All Things in Common

Peter Walpot (1521–1578), a Hutterite bishop, wrote a classic Anabaptist confession of faith, the Great Article Book, from which this reading is taken.

Property has no part in the Christian church; rather, it belongs to the world, it belongs to paganism, to those that do not have the love of God; it is proper to those that live according to their own will. If there were no self-will, there would be no property. True community of goods, on the other hand, is proper to believers, for by divine right, says Augustine, all things ought to be common, and no one should take to himself what is God’s, any more than he would the air, rain, snow, or water, as well as the sun, the moon, and the elements. …

Whoever encloses and appropriates that which is, and should be, free, does so against Him who made and created it free, and it is sin. … But through men’s acquired wickedness, through envy and greed everybody puts everything in his own pocket. The one says, “This is mine,” and the other, “That is mine,” and so a division has arisen among human beings, and great inequality has come into this life. Unfortunately, it has gone so far that, if they could grab hold of the sun and the moon and the elements, they would appropriate them and sell them for money.

Source: “True Surrender and Christian Community of Goods,” Section 143, ed. Robert Friedmann, Mennonite Quarterly Review, January 1957.