FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 17, number 28, July 19, 2018
“Do not move the ancient boundary or go into the fields of the fatherless.” Proverbs 23:10
Millennials and Socialism
The rather shocking victory of political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a Democratic primary in New York, defeating ten time Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley, gives credence to the observation that millennials are moving toward Socialism. This is not an isolated case. A few days earlier four Democratic Socialists, backed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), won primary elections for legislative seats in Pennsylvania. And of course, Bernie Sanders drew very strong support among millennials in the 2016 Presidential race.
This move toward socialism by millennials is not merely a knee jerk reaction to the old men and women running the Democratic Party. A Harvard University poll of people between the ages of 18 and 29 found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Only 42 percent say that they do support it. Nearly half of all U.S. millennials believe the greatest safe space of them all would be living under a socialist regime. Forty-five percent of them say that they would prefer to live in a socialist country. Clearly millennials are increasingly turning away from capitalism toward socialism.
Why is this happening? I can cite several reasons. First, they have no memory of the Cold War and the millions of people who died at the hands of wicked socialist and communistic regimes. Socialism breeds a death culture. Secondly, each succeeding generation of college students, since the late 1960’s who have deeply imbibed of the leftist ideology they have received from their professors, has moved further away from capitalism to socialism. They have been told that a free market economy is oppressive to the poor. Thirdly, many of them were in college, or recently graduated when the 2008 meltdown of the economy occurred and they have had trouble getting well-paying jobs. They saw massive bailouts of companies “too big to fail” while they were stuck working at Starbucks, waiting for a real job to come along, as they began to pay back their massive student loans. They saw greed on all sides and decided free market capitalism was the culprit. And fourthly, there is a natural inclination, not only for millennials, but also for all of us, regardless of our age or lot in life, to desire to acquire things without working for them. Due to the imputation of Adam’s sin, we all are inclined to live and prosper at the expense of others. It’s simply in our DNA, as it were.
But there is also a fifth reason, particularly seen in the evangelical and Reformed church. Words have always had very specific meanings. Take the Biblical words of mercy and justice. Mercy means not receiving what we deserve. We deserve hell, for example, but God shows us mercy in Christ. Justice means getting what we deserve, receiving our due, a balancing of the scales, so to speak. Justice is a right. To not give a man his due is to cheat him, to deal with him in an unjust manner. A workman is worthy of his wages. To discriminate against someone due to his color or ethnicity is unjust.
But some pastors and theologians are changing the words and at times, combining them in an unwarranted fashion. For example, Greg Forster of The Gospel Coalitionhas substituted Jonathan Edwards’ word “charity” for “economic justice.” Charity is an act of kindness a person does out of the goodness of his heart, not from an external, legal requirement. He probably gets this idea from Tim Keller in his book Generous Justice. So in Forster’s paradigm, receiving charity becomes a right. So economic justice becomes a right. If economic justice is a right then we, the American people, the tax-payers, are required to provide health care for everyone, to make sure everyone can have a free college education, and those unwilling to work are guaranteed a monthly check from the government. Or to follow the campaign platform of Socialist Ocasio-Cortez, we should mandate a $15 per hour minimum wage, expansion of the Medicare program to include people of all ages, a universal jobs guarantee, and the abolition of ICE.
God has ordained that all people, regardless of their ethnicity and country of legal residence, should have life, liberty, and property. God is the giver of life. God is the bestower of liberty. He made Adam and Eve free to eat from any tree of the garden of Eden but one. Their failure clearly drove the world into ruin, but the vestiges of His image still remain within man, even fallen man. Thus man is free to live as he chooses, believe as he chooses, work as he chooses, all under the direction and ordinances of God’s law. And clearly God, in His goodness, gives to all men the right to own property, to cultivate the land, and to increase in wealth (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 145:14-16, Exodus 20:15).
Simply put, socialism is forcibly taking (largely through taxation, legislation, or judicial fiat) someone’s life (think abortion), liberty (think slavery), or property (any tax beyond ten percent). Socialism is what the French economist Frederic Bastiat called “plunder.” Socialism of any stripe, whether espoused by Ocasio-Cortez or Tim Keller is unjust. It is plunder.
This is the meaning of Proverbs 23:10. We have no right to take from someone else anything which belongs to him. The government has no right to tax us unfairly. Yes, Christians are to be generous, and I believe most in the United States are incredibly generous. This, however, is a far cry from the socialism which is rushing into the church like a flood. Socialism robs people of incentive. It robs people of life. The last two hundred years prove this without question or dispute. It is a flawed system. It never has worked, and it never will.
2. On page 15 in Generous Justice Keller tries to make the point that justice includes generosity, that if we are not being generous, then we are not acting righteously. He cites Ezekiel 18:5-7 as evidence that failure to actively and generously share our resources with the poor means we are robbers. One may ask, how active and how generous must I be in order to escape the condemnation of being a robber? Is this not works righteousness? Yes, of course, we are to be generous to the poor, but it is an act of grace and charity, not a law mandated by the government or church.
3. The command not to steal presupposes ownership of property.
4. I will develop this idea next week.
5. The Law by Frederic Bastiat, “When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it-without his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraud-to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed,” page 17.