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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Heaven doesn't need socialism, and neither do we

Pat Robertson, in his latest public statement, will surely raise some eyebrows amongst Christians.

The veteran evangelist, who ran to be the Republican nominee for President in 1988, says that a little dab of socialism will do ya:

"What the Lord was saying, the people are willing to accept socialism to alleviate their pain," Robertson said on a broadcast of "The 700 Club." Robertson hosts the program, which is aired from the Christian Broadcasting Network studios in Virginia Beach.

....Cast off the gloom and the doom because things are getting ready to turn around," he said. "I’m flying in the face of all of the experts or most of the experts who say, ’Oh no, no, no, it’s going to get worse,’ but I don’t think so."

....Robertson said on New Year’s Day that "nothing will stand in the way of a plan by Obama to restructure the economy in the same fashion as the New Deal in the ’30s," according to videotaped comments aired on Friday’s show.

The New Deal consisted of economic initiatives, such as publicly funded job programs, that Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted during the Great Depression.

Robertson said on Friday that with a New Deal-style initiative, "you’re federalizing many of the things you’re doing. And it’ll be the largest transfer of power to Washington since the ’30s, but people are just willing to accept it because the pain has been so bad."

Mr. Robertson adds that he hopes that he has heard from the Lord. I advise new batteries for his spiritual hearing aid.

You can argue that the Bible, as a casual reading of it would attest, is friendly to free market economics and laissez-faire solutions to social problems. Many conservative Christians have written books attempting to explain this. I would hazard a guess that, as a Republican, Mr. Robertson would be familiar with such arguments. So, if I were he, I would be puzzled to hear that "the Lord", is suggesting that growing socialism will lead to an economic recovery, as it contradicts what many of his conservative friends suggest that the Bible seems to say.

Even if you discount what The Bible may teach on economic matters, there are several books that argue that the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression. Murray Rothbard's book comes to mind.  Burton W. Folsom Jr.'s New Deal or Raw Deal? is on bookstore shelves now. Or Mr. Robertson could refer to a study by two UCLA professors which found that FDR's economic policies "prolonged Depression by 7 years".

I would wonder how "moral" it would be to endorse economic policies shown to cause pain, not alleviate it. Perhaps Mr. Robertson would care to illuminate this for us, but the Bible verse referring to seeing "through a glass darkly" comes to my mind at the moment.

Posted by Rick Hiebert on January 6, 2009 in Religion | Permalink


Socialism is a religion itself with its tenets being wealth redistribution, denial of natural law and personal responsibility and accountability along with the state (elitists) knows best what is good for you.

Judaeo-Christian values teach that it is better to teach a person to fish than to give him a fish. They also stress personal responsibility and accountability and personal charity.

All attempts to marry the two result in the destruction of Judaeo-Christian values and beliefs and the promotion of the religion of socialism. Any doubts, just take a good look at the West to-day.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-01-06 2:58:18 PM

Just one quibble. I would suggest that the transfer of power started with Hoover and not FDR. Contrary to popular opinion, Hoover was a "progressive" who championned and executed policies such as preventing wages from falling (causing insanely high unemployment), massive public works projects (which he subsequently had to raise income taxes to pay for and destroyed what was left of the economy), huge subsidies to farmers (which aggravated the problem of falling prices), and raised tariffs (which caused yet more unemployment). So in effect, the New Deal really started with Hoover, FDR simply expanded on the idea.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-01-06 3:09:12 PM

Alain for Prime Minister!
You're dead right.

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-06 3:19:06 PM

Right on, Rick!

Although, perversely, the fastest way to heaven is, in fact, socialism. Just ask the 94 million innocent people murdered under communism.

Robertson is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-01-06 3:44:49 PM

JC, thanks for the vote of confidence but I would not do well in politics, since I am unwilling to go with the flow (polls). There are many others with more patience who could do the job.

I once got talked into running for a director position in our regional district and quickly discovered that most people do not want to hear facts or policy explained. That was enough for me and a good learning lesson.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-01-06 4:25:21 PM

Moral people do not seek to alleviate pain and suffering. They seek to achieve happiness. The alleviation of pain is not happiness, it is numbness: the state of the dead. Socialism promises to relieve one of the pain of life...by killing one.

Capitalism, in contrast, makes it possible for one to earn the spiritual and material values upon which the attainment of happiness depends. Socialism takes those values, leaving both the host and the parasite, ultimately, dead.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2009-01-06 5:24:08 PM

But the alleviation of pain, Paul, is a step in the direction of happiness. To get to Rome, you'll have to travel through, say, Paris. There's nothing wrong with setting an intermediary goal on the way to an ultimate goal. We might consider the alleviation of pain and suffering just such an intermediary goal.

That means that, on your view, moral people really ought to seek to alleviate pain and suffering, just not as an ultimate end.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-01-06 5:39:24 PM

It is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.

Samuel Adams

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-06 5:43:52 PM

I can't add anything and still sound smart. I will say Alain is indeed dead right.

Posted by: TM | 2009-01-06 6:05:31 PM

Peter wrote: "But the alleviation of pain, Paul, is a step in the direction of happiness...That means that, on your view, moral people really ought to seek to alleviate pain and suffering, just not as an ultimate end."

Au contraire. Pain is the stairway to happiness. At its base is my Dreamtime recliner. The choice is either to drift-off into the numbness of death, or to rise to the occasion.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2009-01-06 6:41:24 PM

Odd. Some of my response was lost. Here it is again, in full.

Peter wrote: "But the alleviation of pain, Paul, is a step in the direction of happiness...That means that, on your view, moral people really ought to seek to alleviate pain and suffering, just not as an ultimate end."

Au contraire. To join my wife in bed, I must climb a very long staircase. Pain is the stairway to happiness. At its base is my Dreamtime recliner. The choice, each night, is either to drift-off painlessly into the numbness of death, or to rise to the occasion.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2009-01-06 6:43:38 PM

Oh, Paul, do you intentionally misunderstand my point?

The alleviation of pain that is not instrumental to happiness, but is actually a detriment to it; pain that is not required as a means to the end of happiness; pain that is merely suffering, with no good outcomes as a result, is the pain that ought to be alleviated on the way to happiness.

Come on, deal with the objection adequately. Pain is bad. If it is *required* to attain some good or goal that you value more than the disvalue of the pain, then that's fine. But take pain that does not lead to happiness, but is a detriment to it, *all things considered*, is (obviously) what was meant.

If the alleviation of pain was the sole, ultimate goal, then I agree that that is a poor goal for exactly the reason you point out. The objection to negative utilitarianism (or what I like to call "antidisutilitarianism") just is to, uhm, die. But there is no point in feeling pain for the sake of feeling pain, and there are types of pain that make acting on your values either impossible, or extremely difficult. Agreed?

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-01-06 6:49:44 PM

Good one Paul. We (men) are rather simple creatures aren't we? We really only need two things in life. One of then, food, we can do without for quite some time.

Posted by: TM | 2009-01-06 6:51:08 PM

Peter wrote: "Oh, Paul, do you intentionally misunderstand my point?"

Of course not. In part, I was having fun. But, more usefully, I was demonstrating the falsity of your point that "...To get to Rome, you'll have to travel through, say, Paris." Numbness is not always a point through which one passes between points of pain and pleasure. One might be travelling from Moscow.

The other thing is that, if we want to be precise pain and pleasure are physical, not emotional, whereas happiness is emotional, not physical. Happiness' opposite is, perhaps best described as sadness. For that reason, great pain might very well accompany great happiness (e.g., winning a boxing match), such that the idea of a continuum between pain and happiness is actually flawed from the get-go, and such that, therefore, there is no point is speaking about the alleviation of pain as a step toward happiness.

The issue of whether "pain is bad" is a separate one. I agree it is bad, and I think it's just fine to take an Ibuprofen for a headache, for example...or even to be temporarily whacked-out on opiates during a time of recovery from severe physical injury.

The issue of whether sadness is better than un-sadness is a question of emotion, not of physical discomfort. My view on that is that it is utterly wrong to make the alleviation of sadness a goal, or to make it ones purpose; that, if one does what one morally ought to do - pursue happiness - one will thereby be alleviating sadness.

The psychology of seeking unsadness has the same philosophical root as, for example, seeking to avoid failure rather than seeking to achieve success in academics. The latter sort of folk earn self-esteem, the former typically have very low self-esteem. In each case the difference is: Is one engaged in the production of values, or is one trying to obtain values without earning them? Hence difference between capitalism and socialism, between the competent and the wilfully incompent, between the virtuous and the vicious, between the happy and the unsad, between man and zombie.

Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2009-01-07 6:23:21 AM

Actually, Rick, free-market capitalism is what has brought such a high standard of living and so much choice to America and other Westernized countries. The pain comes not from the free market per-se but during the changeover from a rural, agricultural economy to an urban industrial one. Of course, sustenance farming isn't exactly pain-free in itself, is it?

Capitalism is like life. If you proceed modestly and prudently, you're unlikely to achieve spectacular results but have an excellent chance of achieving respectable ones. Overextending yourself in anything is bound to cause you grief sooner or later. And, of course, stockholders and CEOs have a vested interest in seeing their companies do well. Government workers that get paid regardless have decidedly less interest. They also have a tendency to strike constantly--another facet of socialism.

Let me ask you this. If socialism is the superior system, why has it failed so miserably in every country in which it has been tried? Charity is a grace, Rick. The fact that it is optional is what makes it noble. The alternative is altruism at the point of a gun.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-01-07 7:16:35 AM

Trust me, I'm no apologist for Robertson, but unless some of the context is missing I did not read his statements as any sort of endorsement of soft-socialism or any claim that it's a "Christian" system. It sounded to me like he was simply saying that, right or wrong, people are turning to socialism because they beleive it will alleviate pain. I think that's true. That's why people turn to or are willing to accept anything - because they think it will benefit them.

Stating that people are willing to accept it because they think it's good is not at all the same as saying it actually is good.

Am I missing something?

Oh, and on the whole "true Christianity is socialism" thing I must say there are no sound arguments I've ever heard in defense of that idea whatsoever. True Christianity is about peace, love forgiveness and freedom. Socialism rests entirely upon the use of violence. (And not defensive violence). If Jesus were a socialist he would've raised up an army and embarked on a massive forced-conversion campaign. That's quit clearly not the kind of "conversion" he promoted, and indeed is completely inimical to it.

Nonetheless, I didn't think Pat's statement meant he was endorsing socialism.

Posted by: Isaac | 2009-01-07 7:57:17 AM

As a Christian I find Socialism horrifying because, 1. it will lead to oppression and 2. it forces me to be charitable and then gives man the glory, oh look how we all worked together for that, if I'm charitable then GOD should get the glory, not the government or the tax payers.

Posted by: Pete | 2009-01-07 8:45:55 AM

Judeo-Christian fundamentals form the foundations of western civilization. Those fundamental precepts favor individual initiative, including charity, over socialistic redistribution strategies conceived by "man". Abraham, Moses, St. John the Baptist, St. Paul, Jesus - the examples are numerous indeed.

But another problem with socialist ideology is socialism's problem with faith itself. That is WHY socialism becomes a "religion" for the ideologue. But like Scientology, socialism usurps the individual's individuality. NOT PRETTY!

Jesus/Jehovah work BEST, frankly. Why can't people connect those dots?

God bless you all.

Posted by: Pesky Pundit | 2009-01-08 5:01:09 AM

RICK CHECK OUT THE NASTY INFIGHTING WITH THE BENTLEYS AT http://endtimespropheticwords.wordpress.com/2009/01/10/todd-bentley-letter-to-rick-joyner-on-his-marriage-ministry-and-mistress-and-fresh-fire-infighting/


Posted by: susan | 2009-01-09 8:01:08 PM

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