Was Jesus a Socialist?

If you ask a certain segment of the Left, they’d say “absolutely.”

But economist Lawrence Reed begs to differ, and he wrote an excellent new book on the subject. The book is titled Was Jesus a Socialist? Reed, who has had a long career teaching economics and defending liberty around the world as the former President of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), shatters the Left’s argument about the Son of God’s opinions on economic systems.

The topic is a timely one given the Leftward lurch of the Democrat Party thanks to people like Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Those two and others are pulling Joe Biden further to the Left, and these socialist adherents are not going away anytime soon.

A Harris poll taken last year showed that half of Americans aged 18-39 said they would “prefer living in a socialist country.” The most recent Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation poll found that 70 percent of the millennial generation said they would likely vote for a socialist.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, a Barna Group poll taken in 2016 found that more Americans thought that Jesus’ teachings aligned more with Bernie Sanders than any of the other presidential candidates that year.

Scary stuff.

That is why works like those of Lawrence Reed are so important during this age of economic and social ignorance. Socialists have to move the goalposts to justify their position. They claim that “socialism has never been tried,” and that if some country just did it their way, it would work. In the book, Reed writes: “Have you ever tried to nail Jell-O to the wall? It’s easier than getting a socialist to stand pat on a definition of socialism.”

To be a socialist requires supporting the complete reorganization of the means of production using the levers of the state as a form of coercion to achieve that end. Liberty is completely eradicated as well as prosperity. At no point in the gospels does Jesus endorse the power of the government to do so.

A constant message of Jesus throughout his teachings is that people should freely give of themselves to help the poor and disadvantage. Never does He call on the government to do so on behalf of the people. Loving thy neighbor is His common refrain, not letting the government take care of the masses.

Christ often denounces unjust tax-collectors throughout the New Testament. If He was a socialist, that would be news to Him.

The “Jesus was a socialist” argument isn’t a new one. During the 1980s, liberation theology sought to make Marxism and Christianity compatible. This was especially prevalent in Latin America and Africa.

Humberto Belli, a former Marxist, explained why adherents to liberation theology believed that Christ was a socialist:

“Revolutionary political action becomes, in theologies of liberation, the way to make Christian love for the poor truly effective. Failure to engage in the revolutionary struggle would be a failure to respond to the poor’s yearning for liberation and would place Christians in the camp of the oppressors. Since it is in the poor that Jesus dwells in a hidden but real way, for Christians not to commit themselves to the revolution would be to turn their backs on Christ.”

In just 131 pages, Reed takes apart the arguments made by those who tried to claim that the gospel advocates for the use of government as a way to fulfill the needs and wants of society. It’s well worth the read and will become the definitive work on debunking the notion that Jesus was a socialist.

The next time you hear a person in real life or on social media make this claim, send them a copy of this book and have them try to refute what it says. My guess is that they won’t be able to.