Recently I read an exchange where one party was defending socialism based upon Acts Chapter 2. That was an interesting thought.
The person continued the exchange by postulating that voting for ideas based on biblical principles should be encouraged. That was an interesting thought as well.
My main response to using Acts Chapter 2 as a defense for socialism?
The movement in this biblical account is a movement of:
the Holy Spirit
on his own people
to meet the need of the time.
The Roman government did not organize this system of economics. Nor did the mainline religion of the day promote or encourage this idea. The “sharing of all the things they had” was a specific remedy for a specific time. If I can put it in a nutshell — it was not a government mandate upon all of the people.
Yes, it would be nice if all people were willing to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading as it happened in Acts 2. But I’m not sure that the Bible itself supports the idea of communal ownership. But the Bible does support the ideas of individual accountability and responsibility and providing for one’s own household. (Ephesians 6:7-8, 1 Timothy 5:8)
I find the Old Testament system of harvest very interesting and applicable to this discussion. At harvest time, it was the practice of the Israelites to make their harvest without stripping absolutely all of the produce. Every field was intentionally left with some product remaining where it grew or fell when it was cut. The purpose of this was so that those in need could come along and reap from these leavings to support themselves or their families. A perfect example is found in the book of Ruth.
This model allowed those in need the dignity of working to meet their own needs; it did not place the burden of deciding who is in need on the field owner; it did not require him to go around and give handouts; it simply required of him to maintain a generous spirit toward those in his community. He was free to give without additional demands placed upon him to glean, process, and deliver the produce for those who were in need. The need was met without stripping out the honor.
The second statement about voting for ideas based on biblical principles. That was a bold jump, indeed.
Many people believe that starting the day with prayer is a biblical principle and prayer is definitely a biblical principle. Yet our society does not want to “mandate” school prayer or even a moment of silence for those who want to pray.
Many people believe that a baby has the right to be born, no matter what the circumstances were that brought them into being; and the value of life is a principle close to the hear of God. Yet Christians all across the board choose to vote for candidates who make it very clear that they will remove all obstacles for abortion.
Yet this person wants to mandate sharing everything equally. It is an example of choosing the policies that sound good to myself and discarding those that I do not like.
I recently read “How Should a Christian View Socialism?” This article is a good entry level exposition and would be a great place to start a study in the idea from a biblical perspective. I know that the person I’ve referenced in this article is a very educated person, but I would also be inclined to believe that study of biblical sources has been neglected.
In the end, I do not believe that “sharing everything” can be mandated. Helping others to help themselves is a principle that can be and should be lived through all of society, not just the Christian circle. Even that, though, is not something that can be legislated.