What Does the Bible Say About Socialism?
My collectivist (socialist) friends believe that a central command-and-control government, fueled by taxes forcibly removed from those who have more than others and funneled into welfare programs, is the best way to take care of the poor. Those who adhere to a free market (capitalist) system believe that voluntary charity wastes fewer resources, lifts more people out of poverty, and keeps the most people from being dependent. Some of my socialist friends whip out verses from the Bible to support their views. Here are some of the most notable ones, along with an explanation of why they don't support socialism:
In Acts 2:44,45 and 4:32-37, it says that the early Christians had all things in common and helped everyone who had a need. Acts 4:32 is explicit: "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one mind; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common." But notice that all this was strictly voluntary. The early believers in Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, chose to do this. They did not expect the Romans, the Jewish Sanhedrin, Herod, or any other government to take care of people. They took care of their own (and others too). There was no civil government forcing them to cough up any of their property for redistribution.
And God certainly did not command Christians to give up all their possessions—or else. In Acts 5, we read of Ananias and Sapphira, who lied about giving all their proceeds to the leaders of the church. Peter, in Acts 5:4, told them that the property was theirs to do with as they wished. And after it was sold he said they still had the right to do with it as they pleased. The Apostle Peter upheld the belief in the right to private property. Their sin was in lying, not in retaining some proceeds from a sale.
Matthew 25:31-36 has inspired Christians for the past 2000 years to take care of "the least of these my brethren." Because of this passage (and others) Christians have created hospitals, orphanages, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and numerous other charitable ministries, all without any urging from government. But is this passage an injunction from Jesus to hand over our property and income to a civil government to take care of the poor? Of course, people of faith should look for the poor and relieve their suffering (and churches and synagogues have been doing just that for 2000 years now). But where in the Bible do you find the command to look to a government to confiscate your property for the purpose of redistributing it to others they deem more deserving of what you have earned? That command is nowhere in the Bible.