I kind of wish my friends would stop posting such provocative articles, so I wouldn't be distracted from my necessary daily chores. Here's the latest: Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus. Much to rebut here, even while I agree with many of his criticisms of modern American Christianity. But I want to address one of his main assumptions because it's one that many friends of mine profess.
The idea that Jesus preached socialism.
Here's his argument, essentially: "Jesus wants us to take care of poor people. So, Jesus would want us to support federal social programs like Obamacare." A student of Logic would recognize that there's a missing premise here: "Jesus wants us to take care of poor people. Federal social programs like Obamacare take care of poor people. Therefore, Jesus would want us to support . . . "
For now, I'll set aside the possible case to be made that federal programs don't actually take care of poor people. Instead, let me give another version of this argument. "Jesus wants us to take care of poor people. Murdering the fifty wealthiest people in the country and passing out their money and possessions to the needy would take care of poor people. Therefore, Jesus would want us to murder the fifty wealthiest people in the country . . . "
You see the problem?
This argument only makes sense if the second premise (the one the author is missing) is consistent with the rest of Jesus' teachings. The real question here is whether taking care of the poor by means of federal social programs is consistent with the rest of Jesus' teaching. The author simply assumes that it is. I'm not so sure.
My reading of the gospels shows that Jesus is concerned not only with our actions but with the hearts that motivate them. (See the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5.) His command to charity is not just about meeting material needs -- it's about meeting spiritual needs. It's about the giver having humility, gratitude and compassion. His charitable deeds are to flow from his new nature in Christ and give glory to God as a result. Righteousness is not something to be imposed from without by laws requiring goodness; righteousness comes from within and results in goodness regardless of the laws. (If righteousness could be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing! Gal 2:21)
I don't see how laws requiring citizens to give money to the government to take care of the poor encourages humility, gratitude and compassion in the citizenry. To the contrary, I can see how they bring about a decidedly uncompassionate attitude toward the poor (witness the extreme comments like, "I have to work so others can sit at home on welfare.") I'm not convinced Jesus would support a means for addressing poverty which only addresses half of the poverty equation -- material poverty and not spiritual poverty.
I know there's a case to be made against my views here. I'd love to hear someone make it! :)