.
James 2:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
What faith is James talking about? He is talking about our Christian faith in Jesus, an individual’s trust in God’s love, an individual’s willingness to obey Him because he loves Him. What kind of love does Jesus call us to have for Him and each other? Agape love.
The Greek word agape is often translated “love” in the New Testament. How is “agape love” different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love. Unlike our English word love, agape is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13. (continued here (gotquestions.org))
Can agape love be a community project? In a secular state? Do we actually expect our political leaders to demonstrate agape love for their constituents, including the poor? Of course not. We don’t even have the wisdom to elect such people. What we should expect is what is happening now. When politicians redistribute the wealth, they use the wealth they redistribute to buy votes. How much politicians help the poor with the money they take from us is debatable, but most welfare programs spend most of the money they spend on administrative costs.
The problem with using the government to redistribute the wealth is the same problem that the Jews had when they tried to achieve salvation by being obedient to the law. We cannot do it. We can make wonderful rules, but just as the Pharisees and the Sadducees did we will bend the rules to suit ourselves. Agape love comes from a heart that loves God. Government is just an organization. We cannot use government to give each other a loving heart. Only God can give each of us such a heart.
This is why we have the New Testament. This is why Jesus died on the cross. This is why we have to be born again so the Holy Spirit indwells us. We need a purified heart.
Consider what the Apostle Peter said when the apostles and elders of the early church came together to decide whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised and obey other Old Testament ceremonial laws.
Acts 15:7-11 New King James Version (NKJV)
7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, [a]acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus [b]Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
So, what about that question? Is love a community project? Isn’t a Christian church a community project? Not really. Agape love is a voluntary act of the will by an individual, not a community. Individuals can form a community and voluntarily share their love for each other, but love cannot be coerced. This is why Socialism fails. Socialism corrupts charity by removing the element of love that motivates honest charity.
Then what is a Christian church? A Christian church is a fellowship, a group of people coming together to share their love for Jesus. Christians unite to worship and to share the work of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). Some churches may engage in charity projects, but no coercion is involve. People contribute because they wish to do so.
- CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM — PART 6: This is the last post in a series, but it contains links to the rest of the series.
- THE MORAL CHOICE BETWEEN CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM — PART 6: This is the last post in a series, but it contains links to the rest of the series.
- BECAUSE WE CAN ONLY REAP WHAT WE SOW, SOCIALISM CANNOT WORK
- IS IT THE CULT OF INDIVIDUALISM OR JUST THE PRICE OF SIN?
- RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM VERSUS TRIBALISM
Hmmm. LOL, I’m pondering it all, Tom!
What I believe is that socialism is the ultimate in self absorbed narcissism. Socialists don’t really love their neighbors, they just want to avoid feeling their own guilt, shame, and personal responsibility. Socialism is all about individualism and no community love. In fact, it’s a way of avoiding loving your community the way we are called to do.
Rather then taking care of our elders, we wanted soc sec to look out for them. Rather then caring for our orphans, we built a foster care system. Rather than staying married and working for a living, we created welfare. Rather then feeding the hungry, we wanted foodstamps. All of these things are ways to help us avoid having to take care of one another collectively.
I’m always reminded of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible, especially how Ezekiel 16:49 tells us, “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy”
I don’t have a solution for all this. The problem is obviously sin and it’s been going on since the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, at least. I do believe that individual property rights are critically important, as is a sense of community. Back in the day, some knew how to treat their employees like family, and there was honor in how well you cared for your neighbors and community. Men felt responsible for what went on in their area and church relationships mattered. It’s kind of a utopian idea that never really existed, but that’s the kind of collectivism I’m thinking of.
Words can be confusing, and “individualism” can be a confusing word. When some speak of individualism, they focus on individual rights and responsibilities. This type of individualism emphasizes the rights of the individual with respect to the collective, pointing out that the government exists to protect individual rights as well as ensuring that we each fulfill our obligations to each other. Others condemn individualism because some people abuse the concept of individualism. These demand their “rights” without fulfilling their individual responsibilities. This type of individualism in the form of Socialism is what you have called the ultimate in self absorbed narcissism.
I don’t have a solution either. We can reach an optimum of some sort, but the perfection of Utopia is beyond us. Yet that is what some promise, if we give them all the power they demand.
This Britannica article gives credence to your post
In my opinion, the problem in the USA of huge imbalance of wealth should not involve Christianity.
It is a USA government problem result by borrowing to pay debts instead of taxing which in my opinion should be corrected by inheritance taxes. I wrote a post how it should be used to pay down the National Debt.
My main reasoning is because when a person dies, he cannot complain about how his or her money is used anymore. Based on King Solomon Ecclesiastes which explains the folly of a person spending all his life acquiring wealth only to have to leave it behind when they die.
I believe also that it would be a huge incentive to the USA economy. If a person knows all his time and effort in life is going to the government when he or she dies, they may be inclined to want to spend it hopefully on charitable endeavors or even pleasure which helps spur the economy.
There should be allowances for farms and small family businesses so only the super-rich are mainly required to pay the bulk of inheritance taxes.
Corporations are mainly held by stockholders. When a person dies, the stocks get sold and the money goes to the government to pay down the debt will not close down or affect the businesses operations.
Regards and goodwill blogging.
Thanks for the reference.
Inheritance taxes tax money that should have already been taxed. So, I doubt the wisdom of them. Social engineering is what they are all about.
Want to reduce the deficit? Then we have to define the problem correctly. Spending drives our deficit, not a lack of taxation. Look at this episode with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). What has been the government solution? Spend more money. How do the Republicans compromise with the Democrats? Spend more money. Our politicians spent an absurd amount of money, and for what? To buy our votes. Wouldn’t it be less expensive it we stopped letting them buy our votes?
Do the children of the rich deserve all the money their parents give them? Do the rich deserve all the money they accumulate? Not my call or your call. Not a politician’s decision. How does it improve anything when we give politicians more money to spend?
My suggestion was for inheritance tax to be used exclusively to pay down the National Debt.
I agree that both Democrats and Republicans are both responsible for the National Debt.
And I surmise that if the inheritance taxes were used to only pay down the debt, that is no guarantee the legislators would not just keep increasing spending the same amount to negate the effect.
Frankly, I believe the plan that all free spending legislators have in mind for the future is to allow super inflation of the dollar to occur.
That way, the debt will be paid back to borrowers of the government with dollars that are worthless in value.
Sadly, it will penalize the people who saved for their retirement.
Regards and goodwill blogging.
Maybe the gleaming city on the hill is a mirage.. and it’s really heaven on earth. But then again… it takes a village.
And Federal Government is a village? What kind of mirage is that?