Political Visions & Illusions

A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies

2nd Edition

by David T. Koyzis
Foreword by Richard J. Mouw

Political Visions & Illusions
  • Length: 330 pages
  • Published: May 07, 2019
  •  Forthcoming
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-5242-0
  • Item Code: 5242

What you believe about politics matters. The decades since the Cold War, with new alignments of post–9/11 global politics and the chaos of the late 2010s, are swirling with alternative visions of political life, ranging from ethnic nationalism to individualistic liberalism.

Political ideologies are not merely a matter of governmental efficacy, but are intrinsically and inescapably religious: each carries certain assumptions about the nature of reality, individuals and society, as well as a particular vision for the common good. These fundamental beliefs transcend the political sphere, and the astute Christian observer can discern the ways—sometimes subtle, sometimes not—in which ideologies are rooted in idolatrous worldviews.

In this freshly updated, comprehensive study, political scientist David Koyzis surveys the key political ideologies of our era, including liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, democracy, and socialism. Koyzis gives each philosophy careful analysis and fair critique, unpacking the worldview issues inherent to each and pointing out essential strengths and weaknesses, as well as revealing the "narrative structure" of each—the stories they tell to make sense of public life and the direction of history. Koyzis concludes by proposing alternative models that flow out of Christianity's historic engagement with the public square, retrieving approaches for both individuals and the global, institutional church that hold promise for the complex political realities of the twenty-first century.

Writing with broad international perspective and keen analytical insight, Koyzis is a sane and sensible guide for Christians working in the public square, culture watchers, political pundits, and all students of modern political thought.

"Politics involves the acquisition and use of power. It always has a moral dimension, always offers a chance to do good, and always carries the risk of idolatry. Updating his original work in this second edition, Koyzis has written a superb overview of modern politics, ideologies and the state, and their intersection with Christian faith. Rich in scholarship, perceptive and engaging in its analysis, and 'merely Christian' in its importance for all followers of Jesus Christ regardless of their tradition, it's an indispensable resource."

Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia

"This second edition of David's great book is a gem. The brighter light he now shines on his assessment of modern ideologies comes from an in-depth assessment of the story each tells and the idolatry exhibited in each one. This also pushes Christians to examine the extent to which we may be compromising our dedication to God by bowing (even unconsciously) to other gods for political guidance. In this day of heightening nationalism, racism, terrorism, and sheer ignorance, the message of this book could not be more urgent or important. Read and discuss it carefully even if it takes weeks to do so. The multiple forces at work in our homelands and around the world will not be thwarted or redirected by one election or one major event. Christian love of God and neighbor demands responsible civic service and that requires the kind of understanding provided by Political Visions and Illusions."

James W. Skillen, president (now retired) of the Center for Public Justice

"Few could have anticipated the major political upheavals witnessed since this book first came out in 2003. Yet Koyzis's book has stood the test of time, ranking, in my opinion, as the best introduction to modern political thought from a Christian perspective. This updated edition is welcome in its inclusion both of newer literature and fresh examples to recent political developments. As a politically engaged theologian, I'm especially thrilled to see the addition of the 'Concluding Ecclesiological Postscript' that could very well serve as kind of theo-political compass for church leaders wanting navigational guidance on how churches should—and should not—engage in political action."

David Guretzki, executive vice president and resident theologian, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

"Political Visions and Illusions is an absolutely indispensable text written by the most significant evangelical political theorist of our day. In it, Koyzis skillfully unmasks the idolatry in modern political ideologies before offering a compelling nonideological vision for politics and public life. Its relevance extends beyond political science to the disciplines of public theology, ethics, and philosophy—highly recommended."

Bruce Riley Ashford, provost/dean of the faculty, professor of theology and culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"The first edition of this excellent book showed in lively and erudite prose how biblical insights into idolatry illuminate our political life. This expanded edition increases its scope and delineates the newer challenges we face. It is indispensable reading."

Paul Marshall, Jerry and Susie Wilson Professor of Religious Freedom, Baylor University


Foreword by Richard J. Mouw
Preface to the Second Edition
1. Introduction: Ideology, Religion and Idolatry
2. Liberalism: The Sovereignty of the Individual
3. Conservatism: History as Source of Norms
4. Nationalism: The Jealous God of Nation
5. Democracy or Democratism: When the People Claim Too Much
6. Socialism: Common Ownership as Redemptive
7. Transcending the Ideologies: Affirming Societal Pluriformity
8. Toward a Nonideological Alternative: Two Historic Christian Approaches
9. The State and Its Task: Doing Justice in God's World
Epilogue: Toward the Future
A Concluding Ecclesiological Postscript
Discussion Questions
Selected Bibliography


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