Bartlett’s Book of Navigation defines the one in sixty rule: for every degree off course over sixty miles, one will be one mile off course per degree. Applied to biblical, theological or philosophical argumentation, this means that the starting point matters. The starting point or principles of interpretation must not contradict the text it interprets or it will create error. The starting point, then, determines in large degree the destination.
Robert Brow predicted in Christianity Today (1990) that an “Evangelical Megashift” away from historic doctrine to liberal counterparts would take place. He was correct, but surpassing his prediction, there has been a “fundamental shift” in the very nature of evangelicalism. Evangelicalism is no longer evangelical, much less Christian.
This fundamental shift occurred first at the most basic level of the starting point. Current evangelicals have a different set of presuppositions that govern their view of reality and determine their principles of biblical interpretation from past generations of Christians. As a result, they no longer understand what Scripture means.
Second, the very nature of “evangelical Christianity” has shifted from the historic definition to something unrecognizable. Evangelicals cannot “rightly divide” Scripture, and so, cannot discern the biblical consistency of current cultural ideologies. Evangelicalism’s fundamental shift is basic in content, broad in scope, and has radically altered the very nature of American Christianity in theology and practice.
This fundamental shift involves the evangelical adoption of an unholy trinity of cultural ideologies: Marxism, multiculturalism, and genderism. Adoption in some cases has been conscious and unconscious in others. Each of these cultural ideologies is anti-Christian in both source and outcome. These ideologies use biblically inconsistent starting points which result in tenets that contradict Scripture. Each is unholy because they promise good but deliver evil. They are a trinity because each successive ideology builds in some way on its predecessor, beginning with Marxism. Each requires definition, history, and biblical analysis to reveal their anti-Christian nature.
The vast array of thought under the umbrella of Marxism is classified by chronology and geography: early, Russian, Chinese, Latin American, Western, and contemporary. This makes Marxism difficult to define, but the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers a three-point definition of Marxism as: first, “a critique of capitalist political economy”; second, “an instrument or means of changing the world from a capitalist to a socialist (and/or communist), economic and political order”; and third, “a philosophy of history which depicts the possibility of and conditions for change from a capitalist to a socialist order.” Many scholars distinguish between Marxism and Critical Theory, so-called Popular or Cultural Marxism, Neo-Marxism, etc. Bidet and Kouvelakis in Blackwell’s Critical Companion to Contemporary Marxism, note however that these later schools depend deeply on Marx. So also, socialism and communism predate Marx, but have since been influenced by Marxism and can now be grouped under the same banner. Marxism, here, will be used as an umbrella term.
Marx declares his starting point clearly in the preface of his Critique of Political Economy. His starting point is known as the “materialist conception of history,” which Plekhanov coined as “dialectical materialism.” Marx claimed, “the conclusion that legal relations as well as forms of state…are rooted in the material conditions of life…once reached, continued to serve as the leading thread in my studies.” Singer, in the Oxford Very Short Introduction to Marx, argues convincingly that Marx’s materialism (belief that only matter exists) is not merely a historical idea, but rather a view of reality which came from the philosopher Feuerbach, an atheist. Marx has a view of reality rather than merely history and his materialism is the basis of all of Marxist doctrine: class warfare, income inequality, wealth redistribution, exploitation, political and cultural domination, imperialism, social justice, etc. Materialism by definition denies the immaterial or spiritual world, including God.
By contrast Scripture starts with the reality of God and His creation, that is, both the spiritual and material worlds. God, defined in Genesis 1:2 (cp. John 4:24) as a spirit, creates a material world consisting of the heavens and the earth (vs. 1). Further, the OT and NT affirm human nature as both immaterial and material (e.g., Eccl 12:7; James 2:26). This makes Marxism fundamentally incompatible with Christianity. They affirm mutually exclusive views of reality.
Scholars have long debated the relationship between Marxism and Christianity. Some argue that Marxism and Christianity are compatible; others say that they are not. In fact, any resemblance is purely superficial. Marx’s biblically inconsistent starting point makes Marxism irreconcilable with Christianity.
Subsequent essays will finish the analysis of Marxism, including social justice, and address multiculturalism and genderism. They will show these ideologies to be equally anti-Christian, dependent on Marxism, and merely counterfeits of genuine Christian doctrine.