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Is Socialism or Communism Supported in

the Bible?

First I want to define what I mean as socialism and communism. Their


definitions follow.

Socialism: state or collective ownership and administration of


the means of production and distribution of goods, and
an egalitarian society characterized by equal
opportunities for all individuals and a fair or egalitarian
distribution of wealth. (Wikipedia, Dec 2009)

Communism: A system of social organization in which goods are


held in common, the opposite of the system of
private property. A system by which the state
controls the means of production and the distribution
and consumption industrial products. (Black’s Law
Dictionary, 6th edition)

The System Described in Acts


I would argue that the system described in Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32-35
was not socialism or communism as defined above but rather was in
alignment with living righteously as seen by Zacchaeus in Luke 19:8-9.
1. This was a communalism based upon a collective need rather
than upon a sense of replacing the established social order.
Their group was a small, despised minority surrounded by a
richer and more powerful religious establishment.
2. The communalism of their fellowship was one based upon
potential need, and was therefore predicated on potential
distribution as the need arose. Thus, when they said that
"ought of the things which he possessed was his own" (4:32),
this was a statement of unselfish heart attitude, ready to give
to those in need, but was not a statement of the present
actual holding of all things in a common pot.
3. Even though the early Christians were choosing to consider
their property as belonging to all, they were free to dispose of
it entirely as they saw fit, and were still legally in control of
their individual private property. An example of this is when
Ananias chose to sell his property. Unfortunately, he said that
he was giving all the proceeds to the apostles and fell dead
from lying to the Holy Spirit, not because he withheld some
property.
In summary, the example given in Acts is that those who had much
voluntarily gave of their largesse to aid those who had little. We see
that the purpose of provision from the largesse of the rich was
motivated by true Christian love for their brethren. Distribution among
the brethren was made volitionally, and was motivated by charitable
love, not government intervention. In this communal system the
brethren were not forced to give or sell their property.
I believe that it is important for Christians to not confuse voluntary
charity with forced socialism or Communism. Christianity is about the
individual doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
Communism is about forcing the individual to conform and do what the
collective believes to be the right thing. Socialism is about forcing the
individual to conform and do what the state believes to be the right
thing. Communism is what's yours is mine. Christianity is what's mine
is yours.

Biblical Support of Private Property

In both socialism and communism society classes are eliminated and


wealth is equally distributed. With communism all goods are held in
common thereby eliminating private property. Socialism seeks to
distribute goods equally but does not necessarily seek to eliminate
private property. (Although it makes me wonder, if the state can
distribute goods equally, what happens to the individual who
accumulates too many goods? Does the state then take some goods
away? Did he really own his own goods?) The disturbing part of
Socialism is that the state must adopt central planning for the
economy. With central planning all consumption and production of
goods must be controlled. It follows then that the state will inevitably
control our own consumption and production to maintain the central
planning of the economy.

Interestingly, God does not share the same belief regarding the
distribution and equality of wealth. Some examples follow.

1. Abraham was rich due to God’s blessings. There wasn’t equality


amongst people of that time.
a. Gen 12:1-3
b. Gen 13:2,6
c. Gen 14:23
2. Job was also very rich due to God’s blessings.
a. Job 1:3
b. Job 1:10
3. David
4. Solomon

We see that men according to Gods grace and blessings were made
richer than many others. Of course these are Old Testament examples
of how God supported private property. In fact the 8th and 10th
commandment, “though shall not steal and though shall not covet,”
were in support of private property. These commandments are still
supported by the command of Jesus to love thy neighbor as thyself
seen in Mark 12:31.

In the New Testament we do not see similar examples of people


blessed with great wealth, rather we see a new theme of “give to
everyone who asks of you” Luke 6:30 and Matt 5:42. Some others that
we see are:

1. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay


up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” Matt 6:19-20.
2. “You cannot serve God and Mammon” Matt 6:24.
3. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
all these things shall be added to you.” Matt 6:33.
4. In Matt 19:21-22 Jesus tells a rich ruler to sell all that he
has and give to the poor, therefore storing up treasures in
heaven. The ruler was sorrowful because he had great
wealth.
5. “That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without,
and [that] ye may have lack of nothing.” 1Thess 4:12
6. “…how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter the
kingdom of God” Mark 10:24

It seems that the concluding point in this matter is this; that we are to
not trust in our riches. For how then could Abraham, Lot, and David be
considered righteous men? They obviously did not trust in their riches
but only trusted in the almighty God. It was by their faith in God and
not in their riches. Granted, the verses above are definitely evidence
of how difficult it is to trust in God when riches are present.

After reviewing the New Testament I could not find any statement that
abolishes private property. So I am left to conclude that the precedent
set in the Old Testament by the men of old still holds true. Private
property is still sanctioned by God. In addition, God says, “I will have
mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom
I will have compassion,” Rom 9:15. I also have no doubt that each of
the men described above were hard workers.
Biblical Opposition to Socialism and Communism

Socialism and Communism are very similar to each other. While on


one hand the state seeks to redistribute wealth or eliminate private
property, the other hand seeks to redistribute the costs of its benefits
and risks. Socialized programs are essentially a type of involuntary
social insurance or welfare plan (per Blacks Law Dictionary) whereby
each individual becomes a surety for the rest of the “social”. Surety is
defined as “A person who is primarily liable for payment of debt or
performance of obligation of another.”

An example of a social insurance program is Social Security. We each


pay a percentage of our wages to support the benefit; while we
support the benefit, the benefit supports others. Hence, the cost of
this benefit is involuntarily “socialized”. Unfortunately for us we have
become surety for others. Proverbs has a few things to say about this.

1. Prov 6:1-2, “My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, [if] thou hast
stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words
of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
2. Prov 11:15, "He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it:
and he that hateth suretiship is sure."
3. Prov 17:18: “A man void of understanding striketh hands, [and]
becometh surety in the presence of his friend.

Other examples of social insurance or welfare programs are


Medicare/Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, and Worker’s
Compensation, food stamps, welfare. Where we get into trouble with
this is by our dependence on government for these “insurance
benefits”. The government must tax you before it can give a check to
me each month. In short, the state will take money from our neighbors
against their will and objections so somebody else can receive the
benefit. Worst case scenario, our civil servants will resort to the force
of guns, on our behalf, to seize property from any neighbor who
stubbornly refuses to hand over what is demanded. To summarize
further, we are asking a third party agent to steal from our neighbor on
our behalf. This goes against the 8th commandment of “thou shalt not
steal”.

The distribution of this cost and benefit amongst the “social” allows for
those who fit the state’s pre-established criteria to receive medical,
retirement, unemployment, or workers compensation benefits.
Benefits received by an individual are not congruent with the amounts
the individual paid. Meaning you and I could be paying for somebody
who is in retirement, or one who has illegal citizenship, or one who
does not work and is dependant on welfare checks and food stamps, or
someone whose spouse has passed away, or someone who has a state
defined disability. I believe this is in violation of what Apostle Paul
writes in 2nd Thessalonians 3:6 –14. Some key points from these
verses are:

1. 3:8 – “nor did we eat of anyone’s bread free of charge”


2. 3:8 – “but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we
might not be a burden to any of you”
3. 3:10 – “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”
4. 3:11 – here Paul speaks of some who are not working at all and
are busybodies
5. 3:12 – Paul asks that those not working work and eat their own
bread
6. 3:14 – Paul says to stay away from those that do not work

Also, as man was being cast out from the Garden of Eden God cursed
the land and told man we need to work for our food. I believe that
Socialism is man’s/Satan’s way of reversing God’s curse. Genesis 3:19
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the
ground…”. State Socialism attempts to provide mankind with food,
health care, retirement, and survivor benefits. These benefits
ultimately deny God’s authority to sentence us to hardships. We
become less dependent on God and more dependent on the state. In
the case of the United States, the state is supposedly made up of the
people. It follows then that we become humanistic when we as a
people feel that we can depend on ourselves. Who needs God when
we can take care of ourselves? This “government will take care of us”
mentality drives people to laziness, especially when the checks keep
coming. All of our welfare systems are demanding more and more
funds as people seek assistance from our government. In essence, I
am forcing others to pay for my doctor bills and also for my child’s
education.

Here are some other supportive verses:

1st Thessalonians 2:9: "For ye remember, brethren, our labour and


travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be
chargeable unto any of you… "

1st Thessalonians 4:11-12 "work with your hands...that you may


walk properly toward those who are outside…"

Proverbs 21:25: "The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands
refuse to labour."
Ephesians 4:28: "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him
labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he
may have to give to him that needeth."

2nd Corinthians 11:9 “And when I was present with you, and
wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking
to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in
all [things] I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you,
and [so] will I keep [myself].”

Proverbs 13:4 (NIV) The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the
desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

Proverbs 20:4: The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold;
therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

The New Testament teaches for people of whatever station they are in to be content with
their station, which obviously runs contrary to the revolutionary notions of Communism.
This is because the emphasis of the New Testament in this general arena is ultimate
reliance upon God, not upon government or a revolutionary group or anything else, to
provide for our daily wants and needs (Matthew 6:25-34, 1Timothy 6:6-10). The
doctrine of the New Testament teaches for servants and slaves to be content in their
positions (Ephesians 6:5-8, etc.) We are further taught in Matt 20:25-27, Mark
10:42 –43, and Luke 22: 25 -27 that we are not to have dominion over
others, but to serve. We Christians serve one another. Christians
don’t lord over those who are not under them. Not by force, not by
vote, not by hiring a servant and then delegating to the servant an
authority to steal. Again, Christians don’t have dominion over their
neighbors. We cannot tax our neighbors to fund our retirement.

At the same time, the mercenary style of capitalism that also prevails
today, which seeks profit above all else and which forgets mercy is as
unbiblical as Communism and Socialism. I believe that in place of
much of the government handouts today, where there is true need, the
church (Christians) once filled this need and gave of their hearts
accordingly. Again, we cannot confuse charity with forced Socialism.
Unfortunately, we slowly see individuals depend more on the state
instead of God; it is easier. US Congressman in the 1840’s Robert Dale
Owen, later known as the father of American socialism, believed that
the Christian faith hindered man’s evolution. An Owen associate
wrote:

“The great object was to get rid of Christianity and to convert our
churches into halls of science... the plan was not to make open
attacks upon religion – although we might belabor the clergy and
bring them into contempt where we could ... but to establish a
system of state – we said national – schools... from which all
religion would be excluded and to which all parents were to be
compelled by law to send their children.”

It was extremely surprising to me when I read that public education


was the 10th plank of the Communist Manifesto. There are many other
quotes similar to the one above. It makes me wonder why Satan
prefers socialism and/or communism.