When I graduated from college in 1989, it looked like socialism was dead. The Soviet Union-the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics-was in its death throes. In comparison, the American economy was booming, and countries around the world were beginning to liberalize their markets. After a sophomoric flirtation with socialism, I had concluded that capitalism was probably the most workable economic model. I had not resolved my lingering suspicions, however, that capitalism was immoral and that socialism was still the Christian ideal.
Part of that impression came from biblical passages that seem to suggest as much: "Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common....There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need" (Acts 4:32-35 ESV).
Many who have read this passage have wondered if the early church was communist and the Christian ideal is communism. After all, this was the first church in Jerusalem. They were "filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" (Acts 4:31 NIV). If they didn't get it right, who did?
On the surface, this looks like communism, but that's a misreading. The details and context here are everything.
First of all, modern communism is based on Marx's theory of class warfare, in which the workers revolt against the capitalists-the owners of the means of production-and forcibly take control of private property. After a while, Marx predicted, the socialist state would wither away and you'd get a communist utopia in which everyone lived in peace, harmony, and preternatural freedom. There's none of this class warfare stuff in the early church in Jerusalem, nor is private property treated as immoral. These Christians are selling their possessions and sharing freely and spontaneously.
Second, the state is nowhere in sight. No Roman centurions are showing up with soldiers. No government is confiscating property and collectivizing industry. No one is being coerced. The church in Jerusalem was just that-the church, not the state. The church doesn't act like the modern communist state. As Ron Sider notes, "Sharing was voluntary, not compulsory."1 In fact, sharing by definition is voluntary.
Read More at journal.equip.org
I got this article today in an e-mail. The short answer is "No" but you should read the article to get the context and understand the reasoning.