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Christian communism is a form of religious communism based on Christianity. It is a theological and political theory based upon the view that the teachings of Jesus Christ compel Christians to support communism as the ideal social system. Although there is no universal agreement on the exact date when Christian communism was founded, many Christian communists assert that evidence from the Bible (in the Acts of the Apostles) suggests that the first Christians, including the apostles, established their own small communist society in the years following Jesus' death and resurrection. As such, many advocates of Christian communism argue that it was taught by Jesus and practiced by the apostles themselves. Some independent historians confirm it.
Basis [ edit ]
Christian communists regard biblical texts in Acts 2 and 4 as evidence that the first Christians lived in a communist society.
Acts 2:44-45, "All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need."
Acts 4:32-35, "Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. ... 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need."
Montero offers anthropological evidence that the practices recounted in Acts 4:32–35 were historical and were practiced widely and taken seriously during at least the first two centuries of Christianity.
Other biblical evidence of anti-capitalistic belief-systems include Matthew 6:24: "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." The slogan "Each according to his abilities" has biblical origins too. Act 11:29 states: "29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea". The phrase "To each according to his needs" also has a biblical basis - Acts 4:35: "[...] to the emissaries to distribute to each according to his need". Preaching by Thomas Wharton Collens (1812-1879) describes biblical sources supporting a common-property society.[page needed]
Christian communism does not depend merely on the principles of the early apostles. In fact, Christian communists claim that anti-capitalist ideals are deeply rooted in the Christian faith. While modern capitalism had not yet formed in the time of Christ, his message was overwhelmingly against the love of money (greed) and in support of the poor. Christian communists see the principles of Christ as staunchly anti-capitalist in nature. Since "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1 Tim 6:10 NRSV), it seems natural for Christians to oppose a social system founded - as Christian communists claim - entirely on the love of money. In fact, Christian opposition to the emergence of such a system largely delayed capitalist development, and capitalism did not gather popular support until John Calvin (1509-1564) endorsed capitalist practice from a religious perspective. The ideals of Christian communism are pre-Calvinist and as such seek to return Christianity to its anti-capitalist roots by progressing beyond it into socialism and finally to communism.
Controversy [ edit ]
Atheism and communism [ edit ]
Contemporary communism, including contemporary Christian communism, owes much to Marxist thought—particularly Marxist economics. Not all communists are in full agreement with Marxism, but it is difficult to find any communists today who do not agree at least with the Marxist critique of capitalism. Marxism includes a complex array of views that cover several different fields of human knowledge and one may easily distinguish between Marxist philosophy, Marxist sociology and Marxist economics. Marxist sociology and Marxist economics have no connection to religious issues and make no assertions about such things. On the other hand, Marxist philosophy is famously atheistic, although some Marxist scholars, both Christian and non-Christian, have insisted that Marxist philosophy and the philosophy of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are significantly different from one another and that this difference needs recognition. In particular, Jose Porfirio Miranda found Marx and Engels to be consistently opposed to deterministic materialism and broadly sympathetic towards Christianity and towards the text of the Bible, although disbelieving in a supernatural deity. Vladimir Lenin also allowed Christians in the Bolshevik Party.
Establishing Christian communism [ edit ]
There is also the question of how a communist society should be actually achieved. While orthodox communists advocate a form of violent revolution, Christian communists almost universally insist on nonviolent means, such as passive resistance or winning elections. Some groups are pacifists, such as the Hutterites and Bruderhof, who regard all force as wrong, including forcing a new society on someone. Regarding the issue of the nationalization of the means of production, Christian communists argue that capitalism itself is a form of institutionalized theft in the manner that capitalist owners exploit their workers by not paying them the full value of their labour. However, not all Christian communists seek to achieve large-scale social change. Some believe that rather than attempting to transform the politics and economics of an entire country, Christians should instead establish communism at a local or regional level only.
According to theologians such as Leonardo Boff, the Latin American branch of Christian communist liberation theology is rooted in the concept that "prudence is the understanding of situations of radical crisis". Among Christian communists, historical materialism is utilized as a methodology of analysis to define the nature of the crisis in question as a product of political-economic dynamics and modalities derived from the workings of what is termed "the late capitalist/imperialist mode of production". According to this subset of liberation theology, the challenge for the Christian communist is then to define what it means (in context of "a concrete analysis of the concrete social reality") to affirm a "preferential option for the poor and oppressed" as praxis (active theory) and as commanded by an ethics allegedly "rooted in the beatidic teachings of Jesus". Christian communist liberation theology is not about evangelization per se, but rather about developing an orthopraxis (ethical action, i.e. the condition of coming to the light by doing the works of God) that aims to reconcile the "beatidic ethics" of Jesus as espoused in the Sermon on the Mount with existing social struggles against what is termed "neo-colonialism" or "late capitalism". Both Christian communism and liberation theology stress orthopraxis over orthodoxy. A narrative of the nature of contemporary social struggles is developed via materialist analysis utilizing historiographic concepts developed by Karl Marx. A concrete example are the Paraguayan Sin Tierra (landless) movement, who engage in direct land seizures and the establishment of socialized agricultural cooperative production in asentamientos. The contemporary Paraguayan Sin Tierra operate in a very similar manner as that of the reformation era Diggers. For Camilo Torres (the founder of the Colombian guerrilla group ELN), developing this orthopraxis meant celebrating the Catholic Eucharist only among those engaged in armed struggle against the army of the Colombian state while fighting alongside them.
See also [ edit ]
- Bruderhof Communities
- Christian anarchism
- Christian egalitarianism
- Christian materialism
- Christian left
- Christian socialism
- Christian views on poverty and wealth
- Étienne Cabet
- Fra Dolcino
- Gerrard Winstanley
- Harmony Society
- Jesuit reduction
- John Goodwyn Barmby
- League of the Just
- Münster Rebellion
- Plymouth Colony
- The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
- Terry Eagleton
- Wilhelm Weitling
References [ edit ]
- Acts 2:44, 4:32–37; 5:1–12. Other verses are: Matthew 5:1–12, 6:24, Luke 3:11, 16:11, 2 Corinthians 8:13–15 and James 5:3.
- This is the standpoint of the orthodox Marxist Kautsky, Karl (1953) . "IV.II. The Christian Idea of the Messiah. Jesus as a Rebel.". Foundations of Christianity. Russell and Russell.: Christianity was the expression of class conflict in Antiquity.
- Gustav Bang Crises in European History p. 24.
- Lansford, Tom (2007). "History of Communism". Communism. Political Systems of the World. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 24–25. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- von Mises, Ludwig (1981) . "Christianity and Socialism". Socialism. New Heaven: Yale University Press. p. 424. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- "Rénan's Les Apôtres. Community life". The London Quarterly and Holborn Review, Volume 26. London. 1866 [April and July]. p. 502. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- Unterbrink, Daniel T. (2004). "The Dead Sea Scrolls". Judas the Galilean. Lincoln: iUniverse. p. 92. ISBN 0-595-77000-2. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- Guthrie, Donald (1992) . "3. Early Problems. 15. Early Christian Communism". The Apostles. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-310-25421-8.
- Renan, Ernest (1869). "VIII. First Persecution. Death of Stephen. Destruction of the First Church of Jerusalem". Origins of Christianity. II. The Apostles. New York: Carleton. p. 152.
- Ehrhardt, Arnold (1969). "St Peter and the Twelve". The Acts of the Apostles. Manchester: University of Manchester. The University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0719003820.
- Boer, Roland (2009). "Conclusion: What If? Calvin and the Spirit of Revolution. Bible". Political Grace. The Revolutionary Theology of John Calvin. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-664-23393-8.
- Halteman Finger, Reta (2007). "Reactions to Style and Redaction Criticism". Of Widows and Meals. Communal Meals in the Book of Acts. Cambridge, UK: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-8028-3053-1.
- Ellicott, Charles John; Plumptre, Edward Hayes (1910). "III. The Church in Jerusalem. I. Christian Communism". The Acts of the Apostles. London: Cassell.
- Montero, Roman A. (2017). All Things in Common The Economic Practices of the Early Christians. Foster, Edgar G. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781532607912. OCLC 994706026.
- "Acts204:32-35 NRSV - - Bible Gateway". www.biblegateway.com. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
Montero, Roman A. (2017). All Things in Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 5. ISBN 9781532607929. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
I am going to argue that the accounts found in Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37 describe historical economic practices found within the early Christian community; practices that were taken very seriously, which were widespread over different Christian communities around the Roman world, and which lasted for at least well into the second century. I am also going to argue that these economic practices were grounded in both Jewish and Christian theology and had precedent in Jewish tradition and practice; as well as the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
- "Matthew 63A24 NIV - - Bible Gateway". www.biblegateway.com. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
- Miranda, José Porfirio (1988) . Comunismo en la Biblia. Colección mínima (in Spanish). 79 (3 ed.). Mexico, D.F.: Siglo veintiuno editores. ISBN 9789682314865. Retrieved 24 January 2019. [page needed] Miranda, Jose Porfirio (2004). Communism in the Bible. Translated by Barr, Robert R. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781592444687. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
Osakue, Dawn. "Calvinist Ethics and the Rise of Capitalism".
After turning the convert into a capitalist, the Calvinist doctrine of predetermination then made him comfortable with the uneven distribution of wealth. [...] Weber's central thesis on the relationship between Calvinist ethics and the rise of capitalism is that the former directly led to, and sustained the growth of the latter.Cite journal requires
- Miranda, Jose Porfirio (1980), Marx Against The Marxists: The Christian Humanism of Karl Marx. SCM Press, London. ISBN 0-334-00975-8
- Mangan, Lucy (25 July 2019). "Inside the Bruderhof review – is this a religious stirring I feel?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
- "Learning from the Bruderhof: An Intentional Christian Community". ChristLife. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
- "Jesús, un hombre de equilibrio, fantasía cradora y originalidad##Leonardo Boff, teólogo". Redes Cristianas. 20 June 2009. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- Praxis. "The Praxis Group". Marxists.org. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- Archived March 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- "MCP (Movimiento Campesino Paraguayo)". Okaraygua-paraguai.org. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- Sutherland, Donald R. "The Religion of Gerrard Winstanley and Digger Communism". Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Rexroth". Diggers. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Bienvenido/a a nuestra página Web – Ejército de Liberación Nacional". Eln-voces.com. 26 May 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Colombia rebel groups Farc and ELN agree 'to unite'". BBC News. 17 December 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- McDermott, Jeremy (5 November 2009). "Colombia's ELN rebels show new vigour". BBC News. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Camilo Torres Restrepo 1929–1966". Filosofia.org. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
Bibliography [ edit ]
- David Chilton. 1982, 1986. Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators. Tyler, Texas: The Institute for Christian Economics. ISBN 0-930464-38-9. Available online for free.
- John Cort. Christian Socialism: An informal history.
- Metacosmesis: The Christian Marxism of Frederic Hastings Smyth and the Society of the Catholic Commonwealth. By Terry Brown (1987).
- Montero, Roman A. 2017. All Things in Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock. ISBN 9781532607912.
- Myles, Robert J. 2019. Class Struggle in the New Testament. Lanham: Fortress Academic/Lexington Books.