Marxism, and its descendant, modem communism, presents a strong
challenge to Christianity. Marxism in its various expressions
rules a greater number of people in today's world than any other
single system. What Vincent P. Miceli observed in 1971 about
Marxism is still true today, and now many more are victims of
Indeed, today more than one billion persons are ruled by
governments that openly profess and practice the doctrine of
Marx. And millions of other persons are ruled by governments that
fearfully sway to the winds of communist policies. In an age of
unprecedented and proliferating crises, there is scarcely a
turmoil anywhere in the world in which the catalyzing power of
communism may not be discovered. Atheistic communism is a sword
of division; it cuts asunder families, communities, nations,
empires. It has, indeed, succeeded, directly or indirectly, by
action or example, in keeping the world in a state of military
conflict since its seizure of power in 1917 (Vincent P. Miceli,
The Gods of Atheism, New Rochele, NY. Arlington House, 1971, pp.
Marxism is not just politics and economics. Marxism is also a
world view, a way of looking at and explaining the world. As
such, it encompasses philosophy and religion, while paradoxically
and vigorously asserting its atheism and contempt for philosophy.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica points out this quasi-religious
nature of Marxism:
Marxism, which provides remarkable evidence of the power of
dominant key ideas to inspire and direct man, is undoubtedly one
of the greatest challenges to traditional religious belief ...
the thinking of Marx had religious overtones, whether from his
own Jewish background or from a Christian atmosphere, not least
in Britain where he lived from 1849 to 1883.
Second, Marxism can be called a
quasi-religion insofar as it calls from its followers a devotion
and a commitment that in their empirical character greatly
resemble commitment and devotion that characterize religious
people. Marxism has undoubtedly fired the spirit of man and given
to revolutions, whether in Russia or China, a powerful direction
that has maintained stability and avoided anarchy. Furthermore,
like a religion, it has provided themes of fulfillment and hope
-a revolution interpreted as the initiation of a Communist world
society that would be a final consummation. There are many
logical similarities between the doctrine of the Marxist
millennium. and the Christian doctrine of Christ's Second Coming
(Encyclopaedia Britannica III, Macropaedia, "Philosophy of
Religion," Chicago, IL: William Benton, Publisher, 1978,
vol. 15, p. 598).
It is the job of philosophy and religion to answer the
"why" questions about existence, to give explanations
rather than only observing phenomena. While Marx often strongly
stressed that his system was scientific, and not philosophical,
he could not escape the realm of philosophy. Because the world
view of Marxism attacks the world view of Christianity, we are
here addressing that challenge.
In this chapter we will review
Karl Marx, the man and his life; briefly discuss thinkers before
him who had the most profound effect upon him; and examine those
parts of his system which are at root philosophical and
atheistic. We will face the atheistic challenge of Marxism in its
major manifestations today. Also we will review briefly Marxism's
political and economic impact and will see the cohesive Christian
world view as presented in the Bible. We will not attempt to
present a systematic discussion of Marx's entire system: it has
taken others whole volumes to attempt such a task. We shall focus
on the core of the system which categorically denies the
Christian world view.
Christians cannot remain silent
about or, worse, embrace Marxism:
Marxism and its offspring, Russian Communism, have always
maintained world domination as one of their goals. Believing as
they do in the inevitability of world revolution and believing
that this revolution must be aided and abetted by violence, it is
against the very nature of the system for Communists to
"live and let live". It is this aspect of domination
which poses a grave threat to the world, especially that part of
the world that treasures its traditions and inheritance of
democratic, constitutional government. The very existence of the
church is sharply challenged....
For Christianity, the conflict
becomes most basically a spiritual conflict. In Christianity,
Christ becomes the motivating force of all action and is the
center of the culture of believers. Marxism and its proponents -
though usually referred to as atheistic -have set up their own
guiding force which is history itself. This becomes their god,
and the motivation for all activity around this is materialistic.
Thus they deny God and Christ and spiritual power in history and
culture (Thomas O. Kay, The Christian Answer to Communism, Grand
Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1961, pp. 11, 12).
The name of Karl Marx is probably the best known name of any
founder of a political or economic system. While he made little
difference in the societies in which he lived, his system of
thought has, in the last hundred years, exerted tremendous
influence on the governments and economies of hundreds of
countries. The two largest nations in the world, Russia and
China, claim him as their ideological father. His ideas have
flourished for years, showing a greater strength and stability
than the man himself, who spent most of his life in poor health,
precarious psychological balance and financial insecurity.
Karl Marx was born in Trier, an
ancient German city in the Rhineland (sometimes claimed by
France, and known as Treveri). His ancestors, Jewish on both his
mother's and father's sides, were rabbis. His father, Heinrich,
had converted to Protestantism in 1816 or 1817 in order to
continue practicing law after the Prussian edict denying Jews to
the bar. Karl was born in 1818 and baptized in 1824, but his
mother, Henriette, did not convert until 1825, when Karl was 7.
While the family did not appear religious at all -it was said
that not a single volume on religion or theology was in
Heinrich's modest library-Karl was raised in an atmosphere of
religious toleration. There was some discrimination against Jews
in the area, but general religious tolerance was the standard.
Karl was sent to religious school primarily for academic rather
than religious training. On the whole, the family was not
committed to either evangelical Protestantism or evangelical
Judaism. Vincent Miceli notes:
The family lived as very liberal Protestants, that is, without
any profound religious beliefs. Thus, Karl grew up without an
inhibiting consciousness of himself as being Jewish. In changing
his creedal allegiance, or course, the father, newly baptized
Heinrich, experienced the alienation of turning his back on his
religious family and traditions. Thus, though politically
emancipated and socially liberated from the ghetto, the
experience of being uprooted and not completely at home in the
Germany of the nineteenth century did affect the Marx family
(Miceli, Atheism, pp. 94, 95).
Marx attended the gymnasium (high school) from 1830-1835 and then
attended Bonn University (1835-1836). He worked on his doctorate
at Berlin University (1836-1841). During this time he met and
associated with the Young Hegelians (see below our discussion of
Hegel's contributions to Marx's thinking) and suffered a nervous
breakdown (1837). His doctoral dissertation was in philosophy and
was titled The Difference between Democritean and Epicurean
Philosophy of Nature. It was accepted by Jena University. His
father died in 1838.
Marx's professed atheism and his
radical views may have made it difficult for him to be hired as a
professor at Prussian-dominated schools and his attention turned
to political involvement. His life pattern of revolutionary
involvement and intense political activism began to emerge. In
1842 he became the editor of the Reinische Zeitung, which was
said to be a business periodical. However, this publication had
strong radical political views. Marx's philosophy of dialectical
materialism and class struggle was already being developed, and
often appeared in the pages of the Reinische Zeitung.
The year 1843 was an important
one for young Marx (25 years old). He met for the first time with
Frederich Engels, who was to become his closest friend,
benefactor, collaborator, and philosophical and political
"soul-mate". He also married Jenny von Westphalen, a
baroness to whom he was devoted (in spirit if not always in deed)
for the rest of his life. During that same year he wrote two of
his early works and they typify his thinking at the time: the
"Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law," and "On
the Jewish Question."
(It is debated whether Marx was
specifically anti-semitic or only anti--semitic in the sense that
his economic theories had no room for Jewish free enterprise and
his presupposed atheism had no room for Jewish religion. Space
precludes our discussion of the different sides of this matter.
Further discussion can be found in the books listed in the
bibliography. Our showing his basic atheistic presuppositions
later in this chapter indicate that he at least did reject
That same year also saw the
demise of the Reinische Zeitung-it became a victim of Prussian
censorship -and the expulsion of Marx and his bride from Germany.
They moved to Paris in October of 1843. Carrying his political
zeal with him, Marx published the Deutsche Französische
Jahrbücher in Paris in 1844. This fiery publication earned him
expulsion from France, and he moved to Brussels in
January-February of 1845. Marx jumped enthusiastically into the
communist activity of Brussels. In 1847 he wrote for the
Deutsche-Brüssler-Zeitung and organized the German Communist
League and German Worker's Association. At the request of the
Brussels communists, Marx and Engels wrote their famous Communist
Manifesto in 1848. It has become the creed and catechism of
Early in 1848 Marx and Jenny were
expelled from Brussels, spent a short time in Paris, and returned
to Germany as revolutionaries in April. Throwing his entire
energies into the workers' fight against the repressive Prussian
government, Marx began to publish the Neue Reinische Zeitung in
June. Less than a year later he was again expelled from Prussia,
spent a month in Paris, was expelled from there and moved himself
and his family to London (August 24, 1849). For nearly 30 years
Marx called London his home. It was there, where he had much more
literary freedom than in any country before, that he wrote his
monumental work Das Kapital which criticized, among other things,
Most of the time they were in
London, his family was wretchedly poor. Three of his children
died, their illnesses complicated by inadequate shelter, food,
and medicine. Although he loved his wife and children devotedly,
it was unequal to the passion he felt for his political writing
and involvement. Stumpf records:
While his poverty was deeply humiliating, he was driven with such
single mindedness to produce his massive books that he could not
deviate from this objective to provide his family with more
adequate facilities. In addition to his poverty, he was afflicted
with a liver ailment and, as Job, was plagued with boils. In this
environment his six-year-old son died and his beautiful wife's
health failed (Samuel Enoch Stumpf, Socrates to Sartre: A History
of Philosophy, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1966, p. 425).
Marx and his wife made many trips to friends and relatives to beg
and borrow enough money to pay their debts, feed their children,
and finance Marx's political activities. He recognized the sad
position in which he put his family, but seemed unable to turn
from his profitless writing and organizing to work at any
physical labor or occupation that could have provided better for
his family. In later years he looked back with regret on the
hardships he had made his family endure, commenting:
You know that I have sacrificed my whole fortune to the
revolutionary struggle. I do not regret it. Quite the contrary If
I had to start my life over again, I would do the same. But I
would not marry (Saul K. Padover, Karl Marx: An Intimate
Biography (abridged edition), New York: New American Library,
1978, 1980, p. 280).
In 1851 his illegitimate son, Frederick Demuth, was born to his
wife's maid. His wife and children were not told that Frederick
was Karl's son. Instead, benefactor, confidant and collaborator
Engels was appointed the boy's "father." Not until
after her parents' death did Karl's daughter, Eleanor
("Tussy"), learn the truth from Engels.
The years 1849-1853 were times of desperate financial straits for
the family but a time when Marx rose to the top of the exiled
German communist movement. A personal description of him by a
Prussian spy recorded in 1853 reveals the two tensions, poverty
and politics, in the Marx household.
In private life he is a highly disorderly, cynical person, a poor
host; he leads a gypsy existence. Washing, grooming, and changing
underwear are rarities with him; he gets drunk readily. Often he
loafs all day long, but if he has work to do, he works day and
night tirelessly. He does not have a fixed time for sleeping and
staying up; very often he stays up all night, and at noon he lies
down on the sofa fully dressed and sleeps until evening,
unconcerned about the comings and goings around him...
Marx lives in one of the worst,
and thus cheapest, quarters in London. He lives in two rooms, the
one with a view on the street is the living room, the one in the
back is the bedroom. In the whole lodging not a single piece of
good furniture is to be found; everything is broken, ragged and
tattered; everything is covered with finger-thick dust;
everywhere the greatest disorder. In the middle of the living
room there is a big old table covered with oilcloth. On it lie
manuscripts, books, newspapers, the childrens toys, the
scraps of his wife's sewing, tea cups with broken rims, dirty
spoons, knives, forks, candlesticks, inkwell, drinking glasses,
Dutch clay pipes, tobacco ashes -in a word, everything piled up
helter-skelter on the same table... (ibid, pp. 155-157).
As destitute as the family was, Karl and Jenny did not neglect
the education of their daughters (no legitimate son lived to
adulthood), paying for their education in the classics, language,
music, art, business, and social graces. While they lived like
Marx's beloved proletariat, their daughters were groomed to join
the hated bourgeois.
While exiled from Germany, Marx
resumed publication of the Neue Reinische Zeitung. He wrote it in
London and it was printed and distributed in Germany.
From 1852 to 1862 Marx was also a foreign correspondent for the
New York Daily Tribune. He wrote his "Critique of Political
Economy" in 1859. This work served as the prologue to his
later Das Kapital. In 1860 he studied the writings of Charles
Darwin and wrote of Natural Selection, "it is the book that
contains the natural-history basis of our philosophy"
(ibid., p. 366). He sent a copy of the first volume of Das
Kapital to Darwin and later requested Darwin's permission to
dedicate volume two to him. (Darwin turned him down.)
Work on Das Kapital began in
earnest in 1861. In 1864, in very poor health, Marx temporarily
suspended work on it and devoted his failing energy to the
founding of the communist International Working Men's
Association. The first draft of Das Kapital was finished in 1865
and the book was finally published in Germany on September 14,
1867. His finances became somewhat stabilized and he began to
join the ranks of the very class his new book condemned. During
his stay in Germany for the release of Das Kapital, his hostess
remarked to him, "I cannot think of you in a leveling
society, as you have altogether aristocratic tastes and
habits." Marx replied, "I cannot either. That time will
come, but we will be gone by then". (ibid., pp. 201, 202).
On December 2, 1881, his beloved
wife Jenny died, probably from stomach cancer, and the already
ill Marx never fully recovered from losing her. In declining
health, he received the news of the death of his daughter, also
named Jenny, in 1883. He went into a deep depression; his health
finally failed him, and he died of an abscessed lung on March 14,
Karl Marx's personal life was an
intricate pattern of conflicts, interweaving his passion for his
political system with his love for his family and his
middle-class upbringing. It makes a fascinating backdrop against
which to picture his philosophy, his world view and his system of
thought. His personal life shows that he was not a monster
incarnate as some detractors would make him. Nor was he the
perfect Christ-figure as others see him. He was a complicated and
often contradictory man whose all-consuming interest was the
philosophical system we will now consider in brief.
Marx never claimed to possess a "philosophy". It is
true that he never developed a complete system of philosophical
thought covering all of the main branches of philosophy. However,
as a thinking man vitally concerned with explaining man's
existence and with finding the causes for events in history, Marx
was a philosopher. His disdain for traditional philosophy was
related to his zeal for political and social revolution. To Marx,
a person doesnt have time to be an armchair philosopher: he
should be out in the streets, living his philosophy.
Philosophy, he said, was a symptom of social malaise and would
disappear when revolution put society on a healthier foundation.
The young Marx thought that this would happen because revolution
would "realize" philosophy, would give solid reality to
the ideal phantoms of reason, justice, and liberty that
philosophers in sick societies consoled themselves with. The
older Marx thought that revolution would destroy philosophy,
would simply make it unnecessary by bringing men back to the
study of "the real world". Study of that world is to
philosophy "what sexual love is to onanism". In either
case Marx never varied in the opinion that the reign of
philosophy over men's minds was drawing to a close. Thus, he
naturally would not have contributed to its survival by writing a
"Marxist Philosophy" (Paul Edwards, ed., The
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, New York: Macmillan Publishing
Company, Inc., 1967, vol.5&6, p. 173).
Regardless of Marx's dislike of traditional philosophy, he
philosophized and he received great inspiration from two
prominent philosophers who began writing before him.
Georg Wilhelm Hegel
Hegel (d. 1831) developed a system to explain change which is
called dialectics. Change and progression are accomplished
through a process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.
Hegel himself rarely used the terms thesis, antithesis, and
synthesis (see Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy,
Garden City, NY Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1963, vol. 7, Part
1, p. 215). However, traditional interpretations of Hegel
recognize this preoccupation with triads in Hegel's philosophy
and note his debt to his predecessor, Fichte, with whom the three
terms were commonplace.
There are those who protest such
a generalization of Hegel's dialectic, seeing the interpretations
of Marx and others as misinterpretations of Hegel (see Gustav E.
Mueller, "The Hegel Legend of 'Thesis-Antithesis
Synthesis,"' in the Journal of the History of Ideas, vol.
XIX, no. 3, June 1958, pp. 411-441; and Winfried Corduan,
"Transcendentalism: Hegel," in Biblical Errancy, Norman
Geisler, ed., Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company,
1981, pp. 81-104). However, most general authorities recognize
the traditional designation of Hegel's dialectic. H. B. Acton, in
the Enclyclopedia of Philosophy, (Paul Edwards, ed., New York:
Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc. 1967, vol. 3, p. 436) remarks,
"It should first be noted that Hegel set out his systematic
writings in dialectical triads comprising a thesis, antithesis,
and synthesis." Colin Brown notes that the traditional
interpretation of Hegel's dialectic must be dealt with:
It is customary to describe Hegel's view of the outworking of
Spirit as a Dialec-tic (which is simply another word for process
or dynamic pattern) of Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis. But it
has been pointed out that although Hegel makes occasional use of
these latter terms, they are in fact more characteristic of
Fichte. However, the basic idea is there, and the notion of
Dialectic is para-mount. Hegel saw the Dialectic of the Spirit in
everything (Colin Brown, Philosophy and the Christian Faith,
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1968, p. 121).
It is to this traditional interpretation of Hegel's dialectic,
the same understanding modified by Marx, that we will address
ourselves. Regardless of the "true" interpretation of
Hegel's dialectic, a Christian who would critique Marx must
understand Marx's interpretation of Hegel, which is compatible
with the traditional interpretation.
The three dialectical principles of thesis, antithesis, and
synthesis mark all of existence, all of life, all of thinking. It
is not only the process through which we go to gain knowledge, it
is the process through which all of existence passes. It is
illustrated by Hegel's "basic triad" of Being,
No-Being, and Becoming.
The most all-embracing concept of our Minds would seem to be that
of being. It is the least common denominator to which all things
may be reduced. But pure unspecified being without a particular
content of some sort is equivalent to nothing at all. It is
indistinguishable from not-being. To assert, then, as a thesis
that the Absolute is unqualified being is also to assert the
antithesis of our statement, and to say that the Absolute is
Can we then find some further
concept that will overcome this contradiction and prove to be a
synthesis of the ideas of being and not-being? Hegel finds such a
concept in that of becoming. When a thing changes, it is what is
it was not a moment before, and it will be in another instant
what it is not now. But, if it is to remain the same object
throughout its changes, what it is must be somehow identical with
what it was not, and with what it will be. In a process then, the
seemingly mutual exclusion of being and non-being by each other
is overcome in a higher synthesis (B. A. G. Fuller, A History of
Philosophy, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1955, vol. 2,
Marx accepted Hegel's process of dialectics, seeing Reality as a
process that can be understood by the mind and that proceeds by
the dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.
... the general view, which Marx took over from Hegel, that all
development, whether of thought or things, is brought about
through a conflict of opposing elements or tendencies. This
doctrine, as we have already seen, is two-sided. It is a
description of the way in which things come into being, develop
and behave, and it is a description of the way in which we come
to learn the truth about them. For Hegel the two processes, the
development of things and the discovery of truth, were aspects of
the same reality; but whereas he gave logical priority to the
second, Marx, holding, as we shall see, that thought is in some
sense a reflection of things, emphasized the priority of the
first (C. E. M. Joad, Guide to Philosophy, London: Victor
Gollancz Ltd., 1955, p. 466).
To his triad of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis Hegel added the
goal of absolute Spirit. Every process was leading to the
ultimate existence, fully self-conscious Thought. The material
was secondary to the spiritual.
In Hegel the driving force of the dialectical process was
engendered by the developing ideas themselves (ibid., p. 467).
However, Marx flatly rejected Hegel's Spirit-goal, adopting
instead a thorough-going materialism.
Hegel believed that by this process one eventually reached the
highest synthesis possible, Absolute Spirit, which includes all
possible experience. His system might be called idealistic or
spiritualistic pantheism. However, Karl Marx, using the same
method, concluded that the ultimate synthesis was matter, not
Spirit, so that his system is called dialectical materialism
(Warren Young, A Christian Approach to Philosophy, Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Book House, 1954, p. 33).
Karl Marx received the keys to his communist kingdom from his
German masters Hegel and Feuerbach. Hegel gave him the keys of
the unhappy conscience and the dialectical method of analyzing
history. History, according to Hegel, is the contradictory
unfolding of Reason itself from less to more rational forms, to
the utmost rational form of existence-fully self-conscious
Thought -God Himself.... But Marx, his most famous follower,
interpreted this action to be revolutionary action, the sole way
of development for matter and man. Thus the Hegelian
philosophical impulse to give a scientific analysis of history
became the Marxian revolutionary action to create history
(Miceli, Atheism, p. 96).
Marx, then was an absolute materialist (seeing ultimate reality
only in matter) and believed that all process occurred through a
He rejected flatly the latter's view that these characteristics
of the world-process indicated that it was the teleological
unfolding of a design or Idea in the experience of an Absolute
Mind or Spirit. The behavior of the world-process, he maintained,
did not suggest guidance by a moral plan or purpose. Above all,
its material and physical aspects could not be reduced to
conscious content and regarded as mental in their essential
character. On the contrary, they could only be explained on the
supposition that matter in motion, extended in space and time,
and existing in and by itself, independent of any mental
awareness of or reflection upon it, underlay the phenomenal world
(Fuller, Philosophy, p. 371).
This concept is very important to remember because it forms the
basis for his view of history and the future. Because only the
material is fundamental, and everything (even mind) proceeds from
the material, and progress can only occur through dialectic
change, Marx easily concludes that class reform (dealing with the
material) is man's basic priority and that such reform can occur
only through revolution (dialectics). How sharply this differs
from Christian teaching, where the intangible is most important,
where God can and does intervene for our good, and where social
reform is accomplished through the transformation of individual
souls from darkness into light!
Feuerbach (d. 1872) was one of the shapers of Marx's ideas about
religion. His Essence of Christianity (1841) reduced Christianity
to mans fulfillment of his desires. There is no objective
religion, no objective God, no objective Jesus Christ. All
religious belief is subjective, projected from man's inner needs
and desires. it is because of mans miserable existence that
he feels the need to invent God.
In other words, predicate and object of theology is mans
imagination, and the religious objects, such as eternal life,
God's goodness, and the like are projections of his own desires.
If man had no desires, despite his fantasy, he would have no
religion and no gods .... Religion, in short, is the true
characteristic of man. It shows the feeling of mans
imperfections and the desire to overcome them. But religion does
not indicate that man would have cognitions of anything or anyone
beyond himself (Hans Schwarz, The Search for God, Minneapolis,
MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1975, pp. 24, 25).
Ludwig Feuerbach, with the publication of his The Essence of
Christianity, supplied Marx with the key of a humanist,
materialistic humanism. By revealing God to be the
"fictitious" creation of mans sick conscience,
Feuerbach denied the reality of God, of any transcendent, of
spirit. He argued that God did not create man but that man
created God out of his warped imagination. Hence only matter,
nature and man exist. And man is to regain his own glory by
knowing and controlling matter, of which he himself is the
highest product (Miceli, Atheism, pp. 96, 97).
Marx went further than Feuerbach. In his typical demarcation
between "philosophers" who merely observed and
"revolutionaries" who acted, Marx called for revolution
to bring man to the place where he no longer needed religion. He
was not content to wait for man to grow out of a need for God. He
was ready to join the fight himself. Marx, then, was not passive
when it came to religion. The active destruction of religion and
promotion of atheism was part of his plan to fulfill man through
his dialectical materialism (matter is the ultimate reality and
change occurs through a dialectic process).
Marx faulted him (Feuerbach) for overlooking the fact:
that the chief thing still remained to be done. The religious
projection and contradiction of the actual human situation
demands a removal of the factors that make this projection
necessary. According to Marx, Feuerbach was still too
"pious". He had not recognized that the "religious
sentiment" is not a truly anthropological phenomenon which
makes man truly human. It is a social product and belongs to a
particular form of society.
. . Thus the abolition of
religion as the illusory happiness is required in order to gain
real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion is the demand
to give up a condition which needs illusions. "The criticism
of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of
woe, the halo of which is religion". Religion is the opiate
of the people and is a tool of the capitalists to comfort the
suppressed working class with the prospect of a better beyond.
Yet Marx demands that the working class should establish its
happiness here on earth instead of projecting it into an
imaginary beyond .... Marx is not satisfied with philosophers
like Feuerbach, who have only interpreted the world in various
ways. The task is to change the world (Schwarz, Search, pp. 25,
Marx modified Feuerbachs idea as he modified Hegel's idea.
He fit both into his basic materialistic world view. With the
establishment of his dialectical materialism (with its roots, as
we see, in Hegel and Feuerbach) he was ready to propose radical
and revolutionary change into the society around him. To the
downtrodden, the workers, his "proletariat;' he offered
dialectical materialism as a beacon of hope. To the oppressive
ruling classes, the "bourgeois," dialectical
materialism was to be the means of their execution.
Since dialectical materialism is the basis for the whole Marxist
system, it is no wonder, and in fact, follows necessarily, that
Marxism is thoroughly atheistic. There is no room for God in
Marx eagerly anticipated the day when men everywhere would
recognize the face in their mirror of religion as their own.
That is, if a man is a reality seeker and should he discover that
religion is but a projection of his own imagination, he will turn
to the human reality instead of worshiping the mirror that
reflects it (Norman Geisler, Philosophy of Religion, Grand
Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1974, p. 70).
William S. Sahakian has accurately summarized Marx's attitude
Marxists reject religious doctrines about spiritual values, the
soul, immortality, and God, asserting that religion is an
illusion, and that the illusory happiness based on it must be
condemned. "Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature,
the heart of the heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a
spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people". God
does not create man; rather, an creates invalid religion with its
mythical God. Religion functions as a police force, as a
bourgeois technique to dissuade the masses from revolting by
promising them a better, happier existence after death than their
exploiters allow them to enjoy during their lifetime on earth
(William S. Sahakian, History of Philosophy, New York: Harper and
Row, Publishers, 1968, p. 251).
Marx saw two compelling reasons to abolish religion and promote
atheism: first, his materialism denied the existence of the
supernatural; and second, the very structure of organized
religion had, through the ages, condoned and supported the
bourgeois suppression of the proletariat.
As he saw it, Christianity had to be extirpated root and branch,
not only because dialectical materialism denied the existence of
anything but matter in motion and its products, and was therefore
opposed to all supernaturalistic systems, religious and
philosophical, but also because Christianity, and for that matter
all religions, had not only tolerated but sanctioned the existing
social and economic organization of society, which was about to
be overthrown (Fuller, Philosophy, p. 377).
We must make this clear: abolishment of religion is an integral
part of Marx's dialectical materialism.
There are some who try to
synthesize Marxism and Christianity. "Liberation
Theology" proponents in various areas of South America are
examples. Usually such quasi-Marxists are motivated by strong
social concerns. They see inequity and suffering in the world and
they want to do something about it. Too often, the Marxists are
the only ones who appear to be working to relieve such suffering.
Former British communist Douglas
Hyde was studying to become a missionary when he was drawn to
communism in just such a way after World War I in England. He
joined his first Communist sponsored Party after reading a book
by a Quaker who embraced communism and extolled its virtues in
The Challenge of Bolshevism. Young Hyde recounted his reaction to
It did for my generation of communists what the Dean of
Canterbury by his books and lectures does today. It lulled my
doubts about the Marxists' militant atheism. It provided a bridge
by means of which the man with some religious belief could cross
with a clear conscience into the camp of unbelief.
The author's case was that the communists had found the Christian
answer to an utterly un-Christian, bourgeois system of society.
"Let the atheists of Russia speak the language of blasphemy:
is it more than the echo of the blasphemy which has so long been
embodied in the social order we uphold?"
In communism this sincere Quaker
found honesty of purpose, intellectual integrity, a higher
morality and a system which would prepare the way for a
Christianity purified and reborn. And, of course, the communists
used the book for all they were worth.
It was exactly what I needed at
the time. It resolved a crisis for me, clarified my position and
accelerated my progress towards communism. It was the link
between my Christian past and my atheist future. I was able now
to read with an "open mind" Engels' Anti-Duhring, the
A. B. C. of Communism, the works of Lenin and others which
formerly I would have rejected because of their atheism (Douglas
Hyde, I Believed, London: William Heinemann Ltd., 195 1, pp. 22,
However, as Hyde discovered, one cannot remain true to othodox
Marxism and orthodox Christianity at the same time. Hyde quickly
abandoned all faith in God and was as militantly atheistic as any
other communist for more than two decades, until his
disillusionment with communism drove him to Christ. Again, one
cannot be an orthodox Marxist and an orthodox Christian. Even the
liberal theologian Hans Ming recognizes this when he says:
But at this point we can hear the dogmatic response: Marxism is
necessarily atheistic. Is this true?
It is true of orthodox Marxism.
For Marx and the classical Marxist authors, Engels, Lenin and
Stalin -in their personal life, in their culture, in their system
and in their practice -atheism was and remained of central
importance and essentially connected with their theory of society
and history. In their view, religion and science are two mutually
exclusive methods of grasping reality (Hans Ming, Does God Exist?
NY. Random House, 1978, 1980, p. 257).
For orthodox Marxism to embrace orthodox Christianity is to
emasculate Marxism of its foundation: dialectical materialism.
For orthodox Marxism to embrace orthodox Christianity is to
emasculate Christianity of its ultimate source and sustenance in
the deity, person, and work of Jesus Christ. Marx saw it this
To achieve the real happiness of the people, it is necessary to
abolish the il-lusory religious one. This involves the
elimination of conditions that require such illusions. The first
step in this direction must be an attack on religion.
"Criticism of religion is the prelude of all
criticism". (Padover, Karl Marx, p. 80).
The Soviet Communist leader Nikolai Lenin showed that he had
learned well from his teacher, Marx, when his contempt for
religion and religious people prompted unmentionable atrocities
against thousands of innocent people, who were guilty only of
believing in God. Lenin wrote:
Every religious idea, every idea of god, every flirtation with
the idea of god is unutterable vileness ... Any person who
engages in building a god, or who even tolerates the idea of
god-building, disparages himself in the worst possible fashion
(Nikolai Lenin, Selected Works, London: Lawrence and Wishart,
Ltd., 1939, vol. XL, pp. 675, 676).
Some have taken various elements from Marxism and formed what
they term Christian Marxism, Christian socialism, or Christian
A revised Marxism could be non-atheistic if it distinguished
between dispensable and indispensable elements. The critique of
religion is then no longer the precondition of all criticism. It
would then no longer be -as with the classical atheistic writers
-a central element in Marxism but marginal and open to
modification. Such an understanding of Marxism -denounced in
Moscow as "revisionist" - is found in fact today even
among individual Communist parties, among individual
less-orthodox party theorists, and not least in Europe and South
America among those forces that are aiming at a practical
alliance between Christians and Marxists. The Communist Party of
Italy, like other Eurocommunist parties, rejects not only the
idea of a Catholic state but also Soviet state atheism-at least
for the sake of winning votes... (Küng, Does God Exist? p. 257).
Remember, though, that this is not orthodox Marxism. The
Christian "socialist" must reject those elements of
Marxism that oppose the Christian world view.
... whatever his attitude to these questions, a person will in
any case be taken seriously as a Christian only if Christ and not
Marx is for him the ultimate, decisive authority in such
questions as class struggle, use of force, terror, peace,
justice, love (ibid, p. 259).
So that there can be no confusion on this point, we reiterate
that atheism is an integral part of orthodox Marxism.
It becomes evident, then, that precisely because and, in as much
as it is a humanism, communism is necessarily an atheism. Atheism
is not an accidental accretion to communist humanism. It is
intrinsic and essential to both its creed and conduct. Atheism is
as inseparable from a vital communism as the soul is inseparable
from a living man. Atheism is the reverse side of communist
humanism (Miceli, Atheism, p. 102).
In fact, Douglas Hyde expressed in his biography his belief that
communist organizations that appear to be compatible with
Christianity are not honest. He states that in the British Party,
open atheism and hatred for the clergy was practiced before 1931,
but that then there was a shift in public policy. He stated:
It was all very thorough but very phony, for we went back on none
of the fundamentals; we simply put some into cold storage and
found new methods of dishing up the rest.
That is still the tactic today, and in the intervening years the
technique has been developed to a point where the communists'
public propaganda never at any time bears any relation whatsoever
to their real aims as expounded in their text-books and as taught
in the privacy of their members' study classes.
Communism has, in fact, become a gigantic hoax, a deliberate and
total deception of the public (Hyde, I Believed, p. 57).
Whether or not the British Communist Party is as portrayed by
Hyde, the fact remains that he perceived it that way. For almost
15 years he was a leading British communist and news editor for
the communist Daily Worker.
Hyde did not finish his life as a communist. On the contrary, his
dynamic conversion from communism to Christianity is related in
his moving I Believed. He tells of his growing disillusionment
with communism and the reawakening of his conscience, which took
place over a period of years. One of the turning points came when
It was not sufficient now to tell myself that the end justified
the means. Once a Marxist begins to differentiate between right
and wrong, just and unjust, good and bad, to think in terms of
spiritual values, the worst has happened so far as his Marxism is
concerned (ibid., p. 243).
He chronicles how he and his wife searched and how they accepted
Christianity intellectually before they were reborn spiritually.
We had come to accept the intellectual case for God, to see that
without it not only Catholicism but the universe itself made
nonsense. We had discovered with some surprise that the great
thinkers and philosophers of the Church had made out a better
case for God's existence than Marx and Engels had done for His
Yet we realized that that was not enough. Belief meant being able
to feel the existence of the spiritual, to know God and not just
to know about Him. Christians even said they loved Him, they
talked to Him and listened to Him. That was still outside our
experience and, in moments of depression, we feared that it would
remain so (ibid., p. 248).
Hyde and his wife made personal commitments to Jesus Christ and
found the faith they had yearned for. His story ends:
I lost my communism because I had been shown something better. I
did not find it easy to get to know my new God. And the love of
God did not even then come automatically. just as one has first
to get to know a man or woman, and love comes later on the basis
of common interest shared and intimacies exchanged, so, slowly, I
came to know that love. But one thing is certain: my God has not
failed (ibid., p. 303).
We are not trying to say that all communists are dishonest,
immoral, and bereft of any positive characteristics or
attributes. Most people are drawn to communism first because they
see it as a way to help the suffering in the world, or, if they
are suffering, to help themselves. Hyde, with inside knowledge,
summed up the typical convert to communism:
Most, beyond doubt, had come to communism because of the good
that was in them. They had come with idealism, with anger at bad
social conditions; fundamentally they had, in most cases, come
because no one had ever shown them anything better. What had
happened to them afterwards, as they were turned into the new
Marxist men, the steel-hardened cadres which the Party makes and
moulds, was another matter. I wished I could stay and make them
see what I now saw, could share with them the truths which I had
Life is so much more complex, and so are men's motives, I would
say that the majority who come to communism do so because, in the
first instance, they are looking for a cause which will fill the
void left by unbelief, or, as in my own case, an insecurely held
belief which is failing to satisfy them intellectually and
spiritually (ibid., pp. 274, 290).
The Loss of the Individual
A complete acceptance of Marx's dialectical materialism and
theories of class struggle leads one inexorably to the denial of
individual human worth. History and its march toward perfection
is the Marxist god. In the struggle for the classless society,
those who stand in the way must be eliminated. Absolute
materialism leads to a form of practical totalitarianism. As
Thomas 0. Kay points out:
If there is no God or other absolute beyond the existence of
matter, then there is no source of eternal, abiding, absolute
truth upon which an objective system of law and order can be
based. All becomes relative to time and place. The expedient
becomes the good and true. Matter itself is not able to provide
this absolute because of its ever-changing character.
Since there is no soul and since all goodness and truth are
relative to time and place, it follows that there can be no
abiding value attributed to man as an individual. He has no worth
within himself. This makes man a tool of his environment.
Furthermore it brings him under the subjection of the group. At a
given moment the good of the group becomes all-embracing. The
individual thus may be sacrificed for the good of the group.
It is at this point that one
readily observes the relationship between materialism and
totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is based upon the assumption
that the individual is of little or no importance and his will
can be made subservient to that of another individual, a group,
or the state (Kay, Christian Answer, p.92).
Such a totalitarianism denies the worth and freedom of the
individual and cuts at the heart of the gospel message. The
individual is so important to God that He sent his only begotten
Son to die for our sins, that we may be reconciled to fellowship
with God, on an individual basis. Marx sought to elevate man. His
system only served to degrade the individual. Marx saw evil
someplace out in the material world, someplace other than in the
heart of free-will, moral, and personal agents. By attacking the
evil he saw in society with class struggle, he hoped to eradicate
evil from mankind. He and his philosophical descendents did not
succeed. Sin is not man divorced from his social potential; it is
man in willful alienation from himself and God.
Sin is his self-alienation, not the projection from himself of an
illusory God, as Feuerbach taught Marx. The attempt to become God
in himself, by himself, is the self-alienation, a personal,
subjective, self-inflicted alienation.... Sin corrupts, disrupts
man who then corrupts and disrupts human conditions and
Marx makes the fundamental mistake of equating the alienation of
private property, his source for all alienations, with original
sin; sin is an economic evil for him; it calls for an economic
saviour. The Catholic Church teaches that sin is a spiritual
evil, an insult by man against God; it calls for a divine
saviour, since a limited creature cannot atone for an infinite
offense against an infinite Being. Yet it also calls for a human
saviour, if humanity is to atone for its own offense against both
God and man. Communist humanism holds that the redemption of man
is achieved by the sufferings of the sacrificial lamb and
economic saviour, the proletariat, whose crucifixion and
resurrection in rebellion emancipates all men into the socialist
heaven .... The truth of the matter is, as the Church teaches,
that man is reconciled to God, his fellow man and himself by One
who is at once fully Man and fully God .... The sufferings of
proletarians are the sufferings of mere creatures; the sufferings
of Christ "knock down the wall of separation" that sin
erected (Miceli, Atheism, pp. 125, 126).
As the reader can see, there is a sharp distinction between the
goal and plan of Marxism and the goal and plan of Christianity.
Christianity also works toward a transformed society. This
working is in two major areas. Christianity recognizes that sin,
within man, is action perpetrated by personal agents. It is not
some nasty by-product of social birth-pangs. Christianity seeks
to change those personal agents through the life-transforming
power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, once that personal and
individual transformation has taken place, that redeemed
individual shows his faith through his actions by working toward
social, economic, political, and religious parity among his
The sharp contrast between the Communist approach and the
Christian approach to the problems of society is found in
comparing the life of Karl Marx with that of Lord Shaftesbury,
British statesman of the nineteenth century While Marx criticized
society and fomented revolutions, Shaftesbury-an evangelical
Christian -worked for the bettermen of conditions often at great
personal sacrifice (Kay, Christian Answer, p. 19).
True freedom for mankind is possible only when the individual is
considered valuable and when the root causes of injustice are
removed. Such change is not brought about by violent revolution
at the expense of others nor is it based on a philosophy which
sees man valuable only as a member of a classless society.
Communist humanism does not liberate man; it delivers man into
his own hands to do with himself what he will; this is slavery.
For, once man rejects God, he has no place to go but back into
himself and there lies the agony of isolation. Thus, the revolt
against God is the prelude to all serfdom. For the essence of
man's freedom is that he be able to transcend himself, the
material things of earth and choose to live in companionship with
God. Indeed, it was in order that man might enjoy freedom that
God, Absolute Liberty Himself, made man in His own image and
likeness. He made him a little less than the angels. But
communist humanism, in delivering man into his own hands, really
renders man captive to the material world below man. Communist
humanism, by ripping man down from God, the source of all
freedom, makes man less than man (Miceli, Atheism, p. 139).
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep
standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of
slavery" (Galatians 5:1 NASB).
Marxist Economics and Politics
Our aim in this chapter was to treat the religious and
anti-religious aspects of Marxism. It was not our aim to deal
extensively with Marx's complicated philosophical and political
system as a whole. Below we have produced a short summary of the
major principles of Marxism with a short critique.
Our brief description of Marxist theory will present six
economic/ political themes that are integral to the Marxist
system and which together represent its basic thrust. These six
themes include 1) dialectical materialism; 2) the four epochs of
human history; 3) economic "determinism;" 4) the class
struggle; 5) revolution (with a subsequent temporary proletariat
dictatorship); and 6) the final "Utopia," the classless
1. Dialectical Materialism
We previously discussed dialectical materialism, citing it as the
foundation of Marxist thought. Dialectical materialism is, in
fact, the basis of all Marxist philosophy. To Marx, dialectical
materialism was the ultimate Reality. As we discussed before,
Marx developed his dialectical materialism from Hegel
(dialectics) and Feuerbach (materialism).
Dialectical materialism says that reality is grounded in
materialism and that all progress in reality (history) occurs
through a process of opposing matters clashing together and then
forming a new synthesis which is progressively better than either
of its forebears.
When we say that Marx was a materialist, we are not saying that
he denies the relative existence of anything metaphysical, such
as the mind. However, he believed that anything metaphysical,
like the mind, arose from the material world and depended on the
material world for its existence. He would say that matter
produced mind, rather than saying that mind produced matter (or,
as Christians would say, the Ultimate God, being Spirit, produced
matter, the creation, from nothing).
... dialectical materialism, that is, matter arguing with itself
causes historical progress. These two polysyllables are a
formidable verbal whip in the hands of the Marxist, but they are
simply a shorthand for one explanation of history among many
(Lester DeKoster, Communism and Christian Faith, Grand Rapids, ML
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956, p. 29).
2. The Four Epochs of Human History
Marx simplistically divided all of human history into four
epochs: the primitive, the ancient, the feudal, and the bourgeois
(middle-class) or modern. He felt that all previous cultures and
societies could be categorized into one of the four epochs.
Capitalism, the economic "god" of Marx's London
residence, was the motivating force in the bourgeois epoch. Below
we will mention the fifth epoch, the "classless
society" which in Marx's day was a future dream.
3. Economic "Determinism"
Marxism taught that, generally speaking, economic forces
controlled all of human social life. This is popularly called
Marx's theory of "economic determinism". However, this
term is sometimes misleading because it tends to give the
impression that man has no free will and that no change can
possibly come from any but an economic source. Kay summarizes:
Marx concludes then that these economic forces determine by
virtue of the dialectic the course of all human history (Kay,
Christianity, p. 16).
However, such a statement can be misleading. Marx's economic
determinism was not a rigid predestination or fate. It was
precisely because he believed economics could be influenced by
forceful human intervention that he advocated revolution to
achieve quick change.
Dialectical materialists criticise doctrines often designated as
economic determinism on the ground that they are too narrow and
assert only a one-way causal influence (from economic base to
other institutions), whereas causal influence, they hold,
proceeds both ways. They (often) refer to their own theory as
historical materialism or the materialist conception of history
(Dagobert D. Runes, ed., Dictionary of Philosophy, Totowa, NJ:
Littlefield, Adams and Company, 1977, p. 87).
In fact, his economic "determinism" was practiced
during each of the four epochs of history mentioned above, with
the economics of the age directing all other social functions. It
was the deliberate intervention of men through revolution that
brought about the end of one epoch and the beginning of the next.
Marx believed that the flow of history along his fivefold pattern
was inexorable. Society was bound through its economics to pass
through the four epochs and eventually arrive at the fifth, the
classless society and eventual freedom. The revolutionaries of
each epoch were to hurry the process along. Marx saw it as the
job of the communist proletariat to instigate the revolution
which would terminate the epoch of the bourgeois and usher in the
ultimate classless society.
Economic determinism involves Marx's whole detailed analysis of
economics. Under this heading we find him discussing "the
labor theory of value;' i.e., a product's value is determined
only by the amount of labor required to produce it.
... only labor-manual and mental-creates value; and, what is more
specifically Marx's contribution to the theory, only socially
necessary labor creates real value. The fact that under
capitalism the employment of labor is spent upon luxuries long
before all necessities have been met, means for Marx that
capitalism is not the best form for the selective use of a
nation's labor force (DeKoster, Communism, p. 16).
The Marxist "demon" of "surplus value" also
comes under this heading. "Surplus value" represents
the insurmountable obstacle separating the employer and employee
Profit, which is the motive force of capitalism, arises only out
of surplus value, that is out of paying the workman for less
value than his labor creates (ibid., P. 20).
When Marx talks of economic determinism, he lays out his whole
view of human history. He discusses "modes of production;'
"property relations," "fair wages," etc. (For
more than this quick overview of economic determinism, please see
the books in the bibliography, especially August Thalheimer's
Introduction to Dialectical Materialism: The Marxist World-View,
NY Covici, Friede, Publishers, 1936).
4. Class Struggle
Accepting Marx's dialectical materialism leads one to accept his
view of history, which reveals his economic determinism. The
acceptance of the presupposition of economic determinism draws
one to the conclusion that the only way to achieve change in
one's society is through class struggle. History, to Marx, is a
record of continual struggle (dialectics) between different
classes. He sets this forth in the Communist Manifesto. After its
preamble, the Communist Manifesto opens with the words, "The
history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class
struggles" (Harold J. Laski, ed., The Communist Manifesto by
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, NY. New American Library, 1967,
To Marx, this class struggle has
always been in existence and is present at all times in every
society. However, it will not be present in the classless society
Marx advocates. When dialectical conditions are just right, and
the downtrodden class can take no more, the struggle will explode
into revolution, paving the way for the next epoch. The final
class struggle will be between the proletariat (working class)
and the bourgeois (commercial class).
... the current class struggle in capitalist society would be the
last and was by far the greatest of all. The proletariat (working
class) was the antithesis of the bourgeois (commercial or
middle-class) capitalist and would eventually bring about the
downfall of capitalist society and the establishment of a new
society on the basis of the new modes of production (Kay,
Christian Answer, p. 17).
As mentioned earlier, Marx saw the bridge between two epochs of
history as revolution, triggered by class struggle. Such
revolution is necessary and vital to the evolution of society
toward the eventual, economically determined, communist state of
the classless society.
Although Marx held that the inevitable outcome of history was the
emergence of the communist society, he felt that because of the
great problems in this last stage there was a role which man
could play in aiding the course of history (ibid., p. 17).
The Communist Manifesto was Marx's blueprint for the leadership
of the coming revolution. In it he and Engels laid down their
plans for overthrowing capitalism and ushering in history's final
epoch, the classless society. As with the other themes of
Marxism, note that the concept of revolution is a necessary
consequence of Marx's dialectical materialism. Revolution must
Marx recognized that after this
final revolution not everyone (namely, the bourgeois) would
welcome the classless society. In addition, the entire
capitalistic system, with its modes of production, would have to
be dismantled and retooled to fit the classless society. During
this "short" interim, it would be necessary to have a
proletariat dictatorship. This was seen as a temporary and
necessary hardship that all proletariats would welcome because of
the vital work the dictatorship would do to develop the final
6. The Classless Society
The final and fifth epoch of human social history would be the
classless society, the Marxist "Utopia;' its
"heaven." In this ideal, no-class society, hard-won by
thousands of years of class struggle, revolution, and temporary
dictatorship, there would be no class struggles. With no class
struggles, there would be no end to the paradise.
The communist society would be
the classless society. (Remember that what we call
"communist countries" today have not yet reached this
classless state. They are still in the "temporary"
proletariat dictatorship.) The communist society would have
abolished private ownership, the "stifling" family
unit, the delusion of religion, and all other
"capitalistic" institutions. There will be no need for
government or law. The natural law of dialectical materialism
will have reached its goal in producing the perfect society.
What would become of history itself, which was propelled by the
energies released by class struggle? Strictly speaking, it would
cease. Time would pass, of course, but the only economic changes
to be reflected in society would be those leading to ever greater
production, ever more leisure for all, and so history in the
present tense would, with the dialectic, be transformed into
universal tranquility and peace. The economic law would be, in
the words of Marx: "From each according to his ability, and
to each according to his need". The millennium would be
ushered in, on earth and in time. Evil, which is the fruit of
class struggle, would be done away. The development of science
would bring man ever closer to the control of natural
catastrophe. Art and culture could flourish. A temporal heaven
would have been brought to earth (DeKoster, Communism, p. 34).
This is the final of the six major themes of Marxism.
Rather than picking Marxism's themes apart piece by piece, we
will offer here a general critique of the system. We urge the
reader to obtain a comprehensive critique of Marxism by referring
to the books in the bibliography, especially to William 0. Kay's
The Christian Answer to Communism and Lester DeKoster's Communism
and Christian Faith. From a Christian perspective, the most
ominous flaw in Marxism is its broad anti-supernaturalistic
foundation. One cannot accept thoroughgoing and classical
dialectical materialism and orthodox Christianity at the same
time. Marx's economic theory is simplistic and thus inadequate,
unable to correctly diagnose contemporary economic ills or
correctly prognosticate concerning the future of economics. He
overemphasizes the role of economic factors in the course of
history. His description of history and how it advances is also
inadequate. The historical divisions are artificial and no longer
supportable in any real sense when one views contemporary
understandings of history. Orthodox Marxism ignores the fact that
some change does take place without struggle, and that often,
when change takes place as a result of struggle, it does not
result in an entire economy being completely gutted and replaced.
Orthodox Marxism has no guideline for limiting the duration of
the "temporary" proletariat dictatorship after the
final revolution. Are there perhaps Russians who feel that a
"temporary" dictatorship which spans their whole
lifetimes is no better than a "permanent" dictatorship?
Orthodox Marxism also presupposes that man is basically good.
Marxism sees evil as a product of a sick society. Cure the
society (or shoot it and replace it with a new one) and evil
disappears. Human history and God's Word, the Bible, say
Finally, Marxism ignores the
greatest human freedom there is: personal freedom. Economic
freedom is not the most important freedom of all. God has given
mankind personal freedom, the freedom to choose his own destiny.
This personal freedom has been recognized and enhanced in those
societies that are politically and religiously democratic.
(Marx) also held that it was society that determined the
consciousness of man rather than man of society. But what is
society without the individual? Marx has given us a rationale
that is non-existent in actuality (Kay, Christian Answer, P. 19).
We shall conclude this brief look at Marxist theory with two
quotes which appear as fitting criticisms of a powerful system
that is, nevertheless, inadequate to meet mens needs. The
first quote is from a modem communist who classifies himself as
an "unorthodox" Marxist. Here is his analysis of
The orthodox theory does little to explain the complex dynamics
of human behavior and personality. Historical materialism, the
orthodox theory of history and social change, focuses our
attention on too few needs, makes a fetish of production, and
overlooks too many aspects of capitalist everyday life. It seeks
fundamental contradictions where none are to be found. It misses
the complex dynamics of how societies maintain their stability,
and of how revolution occurs as well.
The orthodox Marxism which is still quite prevalent and at the
root of almost all socialist organizational activity,
insufficiently recognizes the multiplicity of groups and issues
central to social change. Economic aspects continually exclude
concerns of a more social and cultural nature; ownership
relations exclude more complex sex, race, and authority
relations. In short, orthodox Marxism is vulgar. It clings to
so-called fundamentals and in doing so misses the broader
picture. The modern orthodox Marxist sees reality through a set
of insufficient concepts. Reality's fullness is obscured. Facts
are made to conform with the theory rather than the reverse. The
person as subject/object of history is lost to view (Michael
Albert and Robin Halmel, UnOrthodax Marxism, Boston, MA: South
End Press, 1978, p. 6).
Our final quote is from the astute ex-communist leader and
editor, Douglas Hyde:
It has been taken for granted by those attracted to communism
that the man who can see and denounce the evils of a social
system is thereby qualified also to lay down the lines of a
better one and, in due course, to administer it. Experience shows
that there is little to warrant this assumption. For one evil
thing to attack another is normal enough. It does not make either
the attacker or that which is attacked less evil because one is
attacked by the other.
The communist may be able to put his finger on what is bad in our
society but only the Christian is fitted to expound the good
(Hyde, I Believed, p. 300).
Marxism Extended Bibliography
Albert, Michael and Robin Halmel, UnOrthodox Marxism. Boston:
South End Press, 1978.
Andrews, William G., ed., European Political Institutions.
Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1962, 1966.
Avey, Albert E., Handbook in the History of Philosophy. NY:
Harper and Row, Publishers, 1954, 1961.
Angeles, Peter A., Dictionary of Philosophy. NY. Harper and Row,
Bottomore, T. B., trans., Karl Marx: Selected Writings in
Sociology and Social Philosophy. NY. McGraw-Hill Book Company,
____________,trans., Karl Marx. Early Writings. NY. McGraw-Hill
Book Company, 1963.
Brown, Colin, Philosophy and the Christian Faith. Downers Grove,
IL: InterVarsity Press, 1968.
Carlebach, Julius, Karl Marx and the Radical Critique of Judaism.
London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978.
Corduan, Winfried, "Transcendentalism: Hegel," in
Biblical Errancy, Norman Geisler, ed., Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan Publishing Company, 1981, pp. 81-104.
Dean, Thomas, Post-Theistic Thinking. Philadelphia: Temple
University Press, 1975.
DeKoster, Lester, Communism and Christian Faith. Grand Rapids,
MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956.
Dupre, Louis, The Philosophical Foundations of Marxism. NY-
Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1966.
Edwards, Paul, ed., The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 8 Vols. NY:
Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc., 1967.
Encyclopaedia Britannica III, Macropaedia, "Philosophy of
Religion" Chicago, IL: William Benton, Publisher, 1978, vol.
Flew, Antony, A Dictionary of Philosophy. NY. St. Martin's Press,
Fuller, B. A. G., A History of Philosophy. NY: Holt, Rinehart and
Geisler, Norman, Philosophy of Religion. Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan Publishing House, 1974.
Hyde, Douglas, I Believed. London: William Heinemann, Ltd., 1951.
Joad, C. E. M., Guide to Philosophy. London: Victor Gollancz,
Kamenka, Eugene, The Ethical Foundations of Marxism. London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962, 1972.
Kay, Thomas O., The Christian Answer to Communism. Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1961.
Koren, Henry J., Marx and the Authentic Man. Pittsburgh, PA:
Duquesne University Press, 1967.
Ming, Hans, Does God Exist? NY: Random House, 1980.
Laski, Harold J., The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels. NY. New American Library, 1967.
Lee, Francis Nigel, Communist Eschatology. Nutley, NJ: The Craig
Lenin, Nikolai, Selected Works. London: Lawrence and Wisehart
Ltd., 1939, Vol. XL.
McFadden, Charles J., The Philosophy of Communism. New York:
Benziger Bros., 1963.
McLellan, David, Marxism after Marx. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Marsden, George and Frank Roberts, A Christian View of History?
Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975.
Miceli, Vincent P., The Gods of Atheism. New Rochelle, NY.
Arlington House, 1971.
Montgomery, John Warwick, The Shape of the Past. Minneapolis:
Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1975.
___________, Where is History Going? Minneapolis: Bethany
Fellowship, Inc., 1969.
Mueller, Gustav E., "The Hegel Legend of
'Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis', in the Journal of the History of
Ideas, June 1958, pp. 411-441.
Niebuhr, Reinhold, Marx and Engels on Religion. NY- Schocken
North, Gary, Marx's Religion of Revolution. Nutley, NJ: The Craig
Padover, Saul K., Karl Marx. An Intimate Biography. NY. New
American Library 1978, 1980 (abridged ed.).
Parsons, Howard L., Humanism and Marx's Thought. Springfield, IL:
Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 1971.
Payne, Robert, The Unknown Karl Marx. NY: New York University
Runes, Dagobert D., Dictionary of Philosophy. Totowa, NJ:
Littlefield, Adams and Company, 1977.
Philosophy for Everyman. Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams and
Sahakian, William S., History of Philosophy. NY. Harper and Row,
___________, and Mabel Lewis Sahakian, Ideas of the Great
Philosophers. NY Harper and Row, Publishers, 1966.
Schwarz, Hans, The Search for God. Minneapolis: Augsburg
Publishing House, 1975.
Stumpf, Samuel Enoch, Socrates to Sartre: A History of
Philosophy. NY McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1966.
_______________,Philosophy. History and Problems, 2nd edition
(new title). NY McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1966.
Taylor, A. J. P., Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels: The Communist
Manifesto. NY Penguin Books, 1967.
Thalheimer, August, Introduction to Dialectical Materialism: The
Marxist World-View. NY. Covici, Friede, Publishers, 1936.
Titus, Harold H., Living Issues in Philosophy. NY. American Book
Trueblood, D. Elton, Philosophy of Religion. Grand Rapids, ML
Baker Book House, 1957.
Tucker, Robert C., Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx. Cambridge:
University Press, 1972.
Young, Warren C., A Christian Approach to Philosophy. Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1954.