Another older post.
Seems creative interpretation of Scripture by non-believers is never ending.
Before I get started on my comments, I would like to ask readers to read the following verses, pause for a few minutes, and then try to make sense of what happened in the account.
No Google, no blogs, no commentaries…just you and what these words mean to you.
Ananias and Sapphira
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
– Acts 5:1-11
Although there are some difficult passages in the Bible that take some explanation, that appear contradictory, or that require some historical context, the passages above are easy.
Whether you think it was fair or just, Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying.
That being said, I talk all the time to skeptics who have to, in order to validate their disbelief, make the Bible and the God of the Bible unfair, impossible to believe, and impossible to worship.
One of these such people tried to make the case the other day that the story of Ananias and Sapphira is a story of two people who were, although the account admittedly doesn’t mention it, murdered by the apostles because they were not good communists.
Yes, even though the passage specifically says that their land belonged to them and that the profit from selling it belonged to them and was at their disposal, the problem my atheist friend had with the passage is that they did not give what the church requires communal members to give in “from each according to his ability to each according to his need” fashion.
Taking this a step further, my friend desperately attempted to make the case that I am not a good Christian because I do not shun capitalism in favor of biblically mandated communal living, an exercise that itself shuns intellectual reasoning and critical thought in favor of recklessly supporting dogmatic and fundamentalist disbelief at all costs.
Make no mistake, the major sin of Ananias and Sapphira was dishonesty, deceit, hypocrisy, pretense, presenting a false image of themselves, implying a greater spirituality than they actually possessed, letting people think more highly of them than what they knew was warranted. They were more interested in appearances than in reality. As Peter said, “You have not lied to men, but to God” (Acts 5:4).
As far as communism and early Christians goes.
They were certainly not communists as modern people define the term but they did live their lives out of a loving concern for one another that went so far as to touch their wallets in ways that are unrecognized in the church today.
Early Christians realized that everything they had was from God, that it was given to them not for their own exclusive use, but to be shared with fellow believers. Although they may have lived more communally than we do today, there was no coercion involved and the lifestyle was not mandated by the early church.
Believers, then and now, are free to own property if they chose to and are not thought less of by anyone for doing so.
Yes, many of the early followers of Christ sold their material possessions and gave the proceeds to the apostles to be distributed to church members with a greater need, this was voluntary and cheerful giving, not coercion, not mandatory, and certainly not communism in any sense of the word.
Exit question: If you read the Bible, do you do so for a deeper understanding of the Word of God? Or do you do so to bolster your presuppositions?
Odds are your Bible reading could be objectively less than an intellectual pursuit.