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As editor-in-chief for Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice (PCPJ), I’ve had the privilege of writing for The Christian Post a couple of times. My first article summarized the vision of Holy Spirit Activism and PCPJ: Pentecostals should promote peace and justice. In the article, I specified justice as “social justice”, since I wasn’t talking about legal justice.
That triggered some people.
The comment section was filled with things like “social justice is a code word for socialism”, “social justice is anti-American”, “the Bible talks about justice, but not social justice”. Most who wrote this were American Christians. For some reason, when they see the word social justice they act as if somebody has said “Heil Hitler”. They are incredibly upset and argue that we should stop using that term.
The other day a friend sent me this article, written by Swedish economist Paul Segerstrom, about “what the Bible teach about economics”. The title should rather have been “Why capitalism rocks and communism sucks, and here’s some Bible quotes to prove my point”. It isn’t well written and it is using very weak arguments. I still want to comment it though, since it is an oppurtunity for me to share what I think about capitalism vs communism (hint: I think the Kingdom is better than both of them).
In summary, Segerstrom is saying that the Old Testament is teaching great respect for private property, especially in the tenth commandment (“you shall not covet… anything that belongs to your neighbor” – Ex 20:17). The Old and New Testament is a unity and both Paul and Jesus were teaching about the ten commandments, thus they also defended private property. Of course, we should be generous in charitable giving to the poor, Segerstrom is careful to emphasise this – still he doesn’t like equality but says that good ol’ Abraham proves that we can and should be richer than others.
Segerstrom is stating several times that some Bible verses indeed can be used to support socialism “if taken out of their context”. However, he is not commenting any of them. He’s not even mentioning the community of goods in Acts 2 and 4, something you would expect from a real study about “what the Bible says about economics”. It gets really awkward in the section “What does Jesus teach about economics?” (p. 13) where Segerstrom quotes Matthew 19:18-19 to show that Jesus wants us to follow the ten commandments, but doesn’t even mention verse 21 in the same chapter where Jesus is commanding the rich man to sell everything he has and give to the poor – nor any other of Jesus’ countless economic teachings!