By Gordan Runyan
Religion columnist 

Bible outlaws all 'soft socialism'


June 21, 2017

I've seen people on social media claiming the Bible doesn't bother to advocate any particular economic order. Supposedly, if a nation chooses capitalism, socialism, or any other "ism," we shouldn't imagine that God cares one way or the other.

This assertion is one fruit of a sort of Christian preaching that fails to apply the Word of God to every area of life, in favor of focusing exclusively on the warm fuzzies you have in your heart because of Jesus.

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for warm fuzzies, but the Bible is about more than that.

In fact, the Scripture assumes free markets, and that is practically the only economic arrangement we see in action throughout its narratives. We see private individuals engaged in open, unhindered trade, buying and selling their own possessions, free from government interference.

There are a couple of odd exceptions, but we'll save those for later articles, as they do nothing to argue with this thesis.

For now, it's important to note that the Bible outlaws all forms of mandatory collectivism, including the "soft socialism" that we live with today. It does this with one, simple commandment: the Eighth. "Thou shalt not steal." (Exodus 20:15)

How does the Eighth Commandment outlaw socialism? By establishing a right to private property.

You can't steal from your neighbor unless he actually owns stuff. Contrarily, collectivist theories (including our homegrown socialism) assume government ownership of all money and means of production.

The government may let you keep some stuff (and thanks be to government) but in a pinch, it just passes a new law and confiscates it.

Am I exaggerating? Try not paying your property taxes on that home that you "own," and you will eventually be shown in no uncertain terms who actually owns it.

But God has said, "Thou shalt not steal." Now, you wouldn't know it from listening to many modern pulpits, or the 24-hour news channels, but this is also talking about government. The king wasn't allowed to break the laws that you and I have to keep. (See for instance the rules for kings in Deuteronomy 17:14-20.)

Government can't do immoral things just because it is the government, including immoral things like thieving.

Am I a radical in any of this? No, I'm a Christian and an American. I recommend re-reading the first paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence if it's been a while. Note where the founders thought our rights come from, and what the job of the government is regarding those rights.

Government should preserve God-given liberties, not destroy them.

Socialism can't happen without theft and coercion through threat of unjust violence. It is therefore anti-God and should get no hearing among us.

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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