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Chapter Three: Ambivalence

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Chapter Summary

This chapter talks about the political ambivalence of theology. The argument may be stated quite simply: a religion such as Christianity may be oppressive or liberating, a dreadful instrument for state-sanctioned terror or the source of inspiration for one revolutionary movement after another. The argument has three steps. From history, it moves to theoretical reflection with the help of sundry Marxists, corralling together those who have recognised in some way the political ambivalence of Christian theology. The chapter distinguishes between the unwitting and the witting that is, in some cases the political ambivalence of Christian thought and practice emerges inadvertently in their work, while in other cases it is explicitly foregrounded. Theology is the carapace, the outer clothing that may be shed when a proper understanding (Engels's own) of the issues becomes available.

Keywords: Christian theology; Engel; political ambivalence

10.1163/9789004252349_005
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