Darrow Miller and Friends

Jesus, Socialism, and Michael Youssef

Generally, it seems, it is evangelical Christians who are accused of politicizing faith. “Religion should be private” is often heard from those who object when Christ-followers seek to bring biblical principles to the public square.

But as Egyptian-born social anthropologist Michael Youssef demonstrates in a recent post,  Keep Jesus Out of Your Socialism, the road between political theory and matters of faith runs both directions.

To use the name of Christ to advance a socialist ideology is to abuse His name. Jesus is Lord and Savior. His Kingdom is not of this world. He left the glories of heaven to be crucified, to rise again, to conquer hell and the grave—not to become a mascot for a worldly political movement.

Let’s be honest, all human beings have faith, even atheists who deny God’s existence. And the object of their faith drives their understanding of all things, including their political bents.

– Gary Brumbelow

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Gary is the Disciple Nations Alliance editorial manager. He manages Darrow Miller and Friends and serves as editor and co-writer on various book projects. For eight years Gary served as a cross-cultural church planting missionary among First Nations people of Canada. His career also includes 14 years as executive director of InterAct Ministries, an Oregon-based church-planting organization in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Gary is a graduate of Grace University, earned an MA from Wheaton College and a Graduate Studies Diploma from Western Seminary. He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife, Valerie. They have two married sons and twelve grandchildren. In addition to his work with the DNA, Gary serves as the pastor of Troutdale Community Church.


  1. Ana Roncal

    November 12, 2011 - 8:17 am

    Hi Gary, I read this comment about socialism and Jesus and cannot but think: “and what about Jesus and capitalism?. Last year, I had a chance to be in the US and share in a couple of places in a seminar called “The USA in a crossroads”. It was very easy to see that most Americans have become so blind to the fact that the kind of economics God promotes in the Bible is actually not capitalism, and that they have made of capital an absolute, when it is actually just the means to economic development, and it must remain accesible to majorities for it to be a real mean of equity and justice. I would add to this post of yours: “… and keep Jesus out of your capitalism too”. Both, socialism and actual capitalism are absolutizations (if I can use that tern) leading to antagonism. Of course, it is very difficult for most western Christians to see where the line is, it is also difficult to answer to them “no, there’s no quick fix”. Ana Roncal

    • disciplenations

      November 16, 2011 - 2:01 pm

      Ana, thanks for your response. To some degree, we have a semantic issue in that “capitalism” has different definitions, and sometimes almost opposite connotations. For example, we hear a lot today about “crony capitalism” which is something very different from “free market capitalism.”

      I agree that any economic system, including capitalism, is imperfect. At the same time, I don’t believe that capitalism and socialism are moral/ethical equivalents, at least not in a fallen universe. Michael Novak’s The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (Madison Books: 1982, 1991) opened my eyes to the historical and theological basis from which capitalism emerged. He identifies socialism, Marxism, and liberation theology as “utopian systems.” Such ideas require people to be good. By contrast, democratic capitalism, which was born in Calvinism, acknowledges that man is sinful. Given that perspective, it builds for a system which works best in light of the reality of man’s sinfulness.

      I’m sure you are familiar with this book, but for the sake of others to whom it may be unknown, I’m offering below some direct quotations as a sampling of his take on the subject.

      Thanks again for writing!

      – Gary Brumbelow

      … if one keeps uppermost in mind the material needs of the poor, the hungry, and the oppressed, rather than one’s own state of feelings, one asks: What is the most effective, practical way of raising the wealth of nations? What causes wealth? I have come to think that the dream of democratic socialism is inferior to the dream of democratic capitalism, and that the latter’s superiority in actual practice is undeniable. (26)

      No socialist experiment has yet achieved such liberation anywhere in the world. (297)

      The Christian vocation, particularly the vocation of the layman, is to take up worldly responsibilities, to increase the wealth available to mankind, and to turn the use of such wealth to noble and Christian purposes. (259)

      There can be no doubt, however, about the main thrust of [Adam] Smith’s argument: that markets as free as possible from governmental and religious command best serve the common good. … Moralists of the past had stressed vision, goals, purposes, and motives. Smith drew attention, instead, to outcomes. He conceived of the abolition of famine, the raising up of the poor, and the banishment of material suffering from all humankind as an outcome morally to be approved of. (79)

      … it was not to the motivation or virtue of merchants and industrialists that democratic capitalism looked for the social basis of a law-abiding, dynamic, free society. It is the structure of business activities, not the intentions of businessmen, that are favorable to rule by law, to liberty, to habits of regularity and moderation, to a healthy realism, and to demonstrated social progress—demonstrably more favorable than the structures of churchly, aristocratic, or military activities. It is in the interests of businessmen to defend and to enlarge the virtues on which liberty and progress depend. (91)

  2. Martin Josten

    November 18, 2011 - 11:50 am

    The above discussion is helpful. I would add that socialism, in the UK at least, also has different connotations. Socialism here is not normally equated with Marxism, but with a moderate democratic party (The Labour Party) which has an emphasis towards serving the poor. It grew out of injustices in employment in Britain following the industrial revolution, and some of the most prominent founders (e.g. Kier Hardy, the first labour Member of Parliament) were committed Christians. Even the last Labour government here, for all its faults, was notable for sticking to a generous overseas aid policy in spite of economic recession. There are significant evangelical Christian groupings in all the main parliamentary parties, including both the Conservative (more right-wing, as in Republican) and Labour parties.

    • disciplenations

      November 18, 2011 - 1:56 pm

      Thanks for your response, Martin. Blessings to you.

      Gary Brumbelow