Bible Study: Socialism and the Bible
Many people say that the Bible outlines no specific economic system for society to follow. Many church bodies are involved in promoting communism or various forms of socialism, even to the point of giving material aid to revolutionaries who are attempting to bring communism to their lands. It should be no surprise that the church bodies involved in these activities have long ago given up the biblical teachings about creation and adopted evolution. As this month's WORLD VIEW makes so clear, one's views on creation, and therefore the nature of man, work and wealth, will determine how one thinks about the value and practice of one's labour in relation to others. The adversarial view which comes out of evolution is naturally found in socialism because of socialism's materialistic view of the world. The cooperative view of work (as regards man) and the thanks offering attitude of work (toward God) is naturally a result of the biblical view of creation and man.
It is also true, as some say, that certain Bible passages which refer to buying and selling reflect the social and economic practices of the day without meaning to say that these particular practices are to be universal. But when immorality is practised in biblical culture, it is always condemned by Scripture. If private ownership and wealth were sinful and in themselves oppressive to the poor, Scripture would condemn these. Scripture, however, never condemns wealth - it speaks of wealth as a blessing, and actually protects the concept of private ownership. We shall look at a few biblical examples which show that many today who favour socialism are actually using the Bible to support their own political views!
Read EXODUS 20:15. What do we call this section of Scripture from EXODUS 20:2-17? What is forbidden here? What situation is assumed in this commandment? If God did not allow the private ownership of property, would this commandment make any sense? Read DEUTERONOMY 22:1. What is again assumed here? How does this relate to EXODUS 20:15? What would it be called if you allowed someone else's ox or sheep to go astray? What would God hold you responsible for if you let this happen? Read LEVITICUS 19:35-36. What is forbidden here? Does this specific command of God assume ownership of private property? What would you be doing if you used unfair weights or balances in selling goods?
DEUTERONOMY 15:1-11 also adds mercy to the economic order. But what kind of economic order is assumed here? If this economic order were inherently wrong, would God give such commands? The secret of Israel's prosperity is found in verses 4 and 5. What is it? What can we learn from these verses about our economic life today? Could a social system which forbids God's Word expect His blessing?
Both the Old and the New Testaments point out the purpose of possessions. Read PROVERBS 3:9. What purpose for material property is suggested here? Look up 1 CORINTHIANS 16:2 and compare this with DEUTERONOMY 16:2. What attitude toward the Lord's work is commended to us here? Are the specific instructions given in these passages the best habits we can get into in order to practice and encourage such an attitude? If this were really practised today by all Christians, would our witness for the Lord be stronger? How?
In MATTHEW 19:23 we find Jesus warning about the peril of riches, but at the beginning of MATTHEW chapter 20 (verse 1), Jesus compares God to a wealthy landowner. Is the problem wealth itself or something else? What? In LUKE 12:16-21 we have the parable of the rich fool. Read this parable. Was the man's sin in having wealth? What was his sin? Where did this sin start? Is that same sin able to be committed by those of only modest wealth? How about those with little or no wealth?
Many extremely rich men are presented as heroes of faith in the Bible. Can you name two? Are material goods sin or blessing? Consider Job. Read JOB 1:1-3. Was Job wealthy? But then, in testing he lost everything. Yet after his testing God did something. Read JOB 42:12-17 to find out what God did. Was it sinful for Job to have this wealth? Was the Middle East filled with wealth or poverty at this time? Yet is Job faulted for this wealth by God? Take Abraham as another example. Does Scripture picture Abraham as a generous man? Name a couple of examples of his generosity. But did Abraham feel that he had to distribute his wealth equally among all the people who had need? If he had done that what would have happened to all those who worked for him?
The problems with communism and socialism begin with their rejection of the creation in Genesis. With their totally materialistic measure of man and life these systems continue, from this point, to ignore the rest of the God-given order of the world. While communism has an interest in denying religious freedom to Christians, this is only a by-product of its faulty view of the world.
Ultimately, our goal as Christians on this earth is to support and be a part of the Gospel outreach to all men. We are to place first the witness of Christ's innocent suffering and death on the cross for the redemption of sin-enslaved man. God has promised to add all things to us if we do this!
Close this Bible study with a prayerful reading of the 23rd PSALM.