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Does the Bible call for redistribution of wealth?

There are two aspects to the version of economic justice envisioned by progressives:

  • Government should confiscate the resources of the wealthy.
  • People of faith can delegate their responsibilities of charity to the government.

Scripture supports neither of these ideas. Rather, we see the faithful voluntarily giving their resources to the church, and the church handling the matter of caring for the poor and less fortunate.

History does not support them either. Actually, history has shown that confiscating and redistributing wealth does not empower the people but does empower those in power.

Misused Scriptures

  • Luke 18:18-27: Jesus calls a wealthy young man to come and follow him. He commands the man, "Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The wealthy man walks away, saddened at the prospect of sacrificing his wealth. Jesus thus observes, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

The progressive says, "See? Jesus says if you wealthy you aren't going to heaven." The fact is that Jesus did not order this man to sell his possessions. This is much unlike the progressive who would impose a hefty income tax or confiscate wealth from those who had acquired it rightfully. This man can choose to divest his possessions and follow Jesus. But he doesn't want to. He cannot bear to part with his wealth, even to follow Jesus. This passage isn't about wealth but about materialism; it is the love of money and things that keep us from salvation.

Must we sell the Church's art to help the poor?

To those Christians of other denominations who make similar complaints, I point them to the Bible where it describes the splendor of Solomon’s Temple. The Temple, like Churches, are meant to show something of the glory of God, to raise the minds of the worshipers Heavenward. We give our best to God because He is worth it.

Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment… But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” – John 12:3-5

I would suggest that if we find ourselves speaking like Judas Iscariot we might pause for thought…

The Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30)

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. "Master," he said, "you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more." His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"

The man with two bags of gold also came. "Master," he said, "you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more." His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"

Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. "Master," he said, "I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you." His master replied, "You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

Wealth and progressivism

The super-wealthy tend to embrace progressive ideas and causes because they lose touch with the realities of life. They become financially and culturally detached from the real problems that the less-successful continue to deal with regularly. Because they have succeeded at their own endeavors, they think that grand institutions (particularly government and technology) can solve all of the world''s problems. Also, their wealth and prestige buys them association with other elites.

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