Long-time readers of this blog (hi, Dad!) may be familiar with David T. Koyzis’s book Political Visions and Illusions, which was originally published in 2003 and I reviewed here in 2012. When I first read it, it was a game-changer for me. I had read some political philosophy here and there, but lacked a coherent framework that would help me to make sense of the essential differences between ideologies and evaluate them from a Christian perspective.
I found that in Koyzis’s work, and especially in his connection of ideologies with the Christian understanding of idolatry. Specifically, he argues that political ideologies (he treats five in the book: liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, democracy, and socialism) tend toward idolatry insofar as they attempt to locate ultimate sources of good and evil within creation. Elevating some part of creation to an ultimacy reserved for God alone amounts to worship, and hence can be accurately described as idolatrous (for more on this, see Bruce Ashford’s review).
Considering my appreciation for the book, I was happy to learn a few months ago that the publisher, InterVarsity Press, would be coming out with a second edition. I’ve just begun to dip into it, and am looking forward to giving it a slow read over this summer. So far I’ve read the preface, and was again refreshed by Koyzis’s take on the blind spots of typical political discourse.
Many of the battles in the political realm are shaped not simply by a refusal of one side or another to “face facts” or to “be reasonable,” as one typically hears, but by differing views of reality rooted in alternative paradigms. In fact, however, … many of these different views of politics, under whatever ideological label they may fall, find their origins in a single religious worldview that sees the cosmos as an essentially closed system without reference to a creator/redeemer. In short, for all the apparent conflict among the several ideologies, all are subspecies of the larger category of idolatry.from the preface to the second edition
This new edition includes an updated treatment of Koyzis’s five ideologies with a new emphasis on the story each one tells, as well as a “Concluding Ecclesiological Postscript” directed toward those who are responsible for preaching and teaching in the church. I’m excited to get into it, and hopefully I’ll be able to carve out some time to write a few more reflections on the book as I proceed.