Ed. Note: This post has been adapted from its original form. Read the full paper here.
We’ve been examining whether or not Acts 2-5 teaches socialism. Specifically, we’re looking at the alternative argument that suggests Acts 2-5 is inconsistent with socialist principles.
Yesterday we discovered that the early believers gave away some – but not all – of their possessions. More importantly, this sharing was totally voluntary.
Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, viewed ownership of private property as oppressive. He wanted workers to revolt against the owners of the means of production and take control over private property. He wanted the state to own the means production and private property abolished.
Again, in Acts 2-5, there is no mention of the state at all.
These early believers contributed their goods freely, and without coercion. Their generosity was voluntary.
Elsewhere in Scripture we see that Christians are even instructed to give in just this manner, freely, for “God loves a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).
There is plenty of indication that property rights were still in effect – remember Barnabas, Ananias, and Sapphira. This indicates that there is neither communism (abolition of private property), nor socialism (state-ownership of the means of production). The generosity of the early church was not even socialism defined as a community-owned or regulated system.
But even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that it was socialism (of some sort), why is it only seen here in Acts 2-5 and not seen throughout the rest of the New Testament?
We’ll answer that question tomorrow. Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
What do you think? Were the actions of the early church socialist? Leave your comments here.