Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

World Christianity and Marxism

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

World Christianity and Marxism

Article excerpt

World Christianity and Marxism. By Denis R. janz. (New York: Oxford University Press. 1998. Pp. ix, 188.$35.00.)

As the current century draws to a close and the passions of the Cold War recede, Denis janz has found the time ripe for a comprehensive study of the impact of Marxism, in both its doctrinal and political expressions, upon world Christianity, broadly conceived. The question he raises is simultaneously massive and complex. His approach to that question can be divided into three parts.

In the first section of the book,Janz locates Marx in the context of nineteenthcentury intellectual history, examines his generally dismissive approach to religion, and then surveys the essentially negative, but often qualified, responses of Christian churches and thinkers to Marxism in the period prior to the Cold)Mar. The second, most original and extensive part of the book examines the concrete encounters of Marxism and Christianity in seven national case studies. The countries therein examined are the Soviet Union, United States, Poland, Nicaragua, Albania, Cuba, and China. On the basis of these case studies. the author, in the third part of the book, develops his general conclusion that the encounter with Marxism has been the defining event for twentieth-century Christianity, as a result of which," on balance world Christianity has benefited" (P. 154). …

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