Ron Sider has been at the forefront of the so-called Christian Socialist movement since the publication of his 1977 book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. (For a devastating critique of Sider’s book that Sider never answered in any of his reprint editions, see David Chilton’s Productive Christians and an Age of Guilt-Manipulators.)
Sider has currently entered the debate over the budget, tax increases, government spending, and deficits. He has criticized President Obama’s budget “for only increasing taxes on families who make more than $250,000 per year. “That’s ridiculous,” Sider said. “If we’re going to solve the budget deficit, people earning less than that are going to have to pay some more taxes.”
Sider still believes that “Government has a role to play in overcoming poverty.” By “role,” Sider means control. A free economy helps the poor while a controlled economy makes the poor poorer and more of them. Governments can create an equal society by making everybody poor. We see modern-day examples in North Korea and Cuba.
Since the implementation of the legislative agenda of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” that we were assured would eliminate poverty, poverty has increased. More of the same will not solve the underlying factors that create and perpetuate poverty.
Ron Sider says that God is on the side of the poor. God is on the side of the righteous whether they are rich or poor. Abraham and Job were rich as was Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:57). The poor can be just as envious and covetous as the rich. The rich can squander their money, and the poor can refuse to work. In a free economy, prosperity abounds. Those who are unable to work can be taken care of through churches, private foundations, and charitable organizations.
Sider believes that caring for the poor is a mandate for wealth redistribution. Caring for the poor is a biblical mandate, but using the State as the means to level incomes to accomplish this is the religion of Baalism. James B. Jordan writes that Baalism “is statism, the absolute rule of man over other men by means of force. . . . [T]he essence of Baalism as a philosophy is the belief that Nature is ultimate, and that man is the stimulator and thus the ruler of Nature. This also means that man is the stimulator and ruler of other men, since they are a part of Nature.”1 To base government programs like welfare, food stamps, and Social Security on Matthew 25:31–46, like liberal Christians often do, is without foundation. Governments don’t visit people in prison; private citizens do. Governments put people in prison; private citizens do not. Governments can’t legitimately be charitable and magnanimous with other people’s money.
Civil governments are the biggest obstacles in helping the poor, and it’s not because they don’t tax enough and redistribute wealth efficiently. High taxes and control of the money supply (inflation/deflation) enable civil governments to control people and their property. A ten percent tax is a sign of tyranny (1 Sam. 8:15), and yet Christians like Ron Sider believe that higher taxes help the poor. It was a taxing policy by Rome that forced Mary and Joseph to leave their stable home environment, Joseph’s job, and to spend money they probably did not have in order to register for a government taxing program (Luke 2:1–7). Wealth redistribution policies, with all their good intentions, hurt the poor and make them dependent on civil government — forever.
- James B. Jordan, Judges: God’s War Against Humanism (Tyler, TX: Geneva Ministries, 1985), 113. [↩]