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Communism Essay, Research Paper
Traditional communism is the common ownership of the means of production. The reference to
Communism in the book of Acts is having all things in common. “And all that believed were together and
Had all things common and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man
Had need.” To explain the kind of communism that the early church practiced it is necessary to understand
The sense of brotherhood that the members of the Jerusalem Church had toward each other. It was not, to
Be sure, an arbitrary communism but the principle on which it was based was communistic. They held jobs,
Bought and sold and made a profit on their earnings, much like you would see in an ideal social
Democracy. This was the spirit of Pentecost; the beautiful outpouring of unselfishness that was soon to be
Lost. It was the result of a spiritual oneness that should be an example to us today.
It was not just altruism that was practiced in Jerusalem, the claims of the Christian family were recognized
As of a higher order than the claims of the individual. This was for the relief of the necessities of the
Brethren, not just because they were in need and suffering, but because they were brethren. Of course
many were in need but it was the power of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of the believers that prompted them
to such selfless acts of charity – and it worked. “Neither was there any among them that lacked, for as many
as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold. And
laid them down at the apostles’ feet and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”
The Essenes also practiced communism.
Saint Benedict’s vision was a monastery with its fields and workshops that was self-contained and
self-supporting. A monk was to think nothing as being his own property but all belonged to all. This ideal
was a type of Christian communism like the apostles practiced. It was the early Christians in Jerusalem that
Benedict cited for his precedent, all shared in the common stock. This same type of communalism still
exists among the best Christian groups today. Upon arriving to America at Plymouth, the Pilgrims initiated
communism and for seven years there was to have been no private ownership of land, and everyone was to
have been fed and clothed from the common stock. It didn’t last long.
What the Jerusalem church practiced was a voluntary and democratic social communism. The
representation of communism in the modern world is something entirely different. American society and
capitalism in general has oversimplified the terms of independence and class struggle as being part of the
red menace and demonized the social gospel to the point of starving the greater part of the world. The
Communists however see capitalistic society as a 19th century bourgeois relic which is doomed to perish.
The truth is that laissez faire capitalism and totalitarian communism are both anti-Christian. In case you are
wondering, I’m a social democrat. Communism represents an obsolete point of view that lags a century
behind the present situation and capitalism has always violated the precepts of Jesus and apostolic
There is the communism that the church should not totally reject. A Christian who believes in the
communion of saints and celebrates Holy Communion should not be against communism or communalism
or community completely. Communism in an apostolic setting has some definite Christian potential but it
will not include the atheistic tyranny of communist regimes of the past. The totalitarian type of communism
that we have seen would not have been possible if the church had not rejected the social gospel from the
beginning. The luke-warm church turned inward and became arrogant, above and beyond social service
and accepted capitalism and free enterprise as the Christian god. They became rich, wanting for nothing
and was blinded to the avarice around them. If the love and brotherhood that was practiced in the book of
Acts were a visible reality in the church of recent history, the right-wing puritan insanity that we see today
would not have been possible, nor the third-world response in revolution to break the yoke of economic
To a Marxist, communism has solved the enigma of history. Communism is defined as a movement and
consciousness of movement advancing towards the highest form of social organization. It settles the
question of men and nature, existence and essence, freedom and necessity, individual and collectiveness.
In theory and practice it solves all these questions and it is mindful that it solves them. With its criticism of
oppression and expectations of a better world, Marxist communism started as a rational eschatology, in
many ways akin to the prophetic ideals. With the appearance of Soviet communism, however, the rational
and eschatological setting was discarded and only the tyranny and atheism remained. Paul Tillich writes
that “The Church did not hear the prophetic voice in communism and therefore did not recognize its
One for all and all for one is a good platitude but it hasn’t worked yet. Each according to his ability and
each according to his need is a slogan, not a reality. On the one hand, communism is open and kind to all;
on the other hand, it is exclusive and intolerant, even of its own people. The authors of the Communist
Manifesto associated progress with violence. Aristotle writes that “No one, when men have all things in
common, will any longer set an example of liberality or do any liberal action; for liberality consists in the
use a man makes of his own property.” Emerson in his day wrote of communism. “A cruel kindness, serving
the whole even to the ruin of the member; a terrible communist, reserving all profits to the community,
without dividend to individuals. Its law is – you shall have everything as a member, nothing to yourself.”
I am not alone in these views but it seems like it sometimes. I consider myself a social democrat. Although
communism is practiced in the early church, it has been so maligned by totalitarian excess that it no longer
reflects the apostolic mandates. Capitalism is however very easy to attack as being anti-christian and the
main god of the luke-warm materialistic church. They think that they are serving Jesus but it is their own
lusts that they are serving. I believe that this is the lie that they have accepted that has prompted God to
send them a strong delusion.
Unity will come and it will be of those that have like minds, not the agree to disagree mentality that has
been evident in the past but true speaking the same thing unity. This will not come without a price. Those
that will not give up their riches for the sake of the gospel will be against what Jesus is doing in these last
days. This view is not a popular one but we are to serve the Lord in love and humility and bring the gospel
to the poor, not be part of a popularity contest.
A healthy economic democracy is the only thing that can defeat atheistic international communism and
capitalistic greed. It reformed Europe in the 19th century but in America even the issue of a national health
care plan for our people is considered too socialistic to be taken seriously. Just think of the many ignorant
Christians that consider political activity in the Church as subversive activity. Look around you at these
right-wing morons that think that liberality and a planned economy is of the communist sort. Why do they
do that? Why do they think that way? Just think about the luke-warm Babylonian church and come up with
your own conclusions. Robert McAfee Brown takes this on as well: “Any one opposed to the state is
automatically branded a communist.”
Do you oppose what God’s people in the third world is doing to shake off the beast? Do you oppose God’s
people in the African National Congress or liberation theology in Central and South America? Is it because
someone in your church told you these things are evil, or is it just your own deluded self-interest? If you
already oppose these ideals, seek God and ask yourself why. This is the Babylon that God’s people are told
to get out of.
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