Does communism support Christianity?

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Recently, I was reading the Communist Manifesto, and I came across this excerpt:

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.

This got me thinking.

I realize that to some of the earlier LDS prophets consider communism to be antithetical to Christianity, but I wonder given Jesus’s role as a Jewish revolutionary, if communists today would have supported him (or rather his movement).

I suppose when we think of communists and revolutionaries, we tend to imagine people more violent than Jesus. However, that doesn’t mean Jesus wasn’t a revolutionary.

One of Jesus’s purposes in coming to earth was to fulfill the law of Moses (see Matt. 5:17), an entirely revolutionary act. And when he brought about his changes through his teachings (see Matt. 5:22–48, for example) and his acts, he was ridiculed, persecuted, and eventually put to death because he dared to challenge the norms and traditions of the society in which he lived.

Sounds like a revolutionary to me.

So, if communists would support Jesus (or his movement) as a revolutionary (as implied by the quote above), I wonder what Jesus would say about the communists.

13 thoughts on “Does communism support Christianity?

  1. Communism in theory or communism in practice. It seems to me that the modern manifestations of communism have been totalitarianism instead. This is anti-Christian I think. But the gospel as good news is revolutionary.

  2. “Communism and all other similar isms bear no relationship whatever to the United Order. They are merely the clumsy counterfeits which Satan always devises of the gospel plan. Communism debases the individual and makes him the enslaved tool of the state…. Latter-day Saints cannot be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies.”
    (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, David O. McKay, Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6: 151).

    “To our Church members we say: Communism is not the United Order, and bears only the most superficial resemblance thereto; Communism is based upon intolerance and force, the United Order upon love and freedom of conscience and action; Communism involves forceful despoliation and confiscation, the United Order voluntary consecration…. no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist. We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism.”
    (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, Messages of the First Presidency, 6:17-18).

    “Satan is making war against all the wisdom that has come to men through their ages of existence. He is seeking to overturn and destroy the very foundations upon which society, government, and religion rest. He aims to have men adopt theories and practices which he induced their forefathers, over the ages, to adopt and try, only to be discarded by them when found unsound, impractical, and ruinous. He plans to destroy liberty and freedom—economic, political, and religious, and to set up in place thereof the greatest, most widespread, and most complete tyranny that has ever oppressed men. He is working under such perfect disguise that many do not recognize either him or his methods.”
    (First Presidency, Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 13).

    “I come with another theme this morning—Two Contending Forces. Those forces are known and have been designated by Satan on the one hand, and Christ on the other.
    “In Joshua’s time they were called ‘gods of the Amor-ites,’ for one, and ‘the Lord,’ on the other. Paul spoke of ‘the works of the flesh’ on the one hand, ‘fruits of the spirit’ on the other. They are often spoken of as ‘selfishness’ for one, ‘life of service,’ the other. In these days, they are called ‘domination by the state,’ on one hand, ‘personal liberty,’ on the other; communism on one, free agency on the other.
    “As a text I say to you, ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve.’ (Joshua 24:15)
    “In the beginning a being known as Satan came before the Father saying:
    “Behold, here am I. Send me . . . I will do it; (saving the human family who were to people this earth) wherefore, give me thine honor.
    “(Another—) But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me, Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
    “There you have placed before you the two great forces.”
    (David O. McKay as quoted in “Prophets, Principles, and National Survival,” p. 215-216).

    “Recently a feature writer for one of the western newspapers of the United States called at my office and during a brief visit inquired about the ‘greatest threat to the Church today.’ I immediately replied, ‘Communism, with its godless ideology, its complete subjection of the individual to the state and its complete materialism.’
    “The entire concept and philosophy of communism is diametrically opposed to everything for which the Church stands, belief in deity, in the dignity and eternal nature of man and the application of the gospel to the hopes for peace of the world.”
    (David O. McKay as quoted in “Prophets, Principles, and National Survival,” p. 233-234).

      1. The purpose of those quotes, Kim, was to illustrate that communism is entirely incompatible with Mormonism. I could find many, many more similar quotes to the same effect, as well.

  3. Ryan,

    While you may be right that communism is not the United Order and ordained of god, let’s not make the mistake of thinking that Capitalism must therefore be God’s chosen system in opposition to Communism.

    Capitalism and the survival of the richest is also not the United Order. Just because the two systems were in opposition during the Cold War does not make them the two polar opposites of right and wrong.

    As always much of this debate centers on how we define Capitalism and Communism. I doubt very much Kim is arguing for Soviet style communism.

      1. You’re really splitting hairs and straining at gnats by trying to accentuate any slight differences between communism, socialism, Marxism, et al. The First Presidency said, “Communism and ALL OTHER SIMILAR ISMS” are “false philosophies.” Whatever terminology you prefer to use, a rose is still a rose by any other name. If a political philosophy denies a person of their inherent property rights then it is false (D&C 134:2). If communism is so compatible with Mormonism, then you should easily be able to show me a quote from a prophet that vindicates communism as good or true. But you can’t, because no such quote or even vague sentiment exists from any prophet. And I have shown you many which demonstrate the opposite.

        1. It’s not splitting hairs. Communism is nothing like Marxism: the latter requires state control of the means of production, the former has not state and the people control the means of production.

          You have completely misinterpreted D&C 134:2. It says nothing about political philosophies, only that if a government exists in peace, its laws must secure to free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life. But communism is without government.

          Regarding communism being “good or true”, you can read 4 Nephi 1 or Acts 2:44–47 or Acts 4:32–37.

          You have shown me no quotes that demonstrate the opposite because none of them have described communism.

          1. If you’re arguing for anarchy (a stateless society), then you still contradict scripture: “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man… for the good and safety of society.” (D&C 134:1). This is, of course, provided that the people are “protected in their inherent and unalienable rights by the laws of such governments” (verse 5). And what are those rights? Verse two: “the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

            How can the “people control the means of production” unless it is laissez-faire capitalism? Anything else would constitute a central authority, and a loss of property rights which, as demonstrated above, is against Mormon belief. A collective cannot own anything in any meaningful economic sense. If a person does not have the “right and control” of property then they do not own it. If a person does not have the ability to use, exploit, improve, or dispose of something, then it definitely cannot be said that they truly own it. So the entire people “owning” the means of production is not possible (and certainly not practical); they can be owned only by the state or by individuals.

            As for your interpretation of 4 Nephi 1, Acts 2:44–47 and Acts 4:32–37, you are in error because these verses do NOT refer to communism. The scriptures undercut your claim, for Apostle Peter explained how the United Order system they were living retained private ownership. While scolding Ananias and Sapphira, he said, “While it [the property] remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it [the money or proceeds] not in thine power?” (Acts 5:4). Therefore, this verse proves there was NO COMMUNAL OWNERSHIP, despite the sense of brotherhood that was clearly implied by the verses you cited.

            Dummelow’s Bible Commentary also demonstrates this. He wrote, “The Church of Jerusalem recognized the principle of private property. A disciple’s property really was his own, but he did not say it was his own; he treated it as if it were common property.” (as quoted in W. Cleon Skousen, The Naked Communist, p. 345). Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary agreed as well. He wrote, “If there has been a community of goods in the Church, there could have been no ground for such [collections as Peter was performing]… as there could have been no such distinction as rich and poor, if everyone, on entering the Church, gave up his goods to a common stock.” (ibid., p. 345-346).

            Also, at no point has any Church leader interpreted those scriptures as communism, either. Consider the Prophet Joseph Smith, who “did not believe the doctrine” of socialism (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 33), and who taught strenuously against “the folly of common stock.” (Ibid., p. 37-38. See also HC vol. 2, p. 295-296, vol. 3, p. 28). The Doctrine & Covenants also assures us that in the United Order (which is what 4 Nephi 1, Acts 2:44–47, and Acts 4:32–37 refers to), private ownership is maintained: “every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property, or that which he has received by consecration” (D&C 42:32).

            Further, communism requires the use of force to confiscate the property of others. The scriptures are clear that force is the way of Satan (see for instance, Moses 4:3), and that “they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God” (Mosiah 18:28), and not by coercion. I see absolutely nothing in 4 Nephi 1 or Acts 2:44–47 or Acts 4:32–37 that advocates the use of force necessitated by communism.

            Finally, if Christianity is so communistic, then someone should have told Jesus that before he taught his Parable of the Talents, illustrating very capitalistic themes of prosperity according to merit (see Matt. 25:14-30).

            I think it is highly significant that NO Church leader has identified the scriptures you appeal to as communistic. Only you do, Kim Siever.

            For you to say that the quotes I have provided are not relevant or meaningful to this discussion is pure poppycock! Any objective reader will look at this discussion and immediately conclude two things: 1) You’ve been blown right out of the water on this issue, and 2) your intellectual gymnastics to preserve your position is nothing short of comical. You should simply take the First Presidency on their word when they said, “no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist. We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism.” (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, Messages of the First Presidency, 6:17-18).

    1. Clueless in Seattle, I think you have made a grave mistake in rejecting capitalism as ordained of God and part of his natural laws. Consider that a free market economy was enshrined in the U.S. Constitution when drafted by the Founders, and that God approved of this Constitution, and designated its principles as “just and holy” (D&C 101:77). This system of capitalism then turned America into the wealthiest nation on earth. It was only during the 20th century, when America began turning away from capitalism, that has led to the problems of today.

      Capitalism is not the unjust, oppressive system that you’re saying it is. In capitalism, the only way to be good at earning money is to be very good at providing the masses with the products and services that they urgently desire. If you are rich, in capitalism, this is an indication that you have served your fellowman very well. Those businessmen who fail to satisfy the whims of the masses will lose any prominence they may have previously enjoyed.

      Capitalism is also a voluntary system that respects free agency (D&C 101:77-78). The entire system of voluntary exchange ensures that people are better off than they were before as a result of capitalism – otherwise they would not have engaged in exchange. It can be seen clearly, as well, that whenever and wherever the principles of capitalism have been tried, they have resulted in an increase in the standard of living – for all classes of people – that is not matched by government interventionism.

      David O. McKay, like other prophets, understood this very well. He taught, “I am grateful for this country which has given more persons opportunity to raise themselves under an individualistic, capitalistic, free enterprise system from menial to commanding positions than any other nation in the world, past or present.” (David O. McKay, “Treasures of Life,” p. 145).

      The prophets have never advocated communism, socialism, or its variants, even from the beginning of the Restoration. The Prophet Joseph Smith himself taught this. He said, “I attended a lecture on Socialism, by Mr. Finch…. I said I did not believe the doctrine” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 33). He also took pains to show that Mormonism did not accept the ideas of socialism (see History of the Church, vol. 3, p. 28; vol. 2, p. 295-296). The prophets have never wavered from this position. And always they have praised the Constitution, which represents free market capitalism.

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