Thanks to a post at creativeminorityreport, [New Statesmen:Meet The Radical Jesus] I was lead to an article by Mehdi Hasan [What would Jesus do?] where Hasan attempts to prove that Jesus was a Leftist.
To prove his point, Hasan quotes Mikhail Gorbachev, who once declared: "Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind" and Hugo Chávez, who described Christ as "the greatest socialist in history". Hasan also uses five arguments to back up his claim; 1) Jesus the class warrior, 2) Jesus the banker basher, 3) Jesus the fair-wage campaigner, 4) Jesus the NHS champion and 5) Jesus the anti-war activist.
Jesus the class warrior:
Hasan gives "a belief in redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor" as "the core of leftist thinking". I'm sure we can all agree with that description. For proof that Jesus advocated redistribution of wealth, Hasan referances Mark 10:21-25
"21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.' 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!' 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, 'Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.'"
Granted, Christ told us that we must give up our love of money and material possessions if we are to follow him, but I do not see this as a command by Christ to give our property to the government for redistribution. It is one thing to voluntarily abandon ones possessions to follow Christ; it's quite another thing to have the government take from us and give what we own to others.
Jesus the banker basher:
To prove this point, Hasan goes to Mark 11:15-17 -
"15 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16 and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 He was teaching and saying, 'Is it not written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations"? But you have made it a den of robbers.'"
Rather than an indictment of bankers, I'd suggest Mark 11:15-17 warns against using God's house as a market place. God's house is a house of prayer not commerce.
Jesus the fair-wage campaigner:
Hasan, here, argues that Jesus was a supporter of "minimum wage" and a "living wage". He writes,
"Matthew 20:1-16 narrates the 'parable of the workers in the vineyard', which tells of five sets of labourers who arrived for work very early in the morning, at 9am, at noon, at 3pm and at 5pm. They are all paid at 6pm and each labourer receives the same amount - one denarius, as agreed to with their employer. Unsurprisingly, those who arrived earlier and did more work complained that they had received the same pay as those who had come later: 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But, for Jesus, the casual labourers who came to work for the landowner in his vineyard had basic needs that had to be satisfied, and those who had come late had been struggling to find work in a laissez-faire market: 'No one has hired us,' the last labourers tell the landowner. 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,' in the words of Karl Marx."
In "The Kingdom of God is Like.....", Thomas Keating explains how this parable concerns our spiritual journey. In this parable Christ is explaining that God's Kingdom is not something we earn. "Grace is symbolized by the mysterious need of the householder for more workers.....". All those accepting God's invitation receive the same recompense. Following God at 9am (proverbially speaking) does not gain more merit for you that those who follow God at 5pm. Sadly, Hasan inhabits "literalville" if he believes this parable is about monetary payments.
Jesus the NHS champion:
The argument here is that, because Jesus healed the sick without pay, medical care should be free to all. The absurdity of this speaks for itself.
Jesus the anti-war activist:
I can't argue with Hasan's statements on Jesus being anti-violence -
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9)
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also" (Matthew 5:38-39)
"Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52)
I will argue against the notion that Leftists are, somehow, peace lovers.
"Democrats in the House of Representatives and in the Senate near-unanimously voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists against "those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States" in Afghanistan in 2001, supporting the NATO coalition invasion of the nation. Most elected Democrats continue to support the Afghanistan conflict, and some, such as a Democratic National Committee spokesperson, have voiced concerns that the Iraq War shifted too many resources away from the presence in Afghanistan." Obama's use of drones in Afghanistan is well documented [Obama's Shadowy Drone War].
If one accepts, as I do, that Christ's teaching can best be explained by the Catholic Church, we have this from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2425) :
"The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with 'communism' or 'socialism'. She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of 'capitalism', individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for 'there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market'. Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended."
I'd be the first to admit that Jesus was not the right-wing 'champion' as some conservatives portray Him. However, he was hardly the 'lefty' Hasan believes Him to be.