1. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    09 Sep '01
    17 Jan '09 19:001 edit
    Was Jesus a socialist? The answer, as I shall attempt to show, is that he was. But before I do so we must clarify what is meant by ‘socialism.’ It would be easier to start by pointing out what the socialism of Jesus was not. Specifically, Jesus was not a Marxist. As he predated Marx by some 1,900 years, this should seem rather obvious. Nor was he a Bolshevik, a Trotskyite, or a Maoist. He did not belong to any socialist party and did not advocate social reforms through any political system. Jesus himself would not even have recognized the term ‘socialism’ as the term wasn’t coined until the early 1800s. But looking back through time we can see that when we strip them of their Pauline mythology, the authentic teachings of Jesus were the very embodiment of socialism. As the 19th century Christian Socialist, Etienne Cabet, put it, “Socialism is Christianity. It is pure Christianity, before it was corrupted by Catholicism."

    So we can see what Jesus was not, but what was Jesus for that would qualify him as a socialist in our eyes? Jesus was for brotherhood, justice and equality. He was for the poor, and against their greedy and rich oppressors. He was for replacing the injustices and corruption of the marketplace with the kingdom of God, where “all who believed were together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44).” Jesus was for establishing a just and egalitarian kingdom of God in the here and now, in this world. Jesus was a social revolutionary and at the very heart of things he was a socialist. But the socialism of Jesus did not involve politics. It transcended politics. It was a withdrawal from the political systems of the time and the renunciation of their corrupting influence. Jesus said to “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” In other words, the kingdom of God could not be legislated into being through any political act or by any political party. It had to be built from the ground up by the people who had been filled with hope and uplifted by the social gospel of Jesus.

    What justification do I have for these claims? Much of it is borne out by the bible itself. I will bring your attention to a few passages. We have the passage that I quoted earlier, Acts 2:44-47:

    And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    This message is essentially repeated in Acts 4:32-35.This is socialism, pure and simple. They had all things in common. They distributed goods to any as they had need. It was an egalitarian and just society which did away with both worldly oppression and poverty. One can only wonder if the inspiration for Marx’s famous phrase, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, came from these two bible passages. But it is the last sentence that is most interesting, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Those who were being saved. This is not a salvation that exists beyond the grave. This is a salvation that is being actualized in the present tense. By divorcing themselves from the world around them and by building the kingdom of God by the sweat of their own brow, the people who followed Jesus’ message were participating in the realization of their own salvation.

    The number of passages which convey a socialist message are too numerous to quote in their entirety, but I will highlight a few to drive the point home. We have James 5:1-6 where the rich are said to have miseries coming to them for exploiting their workers. Luke 1:49-53 where the hungry are filled with good things, while the rich are sent away empty. Matthew 19:16-24 where Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. James 2:14-17 where it is shown that pious thoughts are useless unless accompanied by works. Every good act is another step toward the realization of the kingdom. Matthew 25:31-46 in a very powerful passage makes clear that the kingdom is reserved for those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give drink to the thirsty. They shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. How closely does that passage mirror the sentiment of modern day socialists who proclaim that the new world shall be built on the ashes of the old? If you enjoy quoting scripture as much as I do then we could go on like this for many pages. But I will spare my readers and bring one final passage to light. Luke 16:19-31, the story of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man. “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table.” They both died and saw the tables had been turned. Lazarus is now comforted and the rich man is in torment. The rich man realizes it is too late for him, but as he has five brothers he beseeches Lazarus to act as a sort of biblical Jacob Marley and warn them to change their ways before they meet his fate.

    I am sure that my esteemed opponent will point out many biblical verses that he will claim point to the opposite conclusion that I have reached. On the face of it the debate would seem to devolve into a battle of dueling verses, with me quoting a passage that says one thing and my opponent quoting a passage that appears to say the opposite. I shall try to stave off that type of scriptural tit for tat by demonstrating that not all bible verses are equally reliable. To accomplish this I shall reach outside the bible itself and into the realm of modern biblical scholarship. This is a field that has grown enormously in the last fifty years or so, spurred on by such magnificent discoveries such as the Nag Hammadi library, in 1945. Our knowledge of works like the Gospel of Thomas have profoundly altered our understanding of how the bible came to be written and how early Christian theology evolved and it has overturned many previously held misconceptions.

    It has become increasingly apparent to the impartial observer that the Christianity adopted by the Emperor Constantine was substantially different from the Christianity preached by Jesus. It had gone from being an antiestablishment religion of the poor and the oppressed to being the official state religion of the the rich oppressors. The church hierarchy paid lip service to Jesus’ social gospel while they worked feverishly to augment their own temporal power and fill their coffers. It became a religion that Jesus would scarcely recognize. Christianity was less concerned with what Jesus had to say as it was with the building up an increasingly elaborate mythology over the personhood of Jesus himself. They worshipped the man but forgot the message. We can see this process in action within the bible itself. If we compare the various accounts of the supposed resurrection, for example, we can see the mythology building up over time. If we compare the accounts of the resurrection chronologically, from Paul’s writings, to Mark, to Matthew and Luke, to John, we see that each version becomes more and more elaborate. Each version is more and more “fantastic” than the previous one. We can clearly see that the early Christian writers were inventing and expanding on the story of the resurrection over several decades. We go from the earliest Jewish-Christian sect like the Ebionites, who did not believe in the resurrection, to a full fledged mythology of Jesus’ divinity and atoning resurrection. Most of this occurred during the oral period of Christian history, before any of the books of the bible were written (around 30 CE to the mid 50s).

    Undermining the reliability of the bible might seem to be a paradoxical strategy. If my opponent’s choice of verses cannot be trusted, then why should any of mine? Once again we turn to the abundant research of modern biblical scholarship. In particular, we will look at the research into what is known as the “Q gospel.” If we can see how Christian mythology expanded as time went on, it would stand to reason that the earlier a particular work was written, the more likely it is to be free from such embellishments. The Q gospel (although still hypothetical) would be such a work. Briefly, if we compare the passages from Matthew and Luke, we can see that they each used Mark as a common source. They also have a number of passages in common that did not come from Mark. In a theory that is gaining greater and greater acceptance, we can see that this lost text would be the Q gospel (the Q is German for ‘quelle’ which means ‘source&rsquo😉. If this lost Q gospel could be found, or reconstructed, it would be the closest writing we have to the actual Jesus. Thanks to the research of the Jesus Seminar, we now have a pretty good idea of what the Q gospel looked like.
  2. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    09 Sep '01
    17 Jan '09 19:01
    Although it is difficult to say with any certainty which particular passages are the most authentic, we can see clearly the type of passages they are. Basically they are the sayings and parables of Jesus which are concerned with how to live in this world. The sayings that exalt the poor, condemn the rich and show how to build an egalitarian, communitarian kingdom of God in the here and now. They are the passages which would clearly recognize today as being socialistic in nature. The passages which concern themselves with the mythological elements, such as Jesus’ supposed virgin birth, divinity, and resurrection have, not surprisingly, the smallest likelihood of being authentic.

    Here I wish to examine two divergent views of Christian eschatology and what it was specifically that Jesus meant by “the kingdom of God.” The phrase is mentioned more than 100 times in the bible itself. It is also mentioned extensively in the Christian apocrypha, such as the Gospel of Thomas, part of which I will quote below. The kingdom exists in two parts, the first is internal, and the second is the external manifestation of the first. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says:

    ...the Kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty.

    This is the sentiment so powerfully expressed by Leo Tolstoy in his great work, “The Kingdom of God is Within You.” The kingdom in this instance is an internal transformation whereby people reject violence and greed, where they are no longer willing to participate in the scheme of inequality and oppression. The second part is the external application of this internal transformation. It is the deep involvement in this world and its problems which is the realization of the kingdom. From the Gospel of Thomas again, the disciples ask, “Master, when will the kingdom come?” Jesus answered, “The kingdom will not come by expectation. They will not say, see here, see there. The kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth and men do not see it.”

    Tolstoy correctly saw that to be a follower of Jesus meant the rejection of capitalism and oppression and the adoption of egalitarian, communal socialism. That would be the manifestation of the kingdom on this earth. It bears repeating once more that this was not the hierarchical, statist socialism of Lenin’s Bolsheviks, but the stateless socialism (one could say ‘anarchistic’ socialism) of Jesus himself.

    This is what biblical scholars like C.H. Dodd have come to refer to as a “realized eschatology.” Compare this with the apocalyptic eschatology of Paul, whereby the kingdom was some future event that will be ushered in with little or no involvement of humanity itself. It requires nothing from us other than we passively wait. John Dominic Crossan, of the Jesus Seminar, succinctly sums up the differences between the two:

    ”Apocalyptic eschatology is world-negation stressing imminent divine intervention: we wait for God to act; sapiential eschatology (or realized eschatology) is world-negation emphasizing immediate divine imitation: God waits for us to act.”

    My interpretation of Jesus is not a something that is restricted to secular biblical scholars and jaded skeptics. Far from it. It is something that many passionate and committed Christians have long realized was at the heart of Christianity. One of the very first Christian groups, the Ebionites, saw this as the essence of Jesus’ message. Many scholars believe that the Ebionites were more faithful to the original teachings of Jesus than were the later proto-orthodox Christians. As I mentioned, they rejected the divinity, virgin birth, atoning death, and physical resurrection of Jesus. They followed a communal lifestyle with all goods held in common. And they appear to have held a realized eschatology. But they lost the battle for supremacy to the Pauline, proto-orthodox Christians and we see the resulting changes which occurred in Christian eschatology.

    Following the Great Constantinian Shift, there have been many Christians and Christian groups who have clearly seen that the Roman Catholic Church was a badly corrupted institution that bore scant resemblance to what Jesus had in mind. People like John Ball, an English Lollard priest, played a large part in the Peasant’s revolt of 1381 by preaching a doctrine of social equality. Others, like Thomas Meunzer, preached a return to the early form of Christian socialism and the building of a society where all goods were held in common. Gerard Winstanley, in England, founded the “Diggers”, which tried to form an egalitarian, communal society, where, once again, all goods were held in common. Of the Anabaptist groups that formed during the reformation, the Hutterites adopted a communal lifestyle which they have maintained to this very day. Their egalitarian, communal colonies, which they see as being based directly upon the teachings of Jesus, continue to thrive throughout the western U.S. and Canada.

    It is instructive to note that prior to Marx, socialism was almost entirely a Christian endeavor. In today’s post-Bolshevik world, this is something which has been largely forgotten. There were many Christians in the early 1800s who, like Herbert Casson, believed that “Socialism is Christianity reduced to practice.” With the advent of ‘godless communism’, Christianity and socialism seemed to have an irrevocable falling out. But this is not so. It should be noted that Marx’s famous quote says, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” Here he is not criticizing Jesus, who would have been seen as a mentor, but rather the apocalyptic eschatology of Paul and the mainstream Christian churches, which would have people put up with their oppression in this world in exchange for a supposed reward in the next. So we see that there have been a great number of Christians who have remained committed Christian socialists without any regard for vicissitudes of Leninism. People like Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, which started communal ‘houses of hospitality’, 185 of which are still in operation today. Despite being a socialist she is currently being considered for sainthood. Then on to the present day with the growth of Liberation Theology throughout Latin America. They preach a message of social involvement which seeks to lessen inequality and oppression. This socialism of Jesus is at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian. I will close my argument with one final quote, from George Lansbury, who was a prominent Christian socialist and former member of Parliament:

    Socialism which means love, cooperation and brotherhood in every department of human affairs, is the only outward expression of a Christian's faith. I am firmly convinced that whether they know it or not, all who approve and accept competition and struggle against each other as the means whereby we gain our daily bread, do indeed betray and make of no effect the "will of God."

    As an added bonus I have one image of a kindred spirit to go with my post:
  3. Donationkirksey957
    With White Women
    31 Jul '01
    17 Jan '09 21:54
    The post that was quoted here has been removed
    Will there be a time we can direct questions to the debaters?
  4. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    09 Sep '01
    17 Jan '09 22:10
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    Will there be a time we can direct questions to the debaters?
    Yes. The thread will be thrown open to general discussion at the completion of the debate, which will be a maximum of 15 days from now. I would request that people refrain from posting here until that time, although I am, of course, powerless to enforce that.
  5. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    21 Jan '09 02:27
    Folks. I have been in the hospital. But I was released tonight and will see to a reply to the opening post hopefully within 24 hours.
  6. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    21 Jan '09 10:092 edits
    If Rwingett means by socialism any kind of system that can be carried out without the presence of the resurrected Christ then I argue that Jesus was not a socialist. My opponent wishes to show that a dead, un-resurrected, mythologized, person established something that mankind can now adopt apart from Christ's living and indwelling presence with people.

    He is wrong regardless of what kind of “ism” he would like to label it. Everything Christ established as the church is totally dependent upon Him being the resurrected and living Son of God, Redeemer and Lord Who has distributed His very being into a community of people.
    "Behold I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the age" (Matt. 28:20). We don't need Jesus, Rwingett argues. But the culmination of Jesus teaching ultimately points to Himself. He is the way. He is the reality. He is the life.

    Rwingett has given us a somewhat circular definition of socialism in this debate. He says that Socialism is Christianity, before it was corrupted by Catholicism. By doing this my opponent seems make Jesus the original Socialist. Whatever Jesus established then, is Socialism by definition. So then, Marx falls short of it. The Bolsheviks, the Trotskyites, the Moaist all fall short of this supposed purest and original socialism started by Jesus. But we must remember, to Rwingett, Jesus is really not necessary to carry on this Socialism today. To rwingett, we simply need to lift these principles of social justice, equality, just regard for the poor and carry them forward [without] a Pauline mythologized Jesus.

    Jesus did not establish anything which man can carry forward without His resurrection presence. He spoke of Himself as the True Vine and His disciples as the branches abiding in the vine. John 15 is clear that without abiding in Him we can do nothing.
    The life is in the Vine and flows out into the attached branches.
    Without being attached to Him in resurrection, we can do nothing.

    Or put another way, all that we do apart from abiding in Him will account for nothing in terms of the will of God. The True Vine has the life essence and nature which alone flows into the branches causing them to function for fruit bearing. Rwingett believes that abiding in a living person of Christ is not necessary. If his definition of Socialism or any kind of “ism” or any kind of “anity” as in Christianity is something that can be achieved apart from a resurrected and living Lord Christ, Jesus is not an exponent of that “ism” or even that “anity”.

    When speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the life of the church Jesus taught that it was expedient that He should physically go away. For only then would He be able to come to the disciples and live in them as the Holy Spirit all around the world. No more would there be the local limitation. He would be distributed into His believers:

    "Even the Spirit of reality, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him; but you know Him, because He abides with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you as orphans. I am coming to you." (John 14:17,18)

    What happened in Acts happened because the one who was with them came to be IN them as the Spirit of reality. He did not leave them as orphans to imitate His ways. He came as the Another Comforter, the Holy Spirit to energize them, enable them, mingle with them, live in them, and be expressed from within them as they abided in Him as a sphere and realm.

    In is true that in the book of Acts the church in Jerusalem practiced a voluntary communal life in which they shared all their possessions in common. This was because the resurrected Jesus, according to His teaching, had been imparted into them. His divine life as had been dispensed into those saved by His redeeming death. Christ in the form of the Holy Spirit had been imparted into them to their life. This is why Peter stressed again and again the resurrection of Christ - “This Jesus God has raised up” (Acts 2:32), “And the Author of life you killed, whom God has raised from the dead …(Acts 3:15), … To you first, God having raised up His Servant has sent Him to bless you in turning each of you away from your wicked deeds…” (Acts 3:26).

    I will leave it to the interested reader to discover how often and how much the resurrection of Christ is mentioned in the book of Acts, the primal record of the Christian church. But more importantly it the resurrected Christ was the vitality, the empowering, the source, the force, indeed the Life of all that the disciples did well. Without Christ in resurrection there was no church. This is why the angel told the apostles “Go stand in the temple and speak to all the people the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).

    These people had been brought into a living Person Who was “this life” within them moving them to express the Christ Who was risen and indwelling them as “the life giving Spirit”. ... “The last Adam became a life giving Spirit” wrote Paul in 1 Corinthians. 15:45.

    I know this may disappoint some of you who were expecting me to rant on about how free market capitalism is more the style of Jesus. But my concern is more with the error that Jesus taught something that does not require His presence as the resurrected Lord who alone can redeem us and indwell us as "the Spirit of Jesus" (Acts 16:7).

    In the book of Acts the living Christ within them moved them to live as they did. And without a resurrected Christ who is able to impart His life and nature into man there is no program of any kind man can carry out that arrives at what Jesus taught.

    Let's free ourselves from the circular definition of "Socialism is what Jesus did. So Jesus was a Socialist." Socialism is an economic system of distribution of material wealth and property. It was seen as a step between Capitalism and Communism. In fact I am no quite sure why Rwingett's argument was not "Christ was a Communist". For actually what occured in the church in Jerusalem was more sponataneously instituted by the community than mandated from strong central governement.

    Here is the difference between Socialism and God’s OIKONOMIA. Our English word ECONOMY comes from the Greek word OIKONOMIA. There is in the Bible something called God’s OIKONOMIA or God’s Economy. Unlike Socialism as an economic system of the distribution of material wealth God’s Economy is the distribution of God Himself as Spirit into people. Paul wrote his junior co-worker to teach “God’s economy which is in faith” (1 Tim.1: 4). The Greek word translated economy here means household law. This implies the distribution of supplies and wealth to those of he household. It denotes the way one manages his household, a household administration, a household government.

    God’s Economy or is the way God manages His household of those human beings who have faith in Him. He distributes chiefly and firstly nothing short of Himself as Spirit into His people. He is the exceedingly wealthy household administrator and governor. And the way He manages His household people is by the imparting of His divine life and nature into man that they be men and women in the sphere and realm of God’s life mingled into the human life.

    continued below
  7. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    21 Jan '09 10:131 edit
    Human Socialism is an economic system of distribution. But it is a way to distribute material goods and property.

    Now obviously the church in Jerusalem was swept up into a communal life in which those who had the spiritual grace to do so, relinquished their personal property and had all things in common. But this was only a byproduct of distribution of the Holy Spirit, the Third of the Triune God, into them to be their life – “Go into the temple and speak to the people all the words of THIS LIFE” (Acts 5:20 my emphasis). “This life” is a Person. “This Life” is the risen Son of God as the life giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) with all the riches of His personality and freedom over greed, freedom from anxiety, love of the poorer Christian brother, victory over covetousness, … all of these riches and wealth of what Christ is, dispensed and distributed into His redeemed people.
    God’s Economy is firstly the distribution of Himself into man. As a result of this distribution of His life as Spirit into man as a byproduct of those dedicated to this realm an expression of corporate material equity arose. It was not imposed by law from without. It was manifested from within voluntarily.

    Those who attempted to imitate this life such as Ananias and Sapphira were exposed in their hypocrisy and charged with lying to the Holy Spirit. It was completely within their right to withhold some of their property. But for the sake of looking good they attempted to pretend that they also were relinquishing their material wealth. Here we see the Apostle Peter’s discernment of their fabricated imitation of the work of the Holy Spirit:

    “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a piece of property and put aside for himself some of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it. And he brought some part of it and laid it at the feet of the apostles. But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to deceive the Holy Spirit and to put aside fro your slef some of the proceeds of the land? While it remained, was it not your own? And when it was sold, was it not under your authority? Why is it that you have contrived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:1-5)

    I would like to emphasize that simply to share wealth was not good enough. It was not a matter of WHAT was done. It was a matter of through WHOM it was done, by Whom it was done, with what inward enabling it was done, and Who was the source of the action. Like a poodle imitating a walking man Ananias , though a apparently a churching disciple of Jesus, attempted to deceive the congregation in order to look good. His lying to the Holy Spirit was his lying to God. This proves that the Holy Spirit is God and that God as the Holy Spirit had been dispensed into the people. Though Ananias may also have received this dispensing, he did not live by it in this instance but mustard up some false show to appear to be one.

    Peter’s rebuke was that it was not necessary for him to do so. He had the freedom to keep his private property. And he should not pretend to be doing what others were doing in the realm of the Holy Spirit. Now why do I point this out? It is because Rwingett wants us to believe that apart from Christ and apart from the Holy Spirit we man practice some kind of Socialism originated by Jesus WITHOUT Jesus. Such an imitation may serve some limited human purpose and that apparently noble. But Jesus said “Apart from Me you can do nothing”. Ananias and Sapphira were made examples of that. Apart from Christ, apart from an “organic” abiding in “this life” distributed to the saved, they could not fulfill God’s purpose therefore could not establish God’s kingdom.

    Now I feel that Rwingett may have expected me to collect many passages which fight against the notion of Christ being anything put a free market capitalist. I do not have much desire to make certain passages fight against other passages. I prefer to emphasize that Christ is all-inclusive and many faceted. We see thing in Him which might remind of socialism at one moment. We might find things in Him which remind us otherwise. For one example of the many faceted aspects of Christ I submit Luke 12 :14.

    “And someone out of the crowd said to Him, Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. But He said to him, Man, who appointed Me a judge or a divider over you?

    And He said to them., Watch and guard yourself from all covetousness, for no one’s life is in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:13,14)

    I have no intention to make Luke 12:13,14 nullify any other passage showing another side of Christ’ teaching regarding sharing and giving to the poor. But here we must see that Jesus did not consider Himself simply a judge and divider of material wealth over squabbling anxious and covetous men. And that even if one party had a legitimate claim.

    cont. below
  8. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    21 Jan '09 10:17
    There is a more fundamental and more radical need in man. That is to receive the distribution of Himself into man that a man might first be rich toward God. The more Christ is wrought into the personality and soul of the person the richer that person is toward God.

    There is no intention in Christ’s Gospel to simply divide and distribute wealth between aggrieved people apart from themselves being filled with His Spirit and His life. And His resurrection is foundational to this indwelling lordship. As John records:

    “Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him” (John 14:23)

    This word “abode” has its verbal form in the next chapter where Jesus teaches His disciples to ABIDE in Him.

    “I am the true vine … Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (See John 15:1-11)

    Rwingett’s concept is that we do not need to abide in Christ the supposed original Socialist. In fact Jesus is no longer alive. The myth of His resurrection is a corruption of this pristine Socialism which Jesus embodied. So I say that if Socialism however Rwingett wants to define it, does not require a resurrected and living Christ who is both enterable and able to enter into us spiritually as a living God-man to be our indwelling Lord, then Jesus is most definitely not a Socialist. Though when His people abide in Him in a cooperatively He might express Himself in this corporate group of people in ways which somewhat resemble the economic system of socialism.

    I would say the exact same thing for Christianity. If by “Christianity” one means anything that can be carried out apart from the living Jesus and in an organic union of life with Him, that is not Christ’s teaching. And not social system no matter how good proclaiming a dead and mythical Christ who is not the resurrected Lord, is a teaching of Christ. God’s OIKONOMIA, God’s Economy is to firstly dispense Christ as the embodiment of God into people to be their divine riches.

    Now Rwingett rightly says of Jesus’ teaching “It transcended politics.”.But he fails to realize that it transcends politics because NO political system can cause one person to live in another person. Christ is unique in that His kingdom consist of those within whom He has come to make an abode (John 14:23).

    Rwingett also says “In other words, the kingdom of God could not be legislated into being through any political act or by any political party. It had to be built from the ground up by the people who had been filled with hope and uplifted by the social gospel of Jesus.” But he fails to realize that God’s kingdom could neither be built up by ANY activity political or otherwise that is devoid of the Holy Spirit as Christ’s living presence in the regenerated. One must be “born again” to be in the kingdom of God. It is a matter of receiving another life in addition to the life one was naturally born with. The entrance of Christ as the life giving Spirit (“the last Adam became a life giving Spirit” ) causes God’s “SEED” of life to be born within the believer (1 John 3:9). And the one who overcomes the covetousness, anxiety and greed of the world is the one who has been “begotten of God” (1 John 5:3). The one who shares the livelihood of the world with his needy brother is the one who has eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3:17). The disciples are not simply spectators or imitators of Christ’s divine nature but through forgiveness and rebirth are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). The resurrected Christ is the key to the indwelling Christ.

    Now look at Acts again. I said that God’s OIKONOMIA, God’s Economy is to distribute Himself into His people as the Spirit. When Saul was persecuting the Christian church he received the revelation that it was Jesus Himself that he was persecuting. This is because the new testament church was the collective living receptacle of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

    “And he fell on the ground and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? And he said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, whom you persecute.” (Acts 9:4,5)

    The individual Son of God, Jesus, had through the Holy Spirit, distributed Himself into a group of people. These people, the church , were now the collective embodiment of Christ. They were His Body as Paul elaborated in His epistles. They were and still are the corporate Christ. Jesus did not say “Why do you persecute my people” nor “Why do you persecute my church.” He said “Why do you persecute Me?” The life of Jesus had been distributed to the many so that He was one with them in a union of life. Again, the angel told the apostles “Go … tell all the words of this life.” How then can we talk about what Christ established as being apart from His life? Rwingett wants the benefit of the practice of the early church but apart from its very life, the resurrected Christ who had come to live in all of its constituents. Rightly Paul spoke of the constituents of the church as the members of Christ’s body to make up “the Christ”:

    “For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12)
  9. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    21 Jan '09 10:21
    The church is His Body possessing His life as a corporate expression of the God-man who has been distributed into the redeemed and regenerated people. It is not a matter of philosophy or politics or activism but of the indwelling life of Jesus.

    If my Rwingett objects that this is Pauline corruption I would point out that John’s record of the Vine with its abiding branches as one organic organism in John 15 is essentially the same concept taught directly by Jesus. Branches in the Vine and members of the Body of Christ both speak of the “organic” union of Christ’s people with Him spiritually.

    Now quite a lot was put out that I cannot address in one post. But I will examine some other statements of Rwingett. I find it often amusing when people try so hard to drive a wedge between Jesus’s words in the four Gospels and the Apostle Paul’s epistles as if to say Paul deviated. Rwingett writes:

    , “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Those who were being saved. This is not a salvation that exists beyond the grave. This is a salvation that is being actualized in the present tense. By divorcing themselves from the world around them and by building the kingdom of God by the sweat of their own brow, the people who followed Jesus’ message were participating in the realization of their own salvation. "

    Since to Rwingett, Paul messed everything Jesus taught up, we should not expect Paul to write as he does “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; For it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:2b,13) Those in Acts who were being saved were those who were cooperating with the operating God within them. God worked in them and they cooperated with God. As they did they were in the process of transformation and sanctification. Christ was growing in their personalities saving them from the crooked and perverted generation. Please compare:

    “That you may be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world” (Paul – Phil.2:15).

    “And with many other words he [Peter] solemnly testified and exhorted them, saying, be saved from this crooked generation.” ( Acts 2:41)

    There is no argument that salvation in the senses of Acts 2:41 is a practical salvation on this side of the new heaven and new earth. But Paul certainly affirms rather than contradicts that particular aspect of salvation in Philippians. Furthermore to be added to the church was to be “added to the Lord” (Acts 5:14).This again underlines the life relationship with the resurrected Lord which was this daily practical salvation. And we should note that Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8) as he delivered his messages of salvation. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with God and to be filled with Christ.

    Rwingett is correct to suggest that a preoccupation with salvation being strictly a matter of the “afterlife” or of “going to heaven” is a perversion of the Gospel. However that is not the fault of the New Testament. And it can hardly be charged as the ruining of Christ’s message by the Apostle Paul. The thought of such a charge is laughable as a book like Philippians shows. As the man was in a Roman prison he wrote that his circumstances and the prayers of the believers would turn out to his salvation:

    “For I know that for me this will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:9)

    This salvation, this saving is as saving which relates to Paul undergoing the hardship of a Roman prison restricting his ability to work for the Lord in his ministry. And the salvation comes through “the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”. Again, the indwelling Christ as the Spirit, will empower him, enable him, uphold him, and even give him great joy – save him in this age.

    Though I could site numerous examples just this much is enough to expose the false charge that Paul taught something different from salvation taught in the book of Acts. Furthermore Luke wrote Acts and Luke was Paul’s companion. So I think Acts is just the place a skeptic should not go to try to drive some artificial wedge between Jesus and His Apostle Paul.

    The truth of the matter is that perversions in Christianity are not a matter of Christians following Paul but more a matter of them NOT following Paul, in example and in depth of his teaching. When you read Paul you are getting the teaching of Jesus pure and simple. And not only so, you are getting the life example of one who far matured and excelled in that union of lives between the forgiven sinner and the resurrected Lord and Savior.

    Now I admit that Rwingett put more out on the table than I can respond to tonight. I wrote a private not to Rwingett to infom him that I have been in the hospital unexpectedly this last weekend. But a few more comments an I will have to stop.

    Rwingett drives home his point:

    “We have James 5:1-6 where the rich are said to have miseries coming to them for exploiting their workers.”

    True. But what Rwingett does not recognize is that even here with James, the behavior is a manifestation of the life of Christ which has caused the believers to be born of God:

    “He brought us forth by the word of truth, purposing that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18)

    God the Father has according the Economy of God, dispensed His life into His redeemed people to beget them, to bring them forth in birth. It is a matter of the Triune God imparting Himself into man through the word of truth, the Gospel. James further exhorts the Christians “receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). The implanted word speaks of the living word which dispenses Christ as the life of God into the believer. Then as the implanted word is allowed to grow it transforms the soul, saving the soul. The expression of just and equitable behavior in Christ’s church life cannot be imitated by those apart from Christ as an “ism.” They must be begotten by the Father and receive the living word implanted into them. If Rwingett speaks of Christ teaching of a Socialism apart from the need to be begotten by the Divine Father, that is emphaticially not a teaching of Christ or of the New Testament.

    cont below
  10. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    21 Jan '09 10:23
    Jesus is not that kind of Socialist. And He is not the embodiment of that kind of Humanistic Socialism. And whatever he thinks he can accomplish for the human race by performing a Christless egalitarian system it will only be a Tower of Babel and mean nothing to the kingdom of God. I would say the exact same of any Christless “Christianity” that may have a doctrine of a risen Christ but not the oneness and cooperation with His indwelling.

    Other apparent Socialistic passages of Rwingett follow:

    “Luke 1:49-53 where the hungry are filled with good things, while the rich are sent away empty.”

    Of course this richness could also be the one who considers himself rich in philosophy and human concept such that he does not need Christ. Such are sent empty away. And the good things that the hungry are filled with are the things of God’s own life. They are hungry for God. I would not restrict the passage to refer only to material things. For there is a hunger and thirst for righteousness and a hunger for God which God responds to (See Matt. 5:6).

    The same applies to Matthew 19:16-24. A material rich man will have difficulty entering into the kingdom of God as a camel would through the eye of a needle. But also one selfsatisfied and “rich” with his own Christ rejecting religion, politics, or philosophy ALSO will find difficulty because he feels that he does not need God to live in the kingdom of God. Yet to be in the dog kingdom you must have the life of a dog. To be in the horse kingdom you must have the life of a horse. To be in the animal kingdom you must have the life of an animal. To be in the human kingdom you must be born with the human life. And to be in the kingdom of God you must have the life of God born into you according to God’s Economy. He administration of His household is to dispense His Spirit into His people.

    I notice that Rwingett did not go on in Matt 19 to show Jesus’ closing word about the rich young man – “And when the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said “Who then can be saved? And looking upon them, Jesus said to them, With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Luke 19:25,26).

    Through His salvation it is possible to accomplish what man cannot accomplish. He can reduce the camel to be able to pass through the needle’s eye. He can free man from his idols and from his destractions, material or psychological or philosophical to provide the forgiven sinner a rich entrance into the eternal kingdom:

    “For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly and bountifully supplied to you.” (2 Peter. 1:11)

    Rwingett’s treatment of Matthew 25:31-46 is used to demonstrate Jesus the original Socialist. Comment on this will have to wait for more space and another time.

    Now Rwingett says a few things to instruct us to look at the Gospel of Thomas to find out what Jesus really taught. Comment on this will have to wait too.

    By sheer volume Rwingett has done a good job of putting more ideas out there than I can respond to tonight.

    What I have tried to show here is mainly that what the disciples did in their communal life of sharing all things in common absolutely came out of the indwelling of the resurrected Christ as the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Acts 16:7). The Holy Spirit filled the disciples (Acts 2:1-4). Again and again we are told that Peter or the other apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit set aside Barnabus and Paul. And Paul told the Ephesians elders that the Holy Spirit had made them shepherds and overseers of the church. The Holy Spirit is God Himself. He is the Third of the Trinity. We are told that “The Lord is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17). And that “the last Adam becamse a life giving Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45).

    The power that enabled the disciples to practice the kind of communal social life was the life of God imparted into them through Christ’s resurrection. This imparting of Christ as the Spirit of Jesus as the Holy Spirit is God’s Admnistration and household management, His OIKONOMIA. That is it is God’s Economy. It is chiefly a matter of God dispensing His Spirit and His life in Christ into His redeemed people. The operating of this indwelling Christ manifested Himself in voluntary relinquishing of personal property for the community.

    This may look like Socialism like Jesus sounded to some people like Jeremiah or Elijah or one of the prophets. Actually it was more radical because it was a manifestation of Christ in His resurrected state merging Himself with His believers. It was not a matter of “What would Jesus do?” It was a matter of “What is Jesus doing.”

    There are plenty of verses which Rwingett attempt to anticipate and circumvent which show other aspects of His teaching not particularly reminiscent of Socialism. I had not heart to use them to prove that Rwingetts verses are not true. Rather I emphasize that Christ is all-inclusive and embodies characteristics which at one moment remind us of some man made system. Yet at another time remind us of something else. How could we deny that Jesus told parables that portrayed Him as a strict businessman expecting a profitable return on His investment from His “employees”? (See Matt. 25:14-30).

    It would be a mistake to get into a contest of various passages to argue that Jesus sounds more like a capitalist or a socialist. Though I could probably match Rwingett as he says, tit for tat. What is more important is the deal with his error that somehow man could adopt Jesus’ teaching and run and do it without abiding in Him. This kind of Christless “Socialism” supposedly based on the teachings of Christ would be end up being another Catholic Church. of sorts itself.

    The thing which he despises he would recreate in a secular and humanistic mode. It would lack the life of Christ, lack the resurrection of Christ, the presence of Christ and therefore have absolutely nothing to do with the teaching of Christ. The comparison would be as a monkey dressed up as a man. He may claim that this is the Socialism taught by Jesus. But it would end up being a Humanist caricature useless to God and Christ. It is not the kingdom of God. It would only evolve into something opposing God and denying His Economy to dispense His life firstly into man.
  11. Standard memberbill718
    03 Sep '06
    22 Jan '09 11:48
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Was Jesus a socialist? The answer, as I shall attempt to show, is that he was. But before I do so we must clarify what is meant by ‘socialism.’ It would be easier to start by pointing out what the socialism of Jesus was not. Specifically, Jesus was not a Marxist. As he predated Marx by some 1,900 years, this should seem rather obvious. Nor was he a B ...[text shortened]... research of the Jesus Seminar, we now have a pretty good idea of what the Q gospel looked like.
    A Novel topic, but a minor one. Jesus' political views fits into the "who cares" catagory with me.😏
  12. Joined
    02 Jan '06
    23 Jan '09 02:34
    I would like to jump in the debate if I may. Any objections?
  13. Standard memberNemesio
    Pittsburgh, PA
    05 Mar '02
    23 Jan '09 02:561 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    I would like to jump in the debate if I may. Any objections?
    This is a formal debate between Jaywill and Rwingett. Start another thread with your comments
    and ideas.

    Thread 106515

  14. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    09 Sep '01
    23 Jan '09 03:15
    Originally posted by whodey
    I would like to jump in the debate if I may. Any objections?
    Patience, child. I will deliver my final argument in a day or two. Then Jaywill will get his final crack at it. The whole thing could officially be over within, what, five days?
  15. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    24 Jan '09 11:573 edits

    I wrote:

    Rwingett drives home his point:

    “We have James 5:1-6 where the rich are said to have miseries coming to them for exploiting their workers.”

    True. But what Rwingett does not recognize is that even here with James, the behavior is a manifestation of the life of Christ which has caused the believers to be born of God:

    “He brought us forth by the word of truth, purposing that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18)

    I mean that though James is talking about the bad behavior of worldly people, His exhortation is chiefly toward those born of God. This life within them should guide them not to behave that way.

    I have left unaddressed a few important points of rwingett. I want to say something about them, but not too long.

    Jesus told the Pharisees that the kingdom of God was in the midst of them not within them.

    In saying this He indicated that He Himself is the kingdom of God in it's essential nature and essence. Since He was in their midst the kingdom of God was in their midst. They needed to come to Him.

    Jesus did not tell the unbelieving Pharisees who were in opposition to Him that the kingdom of God was within them.
Back to Top