Author and Economist Lawrence Reed addressed the notion that Jesus was a socialist while also offering some insight on why people are so drawn to socialism today.
He argued that both terms “arose some 1,800 years after His crucifixion and either one would limit Him to but a fraction of who He was and what He had to say.”
Reed explained, “But I do say there’s nothing in the teaching of Jesus that is compatible with the ethics or the economics of socialism. He was a defender of things like personal choice, private property, free exchange.”
He continued, “He was interested in what’s in your heart, not how you vote. He never once advocated any of the things we associate with modern socialism.”
Reed went on to offer some insight on why young people today are so drawn to socialism, despite not knowing what the term ultimately entails.
“There are a lot of young people who come out of high school and college these days who’ve been told by their teachers that socialism is nothing more than wanting to help people when of course you can do that under capitalism,” Reed said before adding that socialism is ultimately about power as it requires “the use of force” to meet its needs.
“When you dig a little deeper, you discover that socialism is not voluntary. It is the use of force to accomplish certain objectives and Jesus never advocated any such thing.” he asserted.
Reed also quoted former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev who boldly claimed that “Jesus was the first socialist, because He was the first to seek a better life for mankind.”
“Well,” the economist said, “if that’s all that [a] socialist is, then just about everybody must be one. But, of course, that’s not what it’s all about. And the case that socialism rests upon force is one that we just have to make more strongly to convince people, because they’re just utterly unaware of it, thanks to academia.”
Dispelling the idea of the redistribution of wealth, Reed cited Luke 12:13-15.
In the passage, Jesus denied a man's request of getting his brother to split an inheritance with him, saying that “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
“That’s what socialists are doing all the time,” Reed told Metaxas. “They act as judges and dividers over the rest of us and they want to do more of it. I see no statement that [Jesus] ever made that supports forcible redistribution of wealth.”
In June, Reed published the book Was Jesus a Socialist? Why This Question Is Being Asked Again, And Why the Answer Is Almost Always Wrong.
According to the book’s description, a 2016 Barna Group poll found that people believed Jesus favored socialism (24 percent) over capitalism (14 percent). But 62 percent were either unsure or stated that Jesus was uninterested in political matters.
Additionally, a 2019 survey states that over 70 percent of millennials would be more likely to vote for a socialist candidate.
Lawrence Reed serves as the President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education. He has authored numerous books including, Rendering Unto Caesar: Was Jesus a Socialist?
Photo courtesy: ©Alessandro Bellone/Unsplash
Video courtesy: ©The Eric Metaxas Radio Show
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.