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Archive for November 5th, 2014

See Part 1

Lenin Face palm

Recall that the first post in this series was originally a comment I made on a friend’s blog responding to an nonbeliever who tries to argue that the early Christians were Communists. The same nonbeliever replied back to my friend concerning the content of my original comment/post.   Here I will only have time to respond to his first paragraph.  I have reproduced the entirety of the first paragraph below:

That doesn’t say anything. Your friend, like you, has made a colossal (although I’m starting to think quite deliberate) mistake in confusing the 20th Century Russian experiment with Communism and the Communism practiced by the Apostles of Jesus and their converts. As I have repeatedly said: Communism is, at its most basic, a socioeconomic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth. A Jewish Kibbutz is Communist. David Koresh’s Christian commune was Communist. Plato wrote about Communist societies in The Republic. Communism predates Jesus by hundreds, if not thousands of years. Just because you can’t think ”Communism” without immediately envisaging Marx is your failing, not mine.

As readers may see, the reply focuses more on the issue of the meaning of Communism rather than the exegetical issues of Acts 2-5.  Of all the things that I said that he could have interacted with he decides to focus on one sentence in which I said “I think the fact that Acts 5 still acknowledged private property does not sit well with a Marxist reading of Acts 5.”

Let’s take a closer look.

1.) “That doesn’t say anything.”

Response: This sentence is merely a wave of the hand in dismissing the actual observation of the context of the book of Acts in our first post.  Anyone can assert, “That doesn’t say anything,” but it is another thing to demonstrate it.  I wished he would have proved it contextually from within the book of Acts that what I was saying was nothing (which the guy failed to do).

2.) “Your friend, like you, has made a colossal (although I’m starting to think quite deliberate) mistake in confusing the 20th Century Russian experiment with Communism and the Communism practiced by the Apostles of Jesus and their converts.”

Response: First off, how could I make this alleged “colossal mistake” of “confusing the 20th Century Russian experiment with Communism and the Communism practiced by the Apostles of Jesus and their converts” when I didn’t even mention anything in my original comment and post about anything pertaining to “20th Century Russian” Communism?  Secondly, the only way I can see him making this fallacious reasoning is if he read into my phrase “a Marxist reading of Acts 5.”  But then he would have to err by thinking that “Marxist = 20th Century Russian experiment.”  This is incorrect since one can be a Marxist and not subscribe to the particulars of Leninism, or Stalin’s version of Communism.  Or one can be a totally non-Russian Marxist by being a Maoist, etc.  Thirdly, I did not “deliberately confused” “20th Century Russian experiment” with what the Apostles of Jesus practiced.  Again, I couldn’t have committed a deliberate confusion when I wasn’t even talking about “20th Century Russian experiment.”  I hope our guest would not flirt with the logical fallacy of appeal to motive.

3.) “As I have repeatedly said: Communism is, at its most basic, a socioeconomic system whereby a group practices common property and common wealth.”

Response: First off, what he defined as Communism technically sounds more like socialism.  I quote the Encyclopedia of Britannica:

Socialism, social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members.

Of course part of Communism include a Socialist vision.  In fact, I would say Communism is a form of Socialism.  Note the Encyclopedia of Britannica’s entry on Communism:

Communism, the political and economic doctrine that aims to replace private property and a profit-based economy with public ownership and communal control of at least the major means of production (e.g., mines, mills, and factories) and the natural resources of a society. Communism is thus a form of socialism—a higher and more advanced form, according to its advocates. Exactly how Communism differs from socialism has long been a matter of debate, but the distinction rests largely on the communists’ adherence to the revolutionary socialism of Karl Marx.

Note from the above that the distinction between Communism and Socialism “rests largely on the communists’ adherence to the revolutionary socialism of Karl Marx.”  According to the regular and common use of the term “Communism,” it is associated with the socialism of Karl Marx.  Thus our guest is incorrect when he asserts “Just because you can’t think ”Communism” without immediately envisaging Marx is your failing, not mine.”

4.) “A Jewish Kibbutz is Communist. David Koresh’s Christian commune was Communist. Plato wrote about Communist societies in The Republic.”

Response: First off, there is an incorrect definition of Communism that I have noted earlier in point 3.  Secondly, even if all those referents were Communists (in the traditional meaning of the term, or applying our guest’s incorrect usage of the term), what does that have to do with being an actual rebuttal towards the contextual argument I’ve offered that Acts 2-5 are not normative for Christians to be socialists/Communists then or now?

5.) “Communism predates Jesus by hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Response: Again, there is an incorrect definition of communism that I have noted earlier in point 3.  For argument sake, even if Communism predates Jesus what does this have to do with the contextual argument I’ve offered that Acts 2-5 are not normative for Christians to be socialists/Communists then or now?

6.) “Just because you can’t think ”Communism”without immediately envisaging Marx is your failing, not mine.

Response: I’ve pretty much answered this criticism up to this point.  I must add a reminder of the bigger picture of what is going on.  Our guest spent an entire paragraph lambasting my one sentence: “I think the fact that Acts 5 still acknowledged private property does not sit well with a Marxist reading of Acts 5.”  He apparently thinks the problem is my lack of an imagination to distinguish between Communism and Marxism but I don’t think that is the real issue at hand.  The real issue at hand is whether there is room for me to say that his interpretation is “a Marxist reading of Acts 5.”  Gregory Paul is someone who advocate a Marxist interpretation of Acts 5.  In a news opinion piece, Paul apparently thinks that Acts 5 teaches a “terror-enforced-Communism imposed by a God who thinks that Christians who fail to join the collective are worthy of death.”  Paul also comments on the relationship between Acts 2-5 and Marx: “Now folks, that’s outright socialism of the type described millennia later by Marx – who likely got the general idea from the gospels.”  Now of course I do not believe Gregory Paul’s interpretation since I’ve written a rebuttal against a Marxist interpretation of Acts 2-5.  Here I am merely noting that the Marxists interpretation is exactly the interpretation advanced by our nonbelieving friend.

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