The First Church Practiced Socialism?

daily_evangelism
socialism

(Eunike Misiekaba) #1

Hi all,

I’ve just listened to a member of the Surinamese Parliament. He is a Christian, and in his plea to the National Assembly of Suriname, he used Acts 2:45-46 to indicate that the early church was practicing a socialistic behavior or anti-capitalism. Very interestingly, he used this verse to justify a political relationship between Suriname and Russia.

Acts 2:45- 46
They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.

A definition of socialism is: an economic theory of social organization that believes that the means of making, moving, and trading wealth should be owned or controlled by the community as a whole. In Marxist theory, it is a transitional (temporary, in between) social state between capitalism and communism.

I am pretty sure that the nuance of socialism is very different from what is happening in the Bible. I would appreciate your views on this topic, because I would really like to get back to this Parliament member.

Thanks


(SeanO) #2

@Eunike No, the early Church did not practice socialism. In a socialist system the commune or government owns the means of production and distributes the wealth as they see fit. Surrender of goods is mandatory and may be forced.

In contrast, the early Christians gave voluntarily from the surplus of their private goods because of a spirit of generosity. In the case of Ananias and Saphira, they were rebuked not because they kept something back for themselves, but because they lied to God about it. In addition, we are never told that we ought to do as the Christians did in Acts. Luke is simply describing how the Christians in that particular location were choosing to live at that time.

Here are some additional articles that lay out in more detail how the early Christian community differed from socialism and why their behavior is not mandatory for believers today.

  • the early believers did not sell all their possessions
  • in Acts sharing was voluntary, not forced
  • not a permanent practice but a temporary measure
  • Acts is descriptive, not prescriptive - it describes what the believers were doing, not what we ought to do
  • we should interpret narrative passages in light of didactic passages

https://tifwe.org/resource/does-acts-2-5-teach-socialism/

Certainly, the communal sharing illustrated in Acts 2-5 was a beautiful picture of generosity and love. But it is impossible to show that these passages teach socialism given their temporary, voluntary, and strictly narrative nature.


(Eunike Misiekaba) #3

@SeanO
Thanks much. I’ll study this and compose my statement to this Parliament.
Once again, thanks.
Very useful


(Eunike Misiekaba) #4

@SeanO By the way, today I found out about TGC (The Gospel Coalition)… I was so happy about it, because I have been looking for good free courses for a while. So funny that you are sharing a link of TGC today as well…Or somehow, I’ve just noticed it today :slight_smile:


(SeanO) #5

@Eunike Yes, TGC is a good resource. May the Lord Jesus guide you as you share His truth with others and grow in the grace and knowledge of Him.


(ThomasHeld) #6

Hi Eunike,

@Eunike I hope all is well. I read your post just before I went out for my daily run. While I was enjoying a beautiful day, I was composing in my mind how to respond to you.

But when I got back to my computer, I found that @SeanO had already responded with the very points I had planned to bring out! :grinning: (You’re quick, Sean!)

I would just add that socialism is a political system that uses: power, control, intimidation and war to control its citizens. There is no freedom and history has shown time again that it leads to an enslaved population and death. There is no free choice.

The Church is the Bride of Christ. In the passages the gentlemen referenced, that was a group of loving people taking care of their new brothers and sisters in Christ. A Family with a free choice taking care of one another. They were not conscripted or enslaved. Christ leads to life.

The gentlemen is badly misinformed. God bless.


(Criss Wang) #7

Thank you and @SeanO for the clarification and sharing. It is very helpful for me.


(SeanO) #8

Glad it was helpful @yongtaow. The Lord Jesus be with you as you grow in grace and knowledge of Him :slight_smile:


(Eunike Misiekaba) #9

@TomH great thanks…Your response has given me an idea on how to approach this.

Where can I read about history on socialism and do you have some references on the current day socialist countries?


(ThomasHeld) #10

@Eunike

I found this article which explains it very well. There are many, many links in the the article - you’ll be able to find out more than any of really want to know about this murdering subject.

http://thefederalist.com/2016/03/15/socialisms-bloody-history-shows-millennials-should-think-twice-before-supporting-it/

More information:
https://www.victimsofcommunism.org/

Here’s a list of resources that outline the evil of socialism:
https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/LIST.HTM
https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM

But as I mentioned, there are many more links in the first article. God bless.

Pray tell, my brother,
Why do dictators kill
and make war?
Is it for glory; for things,
for beliefs, for hatred,
for power?
Yes, but more,
because they can. (Author Unknown)


(Dean Schmucker) #11

Socialism failed because its premise was wrong -
They are materialists in world view. No matter how much they tried to supress the Creators existence, Truth had to prevail in the end. Nancy Peacey has a great chapter in her book Total Truth on this topic.


(Eunike Misiekaba) #12

Hi everyone,

I wanted to let you know that I have made a 5 page document (in Dutch) which I have sent to this parliament member. I have also published it on my FB account. I have used all of the resources that you have shared with me.

It was not well received by the parliament member, who is my cousin and a spiritual leader, but followers of Christ and those who are non-believers have received light on the matter. It has helped Christians here form a better understanding.

I will spend the remainder of the week posting some sound-bites about this so that many more can see it. And also so that it stands as a testimony of the Truth.

Thank you, your contributions have an eternal meaning.


(christopher van zyl) #13

I would just like to add on to @manbooks thought. I agree that the premise is completely wrong. In the novel ‘the brothers Karamazov’, the author says something profound.

As soon as he reflected seriously he was convinced of the existence of God and immortality, and at once he instinctively said to himself: “I want to live for immortality, and I will accept no compromise.” In the same way, if he had decided that God and immortality did not exist, he would have at once become an atheist and a socialist. For socialism is not merely the labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism today, the question of the tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to heaven from earth but to set up heaven on earth


(SeanO) #14

@Eunike May Christ grant you wisdom and open doors as you share His truth with others and grow in the grace / knowledge of Him.


(Dean Schmucker) #15

Thats very helpful. How one answers the God question will determine which road they end up on. Atheists must live for today. For them there is nothing else to live for. Believers will place their hope in eternity, Collosians 3.


(Saranna Flemming) #16

Hi there Eunike!

This is a great conversation. I am late to the thread, as I have been MIA for a bit. I am glad to be back to forum!

I have a lot of interest in this topic.

My father leans very, very left politically. He is an atheist, yet associates with Christians who take Acts 2 as a model for church. What a great bridge to the gospel for him!

If we look at the whole of scripture, I think we get a mixed bag of economic models. As a follower of Christ, I believe we are uniquely able to speak on this. As in any economic model, we have humans who are still in charge. If we look at the extreme model of capitalism, we could see how workers are taken advantage of. How workers are not valued and those at top extract all they can from folks at the bottom. In extreme forms of socialism, we see violation of individual rights. As I tell my dad, communism is a system of the 1% dictating for the other 99%. Lol

Neither capitalism, socialism or communism solely represents the kingdom of God as it should be. There are aspects of good and bad in each system (I am fully aware of Marx and his hatred of religion). What we will see, is corruption in any economic model-be it capitalism or socialism. Animal Farm is a great movie to see this!
We can engage with folks who believe in communism/socialism. Minus the religious suppression, they are trying to address felt human needs (food, water,shelter). We are also interested in human needs (spiritual and all others).

I can be fully socialist and be a follower of Jesus. I can be fully capitalist and be a follower of Jesus. I can be a believer is some aspects of communism and be a follower of Jesus. There are redeemable aspects of some of these models.

Martin Luther King was accused of being a communist and socialist by many. Yet now he is celebrated as a great hero.

I am hopeful that we can speak to this today. We have a generation of folks looking for answers and meaning. They want to believe in justice and equality. We have the best example of this in the gospel.

Thank you for being concerned about this.


(Eunike Misiekaba) #17

Thanks @Saranna…I will respond to your interesting statement later today. Love it.
Blessings


(Eunike Misiekaba) #18

Hi @Saranna… I finally got a chance to respond.
I totally hear what you’re saying.

You know., what I love about Christian life is the fact that it places the emphasis on the principle, connected to the person Jesus Christ. The moment we get captured by precepts (actions, expressions, rules, model etc…) instead, we will lose our way somewhere down the road as we forget the reasons to it.

Conditions often shape the expression, but the principle is constant. We are to love God and we are to love people. How we show that love varies and does not have a vast structure. There is no silver bullet, if I can put it like that. But the church and the individual believer is(should) be flexible enough to move with God in order to be relevant.. This testifies of His manifold wisdom.

The world cannot capture this, because we operate from a standpoint that is guided by the Word and by the Spirit. Sooner or later, systems will come to a point of deep darkness. But on us, the light of God shall be seen. And that light is connected to Christ. And we only have one agenda: To let our light shine, so that men will see our good works and glorify the Father.

Even if we are in the world, we are not limited and guided by the systems of the world. We are guided by the Word and the Spirit, which stands above loyalty to whatever organisation and system…

When we choose to work for an organisation; whether it be in business, politics, community, etc…, we are guided by reasons and motives that are in line with the word of God. And when we function, we function from a position that honors and testifies of the Lord, knowing that these organisations fall short in many ways. The Lord has given all of us divine logic to choose our work environment wisely, so that we don’t bring harm to the gospel and so that we don’t limit ourselves from fulfilling our mandate.

So I don’t believe that we can live by another ideology than the christian ideology or worldview. We are from a perfect Kingdom, that can never be shaken. All other systems of the world have no eternal meaning and are bound to fall in darkness, because the man behind the system is corrupt. For example, all economic models have shown that. Man’s fleshly nature is one of selfish ambition and control.

So we are fully Christians! We use the platforms that we have chosen, our talents, expertise, etc to present the Kingdom solutions and to defend the message of the Kingdom.

Looking forward to continue this discussion.


(Saranna Flemming) #19

Happy Thursday Eunike!

I think this is an important conversation and thank you for response.

You are correct, in that we should live by principals put forth in scripture. I have found the story of scripture to be beautiful and challenging all at the same time. What I love most about the early church was the willingness to “give it all up” for the sake of Christ. It was all driven by the love of Christ, who gave Himself for our sakes. I find this truth to be revolutionary.

Those in my dad’s camp (those who view Acts 2 model as a way forward for church and argue for socialism as best way curb injustice) really want reach people. I may not agree with everything, but I relate to their passion for helping folks who are in need. I have Matthew 25: 31-45 as a family mission now. It was a scripture that the Lord convicted me on and I have been shaken to my core ever sense. We see the Lord calling out Israel for those who “trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted” Amos 2:7 I find this to be refreshing! Jesus’ ministry to those who were outside of the “in” crowd. This really stirs me to tears when I read these stories.

Whichever way people fall in their convictions of how best to run our economy, Jesus speaks to it in a fresh way. We know all human systems will fail, even if the best ideas are put forth and implemented. Be it capitalism or socialism models…
Our only hope is in His kingdom. Which is an upside down kingdom-where the first are last and the last are first!
I have a bucket list goal of studying the whole scripture on how we are to care for the poor. Perhaps you can join me when I get myself together! lol Perhaps before the Lord returns! lol!!
Have a super day Eunike!
Saranna