Why Socialism isn’t evil (once again): a response to Rick Phillips

Another day, another Christian denouncing Socialism. This time Rick Phillips offers his thoughts at the Reformation 21 blog in the piece titled Socialism is Evil. It was also linked via the Challies A La Carte feature for today. I have already discussed the nature of Socialism from a Christian point of view, in response to comments from John Piper here and John Stevens here. I will here address Phillips points directly.

Phillips offers  three reasons why he believes the Bible deems Socialism evil. They are:

  1. Socialism is a system based on stealing
  2. Socialism is an anti-work system
  3. Socialism concentrates the power to do evil

As I have noted both here and here, in response to RC Sproul Jr and John Piper respectively, Socialism is clearly not predicated on stealing. At the heart of most forms of Socialism is a high tax redistributive system. The state typically tax the rich at higher rates and redistribute their wealth through public services which can be accessed by the poor. Certainly such taxation – which still exists in some form even under Capitalist systems – neither amounts to theft nor sin. The Bible is quite clear on this issue (cf. Mark 12:17; Rom 13:6-7).

Phillips argues “The whole point of socialism is for the government to seize control of private property, mainly involving the proceeds of peoples’ work, in order to give it to others.” I can only presume Phillips is alluding to the taxation of individual salaries when he speaks about seizing private property “mainly involving the proceeds of people’s work”. If so, the Bible is utterly clear that this is neither sinful nor stealing. If Phillips is alluding the the commandeering of other private property which is systematically given to others – which may be true of Communism but not necessarily Socialism – I am unaware of any Western Socialist advocate within the last century advancing a case for the compulsory acquisition of private property for the purposes of simply handing it to others. As such, the first of Phillips arguments is both biblically weak and, given the existence of taxation under his preferred system, would apply to Capitalism (they merely “steal” less in tax, if one wishes to make such an argument).

Second, Phillips argues Socialism is “anti-work”. He argues:

Today, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders promises to give free education, free health care, and free vacation time, etc.  (Of course, since government does not create wealth, these things are only free as the money to give them is taken from others.)   As I listen to Senator Sanders, I wonder what incentive there would be to work hard.  Why would I put myself through the ordeal of discipline, sacrifice, and sweat, much less risk-taking business endeavors, if I can have a wonderful life without working for it?

Regarding his comment about government wealth creation, I have made the point clearly enough above. Capitalism similarly taxes people and the Bible is abundantly clear that taxation is not theft. Unless Phillips wants to argue that all taxation is stealing and thus sinful, he will find himself special-pleading for the existence of governance at all, defence spending, and any number of areas he feels it is appropriate for states to spend. If not, he is left in the unenviable position of arguing that taxation is not theft when it is spent on the things he deems appropriate but it is stealing when it is spent on the wrong things. The only way out of the bind would be to advocate out and out libertarianism, but as an advocate of Capitalism – which suffers from many of these same claims as defined by Phillips – he is left with the problem.

However, his second point is primarily this (I paraphrase): if there is such a thing as free health care, education and the rest who is going to bother working? As not working goes against the ethos of scripture, this makes Socialism anti-work and therefore sinful. Let me briefly unpick the logic.

Firstly, plenty of Western states have free education and tax-based funded healthcare and it is fair to say, in the case of the UK, 5.4% of the population are currently unemployed and receiving benefits and this is on a par with the 5.5% of American citizens also currently unemployed. If it were true that these free-at-the-point-of-use systems encouraged slackness and were indeed “anti-work”, as Phillips claims, we would expect to see dramatically different levels of unemployment. The statistics for the USA and UK simply do not bear this out. Even those states who have worse unemployment figures, amongst the worst of the states that offer free healthcare and the like Austria and France have a c. 10% unemployment.

If it really were true that these systems were “anti-work”, we would expect to see dramatically higher results than these. Even in the countries with the highest levels of benefit claimants, 90% of the population still recognise the value of work. It is, therefore, clearly garbage to suggest that the offer of free education, free healthcare, free vacation time, free maternity leave, etc leads to an anti-work ethos. None of the countries that offer such things bear that out in their unemployment statistics. In fact, it is worth noting that in the USA where there is no free healthcare paid for by taxation, less vacation time (none of which is free), less social security, and fewer available paid-by-tax services than in the UK, the USA has a higher unemployment rate (albeit only by 0.1%).

Second, Phillips begs the question. He presumes nobody would work under such a system (which is evidently not the case) and therefore claims that the system is “anti-work”. Rather than look at actual levels of employment in states that – whether you wish to label them Socialist or not – provide tax-payer funded services such as those listed by Phillips, he simply assumes nobody would bother to work. The unemployment stats do not bear this out. These systems are only anti-work if indeed the citizens of those states won’t work and prefer to receive benefits. The only way to make this point is to do a comparative study of unemployment levels across various of these systems. Even then, one would have to prove that the cause of the unemployment was specifically the offer of benefits rather than the lack of work available. Phillips fails to cross even this first hurdle on the statistics, let alone the second and third. Therefore, his second point is entirely question begging.

Finally, he argues that Socialism concentrates the power to do evil. Again, the point is a poorly made one. In Communist systems the point may hold but the variant forms of Socialism approach the centralisation of power in all sorts of divergent ways. For example, many UK Socialists are vehemently against the European Union specifically because it is undemocratic and centralises, rather than devolves, power. Even within the UK, many avowed Socialists advance a move away from central powers at Westminster and are keen to see devolved parliaments akin to those already existent in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (as opposed to the current proposal for devolved Mayoralties). It is simply lacking nuance to claim that Socialism – as if there were only one form thereof anyway – seeks only to centralise and concentrate power.

Nonetheless, let’s indulge the suggestion anyway. Let’s concede, for the sake of argument, that Socialism does look to centralise power. Does scripture anywhere suggest power shouldn’t be centralised? I don’t recall the prescribed periods of Judges and Kings particularly devolving powers to the people. Nor was Moses’ period leading the people a democratic endeavour. If the centralisation of power is inherently sinful, God’s prescribed measures for leadership throughout the history of Israel would rather fall foul of this. As such, Phillips would again find himself in the difficult position of arguing either God sinned in prescribing this method or that centralisation of power is somehow sinful now but not then.

The arguments Phillips actually offers in respect to his third point are entirely practical, rather than Biblical. As such, it is difficult to maintain that this point in any way feeds into his thesis that “Socialism is evil”. If he wishes to make a practical, preferential case for Capitalism over and above Socialism, of course he can. But Phillips doesn’t even try to co-opt scripture into this third point. To jump from potential benefits/drawbacks of a system – which are a matter of wisdom and preference – to matters of sin and evil is quite a leap!

Similarly, Phillips does nothing to prove that centralising power amongst a few makes sin more likely. Indeed, that exact argument works precisely the same in reverse. If those who hold the power are good men, they actually limit the likelihood of evil compared to decentralised systems where a greater number of people are involved. Of course, if the men in the centre are evil then things are worse. The point is then, as would be true of any system, if the people whom the system revolves around are (subjectively) good or bad, the system will follow suit. It makes no difference if the system is centralised or decentralised, evil will be limited or extended based on those around whom the system revolves.

All of that aside, note again that Socialism does not necessarily centralise. Phillips fails to show that Socialism necessarily centralises nor that centralisation is necessarily sinful. Biblically, it is not at all clear that the centralisation of power is any more sinful than devolving it. Similarly, it is not clear that centralisation of power necessarily makes sin more likely. It is surely fairer to argue that sin is more or less likely based on the people the system revolves around. It is therefore a stretch for him to claim that this amounts to a biblical reason why Socialism is evil.

If you want a positive case for Socialism that offers biblical reasons why it may be preferable to Capitalism, you can find an effort to do that here and here. Nonetheless, that is outside the scope of this article. Phillips argues “For these biblically-based reasons, I would urge Christians to refrain from giving praise (and political support) to socialism and candidates who promote it.” By all means, Phillips is entitled to his preferences and is welcome to present a case in favour of Capitalism as a better system of governance. Nonetheless, Phillips fails to provide a legitimate biblical case that Socialism is evil and should be shunned by believers.

29 comments

  1. I just don’t see the Biblical justification for saying that taxation is theft … As far as I can see, it is fully mandated by the Bible – (See some references here – https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=tax&qs_version=NIV) Israelites paid taxes as far as I can see, Jesus approves of paying taxes.

    But perhaps most clearly, in Romans 13:6, the apostle Paul says “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing”. (see full passage below for context). Paul is not describing the “state” as thieves here who are wrong for taking taxes, he says quite the opposite – the state/authorities are God’s servants for “your good”, to bring punishment on the wrongdoer, who give their full time to governing. Paul seems to indicate that we owe taxes, so we should pay them in verse 7.

    Now of course there are good and bad governments, good and bad authorities, but Paul doesn’t seem to distinguish between them in verse 1 – all authority that exists has been established by God, they are God’s servants (verses 4 and 6).

    I don’t think that Rick Phillips can support the idea that taxation is theft from the Bible’s teaching. I’m happy to be proved wrong, but I think that Romans 13, in conjunction with other Bible passages make it clear that taxation is perfectly justified from the ruling authorities and from citizens/subjects.

    And as for Socialism being an anti work system, I was pretty sure that it was the Reagan/Thatcher governments that contributed to high levels of unemployment and even at times pursued policies that caused unemployment. From 1997, it was New Labour (with their watered down version of socialism) who introduced a national minimum wage to help make work pay and sought to reduce the rising unemployment brought about by the Conservative Government under Thatcher and Major.

    Romans 13:1-7

    1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

    6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

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  2. Thanks for your comment Joe.

    Yes, you are quite right. There simply is no biblical mandate for claiming tax = theft. Scripture hardly minces its words on this issue. Unless you want to argue Jesus was OK with sin when he told us to render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s, the widely accepted view being that he is referring to his right to collect taxes, the point simply isn’t there. If you do want to argue that Jesus and Paul were merely accepting the fact of its existence, rather than permitting it per se, you will have a difficult time upholding the impeccability of Christ who we know paid his taxes (in fact, even the taxes he wasn’t obliged to pay cf. Mark 17:25-27).

    The anti-work argument – though clearly predicated on a much clearer biblical imperative to work where you are able – simply doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.The logic is: (1) Socialism offers me benefits when I am out of work; (2) If I was offered benefits when I was out of work, I probably wouldn’t work; (3) Therefore, Socialism encourages worklessness.

    The problem with the logic is that it is question begging, doesn’t follow deductively and falls on the fallacies of composition and anecdote. It presumes the outcome in the premises and is thus question begging i.e. the offer of benefits necessarily means most would not work. It falls on the fallacy of composition; that is, because I wouldn’t work if benefits were offered to me, that necessarily means nobody else (or a majority of people) would not work. Similarly, this is a very narrow and limited anecdotal argument.

    The final argument doesn’t even attempt to co-opt the Bible at all. It simply states power in the hands of a few is dangerous. At best, this is simply a pragmatic argument that has no mandate in scripture. One may believe this as a matter of wisdom but to jump from practical matters of wisdom to biblically stated forms of sin and evil is a huge leap in logic. Scripture never suggests centralised power is necessarily a problem and, in many cases, actively prescribes it (eg judges and kings). That is before we consider that Socialism never claims centralisation as a central tenet. Hence plenty of Socialists are in favour of decentralisation.

    So, for all those reasons, I see nothing in Phillips’ argument that is biblical and thus he wildly overstates his case by claiming “Socialism is evil”. If he wants to present a biblically informed, positive case for preferring Capitalism to Socialism, I have no problem with him doing so. But the reasons he offers bear no resemblance to scripture, don’t really represent most forms of Socialism and is simply a way of him justifying his politics on religious grounds. The article was beneath Reformation 21 (who are, usually, really very good!)

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  3. Perhaps Mr. Phillips had Greece in mind? Or maybe a few other failed socialist experiments in Southern Europe. Greece became so upset that their party was over that they began likening Angela Merkel to Hitler. How dare she suggest that there is no such thing as a “free lunch.”

    BTW, we don’t have a “capitalist/market economy” in in the United States. We have a mixed market economy. We too shun Paul’s advice that “if a man does not work, he should not eat.”

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    1. I’m not sure there are any economies that are exclusively planned or exclusively market. Even most Communist states allow some, minor market forces and other attempts at out and out libertarianism still depend on some state intervention. For example, pretty well all of Europe, the USA and even China all run mixed economies of one sort or another. Realistically, when we are talking market v state we are talking about general tenor. That is, is the state primarily looking to provide services or are they generally looking to let the market dictate. That would certainly differentiate the US from Europe from China. So, with that said, I would venture the US primarily does have a market economy.

      It’s also worth saying you’ve rather misquoted Paul. Paul does not say “if a man does not work…”, every English translation runs with “if a man will not work…”, which is a little different. This is consistent with the Greek ‘thelei’ which relates to the will. Paul is not refusing support for those who cannot work (which would seem to cover a whole host of reasons for unemployment including no available work, being made redundant, illness, infirmity, retirement, etc). The issue for Paul seems to be an unwillingness to work even when legitimate work, that you have been offered, is available to you. As my article makes clear enough, Socialism does not particularly encourage worklessness of this kind.

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      1. Stephen:

        Excellent translation. Won’t versus can’t is indeed correct.

        Mr. Phillip’s argument aside (and no agenda here) to what do you attribute the travails of Greece?

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  4. Clearly Greece is a case of borrowing more than one can handle. It is neither a Socialist nor a Capitalist problem per se, it is a borrowing problem.

    There is evidently nothing wrong with borrowing of itself. Nor is it a problem to borrow for a time in order to bridge a gap/shortfall in the economy. It is possible to borrow more than one is producing to keep living standards at a certain level for quite some time, the theory being such borrowing will keep the economy ticking over until the gap is bridged. Depending on your disposition, you either seek to do this by increasing taxation or reducing spending. Greece’s problem was that they continually sought to spend at the rate they already were but they were not prepared to either raise taxes further nor reduce spending. They found themselves in the untenable position that the people felt higher taxes were punitive whilst simultaneously refusing to accept any reduction in public spending. The only option left to the government to make ends meet was to then default on all their borrowing.

    The issue was neither a Capitalist one (who would have solved the problem by reducing spending) nor a Socialist one (who would solve it by hiking taxes). It was a fundamental refusal by the people to accept either position. They both wanted low tax and high spending. Faced with that choice, given the government relies on the vote of the people to remain in power, they chose to default on their loans instead. The problem there was this led to punitive measures from all the countries from whom they imported goods and borrowed cash which, naturally, crashed the economy anyway.

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  5. I don’t follow Phillips. His comments re: socialism may have been prompted by the election season in the United States. Bernie Sanders is a Senator from Vermont who is seeking the Democratic nomination for President. Sanders claims to be a socialist. He is popular with students because he has promised free college for everyone. He plans to seize the profits of America’s pharmaceutical companies to pay for it.

    Would you consider seizing the profits of a pharmaceutical company (all of them) to fund college for everyone, moral?

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  6. It would depend what you mean by ‘seize’. If you mean he would increase their tax considerably, I have no problem with that. I have no problem with the taxation of profit. In practice, one has to be careful not to make tax so punitive companies leave for other countries or fold altogether if tax makes trade not worthwhile. But that is a practical consideration not a principle and, much as they threaten it, few companies leave or fold due to tax. If high taxation is the mechanism, then no, I have no issue with it.

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    1. I can’t find his quote and I don’t remember if he made it during a stump speech or in a debate.

      However, you said, you would have no problem if the government were to raise their tax considerably. What makes it acceptable for the government to provide a free university education (at the expense of someone who has already paid for college and is now paying for two more to attend) in the first place? Is is because they are the government, ordained by God?

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  7. It is because they are the government elected by the people with a mandate to do what they campaigned upon. If the electorate vote for a Bernie Sanders on a high tax/high spend platform, he has a mandate from the people to enact exactly that. This is also true of those who have been elected on a swingeing cuts/low spend platform. If they have been elected, and it was stated in their manifesto, then the electorate have been informed and the people voted accordingly. That is democracy.

    The only time such moves are potentially illegitimate is if the elected government made no mention of an issue in a manifesto, there are widespread protests and dissent, but they still plan to press ahead with their plans. This would be an illegitimate use of power because the people would not have voted for the government on that basis and are making their displeasure felt. But, bottom line, if it’s in a manifesto and the government are legitimately installed by a majority of the people, they are entitled to do it (whatever ‘it’ happens to be).

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  8. That is why, in the democratic system, they have a right to do it. It is not necessarily why that particular position is moral or otherwise.

    The reason I don’t think it immoral is because of the words of both Jesus and Paul who tell us clearly enough that taxation is not sinful. They do not put limits upon when taxation becomes sinful. They are very clear we ought to pay our taxes. Thus, it is not immoral for one to take taxes and turn them to a morally neutral or morally good use (eg free tuition). Unless you can offer a biblical argument as to why education being free, in and of itself, is sinful then, given that taxation itself is not sinful, there is nothing immoral about taking tax and using it to pay for free education.

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    1. Please reread and answer previous question. Is seems as if you are suggesting that the majority can do anything it seeks to do, and you are okay with it but even more, God is okay with it.

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  9. I have answered the question.

    The reason it is not immoral to raise taxes to pay for education is because both Christ and Paul tell us raising taxes is legitimate. The taking of tax is acceptable and the paying of tax is demanded for believers. There is no limit or caveat put on that. Therefore, the raising of tax is not immoral.

    If it is not immoral or sinful to raise tax, the only reason we can conclude this particular measure to raise tax to pay for free education would be immoral is if the bible somewhere condemns the concept of free education. I’m not aware of any such prohibition but I am open to you providing me with one.

    Given that there is no moral issue on the measure itself, we must then consider whether somebody has the right to enforce what must be seen as either a morally neutral or morally good decision (given that the measure is not immoral). The right of a government comes from the will of the people in a democracy. If it was stated in the manifesto and the majority voted in favour, there is a democratic right and mandate to enact the policy.

    The only basis I can see for arguing it would be immoral to act upon it, given these things, is if it was not stated clearly in a manifesto and the people elected a government who then pushed through a measure that was both not stated prior to election nor rescinded when a majority make clear they are not happy about it. However, this latter basis falls because Sanders has clearly not been elected and we are discussing the issue because he has stated it.

    Therefore, I conclude there is nothing immoral about the policy and, if elected, he has a moral and democratic mandate to enact the measure.

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  10. If the majority votes to take all of the profits (every single penny) from Pfizer, Merck, Bristol Meyers Squibb, et. al, to pay for a free college education for everyone and there are not widespread protests, are you okay with that?

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  11. Morally (which is how you phrased the question), if that is proposed in manifesto, then I have no problem. I see no sin involved.

    There is a practical concern. If you tax “every penny”, those companies would cease to trade because no private firm will trade for nothing. So, unless there is a plan to create a state run pharmaceutical company, you will end up with no pharmaceuticals. Now, again, that’s not a moral issue but a practical one. It wouldn’t be sinful but to “tax every penny” would be, in my view, a foolish approach (but not a sinful one).

    I suspect Bernie Sanders is not suggesting taxing “every penny”. I suspect he is just proposing a higher form of tax than many would find comfortable. Is it sinful? No. Immoral? No. Workable? Maybe.

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  12. Why does it matter?

    Unless you can show me that Jesus or Paul added a caveat on their position on tax that says “unless you’re a private company in which case you don’t have to”, there is nothing sinful or immoral here.

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    1. These are all “publicly” traded companies. The profits belong to the shareholders. There are hundreds of thousands of shareholders around the world that own PFE, MRK, BMY, AMGN, etc. When you take the profits, you bankrupt the retirement plans of scores of people. However, since you had a majority go along, this is okay?

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  13. I find it hard to believe that anyone would find your position “moral.” BTW, where did Jesus and Paul add the part about the majority, the manifesto and the lack of protests? Protests didn’t go over too well in the ancient world.

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  14. BTW, the British people who are losing their retirement funds because the American majority voted it away from them have no vote. Nor do shareholders from any other country. This is termed an act of bad faith. Transparency international calls it corruption. Rick Phillips calls that evil. That’s because it is evil.

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  15. I think we’re reaching the end of discussion here, so I’ll make this my last comment.

    You asked me whether it was moral or not to use taxation to fund free education. Morality is defined by God in scripture, that is if God commands it, it is morally good; if he prohibits it, it is morally bad; if he makes no comment, it is morally neutral.

    The principle of taxation cannot be deemed morally bad. God nowhere prohibits it. Similarly, paying taxes must be morally good because scripture actively commands it (as mentioned, both Jesus and Paul). As such, taxation in principle is not morally problematic.

    The measure you specifically asked about is whether using taxation to fund free education was morally acceptable or not. If taxation is not morally wrong (I have offered biblical argument as to why that is the case; you have offered no biblical argument to suggest it is), the only question to answer from a moral standpoint is whether free education is itself morally bad. Given that there is no scriptural prohibition on free education, we can only conclude that there is nothing morally wrong with it as a policy (it is, at worst, morally neutral).

    So, to answer your question (again), there is nothing in scripture that would make taxation for the purposes of free education morally wrong. Without offering some scriptural support for your position, to claim it is “evil” and “morally wrong” is to put words into the mouth of God that He never uttered, for He is the arbiter of moral goodness. Your like or dislike for the policy does absolutely nothing to make it moral or otherwise.

    I never claimed that Paul or Jesus advocated the democratic process. I said, having shown that there was no moral issue with using taxation to pay for free education as far as scripture is concerned, the only further basis for arguing the policy to be wrong is if it undercuts the democratic process to which we all sign up. That would be to break the social contract to which we assent.

    A morally bad policy doesn’t become morally good simply because a majority is in favour and a morally good policy doesn’t become morally bad because a majority reject it. The point is, if a policy that is not morally wrong – which we determine from scripture – and is enacted by the government, having stated it clearly in their manifesto, then it is democratically mandated and legitimate to enforce. It would only become wrong for them to enact this policy that is not morally wrong if it was not in their manifesto AND it proves to be against the will of the people. That would be an infringement of the social contract.

    If you want a biblical support for that, it stems from the “let your yes be yes” principle elucidated in James. It would be the going back on the democratic social contract to which we subscribe and agree. It doesn’t mean it is wrong to enact morally neutral policies that are not in your manifesto, just that it is wrong to enact those morally neutral policies that were not in your manifesto AND are clearly going against the will of the people who had no opportunity to consider it and vote accordingly.

    So, a final and full answer. There is nothing in scripture that suggests tax is wrong. There is nothing in scripture that suggests free education is wrong. There is no caveat on the amount of tax that the bible deems acceptable. There is, therefore, nothing morally wrong with taxation for the purposes of free education.

    Given there is nothing morally wrong about taxation for free education, if the policy has been stated in a manifesto and the electorate have been able to consider the matter, then there has been no breaking of the social contract. That means the government’s “yes” of taxation for the purposes of providing free education really did mean “yes” when they floated it. Nobody has had the wool pulled over their eyes when it was floated as a policy. Individuals have been able to weigh it and consider it. Therefore, there is nothing immoral about that as a policy.

    Unless you have some scriptural principles you wish to put forward which make clear the measure is immoral, which you have yet to do, your basis for claiming it is evil seems to be little more than you don’t like it. If God is the arbiter of morality (and I believe He is), then you cannot make a moral argument without some reference to what He defines as moral. You have singularly failed to do that.

    Your previous answer relies upon a practical consideration (which may or may not be true) about shareholders and pensions i.e. it may have a detrimental effect on these things. Important as that may be to consider with any policy, it has no bearing on the morality of the issue. Unless you can offer some reason why God believes the relative value of pensions and shares is a moral issue, its effect upon pensions and shares has no impact on the morality of the matter.

    So, I have provided scriptural principle why it is not morally problematic. I have offered scriptural principle as to why the democratic mandate is relevant to the issue but not directly to the morality of the policy itself. I have received no scriptural argument from you as to why this represents a morally bad policy. We are, therefore, left to conclude that there is no moral problem with using taxation to fund free education.

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    1. Steven:

      FYI, I have steered away from Scripture by design. If I sounded redundant, please accept my apology. You have repeated yourself because initially, I did not believe you would actually carry your argument as far as you did. Thanks for your input.

      I asked if it was moral for a government to seize the profits of America’s drug companies to pay for free education for everyone. You said that was okay. Transparency International disagrees. Investors disagree.

      Fortunately, in America, we have a bill of rights that protects the individual against the will of the majority. I’m sure the investors in your Church will be happy to know that the profits they paid for by funding American Companies will not be seized because a majority of the people want to vote themselves something for nothing. As will the investors in all parts of the world that invest in the U.S. because, as you know, foreign investors have no vote in America. What you call moral, unbelievers call immoral. Transparency International calls it corrupt.

      The overwhelming majority of American Christians would find your position reprehensible. Americans believe in limited govt. I suspect that the majority of Brits. Do also.

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      1. So, rather than offer me any scriptural position suggesting God has any problem with this, you offer Transparency International and “investors” as the arbiters of morality? And you seem convinced most Christians would take the word of Transparency International and some faceless “investors” over and above the Bible? I’m pretty sure most Christians, American or otherwise, would prefer a moral case from God, no matter how solid the group you quote may be!

        I am tickled by the suggestion we might have investors in the church. That very idea should be anathema to any church and certainly in most UK churches there is no such thing as “church investors”. We fund ourselves by giving from our own membership and have no outside sources of income. This is true for the vast majority of churches in the UK. I suspect the very fact you might consider this usual or legitimate for the church is telling as to why you find this such an issue.

        Similarly, I don’t want to speak to the American mindset but your view of Britain, I am afraid, is simply wrong. We already have state funded, free education here. We also have state funded free healthcare, some subsidised transport and a handful of other public services. In fact, there is a big movement to try and reclaim into public ownership many of the services sold-off between the 1980s-2000s. One of the major areas that sounds a death-knell for any election campaign in the UK is any suggestion that the National Health Service may become privatised. Very few people would be on-board with that at all. So, I’m afraid your reading of the British public is a little off beam.

        Nonetheless, I thank you for you contribution and I look forward to you commenting on any further threads as they take your interest.

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  16. I came here to understand your views on the morality of socialism. You disagreed with Rick Phillips. I wanted to understand the extent of your disagreement.

    To be clear, when I referred to investors in your Church, I meant, Christians who have investments in American Drug Firms. I would not be surprised if there are people in America who actually do invest money in a local congregation and expect a return but I certainly hope not. Church growth in the U.S. almost appears to be an enterprise and that is unfortunate.

    Re: faceless investors, I am one of them as are millions of others who have a retirement account. I suspect you have people in your church and certainly in your community that have investments in the U.S. drug sector.
    Were Americans able to vote their investment dollars aware from them, it would be disastrous.

    The Bible says “Let not your good be evil spoken of . . . ” It says to avoid the very appearance of evil. Confiscating (not adding a 10% tax) wealth by a majority vote is called corruption in the United States. It is acceptible in Venezuela (Chavez stole Citgo) and since God’s law is written on the heart of every man (everyone) it is unacceptable to virtually everyone else.

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