Jack Graham - Christianity and Socialism
Take your Bibles and turn to Genesis chapter 1. I'm going to be preaching on the subject Christianity and socialism. And I don't know in all these years that I've preached a message quite like this one. But today I'm delivering a message on one of the important conversations and confrontations, really, in our culture, and that regards socialism. We must always stand for the principles which made America a great nation. We're grateful for the world that God has made, and for the many nations of the world. And many of you are watching online from all over the globe. John 3:16, "God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son", and God loves you.
So, we love the world and the people in it! But we have extreme affection, a love of country. Because God has blessed our nation and has blessed us to be able to call ourselves Americans. So, we are always called to build and rebuild America upon the unshakable foundations upon which our freedoms have stood and stands to this very day. Psalm 11:3, "If the foundations be destroyed," the Bible says, "what will the righteous do"? There is a war going on in, around, and within America; it is a battle for the soul of our nation. This battle is raging all around us; it is a fight for our faith, a fight for our families, a fight for our future! Our battles include the sanctity of life, the sacredness of biblical marriage, sexual identity, religious freedom, including also the freedom of speech.
There are battles regarding economic freedom and work, and the right to work and prosper within our country. Yes, there is a war! And what kind of war is it? What is at stake here? Francis Schaeffer, about thirty years ago made this statement: "We as Bible-believing Christians are locked in a battle. This is not a friendly gentleman's discussion. It is a life and death conflict between the spiritual hosts of wickedness and those who claim the name of Christ". Where is the clear voice speaking to the crucial issues of the day with distinctively biblical answers? I want to be a clear voice today. I want you as God's people to be a clear and compelling, distinctively biblical voice in our generation. We must raise the voices of righteousness, of reason! And may we never sin with our silence in the face of evil! They say silence is golden; sometimes silence is just plain yellow! Courage, conviction and compassion.
So, the issue that is a growing concern in America is that of socialism. The President said in his State of the Union address that "America will never be a Socialist nation". There were cheers that evening when the president made that statement. A few sat in silence because there's another element in the country that believes that socialism, a brand of democratic socialism or otherwise, is what America needs today. And so, what is at stake? This is a conflict, a confrontation between a way of life, world-view, a philosophy of politics, but more than partisan politics, democrats and republicans, we always want to view issues through the lens of Scripture. What does the Bible say? What does God say?
So, the first thing we should do in taking on the issue of socialism as compared to Christianity... What does Christianity say to inform us on socialism? We need to define our terms. So, in defining the term socialism, is a political and philosophical economic system in which there is government ownership of the means of production and the primary focus on providing equality. Socialism favors large government and government control of social services, and much more. In socialism the government is all important and is involved in every aspect of its peoples' lives, people that it rules. Contrast this to capitalism. Most Americans have historically favored capitalism.
So, what is capitalism? It is the economic system in which there is private ownership of property and goods, and the means of production, and privately owned, private ownership. And in capitalism there is a limited role for the presence and the force of government in peoples' individual lives. So economically and philosophically there is capitalism, there is socialism. Well, what does the Christian faith say? What does the Bible tell us about this issue? You say, "Well, it's money; it doesn't matter". Well, Jesus had more to say about money and ownership and the use of possessions that anyone else in the Bible. The Bible is full of truth regarding how we are to live our lives every day: how we are to earn money, spend money, save money and give money, through and through. So, money and economics is a spiritual issue. And it's certainly a national issue in our times.
A recent USA Today report said that four in ten Americans embrace some form of socialism. Forty-three per cent! You say, "Is this a problem"? Okay, judge yourself. Forty-three percent of Americans now say socialism would be a good thing for the country. Fifty-one percent believes socialism would be a bad thing for the country. So, there it is! The gap is closing between the traditional views of economy and capitalism in the United States as compared to socialism. And more and more Americans, especially left-leaning Americans, are adopting Marxists philosophies, especially among young people. And this often taught in elitist universities, secular universities, and sometimes in so-called Christian universities.
But a recent poll of millennials, here come the millennials, ages 21 to 35. A recent poll of millennials found that a majority, 58 percent of millennials would prefer to live in a socialist nation than a capitalist nation! Now that's interesting, of course. When you probe a little deeper and ask more questions, only 33 percent of those surveyed of the millennials could actually define socialism! "Oh dude, man! Party hard! It's social"! But legitimate, but some, to be fair, some young people see capitalism, corporate America as being greedy, without compassion, without concern, and we have to admit that there is a lot greed in peoples' lives. I would say, there is greed, whether it is socialistic system or a capitalistic system. Greed is in the heart of every human being.
But here's the thing: young people under thirty have not seen in their lifetime particularly the devastating effects of Soviet-style repression and oppression through socialism and its big bad brother, Communism. This is post Cold War. And a generation has arisen that either does not study history, know history, understand history or care. Socialism is fundamentally at odds with the Christian world view. And seeks to suppress all peoples in support of the state. And here's the big, bold statement I'm going to make, and then I'm going to attempt to show you why in a few minutes. But no one serious about their Christian faith can be serious about supporting socialism!
And here's why I say, and make that statement: Number one, socialism is totally secular and is predicated on atheism. That is a fact! Our faith in Jesus Christ is built on the Word of God, the revelation of God, that God exists, that we believe in the resurrection of Christ, and with that faith, comes freedom to live an abundant life with liberty! But Karl Marx, the father of scientific socialism, considered religion of all kinds, and specifically Christianity, as the opiate of the masses. You're on drugs if you believe in God. Marx, again, the philosopher of socialism, founder of Soviet State-style governments, believed Charles Darwin's theories of evolution to explain the presence of life on earth: that man is just an advancing animal.
And, of course, if we are just animals, everyone and anyone can be disposable based on the need of the state. But what does the Bible say? Genesis chapter 1. I asked you to turn to it later verses, 27 and 28. You can learn so much about the world view of the Christian faith by reading your Bible, of course, and beginning in Genesis it's all foundational to the Scripture. Verse 27 of Genesis 1: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"
Later, it went on to tell them in Genesis chapter 2 that they were to possess the land, the garden that was given, and till the soil. The first man Adam was a farmer. And they were given property to possess and property in which to produce goods. And that became foundational to the Judeo-Christian ethic, Old Testament, New Testament morality. That God is! That God exists! That He has created us and made us in His own image! But the philosophical views of the socialists, like Marx and his disciples, say that God is not needed for anything because God does not exist! In fact, the idea of God is harmful and must be forcefully if necessary, removed from society. I'm telling you at the very core of this philosophy, and yes, this political economic system is atheism. You say, "Well, that was then. That's old-style socialism, communism". It would be a catastrophic miscalculation to think that socialist hostility towards religion and Christianity specifically has changed in any way since the days of Karl Marx.
Socialist countries today are secular in nature. Often repressing and oppressing people of faith, all faith! And particularly are determined to root out Christianity. Name me one socialist style country, Communist or otherwise, that is open to faith without a oppression and suppression of that faith. It is at the very root, this thing called socialism, agnostic and even atheistic. Secondly, I want to say the danger of socialism is, socialism leads to misery, poverty, disease and death. Whereas the Bible teaches that Christ brings freedom and value and creativity and innovation and service and liberty and life abundant! Again, just look what's happened around the world where socialism and soviet style and socialist style and communist bred nations exist, death, misery, despair exist. It's an economic failure as well as spiritual failure.
Margret Thatcher, the great prime minister of Britain a number of years ago: she said, "The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples' money". It's a failure economically because it undermines not only the value and dignity and worth of the individual, but it undermines the value and dignity of work, the freedom to prosper, to create. There's so much complacency in socialism. And many do not work. In America socialism has produced a welfare state of sorts. And that will not work for the future of America. It's not working now! In 1958 it was recorded in the Congressional Record these words written by a man named Jerald Smith.
These words have been quoted by a number of speakers and preachers, including my dear friend now in heaven, Dr. Adrian Rodgers. I first heard Adrian repeat this a number of years ago. I want you to hear it today. So, in the record of Congress, 1958: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to everybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because someone else is going to get what they've worked for, that, my friend, is the end of a nation".
You say, "Is that the Bible"? No, it's not the Bible, but here's what the Bible says. In 2 Thessalonians the Bible says, "If a man won't work, neither shall he eat". Every healthy person should work! And that includes senior adults in so-called retirement. The goal of your life is not to get to the beach and better your tan! Or lower your golf score when you quit working! The goal of your life is to honor God, glorify God by working hard your entire life and serving Him with what He has given to us for His glory! That's the goal of your work life, and it never stops!
Now let me say the Bible does not endorse any one political system. I mean, Christianity thrived in the midst of imperialism, Roman imperialism. The Jewish nations survived against monarchies and all the rest. The Christian faith will survive, but we have a responsibility in the culture to speak to our issues and to have the kind of government that reflects our virtues and our values. The Bible does not, I must honestly say, endorse capitalism, as well as socialism. It leans toward clearly capitalistic style government. But the point is, what the Bible does teach us is freedom! The great freedom that we have in Christ, in the church, and God help us, in the nation. The Bible does endorse freedom and private ownership and the value and worth of the soul and the work of mankind. It values a free enterprise market system that decentralizes economic power! That's clear!
Socialism supresses the poor and steals from the rich, and legislates theft, and elevates envy. Socialism is stealing! It is stealing from people who have earned what they have worked to earn, and giving it to people who have not earned what they have been given. Socialism focuses on the government and the state. "Why would you need God if you have government"? It turns government into your big brother and it violates the commandments of God. By contrast the Bible teaches the dignity of the individual, the worth of the soul, the right of ownership, the privilege and the blessing of work, and that the Christian faith could have the freedom and the fight to take our message to the world, and to give people not a handout, but to give them Christ and His love.
Just think of all of the Gospel that has been preached in America! Churches that have been built! Missions that have started. Ministries that have begun because hardworking people like you have earned enough money, however large or small it would be, have earned enough money to invest it in the work of Jesus Christ! And think of the missionaries that have been sent around the world from America! God's churches in this country, working in a free enterprise system and using our money to fulfill The Great Commission. May God help us to be the people God has called us to be! I close with this: Rodney Stark is an historian and he quotes a Chinese leader from, this is a recent quote. Because you know China, of course, is on the move economically and otherwise in the world. But listen to what this Chinese senior leader said about America.
"One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the preeminence of the West over all the world. We studied everything we could from historical, political, economic and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we have. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next, we focused on your economic system. But in the past 20 years we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion, Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism, and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don't have any doubt about this"!
And neither do I! It is the Christian faith that brought about the greatness of this nation, and our way of life. And what is at stake in the days ahead in all of these battles in this spiritual war, and yes, You think politics is involved in spiritual battles? What do the Scriptures say? Ephesians 6:12, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and rulers in the dark places". That's talking about government! That's talking about politics! So, there's the battle! And may we like the men and women who have gone before us, fighting physical battles for the sake of freedom. May we be willing to stand for truth and righteousness, and to fight the good fight of faith! And trust in a God who will bless us according to His own will and ways. May God bless America. And may God return us to the values which made our nation great!