Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jesus: Communist or Capitalist?

I get into this discussion a lot. It is kind-of the idea of the old WWJD; which would Jesus advocate for more: Socialism or Capitalism. It is tough. There are a lot of passages and examples from the teachings of Christ and the early Church that make a lot Christians who are social activists to answer: socialist. However, there are other passages that would make one argue against that.

Even pulling the Bible out of the picture, this has been an ongoing philosophical battle for decades in the US. I am a big fan of Ayn Rand and her Magnum Opus: Atlas Shrugged. It is perhaps the most comprehensive philosophical and narrative argument for Capitalism. However, it is an idealized Capitalism, not an actual one. I struggle with her theories in my head because that is the only place her reality has existed. Socialism, on the other hand, shares much of the same story. Socialism DOES NOT = COMMUNISM. There is a difference. I think that socialism is another "ideal" that has yet to be realized. Both, in my humble opinion, have their strengths and flaws in the utopian philosophical arguments.

However, CNN has a post that puts these two ideas in debate. I DO beyond a doubt think this is a great discussion for Christians and the Church to have. However, as much as I like this conversation, I must remember that Jesus was BEYOND either systematic thesis. The Kingdom of God (again IMHO), is bigger than this. But, if we want to bring about the Kingdom of God on this earth, then we have to do so with the systems that are in place. Wether it means subverting a specific system or embracing it, we have to use the best of it to heal while we in turn, heal the broken parts of our system.

It seems to many (I'm not sure I agree) that our government is sliding into a more socialist identity. While this is not a political blog, I'm not sure that some synthesis of the best parts of a socialist and capitalist mindset are truly at odds. A government's job in the USA is to protect and care for it's people. I'm not sure how you can do this with an Ayn Rand type of Capitalism. Then again, we have yet to have a truly successful Socialist experiment without the corruption and disenfranchisement of the people. Yet as a Social Conscious Christian, I find myself asking, "in what areas would a more Capitalist/Socialist approach truly do things like:

End Poverty
Alleviate corruption in government (this must be done, not to be political, but because to truly heal a situation, the system itself that is causing or at least allowing oppression, must be fixed).
End World Hunger
Give equal rights to all men and women

In any case, as always I have more questions than answers to offer. So in my offering I give you the link to the following debate/article and the video clips.


Enjoy, and please feel free to leave comments.

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