With the arrival of Easter, perhaps the most significant of
Christianity’s holy days, comes an opportunity to reflect on our own lives and
what we do to magnify the message of Jesus. It also affords an opportunity to reconcile our core beliefs
with the political machinations of the world we live in.
There is obviously much need for the latter, especially in
light of an article in USA Today this week which proclaimed, “A new poll
released Thursday found that more Americans (44%) see the free market system at
odds with Christian values than those who don't (36%).”
To those of us who work through our faith intellectually and
logically, such poll results are disturbing for the obvious logical
superficiality of their viewpoint.
Let’s start with the most obvious issues. Did Jesus go to
the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas, or Pilate to advance his teachings as a new system of
governance? No! His message was not one of collective governance, but one of
individual, personal governance. Governments have no soul to be saved, no
salvific ordinances can be performed in their behalf, and have not the promise
of a resurrection on some distant Easter morn. Christ’s message was to
individuals, not a political system by which to govern.
Secondarily, and perhaps most theologically important, is
the eternal concept of free agency or free will. To understand this in
political context, it may help to take a brief look at the simplified political
spectrum, which applies to individual ideological alignment as well as
governments, and goes from left to right, most tyrannical and un-free to least
tyrannical, or freedom.
All variations of socialism are on the far left of that
spectrum right along with dictatorships. They are coercive and trample
individual freedom as they reduce individuals to tools of the state. Yet the
Lord’s entire plan is based on freedom of choice, or free agency. Socialism is
irreconcilable and heterodox to Jesus’ message for it is based on coercion, the
elimination of freedom and free agency. It is both illegal and immoral for
individuals to forcibly take from one to give to another, so why is it not
immoral when governments do it? It certainly has no redeeming value to the
Jesus taught many divine principles by parable. One of the
most relevant dealing with economics is His “Parable of the Talents.” You’ll
recall that the master gave five talents (a measurement of weight and also of a
silver currency in biblical times) to one servant, two to another, and one to a
third, based on their respective abilities. He was not egalitarian in his
distribution, but he expected results, namely that each would increase what was
entrusted to them. The first two doubled their talents and were rewarded; “Well
done thou good and faithful servant…” while the third buried his in the ground
and returned it to the master with no increase, and was punished for his
The fundamental tenets of free agency and free enterprise
were affirmed as none of the servants were told how to increase that which was
entrusted to them, or by how much they were to increase the master’s wealth.
But the tenet of increasing what is given to us, either as financial talents or
talents as we employ the term today, is clear.
Not only are we accountable for what we do to develop
character through our industry and acumen, but we are to be sensitive to the
needs of others. As Jesus said, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was
thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and
ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto
me… Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of
these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” And this we do individually,
exercising our free agency as evidence of our professed religious beliefs, not
by force, coercion, or compulsion from a government that mandates it. For coercion is to Jesus’ teachings as
negative is to positive in physics: polar opposites.
Socialism is an amoral (if not immoral) secular governmental
system, while free enterprise or capitalism is the freest, most ennobling and
affirming to individual worth. Free to pursue our own interests, free to buy,
trade, barter, whatever we legally choose. It is not a perfect system, but it
is the most true to the fundamental tenet of free agency and provides best for
In our reflections of the meaning of Easter, let us be
cognizant of how we use our talents, monetary and otherwise, in the service of
others, not counting on forced government programs to do what we as individuals
are called to do.