I think it's good we all get to know this stuff, but I am particularly thinking of my American Cousins as I write. Particularly the Christian Right wing so called.
The term socialism was first introduced by Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), the French social theorist also credited with the advent of Christian socialism and what would later become labelled as "utopian socialism." The term itself refers to a collective mode of production and political economy.
Socialism's roots go far back beyond Marx's works. Church's actually led the first socialist movements. The US gave birth too many of Socialism's key concepts.
The original Socialistic concepts date back to 1700s and influenced even the founding fathers of the US. You find many of them embedded in the Constitution and in laws passed over the years. Prisons for example were one of the first major socialist contributions to society. Before prisons came about, people generally were publicly punished with physical punishments, financially punished or executed. There was not much in between.
The first prisons date back many years. Socialists in the early 1800s made major penal reforms in the US which quickly spread to the rest of the world completely redefining crime and punishment. That is an example of early Socialism in the US and its predating Marx.
There are things that puzzle me about my American Cousins, and I love the USA. But from a Jesus Follower perspective, I want things that are good for people so I cannot understand why as a Jesus follower I would not want to promote Health Care for everyone at the point of deliver, I want people to be as healthy as possible, whether they can afford it or not.
Then again, another area, I want people to be housed, I don’t want them to be homeless, even if they cannot afford it. How can we help them?
Yes I know that when it comes to government enforcing these things that where the problems start, why is that, well much as people don’t like to hear it we are as people not intrinsically good, rather we are selfish, self-serving, and we tend to look after number one, us!
If you look at History when Christians are in control of the levers of government we have not done very well, but does that mean I should forget Biblical commands to Love Justice, (Matt 12:18 Luke 11:42 Gal 5:22:23.) If government of whatever ilk try’s to put in place things that do good, help people, give justice, welcomes strangers amongst us (Exd 22 and Exd 23.) Surely as a follow of Jesus I would want to support such action.
Likewise when people are being unjustly treated, marginalised, poor and denied the means to help themselves by government policy should I not cry out against such things?
The problem is we like to read the parts of Scripture that we like. So we would like to put things on one side such as (Matt 19:24) concerning the rich man, or (Acts 4:34 on, having all thing in common) and I often hear Christians say such things as well that was then, this is now, you cannot do things like that now. Why not, is that part of scripture we don’t like?
I often hear people say, why should we support free loaders, or as my Mother in law used to say why don’t those people get a job. Sorry but that really is uneducated.
On frequent visits to Kenya, another country I love, I have often asked leaders what do you need. They will say things like more crusades, more meetings, and more preachers. I look around and think no, what you need is more jobs. I see loads of people who want to work, need to work, would work hard, sitting waiting trying to find work, are they free loaders.
We need to understand that often the way society is structured means that the opportunities you are given are not just or righteous, the poor are often not poor because they are lazy or free loaders, or unwilling.
Please there is a lot of other reasons way beyond their control that put them in such positions. And if the follower of Jesus can change their position for the better be that by influencing government policy, or direct action to help, then God calls us to do it. To quote Jim Wallis – A Budget is a moral document.
And a bit more Wallis to end The Biblical prophets do hold their rulers, courts, judges, landowners and employer accountable to the values of fairness justice and even mercy, evil and sin is in the concentration of power, politics and economics need to be held accountable to Justice especially in the protection of the poor.
Fair outcomes not necessarily equality should be the goal of governments.
Socialist or whatever, let those who follow Jesus cry out for His values in His world.