Thinking About Christianity and Marxism Philosophically


For what Marx and the Christian traditions of negative theology have in common is their rejection of a describable God; all deny essentialism whether in theistic or atheistic forms since for none is there any common essence of the divine, the human or the natural which can be appropriated in language, social order or personal experience. All, as it were, demand that we should love in divine darkness, in a world deprived of any ultimate meaning which is at our disposal, for either, as in Marx, there is no such transcendent meaning, or as in the mystic, there is, but it is not at our disposal. And if at this point the charge is repeated that it is simply perverse to ignore the difference between the theist apophaticist and the atheist Marx; since manifestly what for the one is mystery is for the other mystification; then it would be possible to say this much, speaking for myself: I do not, of course, deny the importance of this distinction between the Marxist and the Christian, howsoever apophatic. But to produce that distinction requires a doctrine of God which is post-Marxist, a theology which has been unnerved by the closeness of the engagement in which it must associate with Marx’s atheism and has thereby problematised its own very possibility as a discourse.

DENYS TURNER, “Marxism, Liberation Theology and the Way of Negation”