All things common

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All Things Common

There is a lot of confusion created by the quote in Acts about believers having all "All things in common".

The early Christian community was a sharing society dependent upon individual choice under what Paul calls the perfect law of liberty. Those choices of faith, hope and charity provided a system of social welfare fueled by a daily sacrifice of the people, for the people and by the people. These charitable practices through the ministers of the Church who where public servant providing a daily ministration that bound the people by love instead of force, hope instead of entitlements and faith instead of allegiance.

While love, which comes in the form of charity, is imposed by God and Jesus Christ, the enforcement is through the spirit and not men like Cain, Nimrod, or Caesar.

Those who misinterpret the "all things common" quote incorrectly fail to understand the separation of the Church and state or people. The ministers of the Church composed first of disciples and then called Apostles or ambassadors and ministers were separate from the general population of the people.

They were not better or rulers but like Christ they were people who came out because they were called out to serve as shepherds of Gods flock, his people, his nation.

Like the Levites of old, Moses and Jesus created a system of self-government where the ministers were separate and titular. They could not exercise authority one over the other like the Benefactors of the world in fact they were to be in the world but not of the world or depend upon its benefits as members.

While they owned all things in common they did not exercise authority one over the other. The people did not belong to the body of Levites but individually belonged to God[1] Himself or so is the intention of God. The ministers of the Church in the wilderness and the early Church belonged to God as bones servants and therefore they owned all things common [2] but the people were returned to their possessions and their families[3]. The same as the Church in the wilderness the early Church as a group of appointed ministers called out to minister to the Kingdom of God at hand was composed of men and women who belonged to God, were not of the "world" and were assigned to feed his sheep just as the Levites served the tents of the congregations by providing a Daily ministration through the Corban or sacrifice of the people given as Freewill offerings which the New Testament calls charity. They, the Church and its ordained ministers, held things as joint heirs of a society with a mission of charity as unhewn but lively Stones from which the living Altars of God may be built.

The sheep of Christ hear His voice[4] and live by charity not by force, the appointed shepherds of Christ provide a network of charity and a daily ministration of righteousness according to The Way of Christ as one body in the world but not of it. Understanding the church in general and the Church specific will also help people understand why those rich men and the disciples who wanted to become appointed ministers of this unique form of free government as the called out of Christ had to give up "all their property" and hold all things in common.

John the Baptist was against the use of force in creating the altruistic society of Christianity. Christ forbid the use of force for all Christians in providing the benefits of society and warned against covetousness through the Ten Commandments in His directives about Eternal life and Corban of the Socialism of the Pharisees.

Primitive Communism

Roman Montero wrote a book, "All things in common", suggesting that early Christians were communists because of his private interpretation of the "all things common" quote. Roman redefines communism as from each according to his ability and to each according to his need. That of course is not the definition of Communism because you must answer how the distribution is made.

Who has the authority to take from one and give to another which is the very function of charity. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 makes it clear that if you do not work you should not eat.

Communism is not a system of charity but a system of one purse which runs to evil and we are warned against.

The idea of "primitive communism" originated from the teachings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They of course argued that hunter-gatherer societies were traditionally based on egalitarian social relations and common ownership. They used their faulty logic to promote the covetous ruler-ship of collectivism through the state which was one of the great disasters of our time.

Their ideas about Communism eventually produced some of the most blood thirsty governments of the last millennium robbing and destroying some of the most productive members of society. Suggesting that "primitive communism" is the natural course of society is utter nonsense.

Among primitive Inuit you would commonly share any seal you caught in hope that if you did not catch a seal the next day others might share with you what they caught. You owned your knife, your spear, your bow, your mukluks and parka which might be the total of your wealth. And if you were a really good hunter people would make sure you got the lion share of food and even gift warmer mittens to you because you were more important than others.

This idea of "primitive communism" by Marx and Engels is fiction. A sharing society and communism are not the same thing. They would have been better to call it "primitive capitalism". The hunter or gatherer accumulates food or resources because he owns his personal means of production, his labor. What he gathers is his. He may consume it, use it, store it or he may take it back to the camp or tribe where he then may chooses to share with other hunter gatherers in that he will win or earn their favor and appreciation to win favor and promote community.

This "primitive capitalism" was practiced by whole nations which had a system of voluntary redistribution of wealth through what was called altars.

The egalitarian society is one where all people deserve equal rights and opportunities not a right to what others produce, hunt or gather. A sharing society dependent upon charitable love for one another was the tradition of the early Church and Moses but John the Baptist and Jesus were specific that you should not force that sharing by an exercising authority over the other.

Yes, Justin the Martyr and Tertulian talked about sharing bread and the apostles rightly divided bread from house to house, but this was within a system of charity and choice. There was n Benefactors who exercised authority one over the other in the Christian community.

Jesus was not a socialist nor did the early Church practice communism. Communism is not a system of charity but a system of one purse which Bible says runs to evil and we are warned against.

Montero and others who misinterpret the "all things common" quote incorrectly fail to understand the separation of the Church and state or people. Like the Levites of old, Moses and Jesus created a system of self-government where the ministers were separate and titular from the general population of the people. They could not exercise authority one over the other like the Benefactors of the world. While they owned all things in common they did not exercise authority one over the other. The people did not belong to the body of Levites but individually belonged to God[5] Himself or so is the intention of God. The ministers of the Church in the wilderness and the early Church owned all things in common [6] but the people were returned to their possessions and their families[7].

The same as the Church in the wilderness the early Church as a group of appointed ministers called out to minister to the Kingdom of God at hand was composed of men and women who belonged to God, were not of the "world" and were assigned to feed his sheep just as the Levites served the tents of the congregations by providing a Daily ministration through the Corban or sacrifice of the people given as Freewill offerings which the New Testament calls charity. They, the Church and its ordained ministers, held things as joint heirs of a society with a mission of charity as unhewn but lively Stones from which the living Altars of God may be built.

The sheep of Christ hear his voice and live by charity not by force, the appointed shepherds of Christ provide a network of charity and a daily ministration of righteousness according to The Way of Christ.

In fact you cannot be a Communist nor even a socialist and a Christian at the same time. If we are going define a Christian as someone who believes Jesus and wants to do what he said. Socialism relies upon men who call themselves Benefactors but exercise authority one over the other.

Montero does see the Church and the Christian community as a system of self supporting charity where people provided and cared for one another but those who think the Christians were communists or even socialist are misled in their final conclusion because they do not understand the nature of the relationship of the appointed Church and the people they were meant to serve and the Kingdom of God and how it works and does not work.

Jesus was not a socialist. We were to take care of one another but only by freewill offerings motivated out of a loving heart and not a covetous one.

Communist Altruism

  • “PHILOSOPHICAL opinion is heavily weighted against the notion that members of a large community can care about one another except in cases of extreme emergency, such as war or natural disaster... Humans are simply born with a limited amount of caring capacity...Marx disagrees. He thinks that an unalienated society is possible. It is a society in which members of the community take an interest in the interests of their fellow citizens non-instrumentally.” The Possibility of Communist Altruism J. L. Jenkins History of Philosophy Quarterly Vol. 12, No. 1 (Jan., 1995), pp. 95-109

What if 'members of the community take a covetous interest in the interests of their fellow citizens'?

It is not the system that saves society but the morality. Morality is a choice made by individuals. You cannot enforce morality or altruism without becoming a Cain, Nimrod or Caesar of the world. You can seek to protect your neighbor from falling victim to the abusive choices of others by seeking the Kingdom of God, which is the right to be ruled by God in your heart and mind and by seeking the righteousness of God whose son came to serve.

Early Israel was a large community that operated entirely by freewill offerings. It had no king or ruler, no property, sales or income tax. It did have a tithe but you chose to whom you would give it and there was no enforceable penalty for failing to do so. It had an all volunteer army and was virtually invincible. It did not oppress the stranger in its midst and had good relationships with many of its neighbors because of the sacrifice of the "Red Heifer".

Modern Christians and most Jews have little understanding of how that system of government worked and functioned. Even Israel forgot the secret of their success and chose a king, a ruler which was a rejection of God. God allowed them to pick someone to rule over them but listed five things to write own and read to him every day as a reminder of his limitation.

Any constitution that tries to set up a government without those limitations on those who will be in power would not be a biblical constitution.

But who is aware of those restrictions and why they were to be written down. Karl Mark certainly did not. Marx thinks a communist society will be able to operate according to the principle “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need.”

The operating word here is “from”.

Who decides the “from”?

Who should decide the legitimacy of a “need”?

In basic capitalism the one who sweats and toils to produce gets to decide the fate and distribution of the products of his labor, sweat and blood, but in communism someone else who did not travail and toil to produce will decide for those who do. Certainly their can be abuses created by individuals who start out practicing capitalism because capitalism leaves the choice in the hands of the individual.

Communists, socialists and other progressives want to take choice away from the individual and give it to the collective or its representatives. There can be little or no Communist Altruism because the system itself is predicated on the principle of taking choice away from the individual which is the primary characteristic of basic capitalism.

Personal selfishness allows society to neglect their neighbor. This is why both Jesus and Moses said you must love your neighbor as yourself and why Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their system of Corban and their failure to attend to the weightier matters.

  • “Freedom is the Right to Choose, the Right to create for oneself the alternatives of Choice. Without the possibility of Choice, and the exercise of Choice, a man is not a man but a member, an instrument, a thing”. Archibald MacLeish was an American poet, writer and the Librarian of Congress. (1892 – 1982)

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Footnotes

  1. Numbers 3:12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;
    Numbers 3:45 Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD.
    Numbers 8:14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.
  2. Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
    Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
  3. Leviticus 25:10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
    Leviticus 25:41 And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.
  4. John 10:8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
    John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
    John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
    Psalms 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,
    John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
  5. Numbers 3:12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;
    Numbers 3:45 Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD.
    Numbers 8:14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.
  6. Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
  7. Leviticus 25:10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. Leviticus 25:41 And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.
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