Ed. Note: This post has been adapted from its original form. Read the full paper here.
Today we conclude a discussion on Acts 2-5 and socialism by reviewing our previous points on the subject.
We’ve been exploring the claim made in the Washington Post’s On Faith blog and elsewhere that Acts 2-5 mandates socialism as a practice for the church.
In order to show that Acts 2-5 teaches socialism, you would have to show that the passage teaches that:
- All believers in Jerusalem sold all their possessions and put them in a communal pot which was then controlled by the state. Such state-control is the distinctive mark of socialism.
- Private property rights, upheld through the rest of Scripture, were abolished by this passage.
- The voluntary giving demonstrated by individuals in this passage gives the state the right to coerce people to give up their property.
- The pattern shown here was not temporary but permanent – you would have to show that it was the rule throughout the rest of the New Testament.
- That you can get an ‘ought’ out of an ‘is,’ a necessary mandate out of a historical example.
- There is clear teaching that entails government ownership of the means of production, coercive taxation, and wealth distribution (socialism) in the rest of Scripture.
Wise teachers have maintained that it is not good to base an important doctrine on a single passage of Scripture. But if you do, surely in that passage the doctrine should be taught.
Not only is socialism not taught in Acts 2-5, it is impossible to show that it does so.
What do you think? Could you show that Acts 2-5 teaches socialism?