Following its 100th anniversary, Communism is experiencing a public relations boon, and it has just recruited its most significant Spokesman: Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Jesus (Who, one must assume, was not consulted on the sponsorship) is said to have been the first and most vociferous Scourge of free enterprise and Advocate of socialist economics.
This is precisely the argument made in France by Falk Van Gaver in his new book Christianity vs. Capitalism: The Economy According to Jesus Christ. Perhaps Van Gaver’s atheism has removed any need for accuracy, or released him from the restraints of the commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Christophe Foltzenlogel, a jurist at the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) who is based in France, first allows Van Gaver to make his argument before critiquing it in a new essay published today at Religion & Liberty Transatlantic.
In a recent interview with a French publication, Foltzenlogel writes, Van Gaver said:
“Since having lost faith, I am today, in the strict sense, atheist, a-thée, ‘without god.’” Nonetheless, he accused all churches – but especially the Roman Catholic Church – of having perverted Christianity by participating in the free market. “[A]uthentic Christianity,” he said, demands the “radical rejection of money: authentic Christianity is absolutely incompatible with capitalism.” Instead, “Communism, that is to say, the division of goods, in the sense of the pooling of goods, is for the authentic Christian, at least in original Christianity, an obligation … Communism is the increase of the search for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!”
How does one come to this conclusion about a political and economic system that disregarded all ethics, mercilessly persecuted the Christian faith and other religious traditions, and killed an estimated 100 million people in a century? Reading his comments, I was instantly reminded of the wiser judgment of Pope Pius XI in one of the foundational documents of Catholic social teaching, Quadragesimo Anno. “Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms,” he wrote. “No one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”
Foltzenlogel explains Van Gaver’s argument, which is proving all-too-persuasive in Europe. Then using reason, history, and sound Biblical exegesis (the “Christian socialists” have a yen for twisting Acts 5:1-11), Foltzenlogel demonstrates the incompatibility of socialism and Christianity in both a philosophical and practical level. He writes:
Capitalism is a very broad term in its use today. But from its etymology, it derives from “head” (caput) and simply means an amount you have amassed, a capital. Seeking to acquire goods and increase this capital through private enterprise is the essence of capitalism. God commanded mankind to respect each person’s private property. Reason shows by necessity and nature that each man – who comes into and leaves this world naked – must be entitled to gain and possess the building blocks of life. Furthermore, God gave adults the responsibility of raising and caring for their children. How could man not be entitled to run a business, to make money by selling his products, and to accrue money for his children and his retirement?
(Photo credit: James Shepard. This photo has been cropped. CC BY 2.0.)