An article on the Blaze reported that “Prominent GOP leaders have praised Ayn Rand’s philosophy and beliefs. But Rand made it clear that you can’t follow her and Christ. The GOP budget, authored by Rand acolyte Paul Ryan, is the perfect example.”
How can an atheist like Ann Rand and Jesus have anything in common? Well, they can. In fact, the Bible teaches that God’s truth can be discovered through both “general revelation” (the truth that can be observed and studied from the world around us) and “special revelation” (the truth revealed by God through the Scriptures.) The Bible also teaches that God has placed a moral code into the hearts of all mankind. (Romans 2).
This means that there can be overlap between an atheist and a Christian. C.S. Lewis says it this way in Mere Christianity:
If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view. But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic-there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.
Among other things, there can be overlap between an atheist and a Christ follower in discovering truth. Jesus would disagree with Ayn Rand that there is any morality outside of God. He might tell her that she hasn’t traced her absolutes back far enough to an objective reality. He might agree with her that organized religion produces pride, fear, and arrogance. Jesus once said to the religious community, “You are like white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones. When you make a convert, you make them twice the son of hell as you are.” Strong words! Jesus speaking against religion. Jesus was constantly contrasting his message of grace which produces humility and gratefulness to God with religion which produces fear and arrogance.
There is lots of room for overlap between the Bible and Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Ayn discovered much of the moral law or “common grace” (as the Puritan’s called it) that God hard-wired into the universe. There are at least three bedrock Biblical principles that overlap with Ayn Rand: Freedom, Property Rights, and Incentive.
When God brought His people out of Egypt and taught them to live as a free people, He gave them ten building blocks for a society. Among those Ten Commandments, God said, “Do not envy or steal someone else’s house or donkey…”God was establishing private ownership. Each person would have ownership over their own personal belongings, their own cattle, and their own land. The concept of property rights appeared throughout the Scripture, including 2 Thessalonians which speaks of each person working for his own bread, not eating someone else’s bread. Many are surprised that the Scriptures speak of incentive: “If you do not work, you shall not eat,” “Give her the fruit of her labor,” and “Do not muzzle an ox while it is threshing.” Christians should throw out the socialism model.
Collectivism may sound utopian, but the results are historically devastating. The biblical principles of Property Rights, Incentive, and Freedom, are foundational to the success of any society. They are also the bedrock of the free market system. These concepts were outlined by God and given to Moses as a blueprint for a free society. As the Hebrew slaves headed out to begin a new nation, God gave them the framework for freedom. It began with property rights. Property Rights are referred to in twenty percent of the Ten Commandments. We are warned not to “envying someone else’s house or horse” because someone else owns it, and therefore, we don’t have the right to take it or even envy it.Another commandment addresses the legal side of this issue: “Do not steal someone else’s donkey or field.” Why shouldn’t we take something that’s not ours? We shouldn’t steal it because someone else has property rights to that asset. Property rights are the foundation for freedom in any society. For the Hebrews this meant that no longer would the king or Pharaoh own the land. No longer would the strongest and most powerful militia determine who-owns-what by the nature of survival of the “wickedest.”Property rights are the key difference between socialism and capitalism. Many people on the street are unable to define these terms; they will stumble for a comprehensive definition for socialism and captalism. They may, perhaps, mumble something about capitalism being about greed and socialism being about generosity. But when exercised in society, the results reveal the exact opposite. Here is a working definition.
Capitalism: The free exchange of privately owned goods and servicese
Socialism: An economic system focused on state control and state-ownership of industry and property
Jesus did not and would not support a system of collectivism. He taught constantly about the role of property rights, liberty, and incentive through the New Testament. Though he and Ayn Rand would disagree on much, they would find common ground on the morality of free market capitalism over the alternatives. Here is a message I gave a few years ago laying out a case from Jesus on Free Market Capitalism. Click here for MP3. Jesus is no Republican or Democrat. God is not on one side or the other, but He did lay out principles that allow us to see if our programs and systems are on “His side.”
More more information, check out www.godonomics.com. Here is a link to a video where I explain the moral and Biblical basis for capitalism.
For more information on free market capitalism, check out www.godonomics.com