Was the Early Church Socialist?

The social justice crowd frequently supports their position saying it’s “Biblical”. What does that mean, and was the church in Acts socialist and using redistribution, like social justice promoters want Christians to advocate today?

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite writes Christians should encourage the government to follow the socialist model, as she wrote the early church did. Of course, the question she ignored — if we should be like the early church, was the early church socialist?

Part of the way we got here is by Christian conservatives ignoring a lot of what the Bible says on wealth and poverty, and being highly selective in what they call “biblical.” In all these reference to the “Bible,” the self-styled Christian capitalists don’t ever seem to recall that in the Book of Acts, the early disciples “shared all things in common.” As I wrote for On Faith, the early church is Glenn Beck’s worst nightmare because it was socialist.

Notice she admits they shared, all the while agreeing with the social justice crowd about forced redistribution. It’s a slight-of-hand trick she and others hope you won’t notice as she talks of the Bible on one hand, but attempts to apply it to something totally different, and hopes nobody notices (sort of an inverse straw-man argument).

The church in Acts was never socialist. The “social justice” socialist-church Thistlethwaite supports exists apart from the book of Acts — it’s not Biblical. Sharing was voluntary, not forced; Peter makes the point to Ananias (Acts five) his property (and money from any sale) was his to do with as he wished. Ananias’ actions were not forced (socialism), they were voluntary (charity).

The church in Acts:

  • Affirmed private property rights.
  • Encouraged voluntary sharing (charity).
  • Didn’t forcefully confiscate property.
  • Didn’t lobby Rome to become socialist.

While the social justice ideology:

  • Denies rights (you don’t “need” or “deserve” it).
  • Claims charity is insufficient.
  • Encourages forced seizing of private property.
  • Encourages lobbying for socialism.

Those don’t exactly match, do they? Here’s a comment left on Sojourners on an article titled “Why Christians Should be Biased”. The title of course, tells you immediately they’re not in a Biblical position, but we’ll move on.

… here in America hide these parts of the gospel by not preaching them and only take a stand on the fact that it’s not the government’s job to aid the poor. This even is unfortunately not biblical. It’s a lie propigataed by uninformed Christians.

First off, it’s not nice to call people liars — especially when they’re easily demonstrated 100% correct (and it makes you look foolish besides).

Could this person please identify where in the New Testament Jesus, Paul or any apostle teaches Christians should lobby the government to force redistribution instead of individual charity? They can’t because it’s not there, and yet they claim it’s Biblical—without offering any proof—and call those who know it’s not true liars.

Let’s consider what might have happened if an early disciple followed the modern “social justice” forceful redistributive position.

The “social justice” apostle-organizer meets with a group of disciples, and slowly rises to his feet.

Here’s what we’re going to do guys—Paul, stop that charity collection, you’re wasting time—we’re going to start a massive lobbying effort, we’ve hired the best and—Paul will you please sit down, we’re trying to organize—we’ll convince Rome to forcefully confiscate possessions of all the fat cats who don’t need it, and get them to redistribute it. So get out there and lobby, lobby, lobby! We can do this! It’s change! We’ll just take a small administrative fee to support our effort and pay our consultants (enter Saul Alinsky, extreme stage far-left)…

Nope, nothing like that appears, and yet that’s what the heretical “social justice” position promotes.

Of course, in our fictitious dramatic example, Paul would be next to speak up:

Um, once we get Rome to confiscate the possessions of the undeserving fat cats, what will stop them from using it for purposes we don’t intend it to, like abortion? What if Rome gives it to people who should provide for themselves?, and the reply “We’re working on that — don’t be such a conspiracy theorist”.

Did Jesus ever teach that you should pass your responsibility to someone else? Why should we transfer what the church should do to a godless government? Isn’t taking from others greedy and theft? (and a violation of at least two commandments — “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not covet”).

Those promoting the imaginary idea the Bible teaches “social justice” (redistribution) are living in The Matrix — they’re comfortable in their imaginary world believing whatever they want to — in spite of facts. Believing the fantasy social justice is Christian is as reasonable as thinking the moon is made of cheese. Both are provably false, and only accepted by people stubbornly refusing to accepting facts and/or living in The Matrix.

Ask where the New Testament teaches Christians about forced redistribution and you’ll be met with a deer-in-the-headlights look, because they know what they’re peddling isn’t true — “social justice” isn’t something Christians are taught. Ever.

Why they continue to peddle what they know to be false remains a mystery.

True Christian charity is voluntary, while social justice is a counterfeit gospel with no Biblical support at all (Wallis’ claim social justice is at the heart of the gospel is so absurd it’s stunning anyone falls for it); it’s embarrassing (and wrong) when Wallis and Thistlethwaite try to force the square peg of social justice and forced redistribution into the round hole of Biblical charity.

If you want to be socialist, fine. If you want to promote socialist policies like redistribution, okay. If you want to lobby the government to become Marxist, you’re free to do so (at least until you get your way, and then you’ll find you’re not free anymore. Socialists are free to do as they want unless they get what they want, a fact they likely miss the irony of).

But don’t even think socialist policies are Christian, or exampled in the New Testament, because they’re not.

Further Reading

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