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Fri Jan 18, 2013, 04:33 PM

Communism in the Bible

Jose Miranda
translated by Robert Barr
Wipf and Stock: Eugene: 1982
85pp

I purchased this online (~$13 new softcover), largely because I am an admirer of the author's Marx and the Bible: A Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression and his Marx against the Marxists

Marx and the Bible was a detailed argument for a reading of various biblical texts as demands for social justice, and Marx against the Marxists contained extensive discussion of various ways the dogmatic Marxists had misread the work of Marx and misrepresented his views

All these Miranda texts date from the era of the Cold War era, and the Latin American dictatorships which the US typically supported under the banner of anti-communism, which leaves certain traces making the texts more difficult for a later generation of readers

Communism in the Bible differs from Marx and the Bible and Marx against the Marxists, in that Communism does not present careful argument but has the character of a manifesto: his first chapter is titled "Christianity is Communism," and it tells us

... For a Christian to claim to be not only anti-Marxist but anti-Marx as well, it is probably owing not to have read all of Marx, and the repugnance is a symptom of simple ignorance ... I really do not care. I am under no obligation to defend Marx.

But for a Christian to claim to be anticommunist is quite a different matter, and without doubt constitutes the greatest scandal of our century ...

Ultimately the Marxists have been doing us a favor by propagating the idea of communism in our absence -- our culpable absence ...

... The God of the Bible is knowable only in otherness, in the call for help of the poor, the orphan, the widow, the stranger ...

... In the clear intention of the original report, communism is obligatory for Christians. This is not modified, not in the slightest, by a failure of the original communist intent ...


This theme is elaborated in subsequent chapters

Overall, this text is an interesting and informative summary of the views of a Christian Marxist, who believes that Christianity demands a revolutionary reshaping of our world





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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 05:20 PM

1. Well

 

Also Dalai Lama calls himself a communist and marxist, because as political philosophy it is based on compassionate ethics.

And or course I find the axis authoritarian - social libertarian even more interesting and fruitful for revolutionary reshaping of our world.

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 08:48 PM

2. marx's vision of communism was a prediction based on analysis of historical dialectics

 

as opposed to the various ways that communism has been attempted (russian/soviet, maoist, american,..) that fall short of his ideal in some way. bolsheviks for example attempted to skip capitalism and 'benevolent socialism' in the evolution of a national economy as envisioned by marx. they jumped straight from feudalism/monarchy to their twisted vision of marx's intellectual exercise.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 05:19 AM

5. That may be a stereotype, due in part to the dogmatic Marxists. Marx indicated clearly that his own

views did not coincide with those of the dogmatists: je ne suis pas Marxiste

His views were much more complicated than the deterministic hypotheses might suggest. After all, if the course of history is determined by (say) modes of production, there would really be little point in organizing or in attempting to develop any class consciousness. In fact, Marx's practical method for understanding the politics of his time involves a careful analysis of current cultural conditions and political factions. On top of this, there are features created by the existing mode of economic organization, which naturally divides the populace into groups with different material interests (depending on the group to which an individual belongs), different interpersonal relationships (depending on the groups to which the interacting individuals belong), and different conceptions of the nature of society and the roles different groups play in the society. Groups are not necessarily aware of their own interests. And the various conceptions which different persons have of themselves and the world develop in a complex fashion: these conceptions are conditioned by what people hear from the various interpersonal interactions they have (depending on the group to which an individual belongs) as well as cultural features reflecting very slowly changing notions that may well have formed fifty or more years earlier, by other people under other circumstances; such conceptions, therefore, may not actually be useful, though people may strongly resist changing such ideas

Marx's method was not motivated by abstract curiosity but by moral outrage at exploitation. He believed that industrial workers were in a unique position to change their situation, if they became conscious of their circumstances and proceeded in an organized and informed manner to change their current condition. To succeed in this, it may be necessary to abandon whatever common notions one has about society and how it works, and to replace these notions by notions formed in a more scientific method by observing the society carefully and experimentally learning how to change it

Marx did not believe communism would triumph in Russia -- but he simultaneously thought, based on his analysis, that Russia had a possible and unique possible path to communism, based on the transformation of existing collective peasant institutions. In particular, it was not Marx's view that communism could only arise as the end result of one and only one sequence of economic transformations

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 09:10 PM

3. Acts 2:44-45

44 And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common.

45 Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as every one had need.


Critique of the Gotha Program

From each according to his ability, to each according to his need

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Response to rug (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 04:44 AM

4. Miranda says: '... in the twenty centuries since it was written, no one has come up with a better

definition of communism than Luke 2:44-45 and 4:32-35. In fact, the definition that Marx copied from Louis Blanc, "From each one according to his ability, to each one according to his needs," is directly inspired by, if not directly copied from, Luke's formulation ...'

Acts 4:32ff
All believers were of one heart and mind. None claimed any possession as their own, but all shared everything. ... And Godís grace was so powerful within them that no one was needy among them. From time to time all owned land or houses sold them and laid the money from the sales at the apostlesí feet to be distributed to anyone in need.


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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2013, 07:56 AM

6. Believing that Christ died on the cross to save men as a requirement for communism

 

is not going to work for lots of people.

It is always good to read a few verses in either direction to get a better understanding of a verse.

Act 2:41-47
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (42) And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (43) And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. (44) And all who believed were together and had all things in common. (45) And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. (46) And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (47) praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.


Act 4:31-35
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (32) 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. (33) And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. (34) 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 (35) and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.


These verses provide a pretty good definition of communism if you're a believer, but if one wants to use the bible to advocate for communism one needs to acknowledge the context and what conditions are required for a life within communism. In short devoted believers with God's grace living together in a commune type setting. This of course is left out of a more "standard view" of communism.

BTW, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a few books exploring what a faith based community should look like. I enjoyed them, you might as well.

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