Social Issues (Part 9): Socialism

Social Issues

Socialism is the political ideology that a central, national government ought to oversee and control all aspects of the economy rather than leaving private businesses and individuals to conduct their business and affairs as they see fit. It is rooted in the notion that all property and wealth are to be shared and the national government is the entity which determines how they are to be shared. Of necessity, socialism demands a strong centralized government to be able to function in this way.

Those who argue in favor of socialism will often claim that it is the fairest way for a society to function economically and that it protects poorer citizens from oppression by wealthy individuals and big corporations. Many will even attempt to use the Bible in order to defend this idea (hence the reason why we are discussing it here). One alleged example of socialism that is commonly given is that of the early Christians who sold their property to share with those who were in need (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35).Continue Reading

Remember the Lawgiver

Moses and the Ten Commandments

After delivering the Israelites from Pharaoh and their bondage in Egypt, God gave them the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). These commandments served as a foundation for the rest of the law.

Yet in a sense, this foundation also had a foundation. The Ten Commandments provided the basis for the law, but the only reason the law mattered was because of the one who gave the law. So who was the lawgiver? That was God. They needed to understand this in order to appreciate the importance of the laws that were given. They were reminded of this in the “preface” to the Ten Commandments:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).

Continue Reading

Social Issues (Part 8): Nationalism

Social Issues

Before we begin, we need to be careful how we talk about nationalism because different people may have different ideas in mind when they use the term. On a fundamental level, nationalism is the desire for a nation to gain and/or maintain sovereignty (the right to rule itself without being ruled by others). In this sense it is closely associated with patriotism. These are not wrong in themselves. However, a spirit of nationalism can be dangerous when taken to an extreme, especially when it is in support of an oppressive and wicked government.

Those who argue in favor of nationalism will appeal to the people’s common language, culture, history, etc., in order to promote national unity. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. However, there are three potential dangers that could come from this: (1) a willingness to support a godless, tyrannical government/leader who is advancing the cause of the nation; (2) a willingness to rally around an immoral or unjust cause because it has been adopted by the nation as a whole; and (3) a willingness to blindly follow the direction of the leaders because of the belief that they must be doing God’s will (or that the nation as a whole can be called the people of God).Continue Reading

Social Issues (Part 7): Atheism/Humanism

Social Issues

Atheism is the belief that there is no God. Humanism, which is related to atheism, is the philosophical ideology that values human reasoning over religion and superstition. Being opposed to religion, humanism embraces secularism.

Those who argue in favor of atheism will claim that there is no evidence for the existence of God. Those who embrace atheism and humanism believe that society is better off without religion. They believe that the universe came about by chance and that we are the product of evolution. Some atheists/humanists are indifferent toward religion while others are openly antagonistic toward “people of faith.”Continue Reading

Rules for Religious Discussions

Bible Study

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

It is incumbent upon all Christians to be ready to teach others. There are many potential ways to do this. The passage above describes teaching that is done in the course of a discussion – someone “asks you.” These discussions take place in different environments – friendly or hostile, public or private, in person or online, etc. How do we make the best use of our opportunities to discuss the Scriptures with others?

On one hand, we are to “contend earnestly” (Jude 3); on the other hand we must speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We are to “demolish arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV), but “must not be quarrelsome” (2 Timothy 2:24). How do we strike the right balance? We do so by remembering some rules for religious discussions.Continue Reading

Social Issues (Part 6): Drug Abuse

Social Issues

Drug abuse is a broad topic. It includes illicit drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.), legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco), and even prescription drugs. This lesson is not about the medicinal use of drugs but the recreational use of such substances.

Those who argue in favor of recreational drug use (including “social drinking”) will often argue that as long as they remain in control and do not use these substances in excess or to the point of harming themselves or others, it is perfectly fine. As a way to justify their behavior, it is common for those who want to defend drug and alcohol use to liken it to eating unhealthy foods.Continue Reading

Social Issues (Part 5): Racism

Social Issues

Racism can take on different forms and exist in varying degrees. A milder form of racism may simply mean that one views his own race as superior to other races (or possibly over one race that has been singled out in particular). More extreme forms of racism can include hostility and even violence against others based upon their race.

Those who defend their racist views will often cite common prejudices or negative stereotypes as the basis for looking down upon a particular race. Personal anecdotes are often used to support one’s racism (a negative experience with one person can be used to portray everyone of that race in the same light). Some will even use the Bible (more accurately, they will misuse it) to argue in favor of racism – for example, since Ham’s descendants were cursed (Genesis 9:22-27), those who descended from Ham are to be viewed as cursed as well.Continue Reading