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