Lots of fear-flaunting these days.  In the 50’s, the scare word was “Communist.”  Now, “Socialist.”

Having never seriously studied political theory, I did read Mao’s “little red book” in college and there was a period of time during seminary when I was reading books by Christian Marxists (mostly Latin American “Liberation Theologians”).  At that stage I was impressed with the argument that the early church was socialistic, if not communistic.  A central text was this from the book of Acts:

“Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common … .  There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold … and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts of the Apostles, 4:32-35)

How’s the Church doing with that model today?

Nothing?

Why?

Because “That’s Socialist!”

It also challenges the Americanity (America + Christianity) of our privileged culture.

It’s the opposite of the “Prosperity Gospel.”


As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states:

“Socialists have deployed ideals and principles of equality, democracy, individual freedom, self-realization, and community or solidarity.”

“Given the diversity of fundamental principles to which socialists commonly appeal, it is perhaps unsurprising that few attempts have been made to link these principles under a unified framework.” (hence the fingers pointing at failed socialistic systems around the world—“See, they don’t work!”).

I find Marx’s famous summary helpful:

“A suggested strategy has been to articulate some aspects of them as requirements flowing from what we might call the Abilities / Needs Principle, following Marx’s famous dictum, in The Critique of the Gotha Program, that a communist society should be organized so as to realize the goals of producing and distributing “From each according to [their] abilities, to each according to [their] needs.”

Sounds like a good old American principle to me.  What’s the biggest obstacle to practicing these principles?  A Religion (and maybe a Nation) that has (conveniently) forgotten its own story, its own roots, and perhaps its own Founder (s).

I may not do very well practicing a socialistic way of life, but it seems good, right and ethical to me.  If a government can’t practice this, why couldn’t “we the people”?

What do you think?

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