"We know Troy. He's such a cheap guy."

- Richard "Data" Wang
was paul a socialist?


let me preface ALL of this with: i am dumb.


there has been talk/fear about obama being a socialist. i'm not here to say i think or know that he is or isn't. but i came across this passage the other day and wondered how it applied to socialist beliefs:

13 For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality-- 14 at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality;

2 Corinthians 8:13-14 NASB


to my limited understanding, it sounds pretty similar to the concept of socialism. is the difference that one is Spirit motivated and one is government mandated? is the difference that under socialism everyone has the same amount all the time and paul's plan allows for an ebb and flow of abundance and lacking? the latter obviously provides more opportunities for generosity, which is what paul is urging. "spread the wealth" seemed to be a pretty maddening statement when B.O. said it. but isn't paul saying to "spread the wealth"? i'm not all torn up about it. just wonderin'.

i kinda side with ferris bueller who wisely said, "'isms,' in my opinion, are not good."

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Comments on "was paul a socialist?":
1. Les - 10/22/2008 9:51 pm CDT

I think the difference is that Paul is urging individuals in a type of behavior. When the individual distributes his/her own wealth that's capitalism. That's democracy. When the government TAKES it, and then metes it out, that's redistribution. That's socialism.

We are strongly enjoined to take care of the poor by Christ. We will be judged individually on how well we do in this area. Jesus wants us to get our hands dirty in helping each other. The socialistic attitude puts a wall up. "I don't need to take care of the poor because we have a government program to do it."

Reminds me of an old Donovan song from back in the day, "Rikki Tikki Tavi." It's worth a Google.

Dog, I'm old!

2. Bill - 10/22/2008 11:00 pm CDT

I think our modern versions of both capitalism and socialism would be somewhat foreign to Paul, but I think the main distinction between what he's saying here (and how the early church lived) and socialism is that Paul is talking about free-will giving. Socialism in its modern forms is coerced giving by the individual to the state, with the state deciding who shall be the beneficiary of this largesse. Paul, earlier in 2 Cor 8, really seems to be encouraging giving out of a joyful, free will. Giving until it hurts, yes, giving sacrificially, but still giving freely.

My 2 shekels, at least.

3. Andrew - 10/23/2008 12:01 am CDT

I think that it's also healthy to note that the early church lived in a quasi-socialist manner (my dad likes to refer to it as "Commonism"). Acts 2 talks about the disciples sharing and distributing wealth according to need. There's an argument to be made that in a purely Christian society, socialism would probably work. The the most effective argument against socialism is human nature itself. We're naturally greedy and prideful, and the free-market works because it understands that and uses it to our benefit. If a society is truly devoted to one another as the early church was, it would probably look something like socialism.

That said, I think it's important to distinguish the positions of people like Jesus and Paul from our modern day political positions. One of the most striking, and unexpected things about Jesus was how apolitical he was.

So, yes, I side with Ferris Bueler.

4. Randy - 10/23/2008 11:52 am CDT

I think everything that everyone said already is right, so I won't elaborate for the sake of redundancy, but I will write:

I like your quote from Ferris.

Like Macy's vimeo, he had good rhythm, too. And he never had one lesson.

5. Anne - 10/27/2008 11:09 pm CDT

If socialism/communism was nothing more than "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", who would argue? Nobody has figured out how to do it without 1) making everyone Christian or 2) having a totalitarian government that owned everything and controlled everything.

And since #1 is, of course, far too coercive and controlling, the obvious choice since the days of Marx has been the far less coercive #2. ;)
Unfortunately, door #2 has the unwanted side-effect that the 25% of the people who do 90% of the work suddenly wonder why they should, if it's all going to be confiscated anyway and given straight to the crowd chanting, "Help us. We've tried nothing and we're out of ideas!"

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

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