by Rob Lundberg
With all the issues going on the in culture, with denominations embracing critical race theory and intersectionality, along with critical theory, we are seeing an ideology I never would have thought would be entering into the church. Many churches, parachurch groups, and even denominations passing resolutions which in turn to an ideology that does not line up with the historical Christian faith. The picture that we are seeing emerging with this progressive kind of Christianity is no longer a “gospel alone” message, but one that professes the “gospel plus economics.” The ideology that we are seeing making a comeback is known as cultural Marxism.
What is Marxism? Who started it and why does it fail in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ? I hope to answer these questions in this post. You might recall that I wrote a post some time ago on the incompatibility of socialism (an economic theory) with historical Christianity. This post will coincide with that piece.
A Quick History
Since the 1900’s one would be thinking that Marxism was dying in America and the world. But with all the things that are happening socially and politically, we are seeing the ghost of Karl Marx surfacing. During the twentieth century, Marxist theory has been traveling the globe, spreading revolution wherever it planted its ugly talons. Marxist philosophy is a form of atheistic materialism applied to economic theory, and believes that history is determined by the struggle between social classes.
The name of this ideology comes from Karl Marx (1818-1883), who was a German thinker born into a Jewish family that converted to Christianity when he was a boy. Initially serious about Christianity, his spiritual passion faded, and Marx became an atheist before college. After being exiled from Germany for radical political activities, he traveled to Paris and then settled in London. He spent the rest of his life studying and writing, publishing what is known as the Communist Manifesto in 1848 (along with Frederick Engels, whom he met in Paris) and Das Kapital in 1867.
Marx’ Biggest Issue
Everybody has a worldview, and if you ever want to know what makes one tick, look at the worldview that they hold. Karl Marx rejected any notion of a Creator or transcendent Being that we know to be God. In Marx’ mind the universe started and sustained itself and required no outside force. He also believed that man created God and religion in our image in order to meet a psychological, economic, or sociological need. His thoughts on the question of origin was that that matter was the highest form of reality.
What Does Marxism Espouse?
Since Marx held to no transcendent Lawgiver being in existence, Marxist ideology rejects moral absolutes. It considers mankind the highest good, but believes in evil, described as economic inequality and the ensuing abuse of power.
Human injustice results from class conflict between the haves and the have nots. Have you ever noticed the uprising of movements like liberation theology, the feminist movement of the 60’s into the 80’s, and today’s Black Lives Matter? These movements have an oppressor v the oppressed mindset that only can be resolved through the means of some kind of change (revolution). The problem is that the vicious cycle never ends.
Private property amplifies greed, leading to the social ills that we see around us. In recent days we see both sides of the political aisle debating issues like these day in and day out.
As I just mentioned, these social ills must be corrected by what is considered to be a “revolution” with the goal of replacing the old economic structures with new ones. (Is anyone paying any attention to what is going on around us yet?) So when it comes to the outcomes under this Marxist worldview, “the ends justify the means” so long as those means promote the benefit of a communist society that Marxism seeks.
Marxists maintain a clear goal for history that is predictable, according to set economic laws. Human suffering will be eliminated by creating an ideal society. Capitalism will grow, increasing the wealth of property owners and the number of poor workers until the latter revolt and institute communism. This new society then will have no wages, no money, or social classes, and not state. With all this the end game pursuit is Utopia.
Why and Where Does Marxism Fail?
Over the years I have been studying and implementing the spectacles of systematic and contemporary theology. By keeping these disciplines fresh, I have noticed that the Marxist ideology has not gone away. How so?
If you think of the ultimate goal of being “saved” from the oppressive system, there are theological strains that have kept the ghost of Marxism alive. We see it in liberation theology, feminist theology, gay theology, liberal theology and Black Lives Matter. With the current trends in our social structure we see it emerging in many many arenas. But with this resurrection of a Marxist ideology, we see the shambles that it has left in Western civilization; and wherever it rears its ugly head trying to gain a foothold, it will still be doomed to failure. How so? Let me share with you several thoughts.
1. How we see its failure in its affect on the people it touches and the economic structures that are affected. Individual and society are more than economic. To suggest that an ideological change of economic order lead to an ideal world is both foolish and naive. It is too simplistic of a response which is rife with complex problems.
2. As I mentioned earlier, the damage done by Marxism throughout Western Civilization can be continually seen as an abysmal failure throughout the annals of human history. In the early 1990’s Marxism experienced a universal breakdown of Marxism throughout the world. Many thought that it had collapsed as a viable theory. I do not think anyone will disagree with me here that what has been tried and found wanting in the past will remain so, because it is a bankrupt worldview. It simply does not work socially, politically, philosophically, and economically.
3. Every worldview pursues to answer the human needs of origin, meaning, morality, destiny and being. As we think about the human need, Marxism does not fulfill the human need that it promises to meet. Over the last several decades, people under communism, generally have not found Marxism and the communist ideology liberating nor satisfying. Instead it has been found to be oppressive and intolerable.
The so-called classless society of the former Soviet Union STILL included two classes: the ruling elite and the masses. The first controlled the life with an iron fist and brutalized the other. Are we eventually heading in this direction in the United States? Wherever Marxism has been tried, its path has been strewn with illegal arrests, forced labor camps, re-education, marginalization, torture, and mass executions. While we may not see the drastic outcomes in this list, we are seeing the birth pangs of a cultural shift in America that the Framers warned us about, should we drift away from the ideals put forth in the “great experiment.”
While the dream of an ideal society is admirably the desire of many, the reality is that the Christian worldview is the only system that is able to answer the questions Marxism seeks and cannot answer. As Christians holding to a non-syncretistic worldview, we believe it will come one day. But while revolution is the goal for relieving the oppression by the elite, the true revolution is in the human heart and not on the city streets. As for a classless society being the goal, you never really see one, unless you can see the level ground at the foot of the cross at Calvary. And while the goal of Marxism is Utopia, it will never be achieved by communist polizei or tanks rolling over defenseless countries. It will only be when Christ returns to rule with real truth and real justice.
Thank you for indulging this post. If you have any questions, we would love to dialogue with you. You can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
 If you spend time doing campus ministry and engage students, you can discern a shift toward a cultural Marxism influence coming from the professorial lecterns. Did you know that there are essentially 45 goals that based on communism which have been plugged in to areas of our society, there are websites out there speaking into this issue. Here is one of them: https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/watchwomanonthewall/2011/04/the-45-communist-goals-as-read-into-the-congressional-record-1963.html
 Karl Marx had an atheistic view on religion. To Marx, religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
 We see traces of this happening on campuses and in denominations embracing critical race theory where para-church groups are encouraging the embracing of classes in culture. Their talks are on how those class struggles are evil.