In this short piece, Michael Bird comes to the defense of N.T. Wright, nationalized health care, and all that is civilized. A good response to that can be found here, but one more thing needs to be said.
What the soft Christian left does not appear to understand is that whenever the offering plate is passed, and the collection officer is wielding a firearm and has big, block letters on his jacket, and looks at you meaningfully, the results, however remunerative, are not what you seem to be claiming. The large offering would not be an instance of Christian love, compassion, tenderness, thoughtfulness for the poor, or any of that glow-in-your-heart talk.
Statist redistribution depends upon coercion and violence, pure and simple. It is not love, it is not compassion, and it cannot be supported by appeals to all the Christian happy words. Put the guns away, and then let’s talk about Christian concern for the poor.
I mean it. Put the guns away. Take the guns out of the equation. Eliminate the jail time for Ananias and Sapphira, and let’s see what happens. And no fair pointing out that God struck them down for their lie — He did do that, but I can guarantee you that if they had been shot by a deacon instead of that, and the story had still been included in the Bible, the import of the story that we were required to carry away from the incident would have been entirely different than what it is now.
The left needs to stop its love affair with bossing people around, making people do things, fining them if they don’t, putting them in prison if they resist, and raiding their houses with SWAT teams if someone in authority suspected something. As Charles Krauthammer once put it memorably, liberals don’t care what you do, so long as it is mandatory.
If you take up an offering for the poor, and it is truly voluntary, you will find no more generous congregation in the world than American evangelicals. Haul out the guns, and you will find the most resistance in that very same congregation. Believe it or not, the presence of those guns distorts everything, including your definition of what it means to be a caring people. Europeans have been bossed around at gunpoint for so long that they have kind of forgotten what it is like to be free.
Chairman Mao expressed this outlook succinctly when he said that power grows out of the barrel of a gun. But as the Beatles taught us so memorably, if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao . . .