by Chris Banescu –
The quote below has been attributed to St. John Chrysostom. These warnings regarding the envy and injustice that underscore socialist and communist ideologies should have been heeded by the Church and taught to the people.
St. John Chrysostom:
“Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich person’s gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again.
Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people’s hearts first—and then they will joyfully share their wealth.” – St. John Chrysostom on the poor from On Living Simply XLIII
What does communism have to do with Christianity, especially Orthodox Christianity, you might ask? The truthful and accurate answer should always have been and continue to be “nothing.” Communism is a humanistic heresy that is diametrically opposed to everything Christianity stands for and has tried for decades to substitute itself as the “religion” that replaces God’s ultimate and unchanging truth. An objective, Bible-based and Christ-centered critical evaluation of communist ideas will always show that its ideas and ideologies are wholly alien to Christianity. Unfortunately, for the lives of tens of millions of innocent men, women, and children across multiple generations, this insidious lie has infiltrated Christian thought and preaching. I believe that many still embrace communist ideologies failing to realize or admit just how dangerous and deadly this poisonous heresy is and how subtle in its ability to deceive the masses.
From the very beginning, theological charlatans and unscrupulous demagogues have tried to equate communism with Christ’s teachings, hoping to bring legitimacy to an evil and corrupt ideology. Such falsehoods found fertile ground among many faithful in Orthodox lands and resulted in a corruption of truth that lead to much suffering and death. For decades since, many religious leaders, clergy, and faithful still see a mistaken synergy and symbiosis between communism and Christianity. Far too many Christians continue to wrongly equate the falsehood and corrupt evil with the truthful and faithful teaching of Christ. Far too many continue to propagate the lie and continue to embrace the heresy, sometimes without understanding or bothering to educated themselves about the true roots of these demonic ideas and the devastation they have caused to Christianity and to the faithful over the last century.
The reality is that the evil ideology and ideas of Marxism (communism) have lead to the enslavement, abuse, suffering, torture, and murder of more Orthodox Christian and Christian souls (in the tens of millions) than any other force or movement in the history of the Church. Yet, to this day so many — including some Orthodox priests and bishops — still embrace this malevolent and hate-filled force (hatred of God and envy of your neighbor) and even use Scriptures and Christian saints to defend its teachings and lead others astray. One Greek Orthodox bishop in particular even uses his facebook Wall like a propaganda arm of the Communist Party. Bishop Savas (Zembillas) thinks it’s his prerogative to merge Marxist ideology with the Christian faith and constantly uses quotes from Orthodox Saints to convince others that communism and Christianity are synonymous. This is an abomination!
Sadly, neither I, nor other Orthodox (even many priests) have ever heard or seen these writings of St. John Chrysostom. Such moral authority and Christian teachings are needed and must be shared with others as we continue to face this deadly heresy in the culture around us, inside our very own churches and among the clergy and even some hierarchs.