Christianity updated

April 13, 2015

 

One of the many ironies about contemporary Christians is that they tend to be supportive of capitalism. This isn’t surprising: from the time of Emperor Constantine, the Church has been allied with established power-structures, which have found it useful as a way to keep the masses obedient. So Christianity accommodated itself to the Roman Empire, then to feudalism, then to royal absolutism in early modern Europe, and then to modern capitalism. Nothing surprising in this; ideologies adapt themselves to material realities. It is, however, strictly absurd for a Christian to ally himself with business or “the market” and loathe the ideas of socialism and communism. On the one hand you have a society that valorizes greed, ruthlessness, profit-making at the expense of human welfare, exploitation of billions, and the accumulation of wealth, none of which is particularly consistent with Jesus’s love of the poor, of the cast-off, and his admonition that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. On the other hand you have socialism, the idea of economic democracy, a society in which working people control their own economic activity. Or communism, a society organized by the slogan “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Socialism and, especially, communism are little else but the politicization of compassion, of love and the idea of human dignity, which is to say they are the politicization of Jesus’s version of Christianity. Whether they’ll ever be realized on a large scale is an open question; it can scarcely be doubted, however, that they are both the ideals toward which we must strive and the proper modern incarnations of original Christianity. Of its spirit, its poor-loving, moral-revolutionary spirit. Indeed, early Christian communities were often organized in a decidedly “communistic” way, as attested by the Bible itself, specifically Acts 4:32-35:

 

"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

 

"...Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."

 

Again, the predictable historical irony: true socialists and communists are more Christian than most Christians. 

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NOTES OF AN UNDERGROUND HUMANIST

© 2014-2019 by Chris Wright