The passing of Ronald Sider in 2022 presented an opportunity for Gary to tell the sad history of Christian socialism in America.

The mark of a Christian movement is its willingness to submit to the demands of Scripture. Not, mind you, merely to “principles” abstracted from their context and loaded with new content; but rather the actual, concrete, explicit statements of God’s word. “You shall not steal,” for instance: that must not be relativized on the mere excuse that the thief has no bread. It must not be violated just because someone has found a “principle” that God would like everyone to have bread. It must not be transgressed with the spurious rationale that the thief should have been given the bread in the first place.

If you want principles, here’s one: theft is theft. Easy to remember, uncomplicated and biblical. The “Christian” who advocates theft in the name of social justice is in truth calling for the Revolution, whether or not he fully realizes what he is doing. And we must not allow the lovely sounds of the words to disguise their meaning. The great Dutch Christian historian of revolution, Groen van Prinsterer, pointed out that “wherever the Revolution has been at work it has become apparent that it considers law to be mere convention, a product of the human Will.”[1] We shall see that this is the mark of the “Christian socialist” movement as well—that its only real principle is the principle of unbelief:

The principle of unbelief—the sovereignty of reason and the sovereignty of the people—must end, while proclaiming Liberty, either in radicalism or in despotism: in the disintegration of society or in the tyranny of a state in which all things are levelled without any regard to true liberties and true rights.[2]

A man or movement may claim to be Christian, and yet not be; a man or movement may be Christian, and yet have unbiblical ideas. The test is Scripture, and Scripture alone. Not wishes, not “rights,” not wants or needs; try every word a man speaks at the bar of God’s inerrant Word. Those who advocate the lawless overthrow of society—even if it is technically “legal”—are opposing God’s commands. The ultimate end of the Revolution is always unbelief. “The defining feature of the Revolution is its hatred of the Gospel, its anti-Christian nature. This feature marks the Revolution, not when it ‘deviates from its course’ and ’lapses into excesses,’ but, on the contrary, precisely when it holds to its course and reaches the conclusion of its system, the true end of its logical development. This mark belongs to the Revolution. The Revolution can never shake it off. It is inherent in its very principle, and expresses and reflects its essence. It is the sign of its origin. It is the mark of hell.”[3]

Productive Christians

Productive Christians

David Chilton not only exposes the follies and fallacies of socialism, but he also systematically outlines the biblical alternative — an alternative that lays the groundwork for real justice, progress, prosperity, and freedom for the rich, the poor, and everyone in between. First published nearly half a century ago, it is more relevant and more prescient than ever. Chilton’s crystalline prose and take-no-prisoners style is as entertaining as it is informative. This is the way books on economic issues should be written: biblical, understandable, and practical.

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The passing of Ronald Sider in 2022 presented an opportunity for Gary to tell the sad history of Christian socialism in America. Acts 4-5 is often appealed to as an example of this, but as Gary points out, it was 1) voluntary, and 2) tied to the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Christians must not be manipulated into unproductive mindsets by academic and economic guilt peddlers.

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[1] G. Groen van Prinsterer, Unbelief and Revolution: Lecture XI (Amsterdam: The Groen van Prinsterer Fund, 1973), p. 10.

[2] Ibid., Lecture IX (1975), pp. 73f.

[3] Ibid.,.Lecture VIII (1975), pp. 29f.