Philosophy and Theology

Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 1987

David McLellan
Pages 199-213

The Marxist Critique of Religion and the Concept of Alienation

In the following pages I distinguish three types of Marxism and try to determine which offers the best prospects for dialogue with Christian believers. The first, based on the ontological theses of dialectical materialism, dismisses religion as simply false. The second, reading Marxism as a simple science of society, claims to be value neutral and, as such, indifferent with regard to religion. The third, of neo-Hegelian provenance, addresses itself to many of the questions posed by progressive Christians. Although no ultimate compatibility between Christianity and Marxism is envisaged, the bulk of the article argues for this third interpretation of Marxism as (a) being more emancipatory in itself and (b) permitting a more fruitful dialogue with Christianity - which dialogue is seen as desirable in the face of a reactionary politics which claims support in the Judaeo-Christian tradition.