Christian socialism

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All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. ~ Luke the Evangelist
All possessions are by nature unrighteous when a man possess them for personal advantage as being entirely his own, and does not bring them into the common stock for those in need. ~ Clement of Alexandria
In vain do they think themselves innocent who appropriate to their own use alone those goods which God gave in common; by not giving to others that which they themselves receive, they become homicides and murderers, inasmuch as in keeping for themselves those things which would alleviate the sufferings of the poor, we may say that every day they cause the death of as many persons as they might have fed and did not. ~ Gregory the Great
According to the fathers, all was in common in the beginning: the distinctions mine and thine, in other words, individual property, came with the spirit of evil. ~ Francesco Saverio Nitti

Christian socialism is a form of religious socialism based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Many Christian socialists believe capitalism to be idolatrous and rooted in greed, which some Christian denominations consider a mortal sin.

Quotes[edit]

  • All possessions are by nature unrighteous when a man possess them for personal advantage as being entirely his own, and does not bring them into the common stock for those in need.
  • Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.
  • In vain do they think themselves innocent who appropriate to their own use alone those goods which God gave in common; by not giving to others that which they themselves receive, they become homicides and murderers, inasmuch as in keeping for themselves those things which would alleviate the sufferings of the poor, we may say that every day they cause the death of as many persons as they might have fed and did not. When, therefore, we offer the means of living to the indigent, we do not give them anything of ours, but that which of right belongs to them. It is less a work of mercy which we perform than the payment of a debt.
  • Almost without exception, the early Christian Fathers whose teachings have come down to us spoke out fearlessly against usury, which includes interest also, and on the side of Communism. They proclaimed that, inasmuch as nature had provided all things in common, it was sinful robbery for one man to own more than another, especially if that other was in want. The man who gathered much whilst others had not enough, was a murderer.
  • Christian Socialism is but the holy water with which the priest consecrates the heart-burnings of the aristocrat.
    • Karl Marx, The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848).
  • The league at Allstedt wanted to establish this principle, Omnia sunt communia, ‘All property should be held in common’ and should be distributed to each according to his needs, as the occasion required. Any prince, count, or lord who did not want to do this, after first being warned about it, should be beheaded or hanged.
    • Thomas Müntzer, in Revelation and Revolution: Basic Writings of Thomas Müntzer (1993), p. 200
  • The stinking puddle from which usury, thievery and robbery arises is our lords and princes. They make all creatures their property—the fish in the water, the birds in the air, the plant in the earth must all be theirs. Then they proclaim God's commandments among the poor and say, "You shall not steal." They oppress everyone, the poor peasant, the craftsman are skinned and scraped.
    • Thomas Müntzer, Letter to the Princes, as cited in Transforming Faith Communities: A Comparative Study of Radical Christianity, p. 173
  • The doctrines held by the early Fathers of the Church on the nature of property are perfectly uniform. They almost all admit that wealth is the fruit of usurpation, and, considering the rich man as holding the patrimony of the poor, maintain that riches should only serve to relieve the indigent; to refuse to assist the poor is, consequently, worse than to rob the rich. According to the fathers, all was in common in the beginning: the distinctions mine and thine, in other words, individual property, came with the spirit of evil.
  • It is correctly asserted that the apostles undertook no social propaganda. Paul held no antislavery meetings, and Peter made no public protest against the organized grafting in the Roman system of tax-farming. Of course they did not. Even the most ardent Christian socialist of our day would have stepped softly if he had been in their place. The right of public agitation was very limited in the Roman Empire. Any attempt to arouse the people against the oppression of the government or the special privileges of the possessing classes, would have been choked off with relentless promptness. If, for instance, any one had been known to sow discontent among the vast and ever threatening slave population, — which was not negro, but white, — he would have had short shrift. Society was tensely alert against any possible slave rising. If a slave killed his master, the law provided that every slave of that household should be killed, even if there was no trace of complicity. Upper-class philosophers might permit themselves very noble and liberal sentiments only because there was no connection between them and the masses, and their sentiments ended in perfumed smoke.
Under such circumstances any prudent man will husband his chances of life and usefulness, and drop the seeds of truth warily. If the convictions of William Lloyd Garrison had burned in Paul, we should probably not know that Paul had ever existed. There is no parallel between such a situation and our own in a country where we are ourselves the citizen kings, and where the right of moral agitation is almost unlimited.
  • Mary knows that within her a child is gestating. For she thereupon composed a song. It is the greatest song in history. This "Magnificat" is the battle-hymn of democracy. Sensing a child within her, Mary feels herself equal to the Roman Empire; and she announces that the days of despotism are numbered. Caesar on his seven-hilled throne may sacrilegiously style himself Augustus, "the divine one." But Mary as confidently disallows him that title. Heaven is not on the side of privilege and oppression, she affirms, but is rather on the side of the trodden. Rome is great, but Galilee with God is greater. In this song three classes of people are objects of Our Lady's invective — "the proud," "the mighty," and "the rich." And she passes upon them a threefold sentence: they are to be "scattered," "put down from their seats," and "sent empty away."

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External links[edit]

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