In Jesus Was a Socialist, Chuck McKnight brings forth some good points from the Bible that check greed, challenge preconceived ideas, and at the least gives pause to confused capitalistic contentions. Nevertheless, he cherry picks Bible accounts that tend toward his point, fails to engage them earnestly, and miserably confuses the kingdom of God and human government. In Jesus was a Capitalist, Bryan Fischer focuses on one text – the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Fischer’s tack seems to be showing that one exception to the “socialist rule” demonstrates the whole of the socialism argument is wrong. However, in doing so he fails to engage any number of texts that are pressed forward in the service of socialism. Both miss the mark. In attempting to conscript Jesus, we fail to follow Jesus.
Before moving forward, let’s define capitalism and socialism. According to Oxford English Dictionaries, capitalism is “An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state” and socialism is “A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”
My contention is that Jesus is not a capitalist and Jesus is not a socialist. We should not look for him to side with us, but we should get on his side. Jesus is the Christ, the Lord, the Son of God and his kingdom is not of this world. We are his ambassadors while we are here in the world. We are called to go, preach the gospel, and make disciples – not of capitalism, not of socialism, but of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes it may look like we agree with capitalism; sometimes it may look like we agree with socialism.[ii] Who cares? Do we agree with the Bible, and our Lord Jesus Christ who wrote it? That is the question.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
[ii] Feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and having concern for captives are mentioned and esteemed in the Bible (cf. Proverbs 25:21, Matthew 25:35-40, Deuteronomy 10:18, Matthew 14:14, Luke 4:18). On the other hand, Jesus indicates that there is more to kingdom business than feeding the poor (John 12:4-8), and approves private ownership (Matthew 20:1, Luke 15:12, Luke 16:12; cf. Acts 5:1-4). The kingdom of God is radical in nature and cannot be subsumed under some partisan political program. Jesus commends enterprise and condemns greed (Matthew 25:14-28, Luke 12:15-21). Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also...seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.