Some claim Jesus’ teachings advocated Socialism. What is the truth?
[Gary Petty] We’re producing a “Beyond Today” program about “Was Jesus a socialist or capitalist?” Now, that seems like a strange question maybe for us to talk about as Christians but that has become an actual Christian controversy. Some saying, “No, Jesus was a socialist.” And some saying, “No, he was a capitalist.” It becomes part of their Christianity. And it’s very interesting because I did a lot of research for this program and in doing the research, there were two passages that are used over and over again to prove one or the other of the arguments.
And there are actually two parables that Jesus gave together, one and then the other, right at the same time. They’re in the Olivet Prophecy. In the first of these parables, he tells the story of a man, a master, who goes off for a while. But before he leaves, he gives each of his servants’ talents. Talents was a measurement of money. He gives one, 5; one, 2; and one,1 talent; and he leaves. And then he comes back and says, “Hey, what did you do with the one I gave you?” And the one who had five talents said, “Look, I’ve produced another five.” And he gives him a reward. The other one says, “You gave me two and now, I have four.” And he gives him a reward. And then the one who had one came to him and said this. He says, “Lord, I knew that you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you’ve not scattered seed. And I was afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there it is. Here, you have what you gave me.” And the lord says to him, “You wicked and lazy servant.”
Now, this is used to say, “Well, this promotes capitalism.” Well, you know, it’s interesting when you look at how Jesus introduces this parable. He says, “The kingdom of heaven is like this parable.” He’s talking about the kingdom of God. He’s talking about the values of the kingdom of God. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that this is teaching capitalism.
So now, let’s look at the next parable he gives, which is a parable about Jesus’ second coming. And He takes people and He separates them into two groups, the sheep and the goats. And the sheep receive a reward and the goats are punished. And here’s what the criteria he gives. He says, “For I was hungry,” to those who received the reward,” and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. And I was in prison and you came to me.” And the righteous say, “We don’t remember doing that. When did we ever do this to you, you know, the Master?” And he says, “Surely I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me.” And so this is used to say, “See. We should have a social consciousness. We should care for poor people. Therefore, He’s a socialist.”
Actually, that’s not what he’s talking about either. It has nothing to do with an economic system. This has to do with the return of Jesus Christ and the gathering of Christians and how they’re being judged. Obviously, in the one parable, he says, “Not everybody is the same.” God gives different abilities, and talents, and opportunities to different people in His service. What we do in His service is how we’re being judged. That’s what that’s about. The other parable is about how we as Christians are to love and take care of poor people and destitute people and how all of a sudden, economic system is talking about a lifestyle, a Christian lifestyle of doing this hands-on interaction with people.
So the use of these two parables to say Jesus was one or the other of these economic systems or supported one or the other isn’t true. But we’re learning here…are the principles of the Kingdom of God because Jesus came to preach and teach, not about this world, but what He’s gonna set up when He returns with the Kingdom of God.
That’s BT Daily, see you next time.