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The Professorial Struggle

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Ideas have consequences. Says Paul Tillich in 1967:

The anti-religious attitude of almost half of present-day mankind is rooted in this seemingly professiorial struggle between Hegel, Feuerbach, and Marx, with both of the latter coming from Hegel. Feuerbach turned Hegel upside down, and then Marx introduced the sociological element. The projection of the transcendent world is the projection of the disinherited in this world. This was such a powerful argument that it convinced the masses of people. It took more than one hundred years before the labor movements in Europe were able to overcome this Feuerbachian-Marxian argument against Hegel’s attempt to unite Christianity and the modern mind.

–Paul Tillich, Perspectives on 19th and 20th Century Protestant Theology (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 141.

Thus Tillich traces the line of the “left-wing” Hegelians, who turned Hegel’s Absolute Spirit into absolute materialistic class struggle.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • fotan

    Feuerbach was not a “class struggle” type. He was very different from Marx. Marx got some inspirations from Feuerbach, there’s no denying that, but Feuerbach and Marx are completely different philosophies.

    Feuerbach based his philosophy in love. He was an idealist type who wanted humanity to come together despite their differences.

    Marx was completely the opposite. He wanted the proletariat (one part of humanity) to take complete power and control of humanity’s destiny according to it’s own proclamations at the exclusion to all others.

    Marx took a few Feuerbachian concepts and distorted them into a new form which is Marxism.

    Feuerbach was very much religious in that he loved humanity and wanted them to work together while also being able to actualize their own personal possibilities. A combination of individuals and humanity.