I usually don't mettle on political issues unless there is something that has to do with impacting the Christian church. The last time I did something relevant to politics and culture was at the beginning of the second term of the current President's administration.
This upcoming election season has sparked a question, that raises another question. This question has been raised over the last few decades in various circles. The question is, "Is Christianity compatible with socialism?" or "Are socialism and Christianity similar in their outworkings?
This is a worldview question. We have seen the decisions that have been made that are in direct conflict with the biblical worldview. Since every political candidate has a worldview, I want to address this issue from a worldview perspective. What I hope to defend in this posting is that socialism, as a political economic theory, is contra-biblical. In other words, it is in total contradiction to the biblical worldview.
Where does this idea come from?
Some have wrestled with the idea of the early church's compassion and distribution of personal wealth and belongings as being a reflection of socialism. We see this in the earliest biblical accounts (Acts 4:32-35), where the believers, after the ascension of Jesus Christ, are described as a compassionate and generous community. Some have even contended that it describes a "proto-socialistic" economic system. But is this true? Allow me to define some terms for us.
Defining our terms.
When I am using the term "socialism" in this posting, I am referring to government mandated activities or government control of assets. When I refer to the ideology of Marxism, I am using this term to refer to the power of the state to take money from some groups of citizens and give it to other groups. We have heard the terms thrown around, like "the redistribution of wealth" or "social justice." These are buzzwords smuggling in a Marxist ideology.
And then there is the term, "progressive(s)." When we speak of progressivism, it is another word for statism, which are synonymous for liberalism. Liberalism is a broader term that encompasses statism and progressivism.
Was the Early Church Socialistic? No!
A few moments ago, I referenced the passage that many like to use to make the claim that the Early Church was socialistic. That passage is as follows:
"32And the congregation (not the bourgeoisie or common people) of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and abundant grace was upon them all. 34For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them (not enforced by state authority) and bring the proceeds of the sales 35and lay them at the apostles' (not the politburo's) feet, and would be distributed (not as a means of redistribution of wealth) to each as any had need." (Act 4:32-35 NASB; parenthetical insertions mine)
As you can tell from my parenthetical comments there are a few problems with a socialistic interpretation of this passage. Let me summarize three for us here.