Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The early Christians were 'Communists'.

The early Christians seem to have been Communists in the original sense, or even hippies if you want (but without the physical free love and with threats).

Just look at the stories told in 'The Acts of the Apostles':

Acts 2:44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
And you better had to act this way and really give the community everything you had if some other story from the same book is to be believed:
Acts 5:1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. 7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?" And she said, "Yes, that was the price." 9 Then Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well." 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
That's some very efficient propaganda. So the message is clear: Don't hold anything back for yourself or God/Jesus will kill you. This line of thinking that you have to give everything to the community has hold up remarkably well if you look at modern cults and sects.

Selling everything you have and living together makes of course especially sense within apocalyptic communities that think that the End of the world is coming soon, like early Christianity, the Branch Davidians, etc.
And I'm sure that especially the capitalist US version of Christianity is willfully turning a blind eye on parts like Acts 2:44-45.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

What you are showing is that you are totally ignorant of the context.

This was not about "don't hold anything back for yourself or God will kill you" it is about promising something and then trying to lie your way out.

The whole context was he promised 100% of the money then "secretly" kept some for himself. Please ... if you going to critique the Bible ... get the story right to begin with....!

Daldianus said...

dear anonymous:

>This was not about "don't hold anything back for yourself or God will kill you" it is about promising something and then trying to lie your way out

And that makes you deserve death??

Well, it all depends on the rules of course. If BibleGod defines this as a sin that's worthy of capital punishment then, well, he's the boss, isn't he?

But stories like that scare people (even the Bible admits that) and fear is a good tactic to use in order to get what you want! Do you really think that somebody dared NOT to give everything to the community after having heard this story?

machinehuman said...

Jesus was a hippie.

MrSimpson said...

The text doesn't say that God or the people in the church killed Ananias, with his wife Sapphira.

It's everyone's choice to receive or not. God gives us the choice of death or life. If you choose not to accept forgiveness, that's your choice alone. God's offer to you is unlimited.

People say there's no fear in modern Christianity. People live lives totally without God and think that they're happy. Obviously in the early church that wasn't the case.

Nathan Alterton said...

Mr. Simpson is exactly right.

If you read the entire story you find that the problem Ananias and Sapphira ran into was not that they did not give everything, but that they desired to make themselves look great in the eyes of the other believers in the community.

Acts 5:3, 4
But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."

It is clear that Peter is finding fault with the lie, not with giving only a part of the price.

And to your notion that fear the witnesses experienced was because due to the idea that God might do the same to them if they misbehaved, I might suggest that that perhaps the fear was due more to coming into contact (be it however so brief) with the Living God is a fearful prospect. Fear is a proper response (although I don't think it's same kind of fear you're thinking of) and it is one that is common among persons in both Testaments who have encounters with God. It comes from a realization of the complete inadequacy of ones self in the face of the perfect Holiness of God.

You are absolutely right about God's prerogative to enact justice. The truth is that all sin comes with a death sentence; it's just that unless God has a particular point to make, He generally waits until we die naturally to levy this sentence.

If this seems harsh to you, as it does to most people, may I suggest that we all (you, me, most of the Christians I have had the privilege to fellowship with) don't have an adequate understanding of the seriousness of sin. It's not that God is overly harsh, but that we are desensitized.