Fine, I will take the bait, even though we’ve had this circular argument 20+ times. This is going to take many twists and turns because there is so much to unpack in this argument. Fair warning, I will repeat myself a lot, but it’s to drive home the point every time.
TLDR: Give the programs to the States for true accountability and fiscal responsibility. Jesus compelled His followers to give voluntarily, not rely on the force of government to feed the poor.
I am currently halfway through the book “The Conservative Mind” which explores the different facets and time periods that conservative have made their influence known. I’d be happy to share my Google file with you of the notes that I am taking. It’s in outline form, but perhaps that might help you come to understand what a conservative actually is.
Socialism, as we know it and you espouse, is an outgrowth of collectivist theories from Bentham and Hegel (among others) in the 17/1800s. Also growing from those theories is Communism, Progressivism, Fabian Socialism, democratic Socialism, National Socialism, Facism, Anarchism, and many others. It is far removed from Jesus’ time, and seeks to centralize control of society at the expense of man’s charitable nature. The goal of collectivism is to bend the will of man to the State, not to God. So to be blatantly honest, your “socialist” label of Jesus is a means to your political ends.
We have discussed numerous times the role of government in social welfare. You advocate for an all powerful centralized government that seeks to take care of the welfare of all from decisions made in Washington D.C. that are then dictated to the States. Conservatives, Constitutionalists, and most Republicans will advocate that the role of welfare be turned over to the States for them to control and manage. The circumstances of a recipient will be different in Jonesboro, Arkansas, than it will be in Buffalo, New York, so let those States best decide how and what programs will be implemented to serve needs.
To that note, have you read the Federalist Papers yet? Have you read “The Original Argument” which is the No Fear Shakespeare for them? Yes, it’s from Glenn Beck, but don’t be that closed minded that you can’t read the Papers, and just skip his commentary. We will continue to go around in this circle until we can discuss this based on a common civic understanding of our governmental structure. In the Papers you’ll learn why the Constitution was set up as a general framework for dealing with high level and truly national issues, and not the minutia that is best left to city or State governments.
The Framers (of the Constitution) did not reject the idea of welfare in extreme cases, but they wisely saw it as a role for the State to manage, not the Federal government. That is the change I want to see. I am not in favor of ending every one of those programs, but allowing the States to be the managers, not the Federal government. Yes, I still pay my taxes as a good citizen, even though I abhor the decisions and policies that lead to these excessive tax burdens. That is where my activism comes into play though. I fight to elect leaders that will work to return the system to the way it should be, while still tolerating the system that is in place. This is the conservative nature at heart. That is what Christ and Paul preached. Man knew only despots and tyrannies until the United States decided to let men self govern. Despotism is what Paul was operating under. Christ did not come to worldly revolt, and certainly would not have taught that. I think Paul was a little self serving when he advocated for respecting the rulers, not only for the sake of Christ’s example, but revolutions of the heart are far more effective than revolutions of the fist.
If we did have State based programs that took those taxes, don’t you think there would be more accountability for how those taxes are spent? After all, it is far easier to access your State Rep. or State Senator than it is your Congressman or Senator. I’m personally know all of State people.
I can see how you form the theory of a collectivist early Church. Indeed, their actions do align with the ideals of the collectivist theories. You seem to think there is a debate about “voluntary vs mandated”, when in reality, there is no debate. That is where the Church is different than the collectivist ideologies. Again, collectivism moves the function of charity away from the individual, and to the government through its force. Did Christ go to the Romans about Zacchaeus to force him to give the money he hoarded to the poor, or did His example compel Zacchaeus to voluntarily give? In which of Jesus’ parables or stories did he advocate for a force, other than His example, to offer charity to the poor?
God established an order where we are mandated to care for our family first, then our neighbors. Government force in the name of charity does not help me fully care for my family or you for your family. How much quicker would we be out of debt if SS & other taxes weren’t forcefully taken out? How much more philanthropic could we be in security rather than paycheck to paycheck? Where did God ever say that we couldn’t be secure in our finances? He did constantly stress having the right mind frame if we were blessed with riches.
All of the examples you mentioned in your post, are lessons of voluntarily giving based on Christ’s compulsory message, not a government mandate. Example: governing mandate for Jews was to give 10%. Did Jesus extol or denounce those that gave exactly that? Did he extol or denounce the woman who gave her mites? She would have been justified under the governing mandate to only give 10% of those 2 mites, but she voluntarily gave both.
In reality, you’re advocating for an Old Law style of giving, rather than the New Law.
Yes, God promises He will bless us, and I have seen it in my life, and I know you have seen it in yours. You’re equating government force with Christ’s compelled charity, and the two could not be more radically different. “Loving your neighbor” does not supersede loving your family.
Do you willingly redistribute your full salary to your local sick, poor, and disadvantaged because they are your neighbors? Are you not “storing things up” in a checking, savings, or 401k account, for your own security? Are you not obeying your “socialist” Jesus’ commands? Why do you not think God will bless you 100 fold if you would just give away your whole paycheck? That is the problem with placing a “socialist” ideology on top of Jesus’ teaching, you can’t even practice what you preach.
God gave us a unique set of talents that we are supposed to put towards His glory. His plan from the beginning is that those talents should be used in a free market system that allows for us to accumulate wealth for our advancement in life. As Christians, we are called to freely give of that wealth, and if that means we elect to sell everything, then that is our prerogative. If we elect to give a portion of that, then we are allowed to do that with a cheerful heart and always being mindful of His blessings. Did Ananias and Sapphira die because they did not give all they had? No, they died because they lied about what they did give. There wasn’t a command to give all of the earnings. They wanted what our society wants now, the notoriety of appearing to care.
Before you start into a “the free market has failed” argument, just don’t. We have not practiced free market since the 1930’s, so yours is a tired argument. We live in a crony Capitalist market right now, that truly does need reform. I’m positive that every conservative and Constitutionalist, worth their salt, will advocate that the Federal or State governments should not be in the practice of choosing the winners and losers of a given industry. Before you start into a “they make too much money” argument, don’t. That is another tired argument that you wouldn’t like turned around on your circumstance. Would you still like Bernie if his policies were targeted to those that make 50k and up? The government doesn’t have any legal authority to dictate what is “fair” for one person to make or not make. I can clearly see that it sucks that some CEO makes millions of dollars for being total turds, but I wouldn’t want a restriction placed on my salary because to someone lower it looks like too much.
You seem to think that social programs are a means to the ends of ensuring a moral order, as dictated by your Christian principles. In reality, welfare programs like ours are the Progressive means to the ends of their social engineering and control. It started with Progressives like Richard T. Ely, John Dewey, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, among others, gained much ground in Hoover and FDR, came almost there with LBJ, and Obama pushed the ball forward. Government does not have a mandate to enforce morality on people. You must understand that the best governments are formed to secure our God given liberties, and to promote equal justice before the law – for all. It is not meant to ensure that we all receive equal outcomes, circumstances, or provisions. Until you accept that principle as an absolute truth, we will never agree.
Here is my challenge to you to really dwell on: Aren’t governments made up of people who are sinners, like us? Why would a bureaucrat in the government be any better in enforcing morality? What makes you think that your particular brand of morality is right for the nation? Aren’t we supposed to live in a society that seeks to be secular, so why is Christian morality alright to base policy on?
If you really are interested in understanding my perspective, I would encourage you to read these books. I’m more than willing to book swap with you, if you have some that you think I should read.
Peace to you brother.