Christians in the United States should not underestimate the potential consequences of the present, national fascination with socialism. Socialism was creeping into American life already, but now it is the policy du jour of the persistent Senator from Vermont who stands very possibly as the Democratic nominee for president, Bernie Sanders.
Defined as political and economic theory that favors government control and regulation, socialism has a dark history.
In 1848, the Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was published. This radical political document advocated for a socialist revolution between classes, with the working classes becoming conquerors. The manifesto was popular for its rallying cry, “Workers of the world, unite!” Recently, the world witnessed this call to action as the co-director for “American Factory,” the first-ever film produced by President Obama’s new production house, enthusiastically quoted this line during her acceptance speech at the 92nd Academy Awards.
But this ideology has proven time and again to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing as communist revolutions around the world have produced dark, oppressed societies that do not support freedom of religion, or really any freedom at all. As he crisscrosses the nation, Sen. Sanders has consistently labeled his political campaign “a revolution.”
Although there are certainly differences between socialism and communism, many Marxists are transparent in their vision of socialism as a gateway to rejecting capitalism, welcoming communism, and suppressing religion. Dr. Jack Graham, my good friend and Senior Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, exercised his own pointed concern with our nation’s future recently when he wrote, "Socialism is fundamentally at odds with the Christian worldview and seeks to repress all peoples in support of the state.” He went on, “no one serious about their Christian faith can be serious about supporting socialism.”
I agree with Pastor Jack Graham.
The truth is, the promise of socialism is a promise of tyranny and a call to trust in worldly power. It rejects the liberty God has designed for the human race. Karl Marx even considered religion and the Gospel of Christ to be a hallucination that soothed the public. Any honest student of history could tell you, this worldview is a violent threat to Christianity.
Some clever politicians have tried to deceive well-meaning Christians by suggesting that the Bible itself advocates for socialism because of passages like Luke 3:22, where Jesus tells us, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Yet, theirs is an errant theology.
It’s clear from this and many other passages throughout that Bible that Christ has called us to be generous with our neighbors and with those in need as a matter of individual choice not as the result of coercion (by the government or anyone else).
On the surface—and for those who don’t understand socialism’s tragic history and empty promises—the socialist ideology may appear virtuous as a lifeline for the poor and working-class.
But as Christians, the sharing of our blessings is never advocated by our Creator to be a government-mandated reallocation program at the whims of whoever is in power. In practice, socialism has resulted in tragedy on a scale virtually incomparable in history. It was one major factor in making the 20th century one of the bloodiest in world history.
Christians should not be deceived. Christ champions our free will, and he welcomes anyone and everyone to make a choice to come and follow him. In Matthew 19:22 he even told us a story of a rich man who wouldn’t sacrifice his wealth and his love of money to follow him, yet Jesus never forced him to be his disciple. Again, it was his choice.
Love and charity are meant to be voluntary, not a tool to be exploited by a heavy-handed ruler or by a politician who shuttles between his multiple homes while condemning the rich.
Furthermore, the socialist ideology turns an essential component of America’s Declaration of Independence on its head. We’re told that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.” This is indeed in keeping with our Christian faith. We believe our rights come from God, not from government. As President Trump is fond of saying, “In America, we worship God, not government.” Yet a socialist proclaims our rights come from government, not from God; and—whether or not you believe it—they will deconstruct our democracy in a way that demands it.
It’s overwhelmingly clear that socialism would not be a lifeline for America. It would be a death sentence for the most powerful, prosperous and humanitarian nation in human history. It’s a wolf in sheep's clothing; a poison pill that continues to sicken and kill nations, often impacting the poor the most, as we have most recently seen in Venezuela.
We must never have a socialist America.
Dr. David Jeremiah is among the best known Christian leaders in the world. He serves as senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California and is the founder and host of Turning Point. Turning Point‘s 30-minute radio program is heard on more than 2,200 radio stations daily. A New York Times bestselling author and Gold Medallion winner, he has written more than 50 books.