Calling Out False Teaching

David Jeremiah’s book, Where Do We Go From Here, promises to reveal what the Word of God says about the times in which we live. The first chapter (A Cultural Philosophy – Socialism) aims to explain the dangers of socialism and how socialism differs from the way Jesus wants us to live.

The selected scripture for this chapter is a quote from Jesus about the times of Noah. The Bible tells us that in the days of Noah, people were so wicked and the human heart was so inclined towards evil that God wiped out most of the human race with a great flood.

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:37 (NIV)

Jeremiah also shared the first verse of 2 Timothy 3 about the terrible times of the end days. Apparently, in Jeremiah’s mind, difficult times can only mean one thing – socialism. He says, “socialism creates great stress and trouble, difficult days that are hard to bear.” In verses 2-5, Paul describes the way people will be in these terrible times – self-loving, greedy, proud, disobedient, hedonistic, etc.

It’s illogical to conclude that Jesus or Paul were speaking about socialism.

1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)

I am not an advocate of socialism; I am merely a defender of fairness and truth. I take issue with the truthfulness and fairness of Jeremiah’s teaching because his comments about socialism are not supported by scripture, he presents only one side of a complex economic issue, and makes unsupported, disparaging claims about people who want government to play a more active role in society.

Jeremiah does not directly define socialism but in discussing wealth redistribution, he says, “[t]his ideology teaches that all human assets should be claimed by the government and redistributed to the masses by a more equitable formula.”

Socialism is defined as an economic and political philosophy that advocates for collective or government ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods (not all human assets). This contrasts with capitalism, in which trade and industry are owned privately for profit.

The U. S. system of capitalism mixed with government ownership of some assets is all I have ever known. The government owns roads and bridges, some utilities, the US Postal Service, law enforcement agecies and the national defense industry. To the consternation of conservatives, the government provides a safety net for the poor and disabled. Under the Obama administration, the government made health insurance more affordable for people like me who are not covered by employer plans.

Jeremiah claims that socialism demands a “one-world system.” I had never heard this claim. Is Jeremiah peddling conspiracy theories? Well perhaps. He does sell a video, The Coming of the Economic Armageddon/The New World Order.

After discussing socialism, Jeremiah said that America has made a “seismic shift toward a Marxist agenda.” He then listed the reasons Marxism is bad.

1. Marxism is totatalitarian. Since Jeremiah didn’t define the word totalitarian, I will. A totalitarian government does not tolerate different opinions or opposing political parties. It exercises dictatorial control over many aspects of life. It can also be described as authoritarian. Hmm. Where have I seen authoritarian tendencies and attempts to suppress opposition?

2. Marxism causes division by setting up classes of people based on race and gender. “Whenever a socialist or Marxist can’t figure out how to respond to an issue, they call it racist.” Examples, please. If David Jeremiah is opposed to people who cause division, then why did he serve on the evangelical advisory board of an authoritarian who caused division by demeaning half the country?

3. Marxism is deadly.  Yes, but the same can be said of other totalitarian systems.

The evidence of America’s supposed turn towards Marxism are:

1. Destruction of monuments. In taking down monuments, Jeremiah says that people are trying to erase the past. No, people are saying America should not honor people who fought for the right to own black people. And isn’t trying to prevent schools from teaching about institutional racism an attempt to erase the past?

2. Cancel culture. Jeremiah says that there is no room for dissenting opinions today. The left isn’t alone in silencing dissenting voices. Look what happened to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for investigating and speaking out against an attempt to overturn a democratic election. Look at all the books that are being banned because someone finds them offensive.

3. Dismantling of the nuclear family. “Socialists know that as long as the family remains strong, socialism cannot flourish. So there is an ongoing attempt to subjugate the home to the government.” This is an astonishing claim with no proof.

4. Redistribution of wealth. Jeremiah says that when the government redistributes wealth, the poor get poorer and “the few elitists who have been assigned to redistribute the wealth have themselves become filthy rich.” Who are these elitists in charge of wealth redistribution? Graduated tax rates are the method used to redistribute wealth in the U.S. Is Jeremiah saying that IRS officials become filthy rich enforcing the tax codes?

There has always been wealth inequality but the gap between rich and poor is growing. The Pew Research Center reports that “[t]he wealth divide among upper-income families and middle- and lower-income families is sharp and rising.”

As a result, the wealth gap between America’s richest and poorer families more than doubled from 1989 to 2016. In 1989, the richest 5% of families had 114 times as much wealth as families in the second quintile, $2.3 million compared with $20,300. By 2016, this ratio had increased to 248, a much sharper rise than the widening gap in income.

Pew Research Center

5. Defunding the police. Jeremiah says that cutting police budgets will result in “gangs ruling the streets…while progressive politicians go to and from work in their limousines.” It’s rich (pun intended) for a millionaire like Jeremiah to attempt to stir up class resentment against democrats. No one wants gangs to rule the streets but the truth is police are increasingly being called to respond in situations that may be better served by mental health professionals.

Where do we go from here?

Jeremiah concluded the chapter on the dangers of socialism by advising readers to review what the Bible says but he was selective in the verses he shared. He then quoted Dr. Albert Mohler (President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) who listed several valid biblical principles and claimed that socialism contradicts and subverts these principles. In using these scriptures, he implied that socialists do not respect the dignity of work and refuse to work. He implied that socialists are guilty of theft and covetousness. Even in a socialist system, people have to work!

Jeremiah made no mention of the economic principles of Jesus – about how the love of money is the root of evil, about how difficult it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God, how Christ’s followers should take care of the least among us. No mention was made of Jesus’s challenge to the rich man to sell everything he owned and to give it to the poor.

Since the Obama administration, I have learned that the right loves to use the threat of socialism as a fear tactic. If you disagree with the government providing affordable health insurance, then you call Obama a socialist. If you disagree with the idea of government providing free community college education, then you call its proponents socialists.

Of racism, Jeremiah said, “[i]f everything is racist, nothing is racist ” Well then, if everyone is a socialist, then no one is a socialist. And whenever a Republican can’t figure out how to respond to an issue, they call it socialism.

I had second thoughts about calling out David Jeremiah as a false teacher. It seems audacious. I completed his Bible study on the book of Acts and it was not the least bit political. But in this study, David Jeremiah uses political propaganda and selective scripture to mislead his audience.

Jeremiah’s second piece of advice is to refuse to live by lies. He says that so much of what we hear today “has no connection to common sense” and it’s easier to ignore the lies. As he rightly says, ignoring lies allows falsehoods to continue and even thrive.

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