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April 1974 · Vol. 3 No. 1 · pp. 182–83 

Book Review

Marxism and Christianity

Hans-Lutz Poetsch. St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1973. 62 pages.

Reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

In this second of their Contemporary Theology Series, Concordia Press bring a conservative Lutheran perspective (Missouri Synod) to bear on several issues.

Marxism and Christianity is a fair discussion of Marx’ major components, together with a brief description of contemporary Marxist thinking; it closes with a warning about engaging too facilely in Christian-Marxist dialogue. Unity cautions against a shallow ecumenism that is predicated on support of international development and revolutionary {183} activity (p. 27) rather than on the notion of salvation by grace through faith (p. 48). For Klotz, abortion is murder, although he does not categorically rule against it when the mother’s life or health is seriously threatened (p. 51). His approach to the relation of abortion to the legal system rests heavily on the “two kingdoms” concept (p. 55), and begs the major moral issue that underlies the social level. In Elert’s examination of the Lord’s Supper, there is the traditional Lutheran concept of “consubstantiation”; there is a good attempt at an exegesis of basic New Testament texts without being too doctrinaire, and he sums up his position with the warning that “the doctrine of Holy Communion cannot replace Holy Communion itself” (p. 43). For Elert, the key is that in the Lord’s Supper, those who participate “bear and receive the one Lord” (p. 44). It is well to read some good thinking about the Lord’s Supper when so often we hear only sentimentalized commonplaces on this key act of the church in obedience to her Head. The form critical approach of Bultmann is examined, with a detailing of major presuppositions that underlie his methodology as developed in his “The Study of the Synoptic Gospels.” Meier points out that the apparent basis of Bultmann’s methodology stems from an initial philosophical position that rejects supernaturalism a priori (p. 32), and concludes that recourse to form criticism is incompatible with a belief in “the divine inspiration and truth of gospel and other Scriptural records” (p. 45).

All five treatments of contemporary issues are cased in readable, non-technical style that will better enable the concerned reader to deal with questions of faith and practice.

Vern Ratzlaff,
MB Bible College

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