Were the Early Christians Communists?

Were the early Christians, living with everything in common (Acts 2:42-47), proto-Marxists?

Amos Yong says no:

“Don’t confuse this early Jewish-Christian way of life with some sort of socialism or communism. Karl Marx’s critiques were directed at the industrialism he saw in mid-nineteenth-century England, when workers were forced to sell their labor at the market rate (which was then insufficient to supply their daily needs) and then not allowed to keep their profits (which were pocketed by the capitalist merchants). Marx’s solution was to distribute both private property and the ownership of productive capital to the proletariat (workers) so that they could gain from the profits of their labor.

What happened among the three thousand converts on the Day of Pentecost was not an early expression of Marx’s manifesto. For one thing, the sharing of these early followers of Jesus as the Messiah was motivated by a repentant heart and the gift of the Holy Spirit, not by the socialist rule of law. For this reason, the selling of personal possessions was a voluntary practice rather than an institutionalized rejection of private property. Further, such sale and distribution of proceeds did not seem to have occurred systematically; instead, this unfolded over time, according to the needs of the community. What Luke describes here is not some early from of communism but is exemplary of the community of the Holy Spirit.”

– Amos Yong, Who is the Holy Spirit? A Walk With the Apostles, 30-31.

You Might Be a Prophet If…

[a case study from the book of Micah]

(1) You deeply desire to reform God’s people.
Prophets have a tendency of pointing out the sins of the church (Micah 1:1-7) and calling her to replace false & empty worship with just & faithful living (Micah 6:1-8).

[Perhaps you sometimes wonder out loud why and how Jesus’ message got kidnapped for other agendas – “How Did Jesus Come to Love Guns and Hate Sex?”]

(2) You are hyper-sensitive to economic injustice and the plight of the poor.
Prophets also often condemn the greed of the wealthy and powerful (Micah 2:1-5), criticize political leaders and ideologies that allow the poor to suffer (Micah 3:1-4), and remind the wealthy of their responsibility to the poor and powerless (Micah 6:9-16).

[Warning: Fox News might call you an anti-Christian marxist – “Pope Francis’ Stinging Critique of Capitalism”]

(3) You find anything short of radical peace and inclusion simply unacceptable.
Prophets are sometimes foolish & unrealistic enough to long for a day when: vastly different people get along, war tactics/strategies are forgotten and left behind, and weapons of violence are transformed into tools of life (Micah 4:1-5).

[In fact, you might even have the gall to start being obedient now – “Beating AK-47’s into Shovels”]

(4) You are mocked and ignored because of your pleas for counter-cultural obedience.
Prophets are frequently considered dramatic, negative, and pointlessly contrarian.  The truth is that they truly feel the weight of all that has gone wrong with the world (Micah 1:8-9; Micah 7:1-13) and they can’t help but speak and act.  Unfortunately, this is often ignored or misinterpreted by those who only want to be affirmed and hear good news (Micah 2:6-13; Micah 3:5-8).

[Pro-Tip: You might receive a lot of patronizing questions and rolling of the eyes  – “You’re Not a Pacifist, Are You?”]

Is there anything you might add to this profile of a prophet?
Who do you know you is currently acting in a prophetic way?

non-prophet comic jpg