I was surprised to read that John Piper weighed in on the political discussion (especially on a ministry blog!) writing "Now Socialism as I understand it (and I don’t know much about it)..." He goes on to offer his ill-informed opinion to suggest why Christians shouldn't vote for Bernie Sanders? Piper admits that what Sanders has on his agenda aligns well with what Christians are called to do, saying "Socialism borrows the compassionate aims of Christianity in meeting people’s needs." But then he mixes in some fear-provoking language that suggests that there will be no private property rights, imprisonment for those who don't obey the state, and some other kooky ideas that our constitution clearly prevents but voters seem to forget when engrossed in fear.
Piper would be well advised to Google the difference between his desk dictionary's definition of Socialism and what Sanders claims to be, a Democratic Socialist. We will not -- and legally cannot -- become just like Denmark (a constitutional monarchy with a population size smaller than New York City). He might even read some history lessons on how socialist programs and ideas have been a part of our American Democracy since its early years. Does Piper realize that just because Sanders gets elected, we don't lose our constitution nor do we suddenly cease to be the world's greatest breeding ground for capitalists? That our legislative branch is still the branch of government that writes our laws?
So Piper didn't minor in PoliSci. Fair enough. Let's look at what he does know. The Bible doesn't champion private property rights over helping the poor. Remember the rich young ruler. It isn't that owning private property was then or is now a sin; but the story of the rich young ruler teaches us that sin lies in our love of owning private property, our love of our capitalist ideals, and our treasured "freedoms" to make money. When Piper hails a laissez faire economy over a political gesture to help the poor, isn't he saying the preservation of an unfettered economy has somehow become more important to us than doing all we can to lift up the least of us? What are we sacrificing on our altar to these conservative ideals of small government and free, unrestricted enterprise? At what cost do we continue to hold the party line? If it's supposedly okay to make laws prohibiting abortion and gay marriage, why is not okay to make laws that prohibit the injustices that injure the poor??
I don't think Bernie Sanders has a magic Socialist wand and we wake up looking like (insert name of your favorite "Socialist" country here). He doesn't even want to expand all of government, just certain programs like Social Security. And he believes healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. The most common byproduct of his detailed agenda is not "free stuff;" it's jobs. He wants to create more jobs, better paying jobs. The debate between conservative candidates and Bernie Sanders is not whether we should become a Socialist state; nobody wants that. (Seriously, please put away the hammer and sickle. It's a trite response). The debate is about economic recovery (creating jobs), addressing social injustice (inequalities) and foreign policy (intervention) and how best we should do or not do these things.
Sanders has a lifetime record of working for the poor and disenfranchised, is well respected among his peers for his integrity, and has chosen not to accept certain monies in an effort to appear blameless in his motives. The worst people have said about him is that he's Socialist. And he's the one who actually gave himself that label. He is not promoting what Piper described.
As as an American, please exercise your right to vote. As a Christian, please pray for wisdom to choose the candidate who will be the best man or woman for the job and give thanks that we live in a country where its citizens have a voice. Do your research if you feel you need guidance; seek the opinion of those who do know something on the topic. Get familiar with the job description of the office that a candidate seeks. And please, don't let fearful political images conjured by a pastor or anyone else influence your decision. Christians should be known for the hope that is in us, not the fear that controls us.