Q. What’s your definition of ‘communism’?
A. A society where the means of production (factories, farms, etc.) and distribution (shops, infrastructure, etc.) are collectively owned by all people, decisions are made collectively through direct democracy, and oppressive and unnecessary hierarchies such as money and the state are dismantled.
Q. How can you be a communist and a Christian? Aren’t they mutually exclusive?
A. No. In fact, Christianity has a long and proud history of communism that predates modern communism by more than 1500 years. Christian communists trace their origins most obviously to the earliest Christian communities, as detailed in the Acts of the Apostles:
All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47)
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
Christian communists also point to the sayings and ministry of Jesus as influences for their politics. Some of these are detailed in the following lists:
Matthew 5:3-12; 6:9-15; 6:24; 7:12; 19:16-30; 21:12-17; 22:15-22; 22:34-40; 23:1-39; 25:31-45
Mark 10:17-31; 11:14-17; 12:13-17; 12:28-31
Luke 1:46-55; 6:20-35; 8:1-3; 10:5-12; 11:2-13; 12:13-34; 14:7-33; 16:1-15; 16:19-31; 18:18-30; 19:1-10; 19:45-46; 20:20-26
John 2:13-16; 6:51-58; 13:3-15; 18:36-38
Q. What kind of Christian are you?
A. I am an Anglican and have been so for twenty years. I currently worship in the Scottish Episcopal Church, but have spent most of my life in the Church of England, and still consider this my home Church.
Q. What kind of communist are you?
A. I am not overly keen on this question because it can often be an excuse for sectarianism, but I do think defining our terms can help us understand different points of view. First, though, I want to say that I will have discussions and work with people from many different tendencies, even whilst disagreeing with them. This, I think, is where we need to position ourselves as leftists in a world that is so rapidly being consumed by capitalist greed. We don’t have time for sectarianism.
With that said, I first and foremost call myself a Christian communist because my primary influences are the ministry of Jesus Christ and the early Church. Beyond that, I am influenced by more libertarian forms of socialism and would not reject any of the labels of libertarian-socialist, anarcho-communist, or libertarian-marxist.
Q. What is your educational background?
A. I had a tumultuous time at school and was glad to see the back of it. When I returned to education a few years later, I did an access course in order to gain entry to university as I had no A-levels. I subsequently studied for a BA (Hons.) in Theology at the University of Exeter, and an MA in Christian Theology (Anglican Studies) at Durham University. My interests include political theology (obviously), patristics, ecclesiology, and Church history.