Throughout history, there are individuals who stand out not only for the influence they exert over their own generation but for the continuity of that influence over the course of many generations. Despite that influence upon our modern era, we often lack the clarity to define the beliefs of those thinkers, their impact in modernity, and to do so from a biblically informed perspective. Recognizing the existence of this gap, P&R Publishing released the first three books in their new Great Thinkers series.
The series is unique in that it has been created simply to critically examine the thoughts, writings, and teachings of thinkers who have had an impact on the formation of modern ideology. However, the assessment performed by the authors is not merely against secular reasoning but is evaluated on the basis of God’s truth in the Bible so that people can biblically appraise the ideology. In order to be accurate and fair, the publishers have set forth to make a series that is academically informed, biblically and theologically faithful, and accessible. The first to be released in December were editions on Karl Marx, Thomas Aquinas, and Jacques Derrida.
For the edition on Karl Marx, P&R Publications tapped into the knowledge of William Dennison as an author because of his experience with Marx through his own studies (especially while working on his Ph.D. at Michigan State University) and his current philosophy and apologetics teaching positions at Covenant College and Greystone Theological Institute. While Dennison may not be extremely well-known, it is clear that he is well-versed in Marx’s thinking and quite capable of writing this book.
The edition on Karl Marx is quite simple in its format and coverage. These are meant to be short reads, and so the book in total is only five chapters and 146 pages. However, despite that conciseness, the depth is quite intense as the author spends the first three chapters merely explaining Marxism by giving a short biography of Marx and outlining his basic premises (including some of the movements that developed later from it). It’s in chapter four that most people look forward to as the author offers up a critique of Marxist views in light of what Scripture has to say.
Truthfully, the book is extremely well-written. It’s clear that not only does Dennison know what he is talking about when presenting Marx, but he understands the nuances associated with in order to provide both an accurate description and an accurate critique. However, the conciseness does not make this an easy read. Dealing with material that is philosophical and speculative naturally makes this type of book more difficult. While the author does well at trying to be clear, expect that you may have to go back and reread some aspects in order to understand more fully.
Certainly, this will not be a book that appeases everyone. Many people do not want to venture into the depths of this book, although I would recommend to some degree all of us should at least take a small interest in this. Therefore, if studying influences on modern movements is fascinating then this is a great book to utilize, especially because the author does such a good job at evaluating against the truth of Scripture. Having read this book, I am now curious to read some of the others available and look forward to many of the forthcoming volumes (which will include volumes on individuals like Barth, Dawkins, Hume, and Nietzsche) especially because some of those individuals are so highly quoted by Christians. I would urge readers and thinkers to spend some time with these volumes because what you learn can impact how you engage with modern mindsets.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, the review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or any other person associated with the book, but is the result of my own reading of the book.