Many would like to say that the early Church was socialistic. They cite Acts 2 as a way to defend their own political ideals. Was the early church a Communistic community? Were they Socialists? Should you join the Presby-socialist party? Some of my emergent church friends are promoters of forced socialism based on this text. They claim that the state should be progressive because the early church was progressive.

If that is the case, give me your 80g I-pod. I don’t have one.

Acts 2:44-45 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.

Because their generosity extended to sharing of their goods, some have regarded this as a biblical endorsement for communism. It is not communism. In fact, the opposite is true. Communism is the sharing of goods, but it is a forced sharing of goods on the basis that no one had the right to own anything. Communism is compulsory; therefore it has nothing whatsoever to do with generosity. Peter himself endorses the right to private property (see Acts 5.3-4).

The sharing of possessions that went on in the early church was not socialism either. Socialism acknowledges the right of private property, but it compels individuals to give a percentage of, or everything above a certain figure, to others. Socialism does not deny a person a right to own things, but it denies him the right to have too many of these things as measured by someone else’s standard. Most people would be astounded to hear that American life is socialistic, but it is very socialistic. Whenever there is a system that taxes those who have more at a higher rater than those who have less in order that the state can take these resources and redistribute them to those who have less, that is socialism, because it is being done not willingly, but by force…

The early Christians shared their possessions, not because they were communists or socialists- not because they were forced to share their things- but for a far better reason. They shared their goods because they had learned generosity from God. God has been generous with them. So because God had been generous to them, they were determined to be generous to one another. -Dr. James M. Boice