Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848, relating it to what they called "scientific socialism." The 20th century and beyond are fraught with examples of the embarrassing failures of both communism and socialism (i.e., The Former Soviet Union, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba and Soviet-era Eastern Germany, to name a few).
Despite this dubious history, we currently have high-profile political leaders, like congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, promoting a form of Marxism called "democratic socialism."
The following are 10 reasons why socialism is antithetical to the tenets of biblical Christianity.
1. Socialism is against the biblical view of the nuclear family. Marxists argue that "the nuclear family performs ideological functions for Capitalism — the family acts as a unit of consumption and teaches passive acceptance of hierarchy. It is also the institution through which the wealthy pass down their private property to their children, thus reproducing class inequality."
Hence, socialism is against the biblical principle of parental rights related to their children and the prominence of the nuclear family. (See Genesis 1:28-29; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 5:22-6:4.)
2. Socialists claim education belongs solely to the state. Marxist education aims at producing faithful citizens. Therefore, it is primarily an ideological tool to program children to be loyal to the state. In communist and socialist nations, education and the curriculum are controlled by the state and are not considered the responsibility of the parents. Models like homeschooling children would be illegal. This contradicts the biblical framework regarding parents being responsible for educating their children the way they choose. (See Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:6-9.)
3. Socialists claim the state deserves the highest allegiance. In many communist nations like the former Soviet Union and contemporary countries like North Korea and China, Bibles are confiscated, church buildings are burned and evangelism is illegal. This is because they see Christianity as a rival religion to the authority of the humanistic secular state. This goes against the biblical command to put first God's kingdom and to worship and serve Jesus as the only true Lord. (See Matthew 6:33; 1 Timothy 6:15.)
4. Socialists believe in the abolition of private "property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes." This is antithetical to the biblical premise of the individual right to own private property and the command for believers to create wealth to promote God's covenant. (See Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 8:18; 1 Kings 20:6; Isaiah 65:21-22; Mark 10:29-31.)
5. Socialism advocates a progressive income tax. In a socialist system, people are taxed based on their income. This is called a progressive tax structure. As an example of the influence of socialism in the United States, "The top 1 percent (taxpayers with AGI of $546,434 and above) earned 20.1 percent of total AGI in 2019 and paid 38.8 percent of all federal income taxes. In 2019, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined." This goes against the biblical principle that all people, irrespective of their income, should pay the same percentage, which we call a flat tax. (This is similar to the biblical principle of the tithe, which is 10% of a person's income.) (See Leviticus 27:30; Proverbs 3:8-10; Matthew 23:23.)
6. Socialism opposes the rights of a family inheritance. In a contemporary Marxist and socialist framework, either leaving an inheritance to children is not allowed or the state confiscates much of the family inheritance through double taxation. This goes against the biblical principle of leaving an inheritance to children. (See Proverbs 13:22.)
7. In socialism, the state attempts to control all communication. In socialist countries, "centralization of the means of communication and transport (is) in the hands of the State." In communist nations, people are not allowed to have freedom of speech. Violations can be severely punished (i.e., "Meta-owned Facebook and Twitter have been blocked in China since 2009"). Since God owns the world, nobody has the right to restrict free speech, especially the proclamation of the gospel. (See Psalm 24; Acts 1:8-9.)
8. In socialism, a utopia comes from a revolutionary change from the outside in. "Marx's utopianism lay in the aim of abolishing the distinction between state and civil society, and in the harmony he assumed would emerge." This goes against the biblical principle that systemic change doesn't start from the outside; instead, it starts from the inside when people are born again in their hearts from above. (See John 3:3-8.)
9. Socialism categorizes people as either the oppressed or the oppressors. The Marxist revolutions were started by inciting the so-called proletariat to overthrow the social systems of the so-called bourgeoisie, thus pitting poor and rich citizens against each other. This violates the biblical principles of justice and impartiality in which God commands us not to show favoritism to either the rich or the poor. (See Leviticus 19:15.)
Also, a popular form of contemporary socialism called "critical theory" violates biblical principles by categorizing people based upon their sexual identity, economic status, skin color, ethnicity or gender. Biblically, there is only one human race made in the image of God. In Christ, all the walls that divide humanity have been broken down. (See Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:14-22.)
10. Socialists believe the government is responsible for all social care. In socialist and communist countries, the state is responsible for caring for the poor and providing all goods and services necessary for citizens. They would conceptually view families, churches and nonprofits as competition to the state if they attempted to do the same. Contrariwise, Scripture admonishes Christians, churches and ministries to serve as benefactors to their larger secular community as witnesses to the gospel. (See Luke 10:25-37; Galatians 6:10; Titus 2:14; Titus 3:8).
Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, consultant and theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence culture. He is the founding pastor of Resurrection Church and leads several organizations, including The U.S. Coalition of Apostolic Leaders and Christ Covenant Coalition. Dr. Mattera is the author of 13 bestselling books, including his latest, The Purpose, Power, and Process of Prophetic Ministry, and is renowned for applying Scripture to contemporary culture. To order his books or to join the many thousands who subscribe to his newsletter, go to josephmattera.org.
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