Are you guys ready to follow this? I don't know if you are. Let me preface this with a small disclaimer. This post is not going to bash, it's not going to dismantle an economic structure, and it's not going to back one economic form over another. The purpose of this post is SOLELY to determine from what we know of Jesus, his disciples, and his teaching if he would support a Socialistic economic structure. The reason behind this post is due to a meme I saw that said is America ready for a leader who is Jewish, a carpenter, and a socialist and then showed a picture of Jesus beside Bernie Sanders. Before you laugh this concept off note that this isn't the first time I've heard Jesus be called a socialist.
So let's first discuss what socialism actually is. Socialism is one of the economic structures that came from the ideas of Karl Marx. Some other notable economies that came from his ideas would be Marxism, Communism, and Nazism. All these structures while similar, mainly a distribution of wealth or product to a united working party, have some profound differences. So that this post doesn't end up being absurdly long though I'm only going to talk about socialism. And believe it or not there are gaping differences between communism and socialism. If someone tells you they are the same, smirk and walk away. Just kidding. Only do that if you wanna get punched. Socialism is an economic structure where social parties are diminished, wealth and profit are distributed so that all people can live no matter what. You can be a religious socialist. You own your personal property, but the state owns all business and companies. It is NOT a governmental structure, it works in conjunction with one. The most commonly preferred governmental structure for a socialist is a democracy. There's more too it, but this is really all we need to diagnose this.
So what now do we know about Jesus that might fit this. Well, the most common reasons people say Jesus is a socialist comes from the early church as outlined in the book of Acts. The early church shared and distributed everything to each other. They ate, slept, and lived together. They relied on other believers to live and advance. They lived the way Jesus wanted them to. It was the same way he led the disciples when he was with them. Jesus also spoke about loving your neighbor. He even once said “And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” (Matthew 5:40 ESV) Plus in Luke he says “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.” (Luke 6:30 ESV) Then in Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:22, and Luke 18:22 there is a story about a rich man who asks Jesus how to be a better person and Jesus tells him to sell everything to the poor and follow him. And that's pretty much it. Now I know what your thinking "well JD that sounds pretty darn convincing. Little to no social ranking, distributing everything you need, giving what you worked for away to someone who needs it more. That sounds really close to socialism!"
Well you would be right. That is very close to socialism, but there is a but. First off, the early church and Jesus promoted doing this out of love. They did it FOR each other. It was not state mandated. That's very important. Jesus and his followers never forced or ordered other followers to do this. It's something they just did cause they cared. Jesus didn't tell the rich man give me ownership of you company so that I might distribute what it makes to those I see need it most. He said this is really what you should do. Moving on there is another story, Matthew 22, where the Pharisees ask Jesus if they should pay tax. Jesus essentially says yes. Now here's the thing that we see more than once. Jesus very much promoted the idea that God put rulers in there position so respect your ruler and respect your government. So I think what Jesus would actually say is that he doesn't support any form of economy, but rather respect the one you are living in. Now, taking into consideration that Jesus is God we can deduce the type of government, and economy he will be establishing. This is going to be a theocratic monarchy where any kind of economy is obsolete. The "King of Kings" will provide.
So in conclusion, is Jesus a Socialist? The short answer is no; HOWEVER, he also is not a captialist.
God bless and Later Days,