Was Jesus a socialist?
I seem to recall a fishes and loaves story among others that basically taught us that those less fortunate should be taken care of as well.
What is so wrong with basic health care for all? Or Oil companies getting less because they get kickbacks, tax breaks and the like?
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
Socialism is a political theory which postulates that society functions best when all people have equal access to the wealth of the society. The political parties of Jesus' day were concerned with adherence to Jewish tradition (the Pharisees and Essenes), the resurrection of the body (the Pharisees and Sadducees), and relations with Judea's Roman conquerors (Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and Essenes). There were no Social Democratic parties in the first century of the common era, nor would there be any for seventeen hundred years. We must, therefore, evaluate the teachings of Rabbi Yeshua ben-Jospeh, as Jesus would have been known to his contemporaries, in political terms that did not exist while he lived.
Jesus did not live in a vacuum. The Jewish society into which he was born had a great many laws concerning wealth accumulation and duties owed to the poor by the affluent. Everyone engaged in agriculture was enjoined to leave a portion of all fields for the feeding of the needy and the traveler. The keepers of orchards were not permitted to gather fruit that fell to the ground. This also went to the poor and the wayfarer. These were not helpful suggestions;these were laws with serious punishments for transgression. At the end of each seven years, all slaves had to be offered freedom and all land had to be returned to its original owner, regardless of that person or his family's ability to repay the cost. A duty to be charitable was added to all of this within Judaism.
It was on top of these laws and customs that Jesus laid his new commands. In Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-42, Jesus says that he will judge the nations according to their treatment of the "least of his brethren". Karl Marx didn't care much for the rich, but he never promised them eternal perdition as Jesus did. When Jesus says it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, He is referring to gates in the Jerusalem city wall. These gates were so constructed that after the main entrances to the city were closed for the night, a traveler might enter on foot. A fully grown camel could not pass through these eye-of-a-needle gates. A young camel, stripped of its burden, including saddle, might be able to crawl on its belly through the opening. It was possible, but highly unlikely. That is how unlikely Jesus saw anyone laden with wealth entering heaven. Jesus never utters a kind word about the wealthy as a group and demands the renunciation of all possessions of his followers to prepare for the"kingdom of God".
There is nothing in the Bible, nor in the early writings of the Church, that suggest that selling all of one's wealth and living communally was optional for Christians. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead by Almighty God for being motivated by greed to lie to the Apostles about what they received for the sale of their property (Acts 5:2-11). The previous chapter of the Acts of the Apostles closes with a statement that all wealth was held in common (Acts 4:31-33). This echoes the statement the second chapter of Acts, verses 44-45: "And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need". It was on this passage that Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels based the line in the Communist Manifesto, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need".
It must be seen that the early Church was highly coercive in wresting all property from its members. St John Chrysostom ( lived 347-407 C.E;.Archbishop of Constantinople) said "Property is theft", 12 centuries before French anarchist Pierre Proudhon used the line as title for an essay on socialism in the mid-1800's. Until Christians fell out with each other during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, it was considered a sin to loan money at interest, a very grievous sin indeed. The loaning of money at interest is the very basis of Capitalism, yet for fifteen hundred years Christians were forbidden, by their Church, on pain of death, from engaging in this practice.
Again, relying on St. John Chrysostom, we have an excellent view of the Church's position on lending money at interest: "Nothing is baser, nothing is more cruel than the interest that comes from lending. For such a lender trades on other persons' calamities, draws profit from the distress of others, and demands wages for kindness, as though he were afraid to seem merciful. Under the mask of kindness he digs deeper their grave of poverty; when he stretches forth his hand to help, he pushes them down. . ." Truth never changes, as credit crisis and mortgage scandal show today.
While I believe it is possible to be a socialist and not be a Christian, I believe it impossible for a Christian not to be a socialist. On this scripture, which is God's law laid down for our salvation, is abundantly clear. How Christians work within a democratic society to put the message of our lord and savior into action remains a matter for study and debate. The faithful can reasonably dispute whether Christians should support social democratic parties or reject government entirely, but God's preference for the worker, the poor, and socially and physically disadvantaged is plain throughout His word.
-- Gabriel, acting executive director,
Social Democrats, USA--Socialist Party of America
moderator, Christian Socialist Party USA ~ http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=52...Source(s): Gospel of Matthew Acts of the Apostles Duetronomy Leviticus Psalms The Communist Manifesto (a 160 years old this year!) Traditional Values ~ http://www.anglocatholicsocialism.org/acsoc.html Wikipedia: Christian Socialism ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Socialism Jesus the Socialist ~ Dennis Hird ~ http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=n0BYAAAAMAA... Various conversations with religious socialists like Rabbi Michael Lerner, Rev. Cornell West, Sister Diane Drufenbrock Tony Benn, Dorothy Day, and Frank Zeidler
- SlimsmomLv 61 decade ago
Hmm, maybe a Democratic Socialist.........?
Americans worship wealth. Although there is not a darn thing wrong with wealth, we are admonished by Christ to take care of the poor and infirm. Jesus did say that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, but people tend to forget that nothing is impossible with God. It is the worship of wealth above all else that is the problem. Greed and selfishness have brought about many of our current problems.
The "Am I my brother's keeper?" mentality is holding sway for the time being. I have a feeling the new generations will see the error of their predecessors ways and change some of the more blatant inequities the greed mentality has fostered.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Jesus showed compassion for the less fortunate yes, but he also said " A laborer is truly worthy of his wages ". And his heavenly father had many teachings against laziness and idleness. Giving to others of yourself is good but not when it's forced.
Think of it this way, your hours of your life are precious right ?. So why should I have to spend extra hours of my life working instead of enjoying my the fruits of my labors ?. In a sense Obama is demanding the very hours of my life. I don't want that.
And we should be helping Exxon not hurting them, they pay .41 cents on every dollar to the government, last year this one company paid 27 billion in taxes, thats more than half the population paid in taxes combined. And Exxon employees tens of thousands of workers in production and related offshoot jobs.
- tribeca_belleLv 71 decade ago
His teachings seem rather socialistic in nature. The fishes and loaves are a good example. The admonitions about rich people having a harder time getting into heaven are other good examples. He made many references to poverty and wealth, and always seemed to favor the poor and often criticized the wealthy.
He also had harsh words for those who did not help "the least of these my Brethren."
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- Charles MLv 51 decade ago
The answer to your question comes down to help. Jesus was for people helping people. It did not involve support. I don't mind helping my neighbor, when he is in need of help, but I am not going to set up a support system for him. He needs to get back into self sufficiency. I do believe in charity, as Jesus expects, but I don't believe in theft from one group of people to another group of people. The government comes in and says "Give me your money, I don't care what your situation is, and I will support this other person with it."
At least with charity, I can make the decision based upon my capability.
I make 75K plus benefits and live in the midwest and am in my mid 40's. I pay taxes on married +1 child. I get a mortgage deduction.
I also have in my household My adult stepdaughter and her 3 children, whom I help support, and my adult Stepson and his child, whom I also help support. I get no credits for these additional 6 people, but the money goes out the same. This is family charity and I do it for love of family. But the government doesn't care about that situation, they still tax me at married plus 1. This Jesus would not have approved of (I do believe).
Charity must be given freely, otherwise it is not charity, it is theft.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
I seem to recall him saying some things like "the poor will be with you always". Jesus would have a problem with socialism because it takes away the spiritual experience of helping someone one on one, and delegates it to the state.
The problem with "basic health care for all" is that someone has to pay for it.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Yes he most certainly was. A hero of the people. He rebelled against the Imperial Roman oppressors. He told the people not to pay taxes to fund foreign wars. He threw the money lenders from the Temple. He sat with the prostitutes and the beggars.
He was a worker. A carpenter and the son of a carpenter!! His friends were not the wealthy and powerful, but the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised.
He was a revolutionary. And if he were alive in the US today then they would call him a terrorist and put him in Guantanamo Bay!!Source(s): I tell you son A change is gonna come Obama/Biden 2008
- Anonymous1 decade ago
charity is a choice and christ urged us to choose to give with a cheerful heart. he did not urge ceasar to tax the hell out of everything and redistribute the wealth in the name of economic justice. that is robbery by government.
- Al a voterLv 41 decade ago
Yes, He taught that you help others in need. He also taught that you were responsible for your own actions.
- Bon MotLv 61 decade ago
Yes, he was but don't take my word for it. Just read the Sermon on the Mount.