By Jonathan Moseley
We discover in the New Testament, in Luke Chapter 12:13-14:
“Someone in the crowd said to Him [Jesus Christ], ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?'”
In just one verse, we see that God rejects the left-wing “Jesus Christ supported socialism” heresy. When Jesus was asked to support redistribution of wealth – to tell one brother to share the family inheritance with the other – Jesus refused. Jesus would never support government or a church stealing property by force to give it to a stranger. He would not even intervene for one man to share his own family’s wealth with his own brother.
Obviously, Jesus would sternly warn the brother hoarding wealth against greed, dishonesty and defrauding his family. But Jesus preached to the person in front of him about how to live right. Jesus was never teaching one person what is wrong with someone else (except to clarify how the listener should behave by contrast).
One truth shines out from the Bible: Jesus spoke to the individual, never to government or government policy. Jesus was a capitalist, preaching personal responsibility, not a socialist.
Pope Francis condemned capitalism. Some argue that Francis’ Spanish-language Apostolic Exhortation was mistranslated. But Francis is not among those disputing that translation. Moreover, corrected translations are no better.
Francis argues for dependence upon government to redistribute wealth. And con artists in the U.S. are seizing on the opportunity to spread the misery of socialism. Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin this week called Pope Francis on his mangling of economics. Then author Reza Aslan struck back in the Washington Post, claiming that Jesus was a socialist.
But we have to define our terms:
- By “socialism,” we must understand “theft.” A socialist government uses brute force, backed up by guns, to steal property from some people to give it to others.Pope Francis reflects the wish that governments might better organize society. But governments cannot do that apart from the threat of violence to enforce their schemes. Would Jesus endorse the violence needed for government intervention?
- By capitalism, we mean individual initiative under freedom, with the right to use what people own and to reap the fruits of one’s labor and initiative. Capitalist business must necessarily benefit society, because private businesses have no power to force anyone to buy their products or services. The consumer is king. Consumers won’t buy unless the purchase benefits them. To reinforce that central pillar of capitalism, laws against lying and fraud are proper and necessary. The consumer must be able to know and understand what he is buying and what it truly costs. The same applies to employment.
- We reject crony capitalism and monopolies. That is what the Vatican obviously believes capitalism means. When corrupt governments are entangled with businesses, then transactions are no longer voluntary. Crony capitalism is what most people experience in Francis’ native Argentina, throughout Latin America and much of the Third World. The benefit to society is absent without informed consent.
We know that Jesus condemns crony capitalism. That’s partly what the incident at the temple was all about in Matthew 21, when Jesus overturned the tables of money-changers. Some think money-changers were bankers. Actually they exchanged one currency for another. The temple priests required that special temple coins had to be used to give mandatory tithes. So worshipers had to exchange their secular money. But the money-changers were defrauding people with a dishonest exchange rate.
Yet Jesus specifically supported the concept of capitalism. In Matthew 25:15-18, Jesus teaches what the (His) Kingdom of God is like:
“To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”
Jesus is clearly using money as a metaphor for making the most of all of life’s opportunities, abilities and moments. Yet in teaching us how we should live, Jesus agrees that a man who traded with investment capital and earned profits is praised and rewarded by his master, a type for God, and given increased authority. Most striking is what Jesus says to the man who was too afraid to take a chance with the one talent of gold entrusted to him. Jesus endorses the concept of earning interest for profit.
Matthew 25:27-28: “Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.”
By contrast, in any of the versions, in paragraph 202, Pope Francis attacks markets. In paragraph 204, the pope explicitly rejects the “invisible hand” of the market, which has created the greatest prosperity in human history, as a “poison.”
In paragraph 58, Pope Francis argues that reform requires “an energetic change of attitude on the part of political leaders.” That directly contradicts Jesus’ strategy of changing individual hearts one soul at a time. The Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation was titled “The Joy of Evangelism.” If Francis had stayed focused on encouraging evangelism, that would have served both God and man. The Catholic Church does not seem to really believe that evangelism can improve society.
In paragraph 55, Francis blames poverty and unequal wealth on “ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.” But there was also poverty in Jesus’ day, when government tightly regulated the economy.
In paragraph 56, Francis argues for government management of business, condemning as sinful and as “tyranny” those who “reject the right of states, entrusted to watch for the common good, to exercise any form of control” over the economy. Paragraphs 58 and 205 are similar. The pope says capitalism “tends to devour everything in order to yield increased profits.”
In John 18:36, “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.'” Everyone kept confusing what Jesus was saying as being political, to change government leaders or its philosophy. In Acts 1, the disciples wanted to know if – finally – Jesus was going to change the governance of Israel by overthrowing the Romans. Jesus rebuffed such ideas:
Acts 1:6-7: “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority …'”
In paragraphs 57 and 203, Pope Francis decries capitalism for its “manipulation and debasement of the person.” Yet that is exactly what socialism does. Only capitalism exalts the individual amidst personal liberty and allows each person to achieve his or her full potential.
Worst of all, this controversy encourages misery, poverty and the destruction of human lives. Jesus Christ is weeping in heaven hearing Christians espouse a socialist philosophy that has created suffering and poverty around the world. It is impossible to love one’s neighbor as yourself without fighting against socialism, meaning government meddling in private lives.
Jonathon Moseley is a Virginia business and criminal defense attorney. Moseley is also a co-host with the “Conservative Commandos” radio show, a member of the Northern Virginia Tea Party and executive director of American Border Control. He studied Physics at Hampshire College, earned a degree in Finance from the University of Florida and a law degree from George Mason University in Virginia. Moseley promoted Reagan’s anti-missile defense plans and foreign policy at High Frontier and the Center for Peace in Freedom. He worked five years at the U.S. Department of Education, including at the Center for Choice in Education.