Saint John Chrysostom (Ιωάννης ο Χρυσόστομος)
Archbishop of Constantinople. Doctor of the Church.
It is impossible, for example, to speak of either anthropology or Trinitarian theology in Byzantium without referring to Origen and to the doctrines of the great Fathers of the fourth century, whom the Byzantines recognizes as their teachers par excellence.
Prophecy that Jerusalem will never return to the Jews
St. John Chrysostom:
When he came into Jerusalem and saw the temple, he said:
"Jerusalem will be trodden down by many nations, until the times of many nations be fulfilled."
By this he meant the years to come until the consummation of the world. And again, speaking to his disciples about the temple, he nude the threat that a stone would not remain upon a stone in that place until the time when it be destroyed. His threat was a prediction that the temple would come to a final devastation and completely disappear.
The Doctors of the Church said that property is theft
The sins of Christians, the sins of the historical churches, have been very great, and these sins bring with them their just punishment. Betrayal of the covenant of Christ, the use of the Christian Church for the support of the ruling classes, human weakness being what it is, cannot but bring about the lapse from Christianity of those who are compelled to suffer from that betrayal and from such a distortion of Christianity. In the Prophets, in the Gospels, in the Apostolic Epistles, in most of the Doctors of the Church, we find censure of the riches of the rich and repudiation of property, and the affirmation of the equality of all men before God. In Basil the Great, and especially in John Chrysostom, may be met judgments upon social injustice due to wealth and property, so sharp that Proudhon and Marx pale before them. The Doctors of the Church said that property is theft. St. John Chrysostom was a complete communist, though of course his was not communism of the capitalist or the industrial period. There are good grounds for asserting that communism has Christian or Judaic-Christian origins.[*]
[*] Gеrаrd Wаltег — «Lеs огiginеs du Cоmmunismе».
St John Chrysostom was the most radical, truly an apostle of social ethics. ‘The rich are stealing from the poor even if what they have is honestly acquired or legally inherited.’ ‘In refusing to give and to share we thus earn the punishment of thieves. We are as guilty as the tax collectors who use the money of all for their own needs.’ ‘The rich are a kind of robber.’ ‘Do not say, I enjoy what is mine. You are enjoying the property of others. All the things of this earth belong to all of us together, just as the sun, the air, the ground and everything else.’ Even later, in the eleventh century, St Simeon the New Theologian would echo what St John Chrysostom said in his homilies. ‘Money and all other goods are the common property of all, just as the light and the air we breath.’
We know the payback John received for this defiant preaching from the state that supported the church in the 4th century — John was put on a death march! And this was for boldly saying that:
The rich are stealing from the poor even if what they have is honestly acquired or legally inherited… In refusing to give and share we thus earn the punishment of thieves. We are as guilty as the tax collectors who use the money of all for their own needs. The rich are a category of thieves… Do not say, I enjoy what is mine. You are enjoying the property of others. All the things of this earth belong to all of us together, just as the sun, the air, the ground and everything else. (Hom. 11 on Lazarus, Hom. 10 on
“The skill which the rich need to use their wealth well is the highest of all arts. Its workshop is built not on earth but in heaven, because those who are rich must communicate directly with God to acquire and practice this art. Its tools are not made of iron or brass, but of good will, because the rich will only use their wealth well if they want to do so. Indeed good will is itself the skill. When a rich person sincerely wants to help the poor, God will quickly show the best way. Thus while a person training to be a carpenter must learn how to control a hammer and saw and chisel, the rich person training to serve the poor must learn how to control the mind and heart and soul. He must learn always to think good thoughts, expunging all selfish thoughts. He must learn how to feel compassion, expunging all malice and contempt. He must learn how to desire only to obey the will of God. That is why I say the skill of being a rich disciple of Christ is the highest of all arts;
and the one who possesses it is truly a saint.”