Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Socialism is Tyranny and Theft

With the unconstitutional and speedy march of socialism in America during Obama’s era of soft tyranny, we have witnessed an unceasing stream of freedoms eviscerated without appropriate public outcry (property ownership, speech, religious expression, etc.). But, the Obama era was just the setting of the stage for worse to come for those who value freedom. Shockingly, in recent polling, Bernie Sanders, an avowed and unapologetic socialist, if he were the Democrat nominee for President, would actually defeat many of the Republican contenders. And, Hillary would be no less shocking. While such polls at this juncture are largely unreliable, their trend however is. We hear many politicians today from both parties pandering their views against the notion of “income inequality” or in favor of “income equality” – that is code for socialism. In another recent poll approximately 47% of people would vote for their party’s nominee if he/she were a socialist. But, I wonder what percentage of our government-educated constituents (a.k.a. likely illiterate of historical facts) actually know what socialism is? What is even more astonishing is how many “Christians” today support socialistic principles in the name of Jesus Christ. Education, especially spiritual education, is clearly lacking as more and more avowed followers of Christ apparently disconnect themselves from the principles of the God they profess to follow. Truthfully, as some advocate for socialism, God is not their ally.

Before we turn to God’s definitions, let’s examine our own. The first dictionary definition of socialism is “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.” In simple terms, everything is owned by the people at large (the collective), not individuals. By the way, the second definition of socialism is even more jolting, “the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.” Translation: socialism is the failing step away from freedom and towards ruthless tyranny. Just from these simple definitions, any Bible-knowing Christian should immediately see insurmountable red flags (pun intended). The Bible is blatantly clear that God is pro-freedom, including economic freedom. The Bible is also blatantly clear that God is anti-tyranny. One only need look to the very governmental principles that God Himself set up in His very own Theocracy (Israel) to understand what God is for and against in how we govern ourselves (read Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). The governing principles in God’s Theocracy were in no way aligned with what we call socialism today. For example, God personally promulgated a flat, regressive tax in Exodus 30:13-15. There is zero Biblical basis for socialism as a form of government in either the Old or New Testaments.

Let’s continue with a couple more of our own definitions. Tyranny is defined as “arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.” Socialism is tyranny (the opposite of freedom) as power rests with the State to suppress freedom and take whatever it deems necessary to accomplish its collectivist agenda. Socialism vests complete authority in the government to carry out its self-determined dictates even at the expense of law abiding citizens. In true socialism, there is no Supreme Authority above and/or bridling the collective and its all-consuming government. Therefore, throughout world history, socialism has always been characterized by tyranny and always results in the worst form of tyranny – communism, dictatorship, etc. In contrast, God clearly advocates for freedom, including economic freedom (Parable of the Talents, for example). In fact, freedom is a theme of God’s work as mentioned over 150 times throughout the Bible. And, government, like all things God ordains, should reflect the character of the One who ordained it for Christians to so advocate. Even God gives us the freedom to disagree with and disobey Him.

Socialism is also theft - God opposes theft. Theft is defined as “the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another.” There is no compromise between economic freedom and socialism. You either have one or the other. In fact, while socialism is theft of possessions of law abiding citizens, it’s most rude of thefts is of freedom itself, including but not limited to economic freedom. And, if economic freedom is not held sacred, no other freedoms will be. Individual property ownership is a basic, foundational freedom. The seizing of economic freedom usually results in the context of the seizing of all freedoms. One might argue that the virtuous intentions of the collective is enough moral objective to seize personal property and freedoms. But, morality only has one foundation – God. And, God has yet to advocate for such a twisted notion of moral objective. God’s moral declarations actually make the pursuit of income equality a fool’s errand. The Bible teaches, even in Heaven, that what we possess will never be equal. Even our rewards in Heaven will be given in proportion to our service to the King, not equalized (per Jesus: Matthew 5:11-12, Matthew 6:1-6, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 16:27). Forced equality is a purist, ideological and dangerous pursuit that finds no root in God.

For those who ignore this to spitefully advocate for “income equality” we have some pointed questions. Who gets the authority to decide what is equal? Who gets the authority to confiscate the possessions of some to give to others? Who gets to decide who has earned someone else's property? Upon what moral grounds would such authority rest? Who gets to decide what is in the best interest of the collective? What could realistically limit such authority? How is it “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take someone else’s money? In socialism, equality and fair government is entirely elusive. That is because people are corrupt innately. Add to that corruption the unadulterated corruption of power - the product is deadly oppressive tyranny. In government, freedom is the ultimate pursuit above all others - equality is not even a distant second to freedom. Can you begin to even challenge these assertions? To do so is foolishly self-enslaving. And, there is only one system that guarantees freedom - that system is called freedom. Freedom guarantees freedom. All other systems seek to restrict freedom and aggressively advance until the lust for power subjugates the masses to a life that is certainly not free if observable history is our guide. In fact, the societies in the world that have been the most free are also those that have been the most charitable. The societies that have been more socialistic or communistic have been the least charitable (alongside dictatorships and oppressive theocracies). That is because under socialism the notion of charity is removed from individual responsibility, and then poorly carried out by corrupt government. If charity and goodwill are the intent, socialism is not the path – freedom is.

The Bible clearly declares that God intends for some to be rich and for some to be poor (1 Samuel 2:7, among others). In fact, His Son lived a life of victorious poverty, yet never demanded equality of income. Rather, he valued the free personal choice of self-emptying humility. Philippians 2:5-11 describes the mind of Christ which freely chose to let go of equality in order to model personal humility, not collectively forced humility. True humility, like charity, is only humility when it is freely chosen, not demanded at the point of a gun.

Socialism sounds well-intended. But, every arrogant sin begins by sounding well-intended. The very first sin committed by man was done so on the basis of what sounded like good intentions deceivingly voiced by the Lucifer-possessed serpent. In fact, the appeal to Adam and Eve, and their ultimate act was in pursuit of equality (Genesis 3:5). Any system that pursues equality with God by either removing Him or replacing Him is a system of rebellious sin. And, before you overreact to the notion that socialism promotes sin, look no further than God’s Ten Commandments. Socialism actually violates far too many of them: 

  • “You shall have no other gods before me.” Our Founding Fathers recognized that we were “endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights…life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” If you are a Christian, you know the Founders got this right. We are endowed by our Creator with “liberty” – a.k.a. freedom. That includes the freedom to act charitable and uncharitable. Any government that stands to unreasonably repudiate such freedom is an idol that denies the assertion of our God-given freedom. Tyranny is idolatry. The principle of collective ownership attempts to remove the truth of God’s ownership and God's delegation to individuals for stewardship. Not only does socialism steal from law abiding citizens, it attempts to steal from God Himself. We must not support such a system as being affirmed by God. It is not. Individual freedom is endowed, not collective ownership.
  • “You shall not murder.” It is no mystery that socialism and communism have been the most deadly political forces of observable history. More innocent people have been brutally slaughtered under the various systems associated with socialism. And, freedom does not even nearly compete on this statistic. The trajectory away from freedom always lands upon ruthless death – murderous and voluminous death.
  • “You shall not steal.” The confiscation of wealth under any means is still stealing. To take by lethal force from someone against their will what they have freely and legally earned, is wrong, no matter what the intent. The end never justifies the means. And, the promised “end” of socialism has never even been achieved – and probably can’t be achieved in a society comprised of entirely corrupt humans (another fool’s errand). Theft is never justified, even by the collective. God does not approve of any system of government that employs a means contrary to His Commandments.
  • “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; … or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.” Socialism at its core is widespread covetousness – collective covetousness. Who is to say what someone deserves and does not deserve? If God blesses someone with wealth, who is the collective to disagree? The very notion of income equality is the corrupt product of covetousness, a beast which should not be fed by Christians. This is the exact opposite of what God inspires in how we should govern ourselves. God is not impressed by our dragging down of the wealthy so that those less wealthy could be made more equal. Again, our mind should be that of Christ’s who did not pursue equality – but raced to the low place as an individual, free choice. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus “did not count equality … a thing to be grasped.” Neither should you. Jesus grasped the opposite of equality – He pursued inequality. The pursuit of equality at all cost on this side of eternity is anti-Christ. 

In conclusion, Christian, the Bible never advocates for socialism, but clearly opposes it. Even the communal living of the New Testament church was carried out under the overarching governing principle of individual freedom in spite of a tyrannical Roman government. Jesus is not a socialist or a communist. Jesus came to make us “free” in every sense of that word. Jesus is the ultimate freedom fighter. Those who advocate for the opposition of freedom to any reasonable degree have the most formidable Opponent.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fear and Hope Are Opposing Faiths

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” What does it mean that “perfect love casts out fear?” Does the average Christian truly grasp the practical depth of that verse in their daily lives? If you experience fear of anything other than God, have you "not been perfected in love?" The first thing to note about this verse is that the love it speaks of is not generic human love, but “perfect love.” That is an important distinction. This verse can’t be applied to any other love but God’s love for us and through us, because that is the single and only love that is truly perfect. Christian, as you consider the implications of this verse, do you ever experience fear? If so, does having fear mean you lack perfect love? The truth is that perfect love produces the opposite of fear – it produces hope.

What do fear and hope have in common? Both fear and hope are exhibitions of faith - opposing faiths. Fear is faith in false promises spoken by the wrong voices. In contrast, hope is faith in the promises of God. To the extent that we as Christians find ourselves in a state of fearing something other than God, this is precisely where our faith in God is weak. Such fear is an exhibition of faith in the promises of God’s enemy. In everything, God has made and kept enough promises such that if we believe Him, we will always have hope, and not fear. When we realize the depth of God’s love, and survey His sovereignty over all things, we will cling to His promises like spiritual life support and hope will always be the result. But, in today’s culture dominated by swarming, misleading voices pouring from social media, do we give God’s promises the time of day? (I posted further on this subject here: [Agreeing With Faith Over Fear].)

A great example of these opposing faiths is seen in opposing reactions to a prodigal child from a Godly home. When parents have trained their child in the faith, only to see the child exit the faith upon arrival at college or some other layer of adulthood, this creates a juncture of faith for the parents as well. At that point in time, there is no way of knowing exactly how this will turn out. So, we as parents can choose to believe one of two possible outcomes – one of two faiths. We can choose to believe the voices of the enemy and have fear over our child’s impending, yet hypothetical doom. Or, we can have faith in the promises of God. For this example, in Proverbs 22:6 God promised, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Isn’t that promise worth believing? Which faith we choose will display what and who we truly believe. Believing the enemy will produce fear. Believing God, who dearly and perfectly loves us, will cast out fear and produce hope. And, that hope will be a shining testimony to the very prodigal who needs to see it most. On the other hand, the prodigal will interpret fear as further indictment of the very faith that he walked away from – and apparently a faith that his parents abandoned as well.

God's promises is why, in the face of the greatest afflictions we can still have hope. This is because God has promised to raise us up out of all affliction. Romans 5:3-5 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” This truth is the witness of those who daily bathe and trust in the promises of God. This is the daily confession of those who claim and cling to the promises of God. Do you know His promises? Do you read them as daily spiritual nutrition? To the extent that you have ungodly fear in your life, your spiritual consumption is out of balance.

Before we leave the subject of perfect love, consider the great love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter outlines what perfect love is. And, notice how the chapter ends. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 says, “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” In the end, there is only room for these three things: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love – perfect love. And, notice that there is no room for fear. That is because the perfect love of God has produced a faith that produces hope instead of fear.

Lastly, Christian, as we consider the task of defending the faith, that defense begins with hope. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Apologetics starts with having hope. Hope only comes through believing God’s promises in faith. When people see that we fear anything in life other than God, they see the opposite of hope. They have no reason to ask us about the reason for our hope. Ungodly fear invalidates what we defend and indicts what we believe.

Last month, our family mourned the passing of a great man of God, Pastor Ed Dobson, who died after a long struggle with ALS. I had the honor of knowing this man personally and sitting under his teachings during my formative years. To the end, he testified of this hope borne of faith in God’s promises. I will never forget his influence over my life. In fact, upon my High School graduation, Dr. Dobson gave me a personal graduation gift that I still keep and cling to today. He gave me a leather-bound book, “God’s Promises For Your Every Need.” This book exclusively features excerpts from the Bible that reveal the promises of God to us, His children. The book categorizes God’s promises for every type of circumstance that you face. So that, as a reference, when you begin to be tempted by fear in a certain circumstance, you can refer to God’s promises to inspire faith in hope for that circumstance. I will forever be thankful for this, the greatest graduation gift that I ever received.

Christian, do you know the promises of God today? Do you meditate on God’s promises every day? Do you fear anything in your life other than God? Do you realize that God, the Holy Spirit resides in you? You have every reason to hope. God’s perfect love is carried out by His keeping His promises to us, His children in the midst of every storm that He allows. And, His perfect and loving faithfulness replaces faithful fear with faithful hope. I recently saw a meme that sums this up perfectly: The devil whispers “you cannot withstand the storm.” The warrior replies, “I AM the storm!”

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.