World Christianity and Marxism

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9780195119442: World Christianity and Marxism

Denis Janz argues that the encounter with Marxism has been the defining event for twentieth century Christianity. No other worldview shook Christianity more dramatically and no other movement had as profound an impact on so many. Now the Cold War is over and as we approach the end of the century we need, Janz says, to ask ourselves what happened.

This book is the first unified and comprehensive attempt to analyze this historic meeting between these two antagonistic worlds of thought and action. The intellectual foundation of this antagonism is to be found in Karl Marx himself, and thus the book begins with an account of Marx's assault on Christianity. All the diverse philosophical and political manifestations of Marxism were ultimately rooted in Marx's thought, and supporters based their greater or lesser hostilities toward Christianity on their reading of his critique. Janz follows this with an overview of Christian responses to Marx, extending from the mid-19th century to the onset of the Cold War. He argues that within this time frame Christianity's negation of Marx was not absolute; the loud "no" to Marx bore with it an important, if muted, "yes."

With this intellectual groundwork in place, Janz turns to an examination of the encounter as it unfolded in specific national contexts: the United States, the Soviet Union, Poland, Nicaragua, Cuba, China, and Albania. The experiences of these countries varied widely, from Poland where Christianity maintained its strongest independence, to Nicaragua where a Christian alliance with Marxism contributed to revolutionary change, to Albania where a Stalinist government attempted to abolish religion entirely. From this survey emerges the evidence that world Christianity has clearly internalized some of the prominent features of its antagonist, suggesting that the "Marxist project" is not as utterly defunct as many have assumed.

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About the Author:


Denis R. Janz is currently Professor of the History of Christianity at Loyola University New Orleans. He is the author and editor of three books and numerous articles on medieval and Reformation Christian thought.

Review:


"Janz has written a gem of a book, one that recounts the history of encounters between Marxism and Christianity in eight very different contexts and countries....The book offers an ambitious yet very successful recounting of the history of encounters in each country. I read every page with great interest."--Theological Studies


"Valuable to all interested in the history of Christianity in the twentieth century, Janz's study is also easy to read."--Choice


"Nuanced, learned, and yet accessible."--Commonweal


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