“WEEKEND AT BERNIE SANDERS” — The Church vs Socialism


by Dr. Gary North

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any [of them] that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common (Acts 4:32).

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back [part] of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God (Acts 5:3-4).EmilyCarr-Indian-Church-1929

The first-century church was not opposed to private property, as Peter’s words clearly indicate. But great wealth is too great a temptation for most people. Jesus laid down the general rule: “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:24). Nevertheless, this rule is not absolute: “When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:25-26).

10 commandments...The deciding factor is personal self-government under God’s law, whether we are speaking of great wealth, great power, great intelligence, great beauty, or any other blessing in abundance. Christians have been suspicious of great personal wealth in the hands of the spiritually average person. They are aware of God’s covenantal warning to Israel: beware, lest “thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day” (Deut. 8:17-18).modern pool home

God gives individuals the power to get wealth. Should civil governments deny this principle by passing legislation that deliberately reduces this power for some men — specifically, the successful? On what biblical basis could such legislation be justified? These are rhetorical questions. There is no possibility of legitimately invoking biblical judicial standards to defend either socialism or modern egalitarianism, i.e., hard-core liberation theology or soft-core liberation theology. Peter’s words to Ananias are judicially and ethically authoritative. Socialism is therefore a form of ethical rebellion. This is why liberation theologians, not to mention outright Christian socialists, do not begin their analyses or manifestos with a detailed exegesis of this passage.

sunset churchUntil modern times, the leadership of orthodox churches steadfastly opposed socialism. They did not proclaim the ideal of free market capitalism, but they did proclaim ideals that eventually produce free market capitalism: the legitimacy of private property, geographical mobility for the sake of one’s service to God (the ideal of missions and one’s calling before God), personal responsibility, and voluntary charity to relieve individual cases of poverty. Within the churches, there have occasionally been defenders of compulsory State socialism — as distinguished from the voluntary socialism of certain vow-taking religious orders — but they have always been regarded as heretical by the churches’ leadership. The march into socialist ideology by the leadership of modern mainline churches has been accompanied by their march out of theological orthodoxy.(1)

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”

This famous slogan of the French Revolution embodies the Enlightenment’s depiction of Saderevolutionary ideal — an ideal of radical simplicity.(2) These three ideals can be found in the Bible, along with many others. To single out these three ideals as the foundations of social order is to adopt the fallacy of simplicity — the principle of the lowest common denominator.(3) This fallacy has always been the fundamental error of socialist economic theory: the idea that an economic plan simple enough for a committee to design and enforce will suffice to fit together the comprehensive wants and productive capacities of an entire society.(4)

Liberty under God and God’s law has been basic to the ideal of Western liberty. “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32b) has been a guiding principle of Western thought from the beginning. Each man is responsible before God for his own thoughts and actions. Liberty is a corollary to this high degree of individual responsibility.

gustave courbetEquality as an ideal is found in Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth. “For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality” (II Cor. 8:13-14). The context of his remarks was his fund-raising for poor Christians in the Jerusalem church (Rom. 15:26; I Cor. 16:3). The Corinthian church had pledged these funds a year before (II Cor. 16:10-11). Paul was reminding them of their year-old pledge — a practice still common in Christian fund-raising. He was calling for voluntary sacrifice in order to meet the needs of a specific group of poor Christians. He was not laying down a judicial ideal for political economy.

Fraternity is an inescapable implication of the doctrine of the fatherhood of God. Paul told the Athenians that God created all things (Acts 17:24); therefore, He “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). But God has disinherited the sons of Adam. Entry into God’s holy family is available only through adoption by God, who has predestinated each redeemed person’s salvation before the foundation of the world. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:4-5). The disinherited sons of Adam are outside the judicial boundaries of God’s adopted family. This theology of exclusion infuriates them.

The three-fold revolutionary ideal, which is at bottom deeply religious, is a substitute for the Bible’s multiple ideals. It is based on faith in the healing power of the predestinating State. All men must be adopted into the universal family of man. (This implies the need for a universal, unitary world State.) They must all become citizens, brothers, and comrades. Those who resist or repudiate this political adoption must either be killed or enslaved: the modern totalitarian’s version of the conquest of Canaan. This is the underlying theology of the guillotine and the Gulag Archipelago.

Socialism: Ideal vs. Reality

Liberty, equality, and fraternity have proven to be unattainable socialist ideals. In the name of liberty, socialist states have repeatedly crushed liberty through taxation, inflation, confiscation, and regulation, while simultaneously creating rigid hierarchies based on access to political power and privilege. In the name of equality, socialism creates new hierarchies based on access to office rather than access to money. The failed Soviet Russian experiment, like the tottering Red Chinese experiment, provides abundant evidence of political favoritism, especially for family members of Communist Party members. In the name of the abolition of private property, socialism creates new forms of control over property: second homes (dachas) for high Communist officials; special stores for high Communist officials who, along with members of criminal syndicates, alone possessed “hard” (Western) currency. As for fraternity, the various brotherhoods established by socialists have resembled the brotherhood of Cain and Abel. Stalin and Trotsky serve as representative examples.(5)

The promise of equality has proven to be the most powerful appeal of socialism. Part of this appeal has been based on jealousy: the desire to confiscate another person’s wealth in order to augment my wealth. A far stronger impulse has been envy: the desire to destroy another person’s wealth even though I do not profit from this destructive act.(6) It is not that socialist voters really expect politicians to legislate new tax codes that sharply reduce the tax burden of the poor and the middle class; it is that they want tax codes that punish the rich.

Equality before the law in a world of different resources, especially personal resources, leads to the inequality of economic results. Adopting an admittedly imperfect analogy from the sports world — a rhetorical strategy used by Paul on occasion(7) — if men cannot run a race at the same speed, then an even starting line, a straight runway,(8) and a simultaneous start will always lead to winners and losers: inequality of results. Socialism denies the legitimacy of the inequality of competitive economic results, so the socialist must invoke the coercive power of the State to stamp out all forms of inequality based on service to consumers. Inequality before the law becomes the socialist’s inevitable judicial standard.

Socialism transfers ownership from individuals, families, churches, and corporations to the State. It substitutes bureaucratic management for profit management.(9) It substitutes central planning by committees for entrepreneurial planning by risk-takers. It substitutes State sovereignty for consumer sovereignty.

In the name of the family of man, socialism wages war on the family, for the covenantal family possesses a separate judicial authority; it resists absorption into the State. Socialism wages war on the church for the same reason. Heavy taxation, special exemptions, subsidies for those who publicly conform, and bureaucratic regulation are the State’s main strategies of conquest in both of these wars.

The Early Church

Clement of Alexandria, in his late-second-century sermon on the rich young ruler, enjoined self-discipline, not poverty. Extreme poverty is bad, he said. “For it is impossible and inconceivable that those in want of the necessaries of life should not be harassed in mind, and hindered from better things in the endeavour to provide them somehow, and from some source.”(10) Therefore, he concluded, “And how much more beneficial the opposite case, for a man, through possessing a competency, both not himself to be in straits about money, and also to give assistance to those to whom it is requisite so to do! For if no one had anything, what room would be left among men for giving?”(11)

It is clear that his concern here was with individual Christians, not the State. Individuals should administer wealth. They are required by God to gain the skills necessary to become competent administrators of wealth. There is nothing morally wrong with great wealth. “Riches, then, which benefit also our neighbours, are not to be thrown away. For they are possessions, inasmuch as they are possessed, and goods, inasmuch as they are useful and provided by God for the use of men; and they lie to our hand, and are put under our power, as material and instruments which are for good use to those who know the instrument. If you use it skillfully, it is skillful; if you are deficient in skill, it is affected by your want of skill, being itself destitute of blame. Such an instrument is wealth. . . . That then which of itself has neither good nor evil, being blameless, ought not to be blamed; but that which has the power of using it well and ill, by reason of its possessing voluntary choice. And this is the mind and judgment of man, which has freedom in itself and self-determination in the treatment of what is assigned to it. So let no man destroy wealth, rather than the passions of the soul, which are incompatible with the better use of wealth. So that, becoming virtuous and good, he may be able to make a good use of these riches.”(12)

A similar attitude toward great wealth prevailed in the centuries that followed. In their detailed study of medieval political theory, the Carlyles wrote in 1927: “The earliest Fathers carry on these conceptions very much as we find them in the New Testament: on the one hand they do not seem to have any dogmatic theory of the community of Christian men’s goods; on the other hand they continue to insist that the Christian man is bound to use his property to relieve the wants of his fellow-man, and especially of his fellow-Christian.”(13) Honest labor was required of church members, charity was strongly recommended, and the ideal of voluntary poverty for the gospel’s sake was affirmed. But there was also faith in God’s external blessings for those who are obedient to Him. One such blessing is wealth. So, any public denunciation of wealth was generally qualified.(14) The church during its first three centuries did not advocate communism or State action to redistribute wealth.(15)

Then what about private property? Is it a commandment of God? The early church, like the medieval church, identified the origin of private property with the fall of man. (A secular version of this account was offered by Karl Marx, and before him, by Jean Jacques Rousseau. Marx viewed alienation — a kind of secular fall — as the origin of private property.(16) Rousseau viewed private property as the cause of man’s fall into the evil of civil society rather than its effect.(17)) This explanation became an important argument of the conservative churchmen against the radical equalitarians.(18) Both Cyprian and Chrysostom preached on common property as an ideal, using Acts 4:32 as their text.(19) But they did not argue that the State should enforce such a community of common ownership.

The major early church exponent of the egalitarian tradition was St. Ambrose in the late fourth century. On the one hand, he affirmed the traditional view of wealth: “But riches themselves are not blameable.”(20)On the other hand, he was an equalitarian. He viewed the origin of private property as part of the fall of man: usurpation. He argued that the poor are not responsible for their poverty. Charity is actually a form of restitution. But he proposed no coercive power for the creation of a wealth-redistribution program. As Arthur Lovejoy observed, not much ever came of Ambrose’s teaching in this regard. “The most significant fact concerning this side of the teaching of St. Ambrose is that so little came of it. The most powerful and most popular figure in the Latin Church through two critical decades, he played a large part in determining the direction which it was to take in theology, in its ecclesiastical polity, its liturgy, and its relations to the secular authority. But his preaching of a virtually equalitarian and communistic ideal of a Christian society had no effect commensurate with its earnestness and eloquence.”(21)

The Medieval Church

We think of medieval monasteries as being the incarnation of the anti-commercial spirit. Regarding private property, Benedict’s sixth-century manual (Rule) of monastic rules announced: “This vice especially ought to be utterly rooted out of the monastery”;(22) it is a “most wicked vice.”(23) Yet even here, the power of thrift, hard work, and careful management kept leading to the accumulation of institutional wealth. In the sale of the produce of the monasteries to the general public, Benedict was committed to one of the most fundamental aspects of modern capitalism: price competition. “And, as regards the price, let not the sin of avarice creep in; but let the goods always be sold a little cheaper than they are sold by people of the world, that in all things God may be glorified.”(24) The result was that the Benedictine monasteries accumulated great wealth over the centuries. Dom Cuthbert Butler writes of Benedict: “Whether he contemplated his monasteries acquiring great wealth, it is impossible to say; probably it did not enter his mind. But this in time did come about, and inevitably. The mere fact of a body of men working without personal remuneration, living frugally, and pooling their earnings, would of itself in time accumulate wealth. Then came the flood of gifts of all sorts that are constantly made to a permanent community. As a matter of fact, history attests that the great Benedictine abbeys in all lands were rich, and very rich.”(25) Within a century of Benedict’s Rule, some European monasteries were issuing their own coinage.(26) The Cistercians in the later Middle Ages became large-scale farmers and rural bankers.(27)They were great reclaimers of waste lands.(28) One estimate of their productivity is that during the thirteenth century, as much as one-sixth of the economic output in England was the result of their activities.(29)

The main exception seems to be the Franciscans, a late-medieval order. St. Francis had established the ideal of poverty in his Rule for the order. These poverty clauses were removed when the order received papal approbation in 1223 by Honorius III.(30) Also, the Franciscan order repeatedly bordered on the heretical. There was a long struggle for control within the order: Spirituals (heretical) vs. Conventuals.(31)Pope John XXII in the early fourteenth century brought the Spiritualists within the order under strict church discipline. He condemned the ideal of absolute poverty.(32) This is not surprising. It would have been unthinkable to the medieval church to promote either absolute poverty or communism. Private property was understood to be the result of the fall of man, but it is now a natural right — not opposed to nature but the result of nature.(33) The church owned far too much property for its theologians to have taken a totally hostile view of private property. This ownership accelerated throughout Europe after Charlemagne.(34) By the tenth century, as much as one-quarter of Europe’s land was owned by the church.(35) This percentage began to decline in the twelfth century.(36)

What about profit-seeking business? There has been a tendency throughout church history to characterize the merchant as a cheater and morally suspicious person. From the church fathers until the Protestant Reformation, the merchants have been persona non grata in the eyes of some (though not all)(37) theologians. (The canonists actually respected and protected the merchants.)(38) Theologians always recognized the importance of the merchant class in serving the needs of society. The merchant was regarded by some as a necessary evil in fallen society.(39) This somewhat hostile outlook was not universal, however. The late-medieval scholastics of the Spanish school of Salamanca were generally positive regarding business; their views were free-market oriented.(40) One careful historian of the medieval church’s views on property has concluded that “In business matters, civil law was often more harsh than canon law, a point that is often overlooked when considering the relevance and influence of the latter.”(41)

The poor were regarded as possessing a moral claim on the wealth of those who had a surplus of property. This surplus was always estimated in terms of the owner’s station in life.(42) This made it very difficult for the poor to enforce such a moral claim. The emphasis of the theologians was on the need for balance between the rights of private property and the needs of the community, especially the community of the saints. This was as true of the Reformation as it was of the earlier era.(43) But from the eleventh century forward, the individualism of Roman law steadily gained ground in the thinking of the theologians.(44)

From the late sixth century, beginning with the council of Tours in 567, the Frankish church recommended that laymen give a full tithe to the church. The duty of the Christian community — not the civil government — to assist the poor was recognized. The synod of Macon made this exhortation into a precept; as historian Walter Ullmann says, “everyone was compelled to pay the tenth into the chest of the bishop.”(45) The justification was relief of the poor: at least a quarter of the tithe, and as high as one-third — a proposal supported by Charlemagne.(46) But this was church law, not civil law. Ullmann is correct: “To this function, nay, this achievement of the early medieval bishops far too little attention is paid: it was they, not as monarchic governors of their dioceses, but in their corporate function as members of the councils, who saturated this society with Christian elements and thus brought about a unity of basic outlook which no sword, no royal measure, no legislation by kings could have attained in so short a span of time.”(47)

Heretical Movements

Prior to 1660, there were numerous heretical movements within European Christianity that proclaimed various forms of Christian socialism. Dominicans and conservative Franciscans were sent by the church to challenge Roman Catholic groups.(48) In a few cases, non-heretical groups proclaimed the socialist ideal. The most famous exception was the communist society in Paraguay run by Jesuits in the early seventeenth century. This society was directed by 150-300 local members of the Jesuit order. These Jesuits were not primarily Spaniards, but mainly Germans, Italians, and Scots. This society consisted of 150,000 to 200,000 inhabitants: mostly Indians, but with 12,000 black slaves. This communist experiment was constructed in part on the traditions of the socialist empire of the Incas.(49) The experiment came to an end in 1767-68, when the Spanish government drove the Jesuits out of the region.(50)

The best brief study of the heretical socialist movements of the late medieval and early modern periods is Igor Shafarevich’s book, The Socialist Phenomenon.(51) Shafarevich, a mathematician, was a prominent member of the Soviet Union’s anti-Communist protest movement of the 1970’s.(52) Shafarevich surveys the history of several of these heretical sects: Cathars, Free Spirits, Adamites, Taborites, and Anabaptists. Some were world-denying Manicheans and Gnostics; others were world-affirming pantheists. All were desirous of overcoming the Creator-creature distinction. He concludes: “All these individual theses can be reduced to one aim: overcoming the conjunction of God and the World, God and Man, which had been accomplished through Christ’s incarnation (the fundamental principle of Christianity, at least in its traditional interpretation).”(53) But how could the Bible’s Creator-creature distinction be overcome theologically? Through either gnosticism or pantheism: escape religion or power religion. He writes:

“There were two ways to achieve this: denial of the world or denial of God. The first path was taken by the Manicheans and the gnostic sects, whose teachings conceded the world to the domain of an evil God and recognized as the sole goal of life the liberation from matter (for those capable of it). The pantheistic sects, on the contrary, not only did not renounce the world, but proclaimed the ideal of the dominion over it (again, for a chosen few, while others, the “rude” folk, were included in the category of the world). In their teachings it is possible to find the prototype of the idea of “subjugating nature” which became so popular in subsequent periods. The dominion over the world was considered possible not through the carrying out of God’s will — but by denying God and by transformation of the “Free Spirits” themselves into gods. The social manifestation of this ideology can be seen in the extreme trends of the Taborite movement. Finally, the Anabaptists apparently tried to find a synthesis of these tendencies. In their “militant” phase, they preached the dominion of the elect over the world; moreover, the ideas of dominion completely overshadowed the Christian features of their world view (for example, Muntzer wrote that his teachings were equally comprehensible to Christians, Jews, Turks and heathens). In their “peaceful” phase, as can be seen in the example of the Moravian Brethren, withdrawal from the world was predominant: a condemnation of the world and a breaking of all ties with it.”

The ideas of chiliastic socialism constituted an organic part of this outlook. The demands to abolish private property, family, state and all hierarchies in the society of the time aimed to exclude the participants of the movement from the surrounding life. This had the effect of placing them in a hostile, antagonistic relationship with the “world.”(54)

Socialist ideology is imbued with the notion of a coming fundamental break, of the end and destruction of the old world and the beginning of a new order. This concept is interwoven with the idea of “imprisonment” and “liberation,” which, beginning with the Cathars, is understood as imprisonment of the soul in matter and as liberation in the other world. Later, the Amalricians and the Free Spirits saw the idea as spiritual liberation through the achievement of “godliness” in this world. And finally, the Taborites and the Anabaptists conceived of it as material liberation from the power of the “evil ones” and as the establishment of the dominion of the “elect.”(55)

The New Hierarchy

Also involved in these heretical movements was the creation of a unique organizational structure: a concentric structure, with “a narrow circle of leaders who are initiated into all aspects of the doctrine and a wide circle of sympathizers who are acquainted only with some of the aspects.”(56) This system re-established a centralized hierarchy, but in the name of initiation into the inner circle of free men.(57) The older magical humanistic ideal was steadily replaced (in public, anyway) by a secular humanistic ideal. “The leading role in the development of socialism passes to a new type of individual. The hermetic thinker and philosopher is replaced by the fervent and tireless publicist and organizer, an expert in the theory and practice of destruction. This strange and contradictory figure will reappear in subsequent historical epochs. He is a man of seemingly inexhaustible energy when successful, but a pitiful and terrified nonentity the moment his luck turns against him.”(58) It is not surprising that the two primary streams of Europe’s nineteenth-century socialist revolutionary movements — international socialism and national socialism — had their origins in occultism and journalism.(59)

From Revelation to Reason

The English Civil War and Interregnum of 1642-60 was the last occasion for the socialist heretical sects to gain power in Europe. The openly religious-ecclesiastical phase of socialist agitation ended in Europe with the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660. As Shafarevich notes, “The development of socialist ideas did not cease, of course. On the contrary, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, socialist writings literally flooded Europe. But these ideas were produced by different circumstances and by men of a different mentality. The preacher and the wandering Apostle gave way to a publicist and philosopher. Religious exaltation and references to revelation were replaced by appeals to reason. The literature of socialism acquired a purely secular and rationalistic character. . . .”(60) This was equally true of the defenses of economic science. Appeals to Christian morality and biblical revelation were removed from the post-1660 literature of economics. It is this self-conscious removal that marks the origin of scientific economics.(61)

The restoration of Charles II to the throne led to the suppression of all independent Puritan sects, including the communists (Diggers and others). There could be no doubt in the minds of orthodox Anglicans: private property is central to society.(62) In the thinking of the religious leaders, the question of the State-imposed limits on private property is best left to the king and his Parliament. The question was too complex. “Outside the churches the opinion was rapidly growing that clergymen ought not to meddle with secular policy.”(63) This same attitude progressively prevailed in Puritan New England after 1676.(64)

The Advent of Christian Socialism: Nineteenth Century

In the first half of the nineteenth century, there were numerous English and American experiments in voluntary socialist communalism.(65) These communes were sometimes described by their founders as Christian, but their founders were more often Unitarians or openly heretical. A good example is Adin Ballou (1803-90), co-founder in 1841 of the Hopedale Community, a joint-stock Christian venture, who led the group from 1841 until 1852. He was the author of Practical Christian Socialism (1854) and editor of The Practical Christian. He was a universalist, a pacifist, and an abolitionist.(66)

Better candidates were the co-founders of nineteenth-century British Christian socialism, Rev. Frederick Denison Maurice, an anti-Unitarian, anti-Catholic theologian, King’s College historian, and a Church of England cleric, and his close friend, Rev. Charles Kingsley. They were a strange pair. Kingsley was a successful novelist (YeastAlton LockeWater Babies), a Darwinian evolutionist, and chaplain to Queen Victoria. He was vehemently opposed to Calvinism.(67) The orthodoxy of his theology can be judged by a letter that he wrote to Maurice in 1863 to describe his new discovery that “souls secrete their bodies, as snails do shells. . . .”(68) Maurice, in contrast, was devout, but his language indicated that he as a universalist. At best, he completely confused common grace with redemptive grace. “Every man is in Christ; the condemnation of every man is that he will not own the truth — he will not act as if it were true that except he were joined to Christ he could not think, breathe, live a single hour.” Every man, “as man, is the child of God. He does not need to become a child of God, he needs only to recognize that he already is as such.”(69) This confuses the two forms of sonship: disinherited (Adamic) and adoptive (Christian). Mauruce wrote to Kingsley in 1847 to criticize him for having inserted what Maurice regarded as “a sneer against the idea of a Divine Bridegroom. . . . I fully defend your right to be humorous, if by any words in your own mouth or any other you weakened people’s faith in this mystery, I should think you were inflicting a deep wound on humanity.”(70)

Maurice and Kingsley were socialists in the post-1848 era.(71) The failed socialist revolutions of 1848 were a major turning point in European thought and culture.(72) These simultaneous uprisings were important for the subsequent development of a confrontational Christian socialism.(73) Kingsley wrote to John Stuart Mill in 1869: “In five-and-twenty years my ruling idea has been that which my friend [Thomas H.] Huxley has set forth as common to him and Comte; that `the reconstruction of society on a scientific basis is not only possible, but the only political object much worth striving for.'”(74)

Beginning in the post-Civil War (1861-65) era in the U.S., the rise of the Social Gospel movement within Protestantism led to a fusion of liberal religion and socialism, or at least government intervention into the economy. The general morality of socialism was defended in the name of Christian morality.(75) The Social Gospel movement gathered momentum in the first third of the twentieth century, effectively challenged only by the rise of officially non-political neo-orthodoxy after the First World War and by neo-evangelicalism after the Second World War.(76) But both of these alternative movements have incorporated many of the Social Gospel’s ideas regarding “social justice,” i.e., State intervention. The leaders of both groups have repeatedly embraced political liberalism.(77) Twentieth-century political liberalism is addicted to humanism’s messianic dreams of salvation by civil law. This is the socialists’ dream, too.

The Drifting Evangelicals

All socialist economic thought relies on a specific view of civil law, namely, that it is legitimate for the State to use its power to redistribute wealth from richer residents to poorer residents. This view is inescapably a denial of the requirements of Leviticus 19:15: “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”(78) Socialism comes in many varieties: utopian, Communist, Fabian, and Keynesian interventionist. In some periods of Western history, it has even come in the name of Jesus Christ. Prior to the nineteenth century, however, such claims were regarded by the church as heretical. No longer. There are several reasons for this, but the most important one is that few churches today are willing to define heresy formally, and fewer still are willing to impose the negative institutional sanction of excommunication against those who publicly uphold heresy. It is not merely that socialism is no longer identified as heretical; it is that almost no belief is defined as heretical.

Throughout the twentieth century, the evangelical churches have been progressively unwilling to make up their collective minds about much of anything. They have steadily abandoned the non-negotiable doctrines of the past. When the spokesmen of the church of Jesus Christ no longer believe that: (1) God created the earth in six 24-hour days, (2) that God sent a universal flood, or that (3) hell is a real place — we should not expect them to be able to decide in God’s name between the biblical legitimacy of competing economic ideologies. J. Gresham Machen identified the theological problem in 1923: modernism, a rival religion.(79) For doing so, and doing it so effectively, he was savagely attacked personally by his liberal critics and was thrown out of the Northern Presbyterian Church in 1936, though of course not for theological reasons, according to the hierarchy.(80) No one is thrown out of the modern Protestant ministry for theological reasons; only for bureaucratic reasons.

By the 1970’s, modernism was triumphant in the mainline denominations and was nearly triumphant in all but the smallest denominations.(81) One by one, decade by decade, evangelical seminaries drifted into theological liberalism and Barthianism.(82) By the 1970’s, the neo-evangelicals had become, in the perceptive phrase of Richard Quebedeaux, the worldly evangelicals.(83) Without an anchor — the ideal of an infallible Bible and its permanent and universal relevance to every society — there has to be drift away from orthodox Christianity. There is no neutrality in life.

Halfway House Theology

Neo-evangelical Protestantism is a halfway house theology, one adopted by budding theological liberals on their way out of orthodoxy, and by converts out of liberalism into orthodoxy, but mostly by the former.(84) Calvinist philosopher Ronald Nash should have known better when he wrote in 1963 that “The charges implying that evangelicals are perhaps half-hearted heretics, i.e., men who are beginning to drift away from the basic centralities of the Christian faith, are totally without support.”(85) On the contrary, far from being “crude misrepresentations” of the neo-evangelical position, as Nash termed the critics’ accusations,(86) these accusations have proven, year by year, decade by decade, to have been right on target. One by one, the neo-evangelical leaders and institutions of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s have steadily shown their true colors.(87) They have steadily sold-out the faith, and more to the point, have sold out the donors whose funds built the institutions that now pay the salaries of the neo-evangelicals. When, at a 1989 meeting of almost 400 of these neo-evangelical theologians, a voice vote confirming the existence of hell was called for, the motion failed.(88) The merest hint of “biblicism” has been enough to gag them.(89)

Nash subsequently “atoned” for these “sins of youth.” He spent the 1980’s in a valiant attempt to call the “outward-bound drifters” of the neo-evangelical movement back to conservatism — moral and theological — though without visible effect. His later work may have been beneficial in guiding a few of the “inward-bound drifters” from outside the movement toward the morally and economically productive shores of free market economics.(90) But his early negative response against the critics of neo-evangelicalism was typical of what goes on among academics: refusing to see what is happening under their noses until it is too late to do anything effective about it, they attack anyone who calls attention to the looming crisis. Then, when the disaster has become visible to almost everyone else, they either remain silent about their earlier skeptical position or else they go around saying to everyone who will listen — and few people will — “Golly, I wonder how this happened.”

Liberalism in Formerly Conservative Bastions

By 1980, if a denomination or ecclesiastical association had a seminary that was staffed by theologians rather than by pastors (meaning virtually all seminaries), the worldview of modernism probably had established at least a foothold in the denomination or convention.(91) Even Westminster Theological Seminary, the last bastion of academic Presbyterian Calvinism, has steadily drifted away from the free market opinions of its founder, Machen.(92) The tenets of theological liberalism and outright apostasy have almost universally penetrated the leadership of the modern church, undermining the leaders’ confidence in the reliability of the biblical narratives. This has left them philosophically and morally defenseless against the tenets of political liberalism, which have been imported into the church through the back door of the seminaries and officially Christian liberal arts colleges, all of them staffed by holders of advanced degrees from humanist universities and certified by apostate academic accrediting agencies.(93) Subordinating themselves judicially to liberal humanists in the various academic accrediting agencies, the once-conservative Christian academic institutions have steadily taken on both the institutional structure and the worldview of their accreditors.

By the 1970’s, American evangelical colleges had become heavily influenced by the liberal worldview.(94) By 1980, the leadership of the American churches had become anti-capitalist.(95) This hostility to the free market left church leaders vulnerable ideologically to the overnight collapse of the Communists’ economies in late 1989 — or more accurately, to the unexpected public admission by Communist leaders in Eastern (Central) Europe and the USSR that their economies were bankrupt, accompanied by a plea for tens of billions of additional dollars in unsecured loans and outright gifts.(96) The embarrassing setback suffered by their humanist peers and intellectual models inevitably afflicted the neo-evangelicals and the liberation theologians.

The Christian-Marxist Dialogue

The Social Gospel as an intellectual movement culminated in the 1960’s, a century after its creation, with the attempt of Christian intellectuals and Marxists to establish a new dialogue. This attempt began in earnest in 1965 with the Communist Party’s preliminary dialogues with Roman Catholic intellectuals and priests.(97) This was an obvious Party strategy by 1965, given the collapse of the conservative forces within Rome as a result of Vatican II’s four sessions (1962-65), especially in the final year.(98) By 1965, Pope Paul VI (Montini) had led the Roman Church into liberalism and had opened the doors to radicalism.(99) Simultaneously, avant-garde Protestants were going through the short-lived fad known as the death of God theology (1963-66).(100) Then came the works of Jürgen Moltmann, especially his Theology of Hope. The dialogue movement escalated in the late 1960’s. Its character is well illustrated by one of the self-professed Christians in this dialogue, Paul Oestreicher, who began his essay on “Dialogue in Hope” with this stirring analysis: “Anti-Communism, in its ideological form, is a social disease still prevalent in many parts of the so-called free world. When it has the cloak of the Christian crusader thrown around it, the disease becomes virulent.”(101) The Communists’ intentions were not the creation of a new fusion between Marxism and religion. Their goal was the capture of the minds of leading churchmen. The creation of this Christian-Marxist dialogue was high on the Communists’ list of priorities. Even Herbert Aptheker, the old war-horse of American Communism, got into the act, succeeding at long last in getting a mainstream publisher to issue his manifesto.(102)

The best symbol of the Party’s unilateral goal was the brief public career of Roger Garaudy, the French Marxist theoretician.(103) He was the most prominent European Communist spokesman of the Marxist-Christian dialogue. His book, From Anathema to Dialogue: A Marxist Challenge to the Christian Churches, published in France in 1965 and in the U.S. in 1966, may be said to have launched the dialogue movement. He announced in 1968: “Without us, Communists, I fear that your Christian love, marvelous though it is, will continue to be ineffective; without you, Christians, our struggle risks again confinement to a horizon without stars.”(104) He co-authored a book with a Jesuit philosopher, Quentin LauerA Christian Communist Dialogue (1968). But when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968, Garaudy opposed the action. He was then expelled from the French Communist Party. Only then, still a socialist, did he write about “the theoretical bankruptcy of the Soviet leaders,”(105) the “crime against Czechoslovakia” and the Soviets’ “official lies,”(106) and the “impotence” of the French Communist Party because “it continues to consider as the only valid socialist model one that would impose the leadership of the Soviet Union.”(107) But, by then, no one was paying much attention to him. (His expulsion was not even mentioned by one Lutheran student of Garaudy’s works, despite the fact that his book of praise appeared in 1974.)(108) His career as a professional Communist was finished, and so was his usefulness in the dialogue. He had disappeared from public view by 1975.

So much for Communist dialogue. From the beginning, it had been a dialogue between loyal Communists and disloyal Christians. Its importance was in laying the foundations of the liberation theology movement.(109)

Self-Imposed Blindness as a Way of Life

The Soviet economy by 1989 had visibly reached “meltdown.”(110) Eastern (Central) European Marxist economies had all been poverty-stricken and poverty-producing from the very beginning of Communist rule (the end of World War II), but the West’s media and academic community had steadfastly refused to acknowledge this fact. Communist rulers have always relied on terror as a means of political control over the citizenry,(111) even using psychology as a means of terror.(112) The Soviet judicial system was corrupt.(113) The Soviet Union’s economy was corrupt and always encouraged corruption.(114) Soviet society was based on extreme class divisions, with the favored few living lives of luxury and the vast majority of people in poverty.(115) The Soviet economy always was utterly irrational.(116) A few ex-Communists defected and revealed the truth.(117) So did people who had been put into Soviet concentration camps.(118) So did journalists who had been stationed there.(119) But until Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago,” these reports were steadfastly ignored by a large majority of the most influential Western intellectuals.(120)

A few American economists told the truth over the years, but they were generally ignored.(121) All of this negative information had been accessible to American intellectuals from the beginning, but they self-consciously refused to believe it until the Soviets themselves admitted it in 1989. When Western intellectuals journeyed to Communist nations, they saw what they imagined to be wonderful sights, for they were political pilgrims.(122) No better description of these pilgrims has ever been penned than Malcolm Muggeridge’s, who was an increasingly disillusioned reporter for England’s liberal newspaper, The Manchester Guardian, in the 1930’s.

For resident foreign journalists in Moscow the arrival of the distinguished visitors was also a gala occasion, for a different reason. They provided us with our best — almost our only — comic relief. For instance, when we heard [George Bernard] Shaw, accompanied by Lady Astor (who was photographed cutting his hair), declare that he was delighted to find there was no food shortage in the USSR. Or [Harold] Laski (British liberal socialist, author, lecturer) singing the praises of Stalin’s new Soviet Constitution. . . . I have never forgotten these visitors, or ceased to marvel at them, at how they have gone on from strength to strength, continuing to lighten our darkness, and to guide, counsel and instruct us; on occasion, momentarily abashed, but always ready to pick themselves up, put on their cardboard helmets, mount Rosinante, and go galloping off on yet another foray on behalf of the down-trodden and oppressed. They are unquestionably one of the wonders of the age, and I shall treasure till I die as a blessed memory the spectacle of them travelling with radiant optimism through a famished countryside, wandering in happy bands about squalid, over-crowded towns, listening with unshakeable faith to the fatuous patter of carefully trained and indoctrinated guides, repeating like schoolchildren a multiplication table, the bogus statistics and mindless slogans endlessly intoned to them. There, I would think, an earnest office-holder in some local branch of the League of Nations Union, there a godly Quaker who once had tea with Gandhi, there an inveigher against the Means Test and the Blasphemy Laws, there a staunch upholder of free speech and human rights, there an indomitable preventer of cruelty to animals; there scarred and worthy veterans of a hundred battles for truth, freedom and justice — all, all chanting the praises of Stalin and his Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It was as though a vegetarian society had come out with a passionate plea for cannibalism, or Hitler had been nominated posthumously for the Nobel Peace Prize.(123)

This phenomenon did not end in the 1930’s. It went on to the last gasp of the Soviets’ economic deception. The long-term moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the West’s intellectual leaders was finally exposed in 1989 by the acknowledged economic bankruptcy and tyranny of the Marxist regimes that the West had accepted as a valid alternative to capitalism.(124) No better example of this intellectual self-deception can be found than the case of Paul Samuelson, economics professor (emeritus) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the first American to win Nobel Prize in economics (1970), former Newsweek columnist, and the author of by far the most influential economics textbook of the post-war world (1948-present): three million copies, 31 foreign languages.(125) He announced in the 1989 edition of his textbook: “The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive.”(126)

On January 1, 1990, Time Magazine featured a photo of Gorbachev on its cover, which announced: “Man of the Decade.” The managing editor gushed: “Instead of naming Mikhail Gorbachev Man of the Year for 1989, we decided to designate him Man of the Decade. The only precedent for such a departure from the Y word occurred at the end of 1949, when Winston Churchill was TIME’s Man of the Half-Century.” Gorbachev had been Time‘s Man of the Year in 1987. While this award is given as a “news judgment,” said the managing editor, the lengthy accompanying articles on Gorbachev gave the game away: the political genius of Mikhail Gorbachev. Michael Kramer announced confidently: “Whatever happens to Gorbachev and his risky experiment, he already qualifies as a political genius, if only because he radiates a sense of purpose, motion, decisiveness, and hope. . . .”(127) But Gorbachev never had a plan, as Kramer admitted in the opening paragraph, where he compared Gorbachev with President Franklin Roosevelt, who lacked any anti-Depression plan in 1933, but who was committed to government-directed social experimentation. Planless, Gorbachev lurched from one disastrous policy to another, 1985 to 1991: the Cernobyl nuclear power plant’s meltdown in 1986, a potential ecological disaster that he had been warned about in advance but failed to deal with; the Soviet military’s ignominious retreat from Afghanistan in February of 1989, which forever broke the Soviet Union’s mythology of military invincibility; his refusal to support the Central European Communist regimes, which led to their collapse in 1989; his bankrupting of the economy, whose bankruptcy he openly admitted in 1989; and his “genius” in gaining the absolute hatred of the Russian people of all persuasions. He was a headliner in 1989, all right: the world’s most famous loser of the decade.

From August 19-21, 1991, coup against Mikhail Gorbachev was attempted by a handful of military leaders. It failed when the ring leaders failed to arrest Boris Yeltsin, the head of the Russian Republic. When Gorbachev returned to Moscow after a brief imprisonment in his own gigantic dacha, he found that Yeltsin, his old rival, had captured the reins of authority during his absence. Within months, Yeltsin had replaced Gorbachev as the head of the USSR. Within a year, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was no more.(128) It had been replaced by a federation of independent states. From 1989 to 1992, the legitimacy of Marxist Communism disappeared in the West. Only a small but entrenched core of Western university professors — defenders of lost causes — kept the faith. In Russia, the old Marxist faith had faded years before, as Solzhenitsyn kept telling the West. It was buried with the failed coup.

President Reagan, who planned and oversaw the covert strategy that destroyed the Soviet Union,(129) never did make Time‘s “Man of the Year.”


The promotion of the idea of a Bible-mandated, State-imposed socialism or communism was confined to heretical religious and social movements until the late nineteenth century. The theological justifications for private property have varied, but the vast majority of Christian theologians who have written on the subject have regarded private property as a God-given social institution that is overwhelmingly beneficial to society in a sinful world.

European socialist movements after 1848 began to influence radicals inside the Roman Catholic Church, but the Church International never did adopt socialism as an ideal. It was only with the rise of Darwinism, and specifically the statist variety of Darwinism,(130) in the late nineteenth century that leaders within Protestant churches began to promote the idea of Christian socialism. It is worth noting that this period coincided with the refusal of the conservative churches to prosecute for heresy.(131)

The collapse of Soviet Communism in 1989-91 has set back Christian socialists and welfare State advocates. Without much warning, the legitimacy of socialism as an ideal collapsed. Only by substituting ecological and environmental concerns does socialism still appeal to voters.(132) This will have its effect inside the churches. Christian socialism has visibly become a lame-duck position. It did not survive a full a century in American Protestantism before it suffered a major setback because of events across the ocean where fashionable Western intellectual trends had long been set: in the Soviet Union.(133) Socialism as an ideal will eventually depart even from American theological seminaries — decades after the USSR abandoned it, I imagine. Seminary professors are too often the promoters of intellectual fads that liberal college professors abandoned decades before. Seminary professors are very slow learners, even among academicians.



  1. C. Gregg Singer, The Unholy Alliance(New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1974); Edgar C. Bundy, Collectivism in the Churches (Wheaton, Illinois: Church League of America, 1957).
  2. James H. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith(New York: Basic Books, 1980), p. 4.
  3. R. J. Rushdoony, Foundations of Social Order: Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church(Fairfax, Virginia: Thoburn Press, [1968] 1978), ch. 9: “Constantinople II: The Fallacy of Simplicity.”
  4. Ibid., p. 97. Cf. F. A. Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order(University of Chicago Press, 1948), ch. 4: “The Use of Knowledge in Society.”
  5. The executioner hired to kill Trotsky at Stalin’s command used an ice axe. This surely was not accidental. The axe was the ancient Russian symbol of man’s dominion over nature. It was also used as a revolutionary image. James H. Billington, The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretive History of Russian Culture(New York: Vintage, 1966), pp. 26-28.
  6. Helmut Schoeck, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior(New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, [1966] 1969), pp. 249-51.
  7. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (I Cor. 9:24). “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).
  8. On a curved track, the runners do not run the same distance if the starting line is even. Those in the outer lanes must run farther. In such races, the starting line is staggered. Semi-socialists demand a staggered start in order to keep life’s economic race fair: economic inequality at the beginning. But only God knows how a staggered start should be arranged, since no one but God knows how far away the finish line is for each person. There are limits to analogies.
  9. Ludwig von Mises, Bureaucracy(Grove City, Pennsylvania: Libertarian Press, [1944] 1983).
  10. Clement, “Who Is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?” XII. The Ante-Nicene Fathers, II, Fathers of the Second Century. (reprint edition; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1979), p. 594.
  11. Ibid., XIII, p. 594.
  12. Ibid., XIV, p. 595.
  13. R. W. and A. J. Carlyle, A History of Medieval Political Theory in the West, 6 vols. (2nd ed.; Edinburgh: Blackwood, [1927] 1962), vol. I, The Second Century to the Ninth, p. 132.
  14. Cecil John Cadoux, The Early Church and the World(Edinburgh: Clark, 1925), pp. 195-97.
  15. Ibid., pp. 603-4.
  16. Marx wrote that “though private property appears to be the source, the cause of alienated labor, it is rather its consequence. . . .” Marx, “Estranged Labor,” The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, edited by Dirk J. Struik (New York: International Publishers, 1964), p. 117. Cf. Marx and Engels, Collected Works(New York: International Publishers, 1975), vol. 3, p. 279. See Gary North, Marx’s Religion of Revolution: Regeneration Through Chaos (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, [1968] 1989), pp. 169-70. This assumes, of course, that Marx regarded these documents as manuscripts, as distinguished from notes taken from others’ writings.
  17. Rousseau regarded “crimes, wars, and murders” as the result of civil society, which in turn came when “The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, be-thought of himself of saying `This is mine,’ and found people simple enough to believe him. . . .” Rousseau, “A Dissertation on the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind” (1755), in The Social Contract and the Discourses, Everyman’s Library (New York: Dutton, [1913] 1966), p. 192. This famous passage introduces Part Two.
  18. Richard Schlatter, Private Property: The History of an Idea(New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1951), p. 35.
  19. Ibid., p. 39.
  20. Letter LXIII, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. X, St. Ambrose, p. 470.
  21. Arthur O. Lovejoy, “The Communism of St. Ambrose,” Journal of the History of Ideas, III (1942), pp. 467-68. This essay includes extracts from Ambrose’s writings.
  22. The Rule of St. Benedict, trans. Abbot Justin McCann (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1952), p. 85.
  23. Ibid., p. 87.
  24. Ibid., p. 129.
  25. Dom Cuthbert Butler, Benedictine Monachism(2nd ed.; London: Longman’s, Green, 1924), p. 155.
  26. J. Gilchrist, The Church and Economic Activity in the Middle Ages(New York: St. Martin’s, 1969), p. 41.
  27. Ibid., pp. 42-43.
  28. Coburn V. Graves, “The Economic Activities of the Cistercians in England (1128-1307),” Analecta Sacri Ordinis Cisterciensis, XIII (1957), p. 16.
  29. Ibid., p. 20.
  30. Friedrich Heer, The Medieval World, Europe, 1100-1350(New York: World, 1962), p. 183.
  31. Ibid., pp. 187-88.
  32. M. D. Lambert, Franciscan Poverty(London: SPCK, 1961), pp. 236-40.
  33. Bede Jarrett, Social Theories of the Middle Ages, 1200-1500(New York: Ungar, [1926] 1966), p. 129.
  34. David Herlihy, “Church Property on the European Continent, 701-1200,” Speculum, XXXVI (1961), p. 88.
  35. Ibid., p. 93.
  36. Ibid., p. 98.
  37. Gilchrist speaks of “the infinite variety of attitudes towards the merchants over the thousand years or so of the Middle Ages.” Gilchrist, Church and Economic Activity, p. 129.
  38. Idem.
  39. John W. Baldwin, “The Medieval Merchant Before the Bar of Canon Law,” Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters, XLIV (1959), Pt. II, pp. 287-99.
  40. Bernard W. Dempsey, Interest and Usury(London: Dobson, [1943] 1948), pp. 131-210; Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson, The School of Salamanca: Readings in Spanish Monetary History, 1544-1605(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952); Murray N. Rothbard, “Late Medieval Origins of Free Market Economic Thought,” Journal of Christian Reconstruction, II (Summer 1975), pp. 62-75; Alejandro A. Chafuen, Christians for Freedom: Late-Scholastic Economics (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986).
  41. Gilchrist, Church and Economic Activity, p. 28.
  42. Brian Tierney, Medieval Poor Law: A Sketch of Canonical Authority and Its Application in England(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959), p. 37.
  43. See the essays in Christianity and Property, edited by Joseph Fletcher (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1947). See also H. G. Wood, “The Influence of the Reformation on Ideas Concerning Wealth and Property,” in Property: Its Duties and Rights(London: Macmillan, 1915), p. 156.
  44. Frederick Hastings Smith, “The Middle Ages,” Christianity and Property, p. 73.
  45. Walter Ullmann, “Public Welfare and Social Legislation in the Early Medieval Councils,” in Councils and Assemblies, edited by G. J. and Derek Baker (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1971), p. 9.
  46. Idem.
  47. Ibid., p. 4.
  48. Bede Jarrett, Medieval Socialism(London: Jacks, 1914), p. 30.
  49. Louis Baudin, A Socialist Empire: The Incas of Peru(Princeton, New Jersey: Van Nostrand, [1928] 1961).
  50. Igor Shafarevich, The Socialist Phenomenon(New York: Harper & Row, [1975] 1980), p. 144. A Hollywood movie, The Mission (1986), gave a distorted, highly favorable picture of this socialist experiment.
  51. The Institute for Christian Economics bought the last copies of this book from the publisher. It deserves to be reprinted.
  52. Igor Shafarevich, “Socialism in Our Past and Future,” in Alexander Solzhenitsyn (ed.), From Under the Rubble(Boston: Little, Brown, 1975), pp. 26-66.
  53. Shafarevich, Socialist Phenomenon, p. 76.
  54. Ibid., pp. 76-77.
  55. Ibid., p. 78.
  56. Ibid., pp. 78-79.
  57. Georg Simmel, “The Secret Society” (1908), in The Sociology of Georg Simmel, translated and edited by Kurt H. Wolff (New York: Free Press, 1950), pp. 349-51, 356-58, 366-76.
  58. Shafarevich, Socialist Phenomenon, p. 79.
  59. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men, ch. 4: “The Occult Origins of Organization”; ch. 11: “The Magic Medium: Journalism.” The ICE bought the last copies of this book. It deserves to be reprinted.
  60. Shafarevich, Socialist Phenomenon, pp. 80-81. ICE bought the last copies of this book. It deserves to be reprinted.
  61. William Letwin, The Origins of Scientific Economics(Garden City, New York: Anchor, [1963] 1965), ch. 6. Published originally by MIT Press.
  62. Richard Schlatter, The Social Ideas of Religious Leaders, 1660-1688(London: Oxford University Press, 1940), p. 87.
  63. Ibid., p. 99. Cf. R. H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism: A Historical Study(New York: Mentor, [1926] 1954), pp. 159-63.
  64. Gary North, Puritan Economic Experiments(Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, [1974] 1988), pp. 38-39. For a more detailed treatment, see North, “From Medieval Economics to Indecisive Pietism: Second-Generation Preaching in New England, 1661-1690,” Journal of Christian Reconstruction, VI (Summer 1979), pp. 165-72.
  65. Many of the utopian communities of the nineteenth century had their ideological roots in the work of the industrialist, trade unionist, philanthropist, and radical reformer Robert Owen (1771-1858), who in his later years became hostile to family and church. At the very end of his life, he became a spiritist, claiming to be in communication with the dead. His influence was very great in Christian (heretical) circles. Cf. E. R. A. Seligman, “Robert Owen and the Christian Socialists,” Political Science Quarterly, I, No. 2 (1886). A detailed account of his socialist ideas is J. F. C. Harrison, Quest for the New Moral World: Robert Owen and the Owenites in Britain and America(New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969).
  66. Henry J. Silverman (ed.), American Radical Thought: The Libertarian Tradition(Lexington, Massachusetts: Heath, 1970), p. 148.
  67. Charles Kingsley, Letters and Memories of his Life, II, p. 250; cited by Harry W. Laidler, A History of Socialist Thought(New York: Crowell, 1933), p. 654.
  68. Cited in William Irvine, Apes, Angels, and Victorians: The Story of Darwin, Huxley, and Evolution(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1955), p. 142.
  69. Cited by Talbot W. Chalmers, “The Inaugural Address of Professor Briggs,” Presbyterian and Reformed Review, II (1891), p. 31.
  70. Maurice to Kingsley, Dec. 10, 1847; The Life of Frederick Denison Maurice, edited by Frederick Maurice, 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1884), I, pp. 446-47.
  71. On their crucial influence in English socialism, see Laidler, History, pp. 652-62. Laidler was Executive Director of the League for Industrial Democracy. In 1910, Laidler became the first paid organizer of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS). The LID was the successor (1921) of the ISS, founded in 1905 by such luminaries as novelists Jack London and Upton Sinclair, lawyer Clarence Darrow (later of the Scopes “monkey trial” fame), and the elderly Thomas Wentworth Higgenson, one of the original Secret Six who had financed John Brown in the years before the Civil War. Cf. Otto J. Scott, The Secret Six: John Brown and the Abolitionist Movement(New York: Times Books, 1979). On the ISS, see Rose Martin, Fabian Freeway: High Road to Socialism in the U.S.A., 1884-1966 (Chicago: Heritage Foundation, 1966), ch. 13. On the LID, see ibid., pp. 190-93; chaps. 15, 16.
  72. On the European Revolutions of 1848, see Jean Sigmann, 1848: The Romantic and Democratic Revolutions in Europe(New York: Harper & Row, [1970] 1979); Theodore S. Hamerow,Restoration, Revolution, Reaction: Economics and Politics in Germany, 1815-1871 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1958), Part 2; Frank Eyck (ed.), The Revolutions of 1848-49(New York: Barnes & Noble, 1972); Geoffrey Bruun (ed.), Revolution and Reaction, 1848-1852: A Mid-Century Watershed (Princeton, New Jersey: Van Nostrand, 1958). Three primary source documents of great importance are Alexis de Tocqueville, Recollections (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1970); Karl Marx, “The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850” (1850), in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, 3 vols. (Moscow: Progress Publishers, [1969] 1977), I, pp. 206-99; Frederick Engels, “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany” (1852), ibid., I, pp. 300-87. See Oscar J. Hammen, The Red ’48ers: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969).
  73. Charles E. Raven, Christian Socialism, Eighteen Forty-Eight to Eighteen Fifty-Four(New York: Kelley, [1920] 1968).
  74. Cited by Walter E. Houghton, The Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870(New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, [1957] 1964), p. 35n.
  75. Charles Howard Hopkins, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1865-1915(New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1940); cf. Singer, The Unholy Alliance. Singer’s study picks up where Hopkins’ leaves off. It traces the history of the Federal Council of Churches and its successor, the National Council of Churches.
  76. American Fundamentalism collapsed as a social and intellectual force immediately after the Scopes trial of 1925. George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925(New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), ch. 21.
  77. The Christian Centuryand Christianity Today are the respective journalistic organs.
  78. See Chapter 14, above.
  79. J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism(New York: Macmillan, 1923). Reprinted by William B. Eerdmans Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  80. See Gary North, Rotten Wood: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church(Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1994), Part 2. I want to dissent from George Marsden’s identification of Machen as “the foremost spokesperson for the fundamentalist coalition.” George M. Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1991), p. 182. Throughout his career, Machen remained a spokesman; the androgynous creatures known as “spokespersons” appeared on the scene quite late in the twentieth century, and then only in liberal circles, neo-evangelical circles, and liberal-certified, guilt-ridden, academic Reformed circles.
  81. The successful strategy of three dedicated conservative men to win back the 12-million member Southern Baptist Convention, a strategy begun in the mid-1970’s, is the one major exception to this process of infiltration. By 1991, the reconquest by the Bible-believers was virtually complete in the Convention and had begun tentatively in the Convention-sponsored seminaries and colleges. The “moderate” faction, as the press invariably refers to it — a hard core of theological liberals surrounded by a larger group of stand-patters and confrontation-avoiders — formed a new association in the spring of 1991. It then faced the most terrifying of all prospects in the world of theological liberalism: having to fund its own operations without the enormous financial contributions of the traditionally complacent conservatives.

The other exception has been inconclusive: the conservatives’ triumph in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, in the early 1970’s. On the early successes of the conservative wing, see Kurt E. Marquart,Anatomy of an Explosion: A Theological Analysis of the Missouri Synod Conflict (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1977). The battle is still going on. The conservatives elected a representative to head the church by about a dozen votes out of a thousand cast at the General Synod of 1992. So far, he has refused to denounce the denomination’s liberals or thwart them publicly.

  1. The classic case is Fuller Theological Seminary. George Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1987).
  2. Richard Quebedeaux, The Worldly Evangelicals(New York: Harper & Row, 1978).
  3. The most rigorous criticism of the neo-evangelical movement that I have read is Cornelius Van Til’s 75-page, single-spaced essay, “The New Evangelicalism” (1960?), which he released in an uncopyrighted, mimeographed form to his students.
  4. Ronald Nash, The New Evangelicalism(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1963), p. 155. It is not surprising that Eerdmans published this book, since Eerdmans was then drifting toward what it is today: the most prominent of the borderline publishing houses — neo-evanglical and neo-orthodox.
  5. Idem.
  6. The careers of Edward J. Carnell and Bernard Ramm are excellent examples of this process. So are InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and IV Press, Wheaton College, and Christianity Today. Cf. Gary North, “Drifting Along With Christianity Today,” Journal of Christian Reconstruction, II (Winter 1975-76).
  7. World(June 3, 1989), p. 9.
  8. A personal example: In 1983, I was invited by Robert Clouse to participate in a four-way symposium-debate on the Bible and economics. This symposium was published by InterVarsity Press in 1984:Wealth and Poverty: Four Christian Views of Economics, edited by Clouse. My essay led off the symposium, and I was my usual confrontational self in strongly criticizing each of the other three authors: a “down on the farm” communal socialist, a Keynesian, and an advocate of socialist central planning. These were intellectually bankrupt positions, both biblically and academically, and I said so as clearly as I could. This, of course, is not considered good form in American academia, although it is common in British academia. The next year, InterVarsity pulled the book off the market, despite the editor’s opinion that it had been selling reasonably well. He expressed surprise to me that it had been unceremoniously dumped at 25 cents per copy. (I had bought all of them.) He had edited several other such symposia for InterVarsity, and none of them had been pulled off the market while still in print, he wrote to me. But I would have been astounded had this one not been suppressed. Neo-evangelical intellectuals are not used to direct confrontation from scholars who believe that the Bible is infallible and still judicially binding today. Also, they do not want their more conservative followers to see just how far they have drifted away from the authority of the Bible, as revealed in its moral absolutes.
  9. Ronald Nash, Social Justice and the Christian Church(Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, 1983); Poverty and Wealth: The Christian Debate Over Capitalism (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway, 1986); and Nash (ed.), Liberation Theology (Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, 1984).
  10. “The IEA/ROPER Center Theology Faculty Survey,” This World, No. 1 (Summer 1982), pp. 28-108.
  11. For evidence of this drift, see the essays by Timothy Keller and John R. Muether in the Westminster faculty symposium, Theonomy: A Reformed Critique(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Academie, 1990), edited by W. Robert Godfrey and William S. Barker. For critical responses, see Gary North, Westminster’s Confession: The Abandonment of Van Til’s Legacy (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991); Greg L. Bahnsen, No Other Standard: Theonomy and Its Critics (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991); and Theonomy: An Informed Response, edited by Gary North (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991).
  12. The old rhetorical question — “Can’t a theological conservative be a political liberal?” — should be answered as follows: “Occasionally, we do hear of such people, since some people are intellectually schizophrenic.” Not many people can rationally favor the modern welfare State if they also firmly believe that Paul’s words were inspired by God when he wrote: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (II Thess. 3:10). It is mainly Christian college professors and seminary professors who hold such contradictory views.
  13. For evidence of the theological drift toward liberalism within the major evangelical colleges, see James Davison Hunter, Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation(University of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 165-80.
  14. “Religious Teachings on Economics,” This World, No. 2 (Winter/Spring 1982), pp. 7-69.
  15. Judy Shelton, The Coming Soviet Crash: Gorbachev’s Desperate Pursuit of Credit in Western Financial Markets(New York: Free Press, 1989).
  16. Santiago Alvarez, “Towards an Alliance of Communists and Catholics,” World Marxist Review, VIII (June 1965); Walter Hollitscer, “Dialogue Between Marxists and Catholics,” Ibid., VIII (August 1965); Kevin Devlin, “The Catholic-Communist `Dialogue’,’ Problems in Communism(May/June 1966); Charles Andras, “The Christian-Marxist Dialogue,” East Europe (March 1968).
  17. See Malachi Martin, The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Church(New York: Simon & Schuster Touchstone, 1988), Part III. On the immediate transformation of the American Jesuit order, see Garry Wills, Bare Ruined Choirs: Doubt, Prophecy and Radical Religion (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1972), ch. 10.
  18. Joaquin Saenz Arriaga, The New Post-Conciliar or Montinian Church(La Habra, California: Lucidi, [1971] 1985). The author was a Jesuit priest, holding doctorates in theology, canon law, and philosophy. For having written this book, he was excommunicated, although the translator says that this was done by a bishop without jurisdiction who did not call a tribunal to hear the case. The author died in 1976.
  19. Radical theologian Thomas Dean uses autobiography to trace the dialogue movement to the death of God school: Dean, Post-Theistic Thinking: The Marxist-Christian Dialogue in Radical Perspective(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1975), p. xi. Dean was co-editor (with John C. Raines) of Marxism and Radical Religion: Essays Toward a Revolutionary Humanism (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1970).
  20. Paul Oestreicher, “Introduction: Dialogue in Hope,” in Oestreicher (ed.), The Christian Marxist Dialogue: An International Symposium(New York: Macmillan, 1969), p. 1.
  21. Herbert Aptheker, The Urgency of Marxist-Christian Dialogue(New York: Harper & Row, 1970).
  22. Roger Garaudy, Karl Marx: The Evolution of His Thought(New York: International Publishers, [1964] 1967). International Publishers is the primary Communist publishing house in the U.S., which also publishes the Collected Works of Marx and Engels, a large set which was typeset in the now-defunct Soviet Union. Ironically, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 before the Communists could get all of Marx’s works translated into English and published.
  23. Le Monde(May 5-11, 1966). Cited by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technotronic Era (New York: Viking, 1970), p. 87n.
  24. Roger Garaudy, The Crisis in Communism: The Turning-Point of Socialism(New York: Grove Press, [1969] 1970), p. 253.
  25. Roger Garaudy, The Alternative Future: A Vision of Christian Marxism(New York: Simon & Schuster, [1972] 1974), p. 53.
  26. Ibid., p. 145.
  27. Russell B. Norris, God, Marx, and the Future: Dialogue With Roger Garaudy(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974). The book is not a dialogue with Garaudy; it is an insufferably boring book that reads like a doctoral dissertation, and a mediocre one at that.
  28. On liberation theology, see Chapter 14, above, subsection: “The Theology of the Poor; or, Poor Theology.”
  29. Paul Craig Roberts and Karen LaFollette, Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy(Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 1991).
  30. Barrington Moore, Jr., Terror and Progress — USSR: Some Sources of Change and Stability in the Soviet Dictatorship(New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1954).
  31. Zhores Medvedev and Roy Medvedev, A Question of Madness(New York: Vintage, 1971); Sidney Rich and Peter Reddaway, Psychiatric Terror: How Soviet Psychiatry Is Used to Suppress Dissent (New York: Basic Books, 1977).
  32. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, 3 vols. (New York: Harper & Row, 1974-78); Dina Kaminskaya, Final Judgment: My Life as a Soviet Defense Attorney(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982).
  33. Konstantin Simis, USSR: The Corrupt Society — the Secret World of Soviet Capitalism(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982).
  34. G. Warren Nutter, the Strange World of Ivan Ivanov(New York: Morrow, 1969); David K. Wills, KLASS: How Russians Really Live (New York: St. Martins, 1985); Michael Volensky,Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1984).
  35. Leopold Tyrmand, The Rosa Luxemburg Contraceptives Cooperative: A Primer on Soviet Civilization(New York: Macmillan, 1972).
  36. Freda Utley, Lost Illusion(Philadelphia: Fireside Press, 1948); Wolfgang Leonard, Child of the Revolution (Chicago: Regnery, 1967) — German edition, 1955.
  37. A list of English-language titles by people who had been victims in Soviet concentration camps appears in Eugene Lyons, Worker’s Paradise Lost: Fifty Years of Soviet Communism: A Balance Sheet(New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1967), pp. 333-34. This literature has continued to grow: Alexander Dolgun, Alexander Dolgun’s Story: An American in the Gulag(New York: Knopf, 1975); Vladimir Bukovsky, To Build a Castle — My Life as a Dissenter (New York: Viking Press, 1977); Victor Herman, Coming Out of The Ice: An Unexpected Life (2nd ed.; Oklahoma City: Freedom Press, 1984).Coming Out of the Ice is a movie based on this book.
  38. Eugene Lyons, Assignment in Utopia(Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, [1937] 1971); Worker’s Paradise Lostop. cit. Lyons’ highly critical study of American Communism, The Red Decade, published in 1941 by Bobbs-Merrill, immediately went out of print and remained out of print until the conservative publishing firm Arlington House reprinted it in 1971.
  39. Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. This helped his later revelations penetrate the intellectuals’ consciousness.
  40. Paul Craig Roberts, Alienation and the Soviet Economy: Toward a General Theory of Marxian Alienation, Organizational Principles, and the Soviet Economy(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1971). This is a minor university press, and the author was at the time a faculty member at the UNM. Cf. Marshall I. Goldman, USSR in Crisis: The Failure of an Economic System (New York: Norton, 1983).
  41. Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims: Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba, 1928-1978(New York: Oxford University Press, 1981). This is an old tradition: Sylvia R. Margulies, The Pilgrimage to Russia: The Soviet Union and the Treatment of Foreigners, 1924-1927 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968).
  42. Malcolm Muggeridge, Chronicles of Wasted Time: Chronicle I: The Green Stick(New York: Morrow, 1973), pp. 243-45.
  43. Arch Puddington, Failed Utopias: Methods of Coercion in Communist Regimes(San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1988).
  44. Mark Skousen, Economics on Trial: Lies, Myths, and Realities(Homewood, Illinois: Business One Irwin, 1991), p. 47.
  45. Paul Samuelson and William Nordhaus, Economics(13th ed.; New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989), p. 837; cited in Skousen, ibid., p. 208.
  46. Michael Kramer, “The Gorbachev Touch,” Time(Jan. 1, 1990), p. 54.
  47. In 1992, Gorbachev became the director of his own non-profit, internationally financed research institute, the Gorbachev Foundation, whose U.S. headquarters have been located in the Presidio since 1993. The Presidio is a recently privatized U.S. military fortress located for over two centuries in San Francisco. So, the man who had headed the Soviet Union’s military empire was allowed in less than two years to set up shop in a former U.S. Army base. In 1993, he was appointed director of the Green Cross, a propaganda organization promoting world economic planning for the sake of the environment.
  48. Peter Schweitzer, Victory(New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994).
  49. Gary North, The Dominion Covenant: Genesis(2nd ed.; Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1987), pp. 297-318. Cf. Sidney Fine, Laissez Faire and the General Welfare State: A Study of Conflict in American Thought, 1865-1901 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 1956), ch. 8.
  50. The trial of Henry Preserved Smith in 1894 was the last successful prosecution of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (northern) of a heretic. Union Theological Seminary (New York) professor A. C. McGiffert resigned from the Presbyterian ministry in 1900 to prevent another successful trial.
  51. This was frankly admitted by the millionaire socialist-economist and best-selling textbook author Robert Heilbroner: “Reflections: After Communism,” The New Yorker(Sept. 10, 1990), pp. 99-100.
  52. A collapse of Western banking, a government-created and government-regulated oligopoly, could revive a non-Marxist version of socialism.                                                                                                                                                                                                                See more from Dr. Gary North at http://www.garynorth.com and http://www.teapartyeconomist.com
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