Saturday, November 1, 2008

Socialism vs. the Meaning of Money

I'm sorry, but I just have to post this. It's absolutely brilliant. It is a "must-read" before you vote on Tuesday.

"Do the Rich Owe Us?"

Also, you may wish to check out my former housemate Anthony's article, "Was the Early Church Socialist?" here.


Ted M. Gossard said...

I don't know Andrew. In Israel in the old covenant there were laws stipulated for the rich to provide for the poor, like in leaving certain parts of their crops or grape vines for them. And other measures as well.

Capitalism/ free enterprise is good but must be regulated due to human greed, I believe. I have to agree with Teddy Roosevelt who was the first to come up with- what do we call it?- a graded income tax- where the rich pay more.

A society which does not care to help the poor on their feet, but all are left to themselves, is hardly one that is pleasing to God, I would think.

And to spread the wealth around? That's all Washington D.C. does, according to George Will (and he is a political conservative).

I would wonder if there ought not to be some sort of balance. Where the rich can do well and thus spread their wealth through jobs ("trickle down"). Yet be held accountable, as in the case of entities like Exon Mobile, and the huge salaries of CEO's.

And as for people paying more taxes who make more- I don't see that as a problem. How much money does one need to be comfortable? And for that matter, I think low income people should pay less taxes. Not because they owe less, or whatever, but so they can live.

I guess this ends up a bit personal for me, as I have friends- she's had three heart attacks, two silent ones, he works two jobs, having lost a good job because of a bad back (yet always coming to work). Health insurance is too high, and he gets little sleep.

Thanks though. Interesting.

Andrew said...

"A society which does not care to help the poor on their feet, but all are left to themselves, is hardly one that is pleasing to God, I would think." -- No, but that's precisely the point: God doesn't approve of the City of Man and is going to destroy it. But that's why he is calling people to himself and building his Church, who are his ambassadors and agents in a fallen world. This means that the primary locus of any kind of "socialism" is the role of the CHURCH (and primarily WITHIN the church, as the NT seems to show).

As for OT Israel, there was no separation of state and church at that point; they were theocratic. Their entire constitution was the Sinaitic Covenant! You make a good point that there were laws to take care of the needy (levirate law, gleaning in fields, kinsman-redeemers, etc.). But as I see it, there is no longer a geo-socio-political entity of "Israel" or any such nation that is "God's people." God's saints redeemed in Christ are to still uphold his laws and values--loving the poor and giving freely to the needy--wherever they are found. It is the CHURCH who is the salt and light in the world, not the government.

Anyway, those are some thoughts I currently have. I could go on, but I won't.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, I thought you'd bring up the point that Israel was a theocratic state, and all you say here is true. But God judges nations and he does it no less on the basis of what they do and don't do. I see that in the OT prophets as well as in Mt 25. Mt 25 is referring to Christians not being fed, etc., but I believe God identifies with the poor and oppressed to some degree, and that how nations treat their own and others will be judged.

This reminds me of the debate I witnessed at Calvin College between Ronald Sider (a Mennonite) and a brilliant Roman Catholic- but I can't google up his name. I must say the good and astute people present were mostly applauding the Catholic, but I was mostly in agreement with Sider.

But yes, the Church is the salt and light of the world in Jesus, not any governments. But that salt and light in Jesus puts governments in a new place of responsibility before God. And while in this world no government will ever be without major faults and struggles, I believe South Africa and its dismantling of apartheid in the way it did, is a good example of applying that light in a way which avoided what most everyone believed was going to be a blood bath. (I think Bonhoeffer, as well as Miroslav Volf- would go somewhere this direction)

As for pure socialism, I am definitely not for that in a fallen world. And even governments in Europe are moving towards more free enterprise, even though I suppose they're more socialistic than not.

But thanks, Andrew. You could be right in all this. This is not really my great interest and I need to work on it more- economics- form of govt- though all of life is important in light of God's word and truth in Jesus.- I know there's much more to say in all of this.

(I was just telling Deb yesterday-Sunday that I need to read from cover to cover my copy of Augustine's "City of God".)

Ted M. Gossard said...

I meant by God's people as salt and light in Jesus, and by the revelation of God in Jesus- nations will be judged- in that new light. More to say on that, but Bonhoeffer, Volf, etc., go this direction, I believe. And I think that concurs with Scripture.

And by the way, this discussion remind me of a read you MUST do, a must-read Andrew (and actually a relatively easy, short read). I really would like to get your critique of it: Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight. And here's a review I did on it (and I posted it on Amazon).

Litl-Luther said...


I appreciate the gracious way you write (I'm referring to all the correspondence you have done with me). I know I am too often gruff, but grace and gentleness as well as sound reason is definitely evident in the comments you make. You're an excellent example of an intellectual Christian.

BTW: This is not at all flattery. I just call it as I see it. You probably know me well enough by now to know I’m the opposite of a flatterer!