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Political Visions & Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies [Kindle Edition]

David T. Koyzis
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Named Best Book (Culture) in the 2004 Word Guild Canadian Writing Awards!

The end of the Cold War has brought about more than the triumph of some political ideologies and the disappearance of others. In fact, the collapse of communism has created a vacuum quickly being filled by various alternative visions, ranging from ethnic nationalism to individualistic liberalism.

But political ideologies are not merely a matter of governmental efficacy. Rather, political ideologies 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 should thus discern the subtle ways in which ideologies are rooted in idolatrous worldviews.

In this comprehensive study, political scientist David Koyzis surveys the key political ideologies of our era, including liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, democracy and socialism. Each philosophy is given careful analysis and fair critique, unpacking the worldview issues inherent to each and pointing out essential strengths and weaknesses. Koyzis concludes by proposing alternative models that flow out of Christianity's historic engagement with the public square, retrieving approaches that hold promise for the complex political realities of the twenty-first century.

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

Editorial Reviews


"Thankfully it is now common for Christians to believe that the gospel should shape our view not only of the goals but also of the nature of our politics, and that the theme of idolatry is key to understanding not only our personal but also our political life. But until David Koyzis's Political Visions and Illusions, this understanding has remained largely vague, tentative and intuitive. This book shows clearly and in detail how biblical insight into idolatry and ideology illuminate the most concrete dimensions of political life in a way rarely grasped by more secular political scientists." (Paul Marshall, Senior Fellow, Center for Religious Freedom, Washington, D.C.)

"David Koyzis not only helps us to see the basic worldviews that give shape to a variety of political perspectives, he also makes a solid case for a uniquely Christian perspective on these matters. This excellent book is a much-needed 'discerning' tool for understanding the basic issues of political life." (Richard J. Mouw, President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary)

"David Koyzis has produced a truly original book illuminating the landscape of modern political ideologies. His approach is distinctively Christian, giving him a standpoint from which to cririque liberal as well as totalitarian ideologies. Moreover, the book is up to date with the post-Cold War world. This is the place to start for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of ideological conflict in the world today." (James W. Skillen, President, Center for Public Justice)

"Political nostrums fly thick and fast in contemporary life--from print, radio, TV, pulpits and (perhaps most of all) casual conversation. David Koyzis's welcome effort uses wise biblical reasoning as well as the hard-won experience of Dutch Calvinists to winnow through the modern world's blizzard of competing politcal claims. Koyzis's analysis is both an effective survey of the world's contemporary political options and an encouraging Christian word on how to discern the critical differences. This book's combination of readable theory and wise Christian thinking is a first-order contribution to Christian political thought in its own right." (Mark A. Noll, McManis Professor of Christian Thought, Wheaton College)

About the Author

Koyzis (Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) is professor of political science at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3433 KB
  • Print Length: 281 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (August 20, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001HL0E0M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,825 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
David T. Koyzis, who teaches political science at Redeemer University College in Ontario, has written an extremely helpful book for Christians who seek to understand the contemporary political climate. He begins by looking at the nature of ideologies, saying that they tend to locate sources of evil and salvation within the created order, and are therefore idolatrous from a Christian perspective. He then devotes a chapter each to five different ideologies: liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, democracy and socialism. He closes the book with three "what next" chapters: First, there is a chapter on Christians rejecting the monisms of the ideologies and affirming social pluriformity. Second, he includes a chapter that looks at two nonideological Christian alternatives: subsidiarity, which is commonly associated with Catholic social teaching, and sphere-sovereignty (or differentiated responsibility), which is commonly associated with Dutch Reformed thinking. Koyzis does a good job at explaining both, and expresses a preference for the latter. Finally, there is a chapter looking at the state's role in fostering justice.

There are two reasons why I would recommend this book: first, Koyzis is familiar with a wide range of ideas in the history of political thought. He is able to explain the history of the concept of ideology, as well as the histories of the various ideologies themselves. That ability to give context is invaluable in a culture that rarely gets beyond sound bites and slogans. Second, I appreciated that it is written from a Christian perspective. Of course, not all Christians will agree with everything Koyzis writes, but the fact that he writes as a Christian enables him to step back from the ideologies and evaluate them based on how they understand God's created world.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read fior Christians in Politics February 21, 2010
There are too many Politicians who are Christians who seem to have a simplistic view of politics whose default position seems to be philsophically liberal democratically inclined based on the autonomy of the individual except in issues of personal morality. In modern pluralist societies, imposition of these values, though understandable, do not serve the Christian community well in its witness to the wider community.
He provides a critique of the dominant political theorists/movements and shows both their strengths and weaknesses and how each one ultimately does not and cannot stand up to the scrutiny of Scripture.
I only wish that Christians would encourage those in politics to read this book, even though they might disagree with what Koyzis has to say.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction February 5, 2004
This is a terrific book for anyone with a Judeo-Christian outlook that is interested in political theory. This would make a great textbook for classes as well. Although he sets up some straw men, Koyzis has plenty of original insights into the issues and what makes for true govenment, authority, and justice.
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More About the Author

David Koyzis teaches political science at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada, and is the author of the award-winning Political Visions and Illusions (InterVarsity Press, 2003). He is an amateur poet and musician and has a special interest in sung metrical psalmody, especially the 16th-century Genevan Psalter. Born near Chicago and living now in Canada, he sometimes calls himself a Franco-Greek-Cypriot-Finno-Anglo-American-Canadian, one of the smallest ethnic minorities in North America. His second book, on authority, office and the image of God, is forthcoming from Pickwick Publications.


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