It’s a question I’ve addressed over and again in every one of my previous blogger incarnations, if only because it refuses to go away. More precisely, the quasi-religious advocates of “social justice” – be they cynical manipulators for whom Christianity is but another means to the end of political hegemony or the legions of their useful idiots whose faith in Christ is not so much child-like and guileless as it is childish and puerile – refuse to let it go away.
At the heart of the controversy is Jesus of Nazareth, a Galilean carpenter whose life and death are assiduously recorded in the four Gospels of the New Testament. The advocates of “social justice” (i.e., liberal statists and socialists) argue that the evangel of selflessness, compassion and love preached by Jesus comes down to us today as a commandment for government to take from those who have and distribute what was taken (minus carrying charges, or course) to those who have not – and it follows that those who oppose such redistribution to achieve social justice aren’t real Christians, but the heartless, latter-day equivalent of the temple moneychangers Jesus despised.
Thus: Jesus would impose a confiscatory tax rate on the wealthy. He would ensure that the poor an underprivileged have free healthcare and free housing. He would confess the myriad sins of the United States before the entire world and unilaterally disarm us as a sign of good faith. He would stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people against their Israeli oppressors. He would hail and uplift Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro as models of progressive populist compassion.
And so on and so forth until anyone who has actually read the New Testament has the courage to stand up and say, “Pardon the interruption, but Jesus of Nazareth would do none of these things. The Jesus you speak of remains in a grave somewhere in the environs of Jerusalem. According to the Gospels, the Jesus in whom Christians believe was God incarnate and rose from the dead. There is no comparison between the two except to say that the former is a figment of the liberal imagination.”
That I can ascertain, the closest Jesus ever came to opining on the question of taxation was this: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” In a sense, this one statement sums up everything Jesus taught. All of it can be found in the Gospels and none of it – NONE – supports anything the social justice liberals claim.
Liberals worship the world and deify the State. Christians worship God and understand that the kingdom spoken of by Jesus is NOT of the State or of this world.
Liberals claim that Jesus of Nazareth’s commandment to love one another means that the State must act on his behalf to do what he commands and wring “charity” out of every individual for the collective good. Christians understand that charity comes only from individual volition and that Jesus never once admonished his followers or the government to forcibly take from some so that others may have food and shelter.
And what of the other issues? Christians understand that Jesus would simply shake his head, as if unable to comprehend just how dense and stupid we are. He came to redeem humanity, not to take sides in its petty squabbles. He claimed to be the way, the truth and the light – the life and the resurrection – and avoided the role of a partisan hack.
Who would Jesus tax? No one. After telling them to render to the world what belongs to the world, he would instruct all to love one another as he loves them and render to God what belongs to God – none of which involves coercion or governmental theft.