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Socialism and Communism, Part 1


Posted by Matt Postiff February 26, 2020 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Society 

Some Christians have become enamored with the ideas of socialism and even communism. I think this is attributable to four reasons: First, when the terms are left undefined, they seem to describe "kind" and "benevolent" economic systems that will help the poor and raise people out of poverty. They seem equivalent to the good "social programs" in our republic. Second, there is a seeming connection with the early church as described in Acts 2:44-45 which legitimizes these systems in the minds of some Christians. Third, ignorance of the actual, practical results of these economic systems fosters uncritical acceptance. Fourth, these systems are based on a non-Christian view of the nature of humanity which simply will not work in the harsh realities of the real world which is filled with sinners. When these factors are exposed and honestly examined, most true Christians would forcefully reject both economic theories.

Let us begin with some definitions.

socialism, via Merriam-Webster
   1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
   2 : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

Going to Google and searching "define socialism" returns this from the "Google" dictionary:

socialism
   a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
   policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.
   (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of Communism.

Google's definition of communism is as follows:

communism
   a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

In contrast:

capitalism
   an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

Common ownership is not just theoretical. It is actual. This would look like the government owning and running all utilities like electrical generation, natural gas, etc. It would entail government ownership of all hospitals, schools, factories, etc.

But this is not like what is described in the Bible. Under the theocracy and then monarchy in Israel, for hundreds of years there was private property ownership. This is proven by the fact that there is a command "do not steal." This presupposes private property ownership. The limited taxation through tithing is another proof. There was definitely not common ownership of property or means of production. Even the distribution of land indicates private ownership; the Israelite tribes had perpetual ownership of the sections of land that were their inheritance. Deeds were held; property was bought and sold, etc.

In the New Testament era, the same kind of situation is evident. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians to give voluntarily to support the poor, and he tells the Roman Christians to pay their taxes. These imply a private property ownership scenario. Support for the poor is praiseworthy because it is optional and carried out by loving Christians. It is not obligatory, for if it were, there would be no reward in it.

Of this fact we can be certain: by the above definitions, socialism and communism are not economic systems that were practiced in the Bible. As for the other three reasons I outlined above, they will have to wait for future articles.

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