As a Christian libertarian, few things worry me more than the rise of socialism in America.
A March 2020 Gallup poll found that four out of ten Americans have a positive view of socialism. Among Democrats, 65 percent surveyed said they hold a favorable view of the doctrine.
Whats particularly alarming is that this embrace of socialism is making its way into Americas churches. In recent years, among my Christian friends, family members, and fellow church members, Ive seen sympathy for socialism expressed in various ways. Sometimes its outright support for socialistic policies like the Green New Deal. Other times its support for thinly veiled Marxist concepts or anti-capitalist rhetoric.
Ive had long discussions with people whove tried to convince me that Jesus of Nazareth, whom I recognize as God in flesh, was a socialist. Almost universally, I find these individuals dont misunderstand Jesus. They misunderstand socialism.
Reciting the evils of socialismwhich are legionis easy enough, but Ive found relating these lessons to the Gospel is somewhat more difficult.
Did Jesus not say money is the root of all evil? Did Jesus not say it would be exceedingly difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Didnt Jesus tell a rich man to sell all his possessions and then give it to the poor? Did Jesus not tell a parable about a landowner paying workers the same wage to all workers, even though some worked less than others?
Pointing out that socialism has killed tens of millions of people doesnt address these questions. But there are simple and persuasive answers to each of them, which I know now after reading Lawrence Reeds new book Was Jesus a Socialist?
As a full disclosure, Reed is FEEs president emeritus and a man I can consider a personal friend and mentor. My personal feelings aside, in his new bookwhich was officially released on Mondayhes provided a timely and meticulously well-researched work that deserves attention, especially from those who see Americas churches as the way forward for a loving and peaceful society.
Like it or not, Christian Socialism is on the rise. How we confront it will be one of the greatest challenges Christians face during turbulent times. To be clear, I dont believe Jesus was a capitalist. Or a libertarian. Or a Democrat or Republican.
As Daniel Hannan observed in a wonderful foreword to Reeds book, Jesus transcended such descriptions and showed little interest in the political or social structures of His own time, let alone of todays.
My kingdom is not of this world, Jesus told Pontius Pilate, according to John 18:36. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place."
Unfortunately, this simple truth will not dissuade people from claiming Jesus was a socialist. For Christians seeking intellectual ammunition to rebut such claims, youll not find a better place to start than Reeds new book.
Heres a brief list of observations, facts, and musings about socialism, wealth, and Jesus from the book.
This is just a small taste of what youll learn from reading Lawrence Reeds new book Was Jesus a Socialist?
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