Jun 202013
 

anglicanTHE riches and goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast; notwithstanding every man ought of such things as he possesseth liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability. 

Here is something I used to be “Anabaptist” about. I believed for a time that Christian living was communal living, if done properly. I believed that all Christians ought to be working for the common good of fellow Christians. The communes of early CC days were utopian days for sure. I don’t quite know how that got planted in my head, but it stuck for a great many years. Of course, I did not like the idea, but I figured it was correct. When I was much younger, I figured I did not even need a job. God would provide miraculously every day, and I could just serve people. That worked for a short while, until the people I was living with told me to get a job or get out.

There are churches that require that you report your gross income to the bean counters. 10% would be monitored to the strictest standards. I don’t understand that at all. There are times when I can do above 10%, and times I can barely scrape together $20. But I never understood the idea that 10% tithe carried over to the NT Church, when all the other requirements stopped. To me, it is kind of like speaking in tongues. You must also get bit by snakes and heal the sick. Right?

Anyway, second to the last article, so have fun!

 Posted by at 3:35 am

  13 Responses to “XXXVIII. Of Christian men’s good which are not common”

  1. Never was tempted to live communally, always hated those who wanted to ‘live by faith’ when in reality they were living off the sweat of other people’s brow. Cannot stand to see people promote themselves as trusting God. They are really living off others and getting a good reputation. But even most of those are secretly hated by others who see through the thinly veiled mask of spirituality.

    But the Anabaptists had and have quite a bit to commend them IMO.

  2. It does seem seem that the church in Acts lived in what we would now describe as a commune. I’m pretty sure all the able bodied folks still worked, they just brought it all together and shared. I don’t think that was ever meant to be the eternal model for Christ’s church, just what they did way back then.

    I do think there is a big responsibility to take care of each other within the local bodies. It would be wrong for me to live in excess while other brothers and sisters did not have their basic needs met.

  3. I invented the word theocommunalism to describe the Acts telling of the church at Jerusalem. It was community based, but not moved by government or leadership – giving moved by God. People still had land and jobs, but they helped those who couldn’t as they were moved to do so by God.

  4. Monastics live communally. I believe that around about the time these articles were written, the Catholic monasteries of England had been forced to close down, the “Dissolution,” as England moved from Catholicism —> Anglicanism.

  5. Great topic!! Communal living at least happened for a time in the NT. I would love this to be true today for people in need so that there would be “no one in need”. However, it seems a lot depends on the modern fellowship’s financial giving ability for “help” funds. Like for instance, a sudden disability in the family (something my family is going through). From my experience, funds in even the biggest mega church, cannot continually meet a family’s financial short-fall due to a disability. So I lean on my government in a time of need…to some Christians a shocking thing…help from “the world”. I hope and pray for disability for my wife…seeing God as the sovereign provider, through the government. Paul leaned on his government, as a Roman citizen, in a time of need – like when they were going beat him up; possibly kill him. I believe it was the Persian Empire that funded the rebuilding of parts of Jerusalem…certainly that was the “world” helping God’s people out. Though very thankful for any precious help from a church in a time of need – I’m finding that I need to expand my view of God’s provision, to include other sources out side of the local church.

  6. This is a clear defense of the right of private property and and exhortation to share liberally in the church.
    Shaun expressed it well.

  7. finallyfree,

    Well said…the church is only able to carry so much…

  8. Never have lived communally, but we do something very similar, and perhaps just as courageous and selfless, in letting our teenage children have our credit card.

  9. What Shaun said…

  10. I can’t help but think that it was a mistake in Acts for everyone to sell their land and property for disbursement – given that we see later a massive need for the saints in Jerusalem not too many years later. Common sense tells us you can live off the land for generations, but you can’t live very long off the money for the land. It’s like the lesson of the seed corn.

    But how could the Church, so Spirit-filled and led, make such a mistake (if indeed I am right and it was). Why did God allow it?

    Well, we see that the need to minister to these poor saints was very instrumental in Paul’s life, in God using the big collection he speaks of often in Scripture, to get him to Jerusalem in time for his arrest…eventual shipping off to Rome and imprisoned there…writing several New Testament books.

    God’s providence really is to great for my mind. I could be way off on all this. So I tread softly on the communal stuff in early Acts – and rest pretty much where Michael stated “the right of private property and and exhortation to share liberally in the church.”

  11. Was the dispersement of funds a mistake? It certainly was not possible to sustain life that way. Have you ever heard preachers saying “You can’t out give God?” If it was a mistake then apparently that saying is amiss. I would suggest that it was Spirit inspired but that it was not a settled theology of possessions or money that the LORD was establishing.

    There is no basis for condemning private property in scripture. There is no clarity on economics in the New Covenant in terms of prescribed law. And it is a huge mistake to make the NT into a new Torah.

    I am going to say that Steve is correct on this humility is called for. God seems to be getting his kingdom established just fine with all of our confusion about the appropriate way to do economics.

    We know this… radical generosity and love is at the heart of the Gospel …

  12. I just kind of like the header of this article. Funny! Must have been written by a group of women :-)

  13. This needs to be repeated:

    “We know this… radical generosity and love is at the heart of the Gospel …”

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