God has given us many means to help the poor, the widow, the invalid and the orphan, both in our congregations and in our communities: the family, our neighbor and His church. Christians, however, like the rest of the world, are tempted to make civil governors our caretakers and look for a governmental solution to many of our problems. This leads to more dependence on government. We have given ourselves a nanny-state government that has begun to intrude itself into the smallest details of our lives, both at the federal and state level.

The trade-off can be illustrated with President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative. The federal government takes money from private citizens and a Washington bureaucrat then either sends it back to the states (wasting tons of money with all the paper-shifting) or sends it directly to “Faith-based” organizations or charities. Prior to the Bush presidency, some Christians complained that while fellow social aid groups were getting federal dollars, they were being cut out. Bush proposed that religious groups and churches could receive federal dollars as long as they partitioned off how the money was spent, separating the religious from the secular.[1] Christians should never bow to government demands to separate their generosity from the gospel. This was the error of the heretical social gospel movement of the early 20th century.[2]

The Christian is called to sacrifice in helping the poor and to be generous with our wealth; however, it is easy to be generous with other people’s money. The song says we are supposed to be known by “our love”[3] (based on John 13:35), not by “how well we administer government funds.”

Whether it is Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, we are growing more and more dependent on the government to provide for us. The Obama administration has gotten into the business of loaning us money for schools, as well as bribing car dealers into trashing 650,000 perfectly good used cars.[4] “Obamacare”, based upon the supposed right to health care, is the latest—but probably not the last—big government intrusion into our personal lives made for our own good. C. S. Lewis warned:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.[5]

The Scriptures themselves warn us of those who say they are from the government and are just here to help us:

And He said unto them, the kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so. Luke 22:25f

Lingering Effects

The Communism of Karl Marx was presumed to be dead after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but it thrives at many American universities and law schools, as well as many sectors of the mass media. While Marxism’s progeny goes by various names (progressivism, socialism and liberalism), its destructive influences have permeated the whole American culture, including the worldviews of many traditional conservatives and evangelicals.

A brief reading of the short Communist Manifesto would remind us of the destructive force of the atheist ideology of nations such as China, North Korea and the former Soviet Union, but also of its counterparts today in big governments everywhere. The communists did not hide their agenda as many political Marxists do today. They wrote plainly that they intended to do away with private property, national boundaries, the family and any acknowledgement of God: “Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.”[6]

Because Marxism denies the existence of God, it cannot help but attempt to replace God as provider. Marx and Engels told us ten ways to move towards communism. How many of these can be found or promoted in our nation today to one degree or another?

• Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

• A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

• Abolition of all right of inheritance.

• Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

• Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

• Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.

• Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

• Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

• Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.

• Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form.

I am a thoroughly convinced believer in the justice of a free market economy.[7] I believe that economic laws, such as the law of supply and demand, are just as genuine as the law of gravity. I also believe America is at a crucial stage in its history. Unless we have a revival in which a significant portion of the population turns to Christ as Lord, both tyranny and anarchy will probably continue to gain ground, regardless of which party takes control of the government.

The two philosophies we have examined (Libertarianism and Socialism) certainly provide different views of government from each other, but each rejects the sinfulness of man as the basis for government.

On one hand, we have given ourselves a government that has begun to intrude itself into the smallest details of our lives through a “green” movement that would try to gain jurisdiction over area of business and public life, and a healthcare system that could impose control over virtually every area of our private and family lives right down to the foods we want to eat. On the other hand, the social standards that act as glue for the Republic are fast melting away.

Application in the Voting Booth

We are tempted to call upon the government to help us when we are in trouble, but God says that we are to call upon Him, and he will answer (2Ch. 15:4, Ps. 9:9). Our first line of human defense in a time of financial worries is to seek help from our families and then from our churches (1Ti. 5:3-8). We cannot complain about higher taxes and then turn to government to help us every time we are in need. When politicians promise they will do more and more for us, remember that in order to do so, they must take more and more from us.

Put simply, perhaps even simplistically, we have described two voices that have beckoned us to follow their imaginations:

One voice offers us the “security” of a growing government that will take care of us, while holding out the promise of happiness as a result of being unshackled from the law of God (Ps. 2:3). This is the fast track to a short period of anarchy, followed by an even more controlling government. This must be opposed.

The siren call of libertarianism promises to free us from the shackles of both a giant secularist government and a smothering religious fanaticism. The deceit here is that we can maintain an orderly and free economic system while accepting godless mayhem in our families and our social lives. This too must be rejected. Only when governors please God can the way be found to navigate “the vessel of the State…between the Scylla and Charybdis of anarchy and despotism.”[8]

[1] The whole idea of groups receiving money and only using it for purposes acceptable to the government is dubious to begin with. The grant simply frees up more of the group’s other funds for the supposed unacceptable use. This is the way that Planned Parenthood gets millions of taxpayer’s dollars that supposedly do not promote abortion and also how PP receives grants from organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

[2] Walter Rauschenbusch (1917) A Theology for the Social Gospel, McMillian Company

[3] “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love,” lyrics by Carolyn Arends.

[4] http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/cash-for-clunkers

[5] C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, p. 292.

[6] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto

[7] See the appendix on the follies of Obamacare and Romneycare

[8] Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, http://www.bartleby.com/27/23.html

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