In 1975, Communist China could not feed its own people. They were starving and needed to import food to feed their people. The leaders decided to change something and within one decade something radical happened….but what was it?
Communism and Socialism both spurn from a humanistic worldview. Humanism, according to Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, can be characterized by man being the center and measure of all things. Where there is no revelation from God, humans are elevated to a “god-like” status. Humanism also emphasizes the subjective nature of our belief system. Where everyone is right about everything, everything is subjective. Where there is a right and wrong despite what anyone thinks is objective in nature. Humanists believe that laws are subjective. This creates laws that are arbitrary, anti-god, and anti-religious. In a humanist mentality, what a worldview boils down to is what a person thinks is good and would create happiness. It is subjective instead of objective. It is not based on God (objective) but man (subjective). This is what Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung believed. This is what Karl Marx believed when he wrote his Communist Manifesto.
The Communist Manifesto was written in 1848 declaring to the world what the communist party believed. Communism comes from the Latin word communis which means, “shared, common, or universal.” It is the concept that there is no private property, but shared. Originally, Marx saw the terms socialism and communism as interchangeable and synonymous.
In the beginning of the book, Marx and Engels write that, “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles.” They argue that there are always two different classes of society which are always against each other. They name these two different classes as the proletariat (blue collar workers) and the bourgeoisie (land owners). They say, “Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another.” Although we don’t have many surfs and lords now a days, Marx will say that new forms of the “struggle” will morph with time and come to the surface in different ways.
There are typically three views of Marxism:
- Social Democratic Marxism: We can bring about a socialist society by peaceful, democratic means by the ballot box.
- Leninist-Marxist: Lenin believed that Marxism can only be brought about by forceful, violent revolution to create a totalitarian government (creating a Marxist elite)
- Neo-Marxist/Humanistic Marxism: Advocated mostly by liberation theologians. They believed capitalism creates an alienation between people, products, jobs, and ourselves. This is not good for people and the government should then step in.
Looking at the Communist Manifesto from a Christian perspective, we see some of the main tenets of Marx revolve around personal property. He believed that personal property should be abolished. He believed that the extent to which it should be taken was sharing wives in common. Marx also believed that children’s education was the responsibility of the collective community to further the teachings of a Marxist mentality.
When looking at these tenets briefly from a Biblical perspective, we see that God is not against the owning of personal property. The Ten Commandments state this clearly in the commands to not steal or to not covet a neighbor’s possession (or spouse). We also see that it is the parents responsibility for teaching their children (Deut. 6, Eph 6).
What Marxism brings as well to the table of worldviews is economics. Again, Marxism believes there is no personal property. Everyone works for the same wage. There is no incentive and no free market economy. We as Christians are called to help the poor and oppressed. The main question is, “How?” What economic system should be in place to better help the poor? The Liberation Theologians will claim a form of neo-Marxism will be the best system to help the poor.
From a Christian perspective, Marxism has shown up in our Christian circles under the guise of “liberation theology.” Liberation theology was set up to fight poverty and oppression via neo-Marxism. Tony Campollo, a face of liberation theology, wrote a book titled, We Have Met the Enemy and They are Partly Right. In this book, he laid out basic tenants of neo-Marxism and encouraged his readers to share in his sentiments in this way to help fight oppression and poverty. But, here is the problem: Poverty doesn’t create wickedness. Wickedness creates poverty.
We look at the United States today with all the socialist governmental programs set in place to help the poor and we see failure. We see more and more people are not given any incentive to work. Why work when the government gives you money? Why work when the government penalizes you for making money? We should not help the poor the way we are helping them now. We are enhancing their poverty by all the social systems set into place. Look what happened in China. The government of China gave their people capitalist incentives to produce food and keep profit for themselves. They gave them a taste of a free market with incentives. Within one decade, instead of China needing to import food, they could feed themselves AND export their food! One decade of turn around based off of incentive and a taste of freedom. The poor in the United States today have no incentive to work.
A controlled economy is not the answer, according to Dr. Ronald Nash. What the poor need is a capitalist economy. They need incentive and a free market. Liberation theology aligns with socialism. Liberation theologians will try to help the poor by fostering and encouraging socialist frameworks but the long term effects do more harm than good to the poor. The older forms of Marxism have fallen by the wayside and have failed. The only Marxist-Leninist governments in existence today are: North Korea, Cuba, and China: And look at their “success.”
For God’s Glory
As we see from above, Marx, in his book The Communist Manifesto, espoused many unbiblical views of personal property. The Bible does not teach a compulsory system in giving. We as Christians are to be giving generously to help those in need–especially those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ (Gal 6:10). Economics is something we as Christians should pay attention to. We will be held accountable for our actions and for what words we espouse. We need to do our best to be biblical in our thinking about what would honor, obey, and glorify God–for, to Him be the glory.
For Further Discussion:
Economic Oppression vs. Economic Freedom on: The Reformed Conservative
Social Welfare Programs and Christians on: The Reformed Conservative
The Reformed Conservative aims to reunite gentlemanly virtues with scholarly conversation. Standing in the great Reformed and conservative heritage of thinkers like Edmund Burke and Abraham Kuyper, we humbly seek to inject civility into an informed conversation, one article at a time, bringing clarity out of chaos.