All of the following Bible references are from The New King James Version of the Bible. To what extent does the Bible support Christian Socialism and Christian Communism? What is the role of wealth in the Bible and in Christianity? According to Mark 10:26-27, Matthew 19:25-26, and Luke 18:26-27, Jesus said to His disciples that what is impossible with man is not so with God, for nothing is impossible with God. God's grace can save a rich person who follows the Ten Commandments, even though on his or her own without God's grace it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich person to enter heaven, as Jesus is recorded as saying in Mark 10:23-25, Matthew 19:23-24, and Luke 18:24-25. God's grace can save a rich person who earns their money legally, invests their money legally, does not evade their taxes, and who gives generously to charitable causes (Galatians 2:10), because from God's freely given gift of grace which all are free to choose or reject (II Corinthians 5:15, Jeremiah 18:1-10 and Romans 9-11), good works or good deeds flow (Ephesians 2:8-10 and Romans 2:5-11). With taxation, the rich as well as middle class and working class taxpayers fund government provided social welfare benefits to the needy, as well as government provided foreign aid. Free will is mentioned many times in the Bible, however much our free will is influenced by our genes and environment (Matthew 26:41 and Romans 7). Free will in the Bible can be found in I Timothy 2:3-4, II Peter 3:9, I John 4:8, Ezekiel 18:32, Ezekiel 33:11, Deuteronomy 30:19, Joshua 24:15, Jeremiah 18:7-10, and II Corinthians 5:15. Jesus is said to have loved the rich man who had followed all of the Ten Commandments from his youth (Mark 10:21). Jesus did however tell the rich man that if he wanted to be perfect, he should sell all that he had and give the proceeds to the poor, and then become a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 19:21). Perfection is not obligatory for all Christians, since not all Christians can be friars, monks, missionaries, and social welfare workers.
Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 bemoans that the rich sometimes sit in a lowly place, servants ride on horses, while princes walk on the ground like servants. Proverbs 19:10 says that it is not fitting for a fool to enjoy luxury, and even less for a servant to rule over princes. According to Proverbs 28:3 a poor man who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain which leaves no food. Under the Communist rule of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot, millions of people starved to death because of the enforced collectivization of agriculture. The Communist system of economics, because it ignored the free enterprise laws of supply and demand, meant that its agriculture and industry regularly produced shortages and surpluses (1). The shortages led to inflation in real terms via a black market, and the surpluses led to Communist run farms and factories running at a loss and ultimately having to be subsidized by taxpayers. The Communist Soviet Union was rarely self-sufficient in food production, and was dependent on such nations as The United States of America, Canada, Argentina, and Australia for wheat imports (2). The higher-ranking members of the Communist Party, military, bureaucracy and state-run business management lived lives of comfort and privelege unknown by their more humble subjects. God, who is all wise or omniscient, would not endorse a stupid, failed politico-economic system such as Communism. The Soviet Union fell apart in 1991 because of the economic inefficiency of Communism, and China since the 1980's has moved its economy towards a free-market based mixed economy, the kind that exists in the Scandinavian nations of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, although politically China remains for the time being a one-party state Communist dictatorship. However, generations from now, the Chinese middle class might grow large enough to permit a multi-party democracy to run successfully in China. For the time being the modified free enterprise nation of Japan has a per capita or per head GNP which is larger than that possessed by China, although the gap is gradually narrowing with each passing year.
Usury in the Old Testament was the sin of an Israelite lending money on interest to a fellow Jew who lived in poverty according to Exodus 22:25, Ezekiel 18:16-17, Proverbs 19:17, Proverbs 22:7, Proverbs 22:26-27, and Proverbs 28:8. Does this mean that a Jew was allowed to lend money to a fellow Jew who was not poor and who could be expected to repay back the loan with interest? A Jew in Old Testament times was allowed to lend money on interest to a non-Jew under Deuteronomy 23:20-21.
Proverbs 30:7-9 says that both wealth and poverty can lead to temptation and sin, for a rich man might feel that he has no need for God, and a poor man might be tempted to steal. The middle class and skilled manual working class are those safest from falling into temptation and sin.One of the Ten Commandments prohibits the worshiping of other deities besides Yahweh and the worshiping of carved images of pagan deities (Exodus 20:3-5, Deuteronomy 5:7-9, and Exodus 32). The Israelites in Old Testament times were allowed however to make images of Yahweh's angels, such as the angelic hierarchy of the cherubim (Exodus 25:18-22, Exodus 26:1, and Exodus 26:31). Ephesians 5:5 says that a greedy or covetous man is an idolater. One of the Ten Commandments says that God punishes the descendants of Jews down to the fourth generation who forsake the God Yahweh for other gods and goddesses (Exodus 20:5-6 and Deuteronomy 5:9-10). Ezekiel 18 however says that God will not punish the sons for the sins of their fathers or fathers for the sins of their sons. The books of the Bible were written usually decades or even centuries after the events they purport to describe, and are therefore subject to much invention, embellishment, and exaggeration. Many of the stories, legends, myths, and philosophies of the Bible were borrowings from the ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Sumerians, Persians, and Greeks. Science has disproven many of the Old and New Testament stories, especially the sciences of evolution, genetics, geology, paleography and archaeology. Fundamentalism is for those who lie to themselves, and therefore who lie to others. Jesus said in Matthew 5:37 that our yes be yes and our no be no, for whatever is other than this is from Satan. Sometimes the Bible contradicts and errs itself, for example when II Kings 9-10 says one thing and Hosea 1:4-5 says another thing. II Timothy 3:16 says that all of the Bible is inspired by God, but the inspiration of God has been filtered through ignorant, prejudiced, fallible, morally flawed human writers.
The Eye of the Needle was an ancient Jewish aphorism. A Midrash (Hebrew Bible commentary) on the Song of Songs uses the phrase to speak of God's willingness and ability beyond comparison, to accomplish the salvation of a sinner:
The Holy One said, open for me a door as big as a needle's eye and I will open for you a door through which may enter tents and [camels?].See Eye of a Needle in Wikipedia.
(1). William G. Dewald, "Capitalism," page 157, The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume C-ch, No.3, 1987, Chicago, U.S.A.
(2). Robert O. Paxton, Europe in the Twentieth Century, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A., Second Edition, Updated Printing, 1991, pages 599 and 642.
By Ardent Seeker.