Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What does God think of economic equality?

In American evangelical circles, there's an idea that goes something like this: progressive taxation = socialism and socialism=satanic. Never mind the fact that both Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith (the founder of modern capitalism) favored progressive taxation, I'm wondering where we got the idea that political structures aiming for economic equality--or at least some semblance of economic equality--is a bad thing?

One of the reasons that many evangelicals believe the Apostles never attacked the institution of slavery directly is because they wanted slavery to lose its grip in the community of the church first so that society would eventually follow suit. Might the same principle also apply to economic equality? We know that early Christians in the Book of Acts practiced a form of voluntary socialism, but how much have we pondered what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8:13-14?

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality…” (italics emphasis mine)

I think it’s a devastating indictment on the way things are today that we don’t even aim for this in our churches…but I digress. Here’s my question. If God’s vision for the Body of Christ is economic equality, then what does that say about God’s vision for society at large?

Think about it.


Ben Franklin said...

You asked, "If God’s vision for the Body of Christ is economic equality, then what does that say about God’s vision for society at large?"

As you stated, or alluded to, this is about the giving of the church. Not just giving, but generous giving to the point of abundant joy. Additionally, it was giving of their own free will. See v. 1-3 in that same chapter of 2 Corinthians.

But, typically when the "society at large" attempts to implement this type of "equality", it usually isn't implemented under the same auspices of free will. Thus, socialism as a governing mechanism is typically frowned upon by those who have the framework of freedom given by the US Constitution.

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Good points Ben, but the question is:

is progressive taxation socialism, especially when the money is spent to support infrastructure that supports a middle class? Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith would have said no. We've reached a point in our political discourse where ANY tax increase is equated with a satanic plot to turn America into the former USSR.

Ben Franklin said...

Perhaps people are upset because government has been mishandling the taxes for too long. Perhaps because they see government's answer to every problem as them needing more money. Perhaps because they have noticed how quickly the government debt has increased in the past 2 years, and the government is attempting to be everything to everyone, and has no controls on spending. Perhaps the middle class doesn't want the government providing all the infrastructure.

BTW, did you change the question?

BTW#2, believe we reached the point where any move by an administration was equated with a satanic plot well before the current administration...

Anonymous said...

God established, as an example, in the government of Isreal:

A free market economy based on the private ownership of property (Exodus 20:15,17; Deut 19:14) and individual free enterprise (Eccl 5:19; Prov. 10:2-4; 12:24: 13:4,11; 1 Thess 3:10). Any taxation of 10% or higher was defined as oppression (1 Samuel 8:10-18), and any taxation of property, or of inheritance, was strictly forbidden! (1 Kings 21:3). Institutions and individuals involved in the full time service of the Lord were not allowed to be taxed (Ezra 7:23,24). Any unequal or progressive system of taxation was expressly forbidden (Ex. 30:14-15; Leviticus 19:15). Biblical economics also forbids unjust weights (unbacked currency) and measures (inflation) (Leviticus 19:35-36; Prov. 11:1; 20:10; Amos 8:5-7; Micah 6:11,12).

karg said...

"is progressive taxation socialism?"

If you ask anyone in Europe, where I live, they would most likely say no. During the Cold War, Americans were subjected to massive propaganda against socialism and all that goes with it, and I guess the fear of it lives on to this day.

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Good point!