Early Christian Communism? Acts 2:42-47
Feb 08, 2010 by Craig Blomberg | 0 Comments
“All the believers were together and had everything in common.” (TNIV)
Twenty years after the end of the cold war and the fall of the Soviet Union, it’s amazing how readily political candidates or legislative proposals can be labeled “Communist” by their opponents, who have nothing remotely approaching first-hand experience with the real thing. But what about the earliest church in Acts 2?
Verse 44, quoted above, must be kept in context, including the context of 4:32-35. There we learn that “no one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had” (v. 32b). Personal property was clearly retained but it was not hoarded. Verse 34 shows the goal that was attained, for awhile at least: “there were no needy persons among them.”
Acts 4:35 is one of the two verses that inspired the wording of Marx’s Communist Manifesto. The other is Acts 11:29. The result was “from each according to his ability to each according to his need.” The problem was that Marx tried to remove God from the picture and to legislate these principles. Arguably, it is only people indwelt by God’s Spirit and doing so voluntarily who could ever implement anything like this.
But is this model even on our radar screens? European welfare states were uniformly inspired by these same Christian principles, even if it is largely secular politicians who put them into practice today. We may disagree on the methods of implementation, but is helping the poorest, especially fellow Christians, at least at the forefront of our concern?