Good News to the Poor Pt. 13: the Morality of Property

but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
        and no one shall make them afraid,
        for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
(Micah 4:4 ESV)

Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his essay “As Breathing and Consciousness Return” wisely noted that “In no socialist doctrine, however, are moral demands seen as the essence of socialism–there is merely a promise that morality will fall like manna from heaven after the socialization of property” (12).

Here again we see in socialism the direct contradiction of the Biblical worldview. Not only does Jesus state plainly that evil comes from within the hearts of man, from a Biblical and prophetic perspective private property is actually a good thing. The incarnation itself is the sanctification of stuff–we are not gnostics who believe matter is evil. In Jesus God took matter into himself.

Beyond that–though that is our central doctrine–every Christian who would be wooed by socialism should note that the promises of the resurrection, of the new heaven and new earth, do not offer us a socialist utopia of holding all things in common; rather, we are promised full ownership. Each man sits under his own vine. God is a generous Lord who shares freely.

In fact, in Revelation the one who overcomes is promised a stone with a new name that no one knows but that person. When someone knows your name they have some claim to you and your identity. Jesus promises the overcomer total self ownership–freedom from every external control and authority. Property, ownership, freedom–these are good things or they would not be included in the promise of the resurrection. These are part of the “good news to the poor.” In the end the captive will be liberated and the poor will own his own garden–his own means of production–and there will be no need to fear that anyone will ever take it.

This does not mean that we are currently to embrace the Capitalist moral imperative of self interest. Right now everything we have is God’s. When Jesus taught about giving he said plainly that those who are not faithful with that which belongs to another should not expect to receive anything of their own. Our worldly wealth belongs to God, and our faithfulness or unfaithfulness in its use affects us in eternity.

Furthermore, in the end–after the resurrection–we will not be greedy grasping self promoting capitalists. Every man will sit in his own garden without fear precisely because when we see Him we will be like Him. No one will take what is ours, but we who are fully in His image will be totally generous and self giving people. In fact, one reason property is morally important rests in the reality that we cannot give what we do not have, and at the center of all reality is the God who is love that freely gives. We are destined to be people in his image who do the same.

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. “As Breathing and Consciousness Return.” From Under the

Rubble. New York: Bantam, 1976. 1-23. Print.


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