In an Eastern European mountain hideaway eight years ago Stephen Olford and I talked frankly and informally with a number of Marxist leaders. Better that Marxists and Christians talk together than that they hate and kill each other

Dale Vree, the author of On Synthesizing Marxism and Christianity (John Wiley & Sons, 1976, 206 pp., $14.95), insists rightly that “no great harm is done to Christianity if Christians collaborate with Marxists in the building of a better society—so long as the Christians are under no illusions that they are engaged in salvific or redemptive activity, so long as they respect the liberty of other Christians to come to different political conclusions, so long as they do not turn Marxist claims into articles of the Christian faith, and so long as they can be reasonably sure that a government led by Marxists will not persecute Christians or eradicate Christian values” (pp. 178 f.). Christians and Marxists can in fact cooperate at certain points in combatting specific social evils without endorsing each other’s theology or ideology.

Although Vree accepts the legitimacy of Christian-Marxist dialogue, the significance of his book lies rather in its complaint that most such discussants really engage in something quite different—in brief, in obscuring basic differences and in revising their heritage—and that the Communists at least are aware of this and therefore have ejected some Marxist-Christian dialoguers out of the Party.

Vree, a former evangelical Protestant who later became a Marxist atheist, doesn’t here argue for either the Christian view or the Communist view. Disappointed in earlier years by evangelical parochialism, he was confirmed in the Episcopal Church by the late Bishop James Pike. Soon he ...

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