I was wondering when liberals were going to bring Jesus into the discussion about taxing the rich. Christians are labeled ‘theocrats’ and ‘dominionists’ when they quote the Bible, but when a liberal appeals to Jesus she’s being compassionate. The latest is an article written by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite who is a professor at the mostly liberal Chicago Theological Seminary. Apparently there’s Chicago politics and Chicago Theology. Here’s the professor’s own summary of why a $1.5 trillion tax and spending program by a confiscatory government is the essence of Christianity:
“Americans sharing more equally in the burden of pulling our country out of massive debt, and using tax revenue to stimulate the economy and create jobs isn’t ‘class warfare,’ it’s actually Christianity.”
I’m all for sharing, but being taxed is not sharing. Taking money from one neighbor to help another neighbor is not sharing. If a person wants to appeal to his neighbors to help another neighbor, that’s a good thing. President Obama also used the sharing analogy. As children, he said, we were taught to share. Sharing is a voluntary enterprise.
There is no forced governmental altruism mandated in the Bible. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) uses his own money to care for the robbery victim left for dead. This story cannot be used as a directive for social spending by governments. Jesus never calls on the State to act in an altruistic way. The State can’t be altruistic since it has nothing of its own to give. The eighth commandment applies to civil governors in the same way that it applies to self-governors. Neither is permitted to steal to help others.
You can’t be altruistic with other people’s money. Taking money from one group of people and giving it to another group of people is not altruism, even if a majority of people vote for a program that does it. It’s theft. Theft by “majority rule” is still theft.
She makes passing reference to Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, and loving our neighbor (Luke 10:27). Stealing from one neighbor and giving to another is not love. Ms Thistlethwaite goes on to argue:
“But as I, and Jim Wallis and others have shown over and over and over, the biblical practices on justice for the poor are far more radically egalitarian than anything being proposed in terms of economics today by Democrats.”
I’ve debated Jim Wallis. He and other social justice advocates argue “that there are more than 2,000 verses of Scripture that call us to express love and justice for those who are poor and oppressed.” What Wallis and his compatriots need to find in these 2,000 verses is one verse that gives authority to civil government to redistribute wealth. They take verses that are directed at individuals and turn them on their head and gives them a political twist. Here’s a representative example:
Most important, when we reflect on all Jesus had to say about caring for the poor and oppressed, committing ourselves to His red-letter message just might drive us to see what we can do politically to help those he called, “the least of these” (see Matt. 25:31–46) .
On the day of judgment . . . [God] will ask whether or not we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, received and cared for aliens, and brought deliverance to captive peoples (see Matt. 25:31–46).
The author of the above sees a political solution in these verses when Jesus is addressing what individuals have or have not done. There are a number of things that civil government is permitted to do that I, as a private citizen, am not allowed to do like execute criminals, have my own private army, print my own money, etc.
Yes, there are some things that civil government is permitted to do that a private citizen is not permitted to do. Executing criminals and raising an army for the defense of the nation are two of them. Both the Bible and the Constitution are specific about these. Printing money is not one of them. Printed money is theft unless it is backed up by gold and silver (gold and silver certificates) as the Bible (Isa. 1:22) and the Constitution require (Art. 1, sec. 10). To base government programs like welfare, food stamps, and social security on Matthew 25:31–46 is without foundation. The division in Matthew 25 is between sheep and goats, that is, individuals. Nations don’t visit people in prison. Private citizens do. Governments put people in prison. Private citizens do not.
Civil governments are the biggest hindrance in helping the poor, and it’s not because they don’t tax enough and redistribute wealth. High taxes and control of the money supply (inflation/deflation) enable civil governments to control people and their property. A ten percent tax is a sign of tyranny (1 Sam. 8:15), and yet these so-called social justice Christians believe in higher taxes on the rich to help the poor. It was a taxing policy by Rome that forced Mary and Joseph to leave their stable home environment, Joseph’s job, and spend money they probably did not have in order to register for a government taxing program (Luke 2:1–7). Wealth redistribution policies, with all their good intentions hurt the poor and make them wards of the State.