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Friday, 16 January 2015

On the Non-Biblical roots of Socialism

Some trace the roots of Socialism back to this passage in Acts:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. (Acts 4:32-35)

And, you know, there's lots here that I love. The believers recognised that their possessions weren't their own, but God's. And Luke identifies God's grace in the generosity of the young church.

But it ain't Socialism. If it had been that, the a Church would have demanded first dibs on the land and houses long before the owners decided to make such good use of them. And instead of selling them it would probably have adopted a plan to build tractor factories. Which would have been a good idea, if you could get tractors to run on olive oil. After all, everyone was still tilling the land by hand or with oz ploughs. Anybody who got a tractor factory up and running - maybe with a decent five year plan for branching into combine harvesters - would have been onto an immediate winner.

And also, there is this from a bit later on - when Ananias announces he's sold some land and given them all the money, but in fact he's kept some for himself: 

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4)

And Ananias is struck down dead for lying to God.

Seems pretty clear to me that the young Church has adopted a policy of voluntary, mutual, charitable support. Good Victorian values. Peter makes it quite clear to Ananias that he is entitled to keep the land, keep the money - it's up to Ananias what he does with it. But what Ananias is doing is trying to get praise on the cheap. 

And so in a similar Biblical vein, I'm going to announce this year's Voluntary Giving Campaign. All Beaker Folk are invited to contribute whatever they want. It's completely optional. But, where Peter had divine assistance, I am monitoring all electronic traffic in and out of the Community WiFi. And I have a list of your addresses and a drone. Don't worry, when we ask for the voluntary 20% contribution, we won't need Santa to tell us who's being naughty or nice.

1 comment :

  1. You learn something new every day. Those ploughs were Australian either that or they were a Wizard idea. Or both.

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