Ya, I’m kidding about that. I’m sure if an english teacher got a hold of this paper, she’d (or he’d) rip it apart. But that of course is not the point! As Kate mentioned, we recently studied economics in our world views class. (Our World Views class is basically a conglomeration of every subject minus science and math if you were wondering.)
In the study of economics, we learned about the Austrian school, Classical school, Keynesianism (try pronouncing that, it is fun!), Das Kapital, and others. I decided to write my paper on the idea that the Bible is not in support of Communism. Many verses from the New Testament are misconstrued to fit Communism. I think it is important for Christians to understand what the Bible advocates economically. The Bible does not give us an economic “system” to set up but rather gives us principles to live by under any circumstances. Jesus said that His Kingdom was not of this earth (John 18:36). His purpose was not for Christians to group together but to go into the world and preach His gospel.
Now, without further ado…
Communism in Light of Biblical Economic Principles
Economics is “a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary) Over the centuries, many economic systems have been developed in an attempt to fix the fiscal problems of various governments and improve the being of man. Karl Marx (1818-1883 AD) was a German philosopher, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary sociologist. As the author of the Communist Manifesto, Marx believed socialism would ultimately culminate in a “stateless, classless society called communism. Although some people believe that the economic principles of communism come closest to reflecting Biblical values of love and community. Communism falls short of following Biblical standards due to its mistaken view of the fallen nature of man, the “unfair” distribution of wealth, and the private stewardship of property.
Regarding the fallen nature of man, communism and the Bible differ greatly. Communism paints man as unselfish. The communistic system is built upon the idea that man is willing to work for the good of others and society. The leaders think that once the laborers realize the necessity of their work, they will diligently do whatever work is assigned to them. Communism also believes that man is willing to receive equal wages regardless of his effort in comparison to that of another. The belief that man is unselfish is in conflict with overwhelming evidence to the contrary and with the Bible’s view of man. This same envy is consistent with the way the Bible portrays man’s nature. As Christians, Paul tells us in Philippians 2 to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If, as a human, man did not have a problem with selfishness and ego, there would be no reason for Paul to plead with Christians to be different from the world. II Timothy 3:2, in talking about the coming end times mentions that “people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant . . .” But jealousy, covetousness, and selfishness are not new. Cain was jealous of God’s approval of Abel, David was covetous of Uriah’s wife, and Lot was selfish in choosing the better land for himself. When man fell in the Garden, it was because he chose to gratify his desires above obedience to God. Since then, human nature seeks only its own. Although the communist’s perspective of man’s unselfishness is optimistic, human nature demonstrates the opposite reality.
Instead of recognizing man’s fallen nature as the cause of social problems, communism superficially blames the “unfair” distribution of wealth as the culprit. A communist believes that unequal wages, wages being a means of gaining wealth, exploit the workers. Marx and others believed that workers were being paid less than the value of their production and thus being enslaved to a life of toil. It was from this bondage that Marx believed he could set the laborer free in his famous revolutionary cry, “Let the ruling class tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries unite!” (Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels 1848, chapter 4) Marx was dealing with the superficial problem of the uneven distribution of wealth but ignoring man’s sin. As Winston Churchill said, “Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth. Socialism is the equal distribution of poverty.” According to the Bible, man’s labor is to be repaid by appropriate wages and gaining wealth is not in and of itself a sin. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Later on, Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” The Bible is not at all against earning money in honest labor nor does it find the wages to be the issue. The problem lies deeper for it is in human nature. The Bible tells us in I Timothy 6:10 that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” When the desire for money is the driving force behind a person’s life, he or she will not hesitate to exploit others, be unfair, or exact usury. The social problems that Marx was trying to deal with are the result of man’s sin nature not wages or wealth, not even private property.
In communistic principles, the private stewardship of property is done away with in order to promote fairness to all. Marx says in the Communist Manifesto, “In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” (Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels 1848, chapter 2) Once the private property is gone, everything is to be held in common and the government decides what to do with it and how to handle the property. In the Soviet Union, the government removed stewardship of land entirely by collectivizing the farms and telling farmers what to plant and how much to plant. By removing personal responsibility and giving it to the government, the political leaders controlled the lives of their people. On the other hand, the Bible teaches and encourages stewardship of one’s own property. From the very beginning, Adam and Eve were entrusted with stewardship of the Garden of Eden. When Israel became a nation, God gave Moses laws regarding property. In Deuteronomy, many of the laws regarding property reminded the children of Israel to be generous with the property that God had entrusted to them. In the New Testament, in the first few chapters of Acts, people often take verses out of context to support communism. Acts 4:34-35 says, “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” This verse does not support communism but rather demonstrates the selflessness of these early Christians who took seriously the Lord’s command to care for their neighbor. In Acts 5:4, the Apostle Peter clarifies that the people were not under compulsion to sell, but they clearly owned their own property. In confronting Ananias for his sin, he says, “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” (italics added) According to Biblical principles, private property is not bad but is an opportunity for stewardship and obedience to God.
The differences between communistic and Biblical economic views on fallen human nature, the “unfair” distribution of wealth, and the private stewardship of property are vast. Communism is built on the ideas that: man is unselfish; “unfair” wealth causes social problems; and private property is unnecessary. On the other side of the spectrum, the Bible teaches that: man is, indeed, selfish; wealth is good when used generously; and private property is to be used in obedience to God. The two systems could not disagree more. It is only by misusing Scriptural context that one could find support for communism within the pages of Scripture.
Yes, I do write a lot! But I hope this has given you some food for thought…
PS- we also read a great book called “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlett. I Highly recommend it as a good, basic way to introduce economics and economic fallicy