Man is a social animal and the gospel has never been anti-social. Socialism carries in itself, charisms; compassionate Christians cannot avoid its attraction but Christians who try to serve both God and mammon cannot accept its value. Did Christianity not teach the two principles of the equal rights of every man to the goods of this world, and the duty of those who have more to help those who have less? Our mission in the world is the same as Jesus when He declared,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
We are not only to preach the good news, we are to be the good news. Faithless Christians who are wrapped up in themselves cannot understand the social element of Christianity. A Christian who is motivated solely by the desire to be blessed and to have and to use is useless in the kingdom.

There was a Christian socialism movement in Europe in the 19th century that espoused that socialism is a Christian duty and must be based upon Christian principles to be effective. There is nothing wrong with this idea unless it is forced upon the people like modern day communism does. The fact is that it can work but it has to be in an ideal setting. It was never a failure, much good work was done in Europe, like the abolishing of child labor and better working conditions and a day off in the week.

Charity must come from the heart and must be voluntary to be able to fulfill the idea of social work being a duty. The idea of charity being the duty of man won't work in a capitalist society unless there is some governmental action involved and then the duty is transcended. It was never successful in America because socialism is prejudiced against and unrestrained capitalism became the religion of choice. This religious prejudice is what became the "opium of the people" and in this antagonism against socialism we can find the reason why communist societies rejected Christianity. The social gospel as an ideal gained ground, but was rejected by most Christians and the luke-warm church was born. Because the evangelical church was so unified against the social gospel, the Lord had to bring liberation through such forces as the labor movement and human and civil rights movements and democratic activism.

Christian socialism is merely an illusion if we do not have true love in our heart for it to work. We are speaking of an apostolic society and since the luke-warm church has neither charity or a sense of Christian duty apart for what it can do for them personally or for their own family, it won't work in a materialistic society. To ask a rich Christian to give up what he has in the spirit of Christian fellowship for the sake of justice and the poor is no different than asking a rich non-Christian to pay more in taxes so that more social work can be done. They may do it if they have to, but it will be grudgingly. The exceptions are the true patrons of society that do give out of a pure heart, but if there were enough of them, we would not have the debate over this issue.

If you will be perfect, go and sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Sell what you have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief approaches, neither moth corrupts. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead, being alone.

But whoso have this world's goods, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwells the love of God in him?

Original socialism had in it a transcendent element, an eschatological tension, but the capitalistic spirit took it captive so that it began to seek its goals on earth. The communists took over and created an atheistic forced socialism that was totalitarian. If the church had been doing its job as Jesus had intended, this would never have happened. The free unfolding of man's human powers as in the image of Who has created us should be man's dominant aims. Without this freedom and dignity of who we truly are, we are not able to choose to walk in the spirit. This is the choice we make between God and mammon. Not the man who has much, but the man who is much is the fully developed, truly human man.

Liberation is the process through which and in which a new man must emerge, the truth will make you free. A man shaped by solidarity and creativity over against the individualistic, distorted humanity of the present system will seek to have the humility to serve others. People ought not to speak of loving their neighbors if they can allow men beside them to starve and die in misery. It is our duty to embrace the social causes that seek to alleviate the world's wrongs.

It is not only that the gospel preaches solidarity and the helping of others; it is in this message that its real import consists. In this sense it is profoundly socialistic, just as it is also profoundly individualistic, because it establishes the infinite and independent value of every human soul. Those that cannot come into the grace through action that is preached to the poor are the ones that Jesus will say

Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto you? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

True Christian freedom in the spirit gives man the power to lay down our lives for the sake of others. If Jesus was with us today in the flesh, He would not be on the side of those who are the Christian exploiters who give to expect a return on their faith. He would be on the side of those making great efforts to relieve the hard lot of the poor and procure them better conditions of life, that is exactly what He is doing today in the spirit of those that have the compassion to understand. "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs."

Ministers are in a unique position of being able to change things instead of business as usual, but will they? This prompts pertinent questions. Will they perpetuate the name it and claim it materialism? Will they continue to teach seed faith so that they can talk people out of their money with promises of prosperity? Will these pastors continue to be on the side of corporate profit or be able to teach community? Will the church continue to identify with the oppressing class or identify with the oppressed? If the church continues to be on the wrong side of every controversial issue, we know what the answer is but in fact the church will be going through a profound change. No longer will the oppressed of this world be subject to business as usual and the denunciation will affect everybody. Jesus is coming to change all the abuses that His people have been under by the very people that are called by His name and there will be a change of the guard concerning political and economic factions, He is using us to bring about the change. Much more is about to happen before He comes to take us away. I think it is exciting, others have much to fear.
[15, 75, 133, 187, 326, Luke 4:18 Matthew 19:21, 25:41-46, Luke 12:33, Ephesians 4:28, James 2:14-17, I John 3:17]

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