My previous essays argued that evangelicalism has failed to detect and reject the biblically inconsistent starting points of an unholy trinity of cultural ideologies: Marxism, multiculturalism, and genderism. These essays noted that despite Marxism’s total incompatibility with Christianity, some such as F. D. Maurice (1805–1872) have argued for so-called Christian Marxist positions.[i] The previous essay began laying the foundation, which this essay and the next essay continues to lay, so that in a future article the Marxist biblical prooftexts may begin to be debunked. The foundation began with introducing the most popular constellation of passages in Acts (Acts 2:42–47; 4:32–37; 5:4; 6:1) to which so-called Christian Marxists such as González, Gutiérrez, andMiranda appeal for support.[ii] That essay noted these passages are connected both by Luke’s literary structure in which some are progress reports and all are connected by their content of Christian charity to the poor.[iii] This essay demonstrates the thesis that any resemblance between Marxism and Christianity is purely superficial by continuing to lay the foundation for debunking Marxist biblical prooftexts in a future article.
Aside from Marxist concerns, there are at least four main views concerning the constellation of passages of Acts 2:42–47; 4:32–37; 5:4; 6:1: ideal, temporary, sharing (common purse/community of goods), and stewardship. In the ideal view, Luke’s account is not historical, but rather promotes the Greek ideal of commonness and equality in friendship and the state.[iv] This view fits well with the general descriptions in Acts 2 and 4, but does not work for the specific events related to Barnabas, Ananias and Sapphira, and the widows in Acts 4, 5, and 6. Further, this view violates the principle of inerrancy (that the original biblical manuscripts are without error) by denying the historicity of the Bible.[v]
Others have argued that the specific manner in which the church gave charity to the poor in these passages was temporary due to particular hardships in Jerusalem,[vi] the church’s mistaken idea that the future kingdom should be enacted on earth since Jesus would return soon,[vii] or other factors.[viii] Despite the fact that Saxby’s extensive historical study indicates the practice ceased with the persecutions in Acts 8–9 and 12, the temporary duration of the practice does not resolve whether its nature was sharing or stewardship.[ix]
The next essay will explain the sharing (common purse/community of goods) and stewardship views. For now, the reader may note that evangelical standard reference sources and respected scholars deny that Scripture supports Marxism. For example, noted apologist Norman Geisler says of Acts 2:44–45, “this passage does not teach an abiding form of Christian communism or socialism.”[x] Marxism is incompatible with Christianity so that any resemblance between Marxism and Christianity is purely superficial.
[ii]Justo L. González, Faith and Wealth: A History of Early Christian Ideas on the Origin, Significance, and Use of Money, Google Books ed. (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1990), 79–91; Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation, trans. Sister Caridad Inda and John Eagleson, Revised, Kindle ed. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1988), 150, 172–73; José Porfirio Miranda, Communism in the Bible, trans. Robert R. Barr, Reprint ed. (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2004), 1–2.
[iii]Acts 2:42-47; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20 Darrell L. Bock, Acts, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) in Logos Library System[CD-ROM], vii–viii; F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, Revised ed., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1988) in Logos Library System[CD-ROM], 123; David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 2009) in Logos Library System[CD-ROM], 42; John B. Polhill, Acts, The New American Commentary, vol. 26 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995) in Logos Library System[CD-ROM], 48; Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985) in Logos Library System[CD-ROM], 2:352.
[iv]Aristotle, Nic.Eth. 9.8.1168b; Plato, Rep. 462C; Alfons Weiser, “Community of Goods,” in The Encyclopedia of Christianity, ed. Erwin Fahlbusch and Geoffrey William Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999) in Logos Library System[CD-ROM], 622.