Socialism vs Capitalism

Many years ago, even before many of our current Lighthouse students were born, President Barack Obama ran his 2008 campaign on a platform to ‘fundamentally change America.’ At the time, I am convinced the majority of his supporters did not fully understand what he meant by this statement or what such an idea would mean for certain freedoms. Yet many people believed in him and took that phrase as a positive thing.

It can be demonstrated that during his administration federal regulations skyrocketed, the government swelled to an historic size, individual freedoms were diminished and government agencies were weaponized against politically dissenting organizations and individuals. Data show that personal entrepreneurship and business ownership became increasingly burdensome due to these regulations and obstacles. In a 2012 campaign speech, President Obama infamously declared "you didn't build that". It can be argued that this was an attempt to champion the idea that nobody does anything individually when succeeding in business or industry. Clearly, there was an undercurrent of change coming. Unfortunately, it was a change that most never saw coming.

Fast-forward to the current presidential election cycle and we find a similar echo of fundamental change gaining popular support particularly among young people supporting candidates like U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. Specifically, the change he espouses is moving away from the system of American capitalism to one of democratic socialism.

A few months ago, Dr. Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas spoke on this growing concern of socialism in American a lesson entitled, "What the Bible Teaches About Socialism and Capitalism". The balance of this post are excerpts from this teaching and well worth your time in reading.

Let's define our terms. Socialism is a political and economic system in which there is government ownership of the means of production and the primary focus of providing equality. Socialism favors large government and governmental control of social services and much more. In socialism, the government is all important and is involved in every aspect of the lives of those whom it rules. Contrast this with capitalism. Ours is an economic system in which there is private ownership, private property, and private possession of goods. In capitalism, there is a limited role for the presence and force of government in individual lives. Economically and philosophically, capitalism and socialism are two forms of government between which we need to differentiate. Americans have historically favored capitalism and the freedom it provides. Surprisingly, however, a shift appears to be occurring in public opinion, especially among the young. A recent USA Today report said that 4 in 10 Americans embrace some form of socialism. A recent poll of millennials found that a majority, 58 percent, would rather live in a socialist nation than a capitalist nation. Some young people perceive capitalism and corporate America as being greedy and without compassion or concern for others. Yes, there is greed in this country, but there is greed whether it is in a socialistic system or a capitalistic system. It is in the heart of every human being. What accounts for the changing attitudes among the young? Those under 30 years of age have not seen the devastating effects of Soviet-style repressive governments under socialism. It is the big bad brother, communism. We're past the Cold War now, and a generation has arisen that either hasn't been taught history, doesn't read or understand it, or doesn't care. They are listening to their liberal teachers, professors and politicians; and what they have been told sounds good. It appears compassionate and loving. But is it? I can say emphatically that it is not! Socialism is fundamentally at odds with the Christian worldview because it seeks to suppress all people according to the dictates of the state. No one serious about their Christian faith can accept socialism, and here's why. Socialism is totally secular and is predicated on atheism. That is a fact. Our faith in Jesus Christ is built on the Word of God, the revelation of Scripture, and the belief that God exists. We believe in the coming resurrection of Christ, and with that faith comes freedom to live an abundant life that is founded on liberty.

Contrast that with Karl Marx, the father of socialism. He considered religion of all types, specifically Christianity, to be what he called "an opiate of the people." In other words, belief in God is a drug to be used to pacify the public. Marx was the originator of the horribly repressive Soviet style of government. He was also greatly influenced by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. It purports to explain the existence of life on earth. Human beings, he said, are nothing more than advanced animals. If that is true, any one of us can be disposed of at the whim of the state. But the Bible says in Genesis 1: 27-28, "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.'"

...the philosophical views of socialists such as Marx and his disciples assert that God does not exist. In fact, they believe the idea of God is harmful and must be forcefully removed from society when necessary. Atheism is at the very core of this political and economic system.

We are told by socialists today, "Well, hostility to faith is a thing of the past. That was old style socialism and communism. Today's socialists are no longer trying to destroy religion. It has changed since the days of Karl Marx."

That is their argument, but it is hollow. Socialist countries today still oppress and threaten people of faith, all faiths. Their leaders are determined to root out Christianity. This is why churches in China are detonated and Christians continue to be persecuted.

Socialists also undermine the dignity of human life. We noted in Scripture that God created us in His own image. That image has been shattered by sin but restored by Christ. Believers in Him have been made holy by His death on the cross. We are not animals. We are God's creation, and He provided for us a remedy for sin and depravity. He has also given us liberty and the autonomy of life. As the Declaration of Independence states, freedom and liberty are gifts from God, not privileges granted to some by government. In socialism, the objective of government is to hold unrivaled power and control. The common people are just a part of the machine. Elites at the pinnacle of government live in palaces, while those who labor to earn a living get the dregs. Just look at the example of modern Venezuela. It was a beautiful and magnificent country just a few years ago. It had one of the largest reserves of oil in the world. But under the hobnailed boot of socialist government, the Venezuelan people have been deprived, murdered, and allowed to starve.

In summary:

Socialism is fundamentally contradictory to the Christian worldview. It seeks to suppress all people, especially Christians, in favor of the state. And the way that it does that is by breaking down the institutions that God has established, particularly marriage and the family. When I see the breakdown of our culture, our society, and especially the family, it truly breaks my heart. There is a spiritual war going on all around us. It is a battle for the heart and soul of our nation. We are fighting for the sanctity of life, the sacredness of biblical marriage, sexual identity, religious freedom, and, yes, economic freedom that gives us the ability to prosper within a nation. Socialism opposes each of these cornerstones. My prayer is that, as our forebears fought and died to secure the blessings of liberty, we must also rise to the challenge that faces us. Now it is our turn.

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