A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Political Visions and Illusions: Preface

Every Friday for the next several weeks, I am going to post on David Koyzis' book, Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey of Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies. It is not a new book (published in 2003), but I have been reading it once again as I work on a manuscript for Energion Publications entitled, The Politics of Witness: The Character of the Church in the World.

Koyzis' book is quite fascinating and thought provoking. After laying out the issues and definitions, each chapter is devoted to five major political ideologies-- liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, democracy, and socialism. Near the end of his book Koyzis will explore the possibility of, what he calls, "transcending the ideologies."

In the Preface of the book, Koyzis puts forward one critical claim that he will attempt to substantiate in its pages. The main thesis of the book is that all political ideologies, for all their conflicts with each other, are a "subspecies" of the larger concept of idolatry. In what way are these ideologies idolatrous? Koyzis writes, "By failing to distinguish creational structure from spiritual direction, the followers of these ideologies tend to assume that salvation is to be found in freeing humanity from some facet of God's creation and in putting one's ultimate trust in some other facet" (p. 9).

What makes Koyzis' thesis so intriguing as that the Christian proponents of these ideologies tend to point out the idolatries of the others while exempting or minimizing the idolatrous aspects of their own. Koyzis is asking us to consider that all ideologies are in fact the birth-children of their mother named "Idolatry" which, among other things "has distorting effects on our life in this world" (p. 9).

Koyzis will make the case for the ideology/idolatry connection in Chapter One: "Introduction: Ideology, Religion and Idolatry." We will have at his argument in more detail next Friday.


Chris said...

I read this book a few years ago. I'll look forward to listening as you refresh my memory on in in the next few weeks. Thanks... and peace to you today.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I don't think you can disengage a culture from it foundations. American culture was based on humanism with "christian" trimmings.

And I think that secular humanism allows for human flourishing and human rights, while allowing God to be God. This means that we cannot know "God", but we do know the 'real world" in which we live. Therefore, each person must decide which values are of utmost importance to him and then live for them.

When you speak of "idolatry", then you are speaking religion-ease. And religion-ease always leads to conflict because we cannot approach, observe, or know God.

Some believe that this only means that the Church is called to be 'little Christs", but Christ's life cannot be universalized without undermining so many other significant "jobs".