The Economic Fallacies of Progressive Christianity

One must take great care when making religious claims about political management of the economy

One can scour the entire Bible without finding any example of progressive taxation or any endorsement of large-scale government redistribution of wealth. Instead, the default position is that the individual owns his property and the worker deserves his wages. While charity is an unquestioned obligation, scripture also places responsibilities on the poor that would make any good progressive blanch.

 

When it comes to considering the arguments of newly resurgent Christian progressives, we hold these truths to be self-evident: Jesus was not a socialist, the Bible is not an economics textbook, and while scripture commands believers to help the poor, it also commands the poor to help themselves. As Pope Francis gains rock-star status on the economic left, Christians would do well to remember not just scripture, but the economic reality of recent world experience.

This morning [Sept. 24, 2015], the pope addressed Congress with relative restraint. Rather than decrying the perceived excesses of global capitalism — calling it, as he once did, the “dung of the devil” or the “new colonialism” — he used more measured language. He urged American politicians to exert their primacy over “the economy and finance,” creating a community that shares its goods:

If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.

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