Biblical “socialism”: Try It

Somebody asked once in a forum where I roam, for ideas about what is good about socialism. The questioner was a bright intellectual sort, who I think was inclined to favor it, but was surprised at being confronted out “in the Web” and in the forum with reality, and was flailing in the search for arguments.

There are a couple of rare cases that are solid-rock examples of when what you might call “socialism” actually did work, without resulting in social poverty and totalitarianism and massacres of millions of innocents as it always does in the present political and Marxist forms. History is your friend. BUT those cases involved totally voluntary participation, and in the longest-lasting example, spiritual devotion.

One time was in the book of Acts:
Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Acts 4:32 ¶And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34 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,
35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Maybe Karl Marx got the wording from there. But in Acts, it was voluntary socialism: everybody involved willingly (and cheerfully) gives everything they have.

Another case is the missionary work I joined in 1971, a missionary work among youth that actually gave the Jesus People its go. That work was based on the voluntary dedication of 100 percent sharing, something most churches teach is not for today.

Many Roman Catholic orders began this way. There is one Franciscan order that still requires the three vows: chastity, poverty, and obedience. The vow of poverty means giving up all their worldly possessions to the order and then considering all property as commonly owned.

Another time is the communities or communes established in Ireland by the followers of St. Patrick. After he won the whole island of his former slave-masters with the pure force of the love of Jesus Christ, communities sprang up all over the Emerald Isle, with men, women, and families sharing all.

These “socialist communes” were based on totally voluntary giving by everyone involved. You could join in the common cause or not, or continue living your regular life. The motivations were “the love of God constraineth me”.

And monasteries in early AD Ireland founded by St. Patrick and his disciples and their later followers. These were good numbers of families, working together in love and sharing everything, and their pastors/shepherds were often the women.

The Pilgrims also practiced this 100 percent sharing when they got off their ships at Plymouth Rock. That first year was a lousy crop, the first winter half their people died. During that first summer, it turns out some of their numbers were “sick” more often that the ones out sweating in the fields.

So the following summer the governor divided up the land, and each father was assigned his land, and they were all told that they were going to keep what they themselves grew. It was a bumper crop, an abundant harvest, plenty for all and to share with the Indians on that first occasion of thanksgiving.

So in cases of civil society as a whole it will not work until the millenium, the thousand year direct reign of Jesus Christ during which Satan is bound.

There is another point here too though, and that is that we see that when people have given themselves to Christ, it changes them. This happens on an individual basis and in fact is one of the ways you can determine whether someone has truly received Christ.

If they truly have, and it is not just a convenient conversion, or a “jailhouse” conversion, then there are changes in their behavior. It will manifest in real-life expressions of generosity.

This living out of the “giving” side of the “social” equation in genuine born-again Christians is seen in the earliest days of Christianity. Mothers who in times before would have cast their “unwanted” babies into the wild instead laid them at the doorsteps of Christian families, knowing they would be loved and cherished. One Roman official in Asia Minor, even in writing his emperor on how to eliminate this new sect, remarked that all they do is get together once a week and swear to do no theft and to love their neighbors.

The post-Reformation era has resulted in the explosion in recent centuries of works of charity founded on the same Christian motivations. The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the Young Men’s Christian Association, in soup kitchens across the world, mission hospitals. In fact hospitals grew out of the habit in some Christian orders of receiving the sick and infirm for care.

And truly “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. Giving your life to Christ makes giving an even greater pleasure.


Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

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