Christian socialism (19TH CENTURY)

Religion theory of the social responsibility of the Christian Church, developed within the Anglican Church in Britain in the 19th century.

Christian teaching has social and economic implications, and the Church should take a lead in both improving the conditions of the working class and providing moral and cultural leadership to allow its members a fuller participation in the life of society.

Source:
E Norman, The Victorian Christian Socialists (Cambridge, 1987)

Christian socialism is a religious and political philosophy that blends Christianity and socialism, endorsing left-wing politics and socialist economics on the basis of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Many Christian socialists believe capitalism to be idolatrous and rooted in the sin of greed.[1] Christian socialists identify the cause of social inequality to be the greed that they associate with capitalism.[1] Christian socialism became a major movement in the United Kingdom beginning in the 19th century. The Christian Socialist Movement, known as Christians on the Left since 2013, is one formal group.[1]

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online, socialism is a “social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members. […] Early Christian communities also practiced the sharing of goods and labour, a simple form of socialism subsequently followed in certain forms of monasticism. Several monastic orders continue these practices today”.[2] The Christian socialist Hutterites believed in strict adherence to biblical principles, “church discipline” and practiced a form of communism. The Hutterites “established in their communities a rigorous system of Ordnungen, which were codes of rules and regulations that governed all aspects of life and ensured a unified perspective. As an economic system, Christian communism was attractive to many of the peasants who supported social revolution in sixteenth century central Europe” such as the German Peasants’ War and “Friedrich Engels thus came to view Anabaptists as proto-Communists”.[3]

Other earlier figures are also viewed as Christian socialists such as the 19th-century writers Frederick Denison Maurice (The Kingdom of Christ, 1838), John Ruskin (Unto This Last, 1862), Charles Kingsley (The Water-Babies, 1863), Thomas Hughes (Tom Brown’s Schooldays, 1857), Frederick James Furnivall (co-creator of the Oxford English Dictionary), Adin Ballou (Practical Christian Socialism, 1854) and Francis Bellamy (a Baptist minister and the author of the United States’ Pledge of Allegiance).

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