Written on Friday, July 15, 2011 by Nathaniel Davidson
In the previous column on this topic, I discussed how the Churchian Left, basically the liberal Democrats at prayer, exploit the widespread American respect for the Bible to distort its teachings for political ends. Their scriptural pretzelizing has continued with the emotional blackmail by Obama’s spiritual adviser, Rev. Jim Wallis, in his “What would Jesus Cut?” mantra.
It should surprise no one nowadays that Obama would select radical leftists for his friends, advisers and “Czars”. Wallis is no exception. For decades, his magazine Sojourners has supported Communist dictators from Castro to the Vietcong to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He has long been part of the “blame America first” crowd, exulting when America lost in Vietnam:
“I don’t know how else to express the quiet emotion that rushed through me when the news reports showed that the United States had finally been defeated in Vietnam.”
Naturally, like most vocal leftists over the last century, he showed no compassion for the millions of victims of the communist bloodbath that followed. In fact, he even scoffed at those desperate to escape, as trying “to support their consumer habits in other lands.” For more, see Jim Wallis: Obama’s “Red” Spiritual Adviser by Dr. David Noebel, March 26, 2009.
Since Wallis and other leftists are so keen to ask their question, it’s only fair that we ask one of them. The point is the government is an exercise of force. In the Bible, this was symbolized by the sword, the main weapon of the Roman Army. The Apostle Paul said:
“But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:4).
Nothing has really changed today. All government bureaucracies have the implied threat of force to back them up, but now it’s a gun instead of a sword. For example, if you refuse to comply with the IRS or EPA, they will call on the goons to arrest and jail you at gunpoint.
Thus Wallis’ assertion that Jesus would keep government leftist programs is basically equivalent to: Jesus would bear the Roman sword, or the American gun, to force people to give. This principle can be applied to many pet pseudo-biblical “proofs” of Churchian leftists.
In the Gospels, we read an account where a very wealthy young man asked Jesus what to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied:
“One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22).
Of course, the Churchian Left just loves this. But they wrench it out of any context to support their socialist wealth redistribution.
First, as pointed out above, Jesus did not force this man at the point of a sword. The man was free to refuse, as he did. This alone is enough to refute the Left’s biblical gymnastics.
Second, Jesus told him to distribute among the poor. Jesus did not tell him to give it to the government! Furthermore, the government keeps 75% and gives only a quarter to the poor at most. And what do politicians do with the other 75%? Buy votes to stay in power, of course! Economic historian Burt Folsom, a leading expert on the leftist causes of the Depression, pointed out:
“When some politicians, using Jesus’ name, campaign to take money forcibly from the rich to give to the poor they are saying that politicians know better how to spend money than the people from whom the money is taken. Just to take one example, in 1932 politicians took $300 million in tax dollars to set up the Emergency Relief Administration–the first direct welfare program in U. S. history. How did the politicians decide to distribute the tax dollars received? Illinois, a swing state, received more than $55 million. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Nebraska, all of which tended back then to be Republican states, all received zero dollars. Thus, Massachusetts had to raise money to support its own unemployed people as well as giving tax dollars to support Illinois.”
Direct charitable giving, as Jesus advocated but the Churchian Left mock, is far better: the donor then has an incentive to make sure that the wealth does some good for the poor. And a direct donor is in a far better position than a government bureaucrat to know whether someone deserves a hand up or a kick in the pants!
Third, this was not a command for everyone, but only for this young man who idolized his bucks! This is easy to show: Jesus had other rich friends, and there was no hint that they should give all their wealth away. For example, Jesus had other things to say to the wealthy Nicodemus (John 3), and He was supported in His ministry by wealthy women Mary and Martha. He ministered to the tax collector Zacchaeus, who voluntarily promised to give half (not all) his goods to the poor, and restore fourfold to anyone he had defrauded (not pay more tax to the government!). See Luke 19:1–10.
Wallis, like liberals in general, miss another obvious point: for any wealth to be distributed, it must be generated first! But leftist policies usually punish those who acquire it.
Suppose there is a man who idolizes wealth. Suppose also, there is a government with only the functions the Bible gives it (Romans 13, as above): protecting lives and property, and punishing wrongdoing (not wrong attitudes). The only way this man can satisfy his greed is to find out what lots of people want, find a way to give it them for the price he can afford, and do it better than competitors.
This has done more to help the poor cease to be poor than all the leftist pseudo-intellectuals combined. Now most of the “poor” in America have their own car, TV, DVD players, and more than enough food; and more opportunities with better-paying jobs. Conversely, most of the worst poverty in this country is precisely the result of the big government Wallis loves. See the great economist Milton Friedman explain below:
Furthermore, if there is a big government as Wallis loves, this greedy person might find it far more lucrative to bribe politicians, oops sorry, contribute to their campaigns, so that they apply trade barriers or regulations to competitors. I.e. this greedy person buys the sword or gun of the government to gain wealth at the expense of consumers. After all, as the saying goes, “when buying and selling is regulated, the first to be bought or sold are the regulators.”
A good example is ethanol, as explained in a previous Patriot column: the lobby has lucrative subsidies—government forcing taxpayers, effectively at gunpoint, to donate to ethanol production; and it has also persuaded the government—again, effectively at gunpoint—to force motorists to contaminate their gasoline with their rotten product.
As explained in a previous Patriot column, leftist policies hurt the poor, but leftists are rarely concerned with results, despite their rhetoric of compassion. It is even worse when Leftists invoke the name of Jesus, as if he bore the Sword or Gun of Government; this is simply gross theological malpractice. Obama’s own spiritual adviser, Rev. Jim Wallis, not only shares the Left’s lack of concern for the poor themselves, but mocks the many victims of murderous communism.