Contemporary Mind: Naturalistic,  Secularistic, Humanistic Pluralism

Dr. J.D. Strauss World View Studies LCC/LCS


(See my syllabii: Contemporary Mind. Hegel/Marx/Liberation Theology, Christian Faith and Development of Physical Sciences, and Christian Faith and Biological Theories.)


Alienation: From Hegel to Marx


Whenever a man is not fulfilled by his own view himself, his society or his environment, then he is at odds with himself and feels estranged or alienated, and called in question.


Contemporary atheism and alienation are closely connected. To a large extent the emphasis of contemporary atheism has shifted from a critique of the proofs for the existence of God to a rejection of the properties traditionally attributed to Him. More fundamentally it might be said that the atheism of our 'day, in its reflective philosophical expression, consists chiefly in asserting the impossibility of "the coexistence of finite and infinite beings. It is maintained that the affirmation of God as infinite being necessarily implies the devaluation of finite being and, in particular, the dehumaniza t ion of man. The merely negative form of atheism has been replaced by a more sophisticated version according to which contemporary man if he is to be truly human must, perhaps reluctantly, dispense with belief in God.


Masterson says:


Thus the "problem of God" is posed today as a feature of a more basic problem of human alienation and authenticity. The debate revolves around the following kind of questions--"Is the presence of God constitutive of man's historical existence or destructive of it? In order that a man may exist, 'stand forth* as a man in freedom and in human action, what is required—that he recognize and acknowledge the presence of God, as the Old and New Testaments say, or that he ignore and refuse God's presence, as the Revolution and the Theatre say? In order that the people may exist, organized for action in history as a force to achieve a historical destiny, what is required — that they disown God or own themselves to be his people? What is it that alienates man from himself — the confession of God's presence in history and in man's consciousness or the suppression of him from history and the repression of him from consciousness?"[1]


The traditional development of Western philosophy, which finds its origin in Plato and his magnum opus, The Republic, has spoken of alienation in terms of man and God, but now we have proceeded into a time when we are beginning to speak of and understand contemporary phenomena without religion and how do we speak in a secular fashion of God? With the contemporary reinterpretation and fusion of Hegelian and Marxist philosophy the proponents of futurology are attempting to explain and answer the problem of man's alienation by restating


the purpose of the church in secular terminology. Even if this is able to solve social and environmental alienation, does it have the ability to solve the individual's problem of alienation. Or is it as Paul has stated in Romans 7.15: "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate."? Does man have the ability to dissolve his own self-alienation or is it his own creation as the Creation Account in Genesis would verify? Is man's self-alienation something that he must continually live with or can it be explained through his relation with the Divine? In order to understand the contemporary problem of alienation we must begin with a discussion of Hegel, Marx's reinterpretation of Hegel, and then continue with a discussion and evaluation of the proponents of futurology who would answer the problem of alienation by fusing the philosophies of both Hegel and Marx. Our ultimate discussion must evaluate the resultant ends of these philosophies to see if they indeed have dissolved the problem of alienation. (See my syllabus Sin/Salvation).


Hegel's Predecessor's in Social Contract Theory


An examination of the use of "alienation" and Entfremdung" in philosophy and theology prior to Hegel's use of the latter in his Phenomenology of Spirit will show that he was the first to use this term systematically in anything like the special ways in which it is used today. But it will also show that he did not write in a vacuum; and by indicating the various themes and strands of usage he brought together in his discussion, we can more clearly understand what Hegel meant by the term.


The main philosophical context in which the term "alienation" was employed prior to Hegel was that of political theory and in particular, that of social contract theory.[2] Hugo Grotius seems to have been the first to use it in this context, in his De Jure Belli ac Pacis.[3] Grotius conceives "sovereign authority" over oneself, or the right of determining one's actions, as analogous to property rights. This enables him to use the Latin "alienation"in connection with the transfer of "soverign authority" over oneself to another person. "As other things may be alienated, so may sovereign authority".[4]


Grotius further suggests that such alienation provides the basis and justification of all political authority. In his view, political authority is constituted when a group of men relinquish the unrestricted right of each to determine his own course of action, and transfer sovereign authority over themselves to some one man.


Thomas Hobbes and John Locke do not use the term "alienation", as did Grotius before them and Rousseau later. Their approach to this problem is similar, however, and their terminology is closely related.


Hobbes holds that a man can enter into the social contract only if he renounces or divests himself of "the right of doing anything he liketh", and transfers to the sovereign his "right of Nature" to "use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation ... of his own life."[5] This alone, according to Hobbes, makes possible the emergence of civil society and the commonwealth.


It is Hobbes's contention that the individual gains a great deal more than he loses through this renunciation and transfer of rights. Life in the commonwealth is held to be infinitely preferable to life in the state of nature. Hobbes expects the individual to come to recognize that this is so, and to make the necessary sacrifice willingly.[6]


Locke takes a similar position in his Second Treatise on Civil Government as Hobbes took in his Leviathan. The right he would have men relinquish and transfer to society, however, is a much less comprehensive one—that of judging and punishing offenders against one's "life, liberty, and estate". "There and only there is political society, where every one of the members hath quitted this natural power, resigned it up into the hands of the community ...."[7]


Locke speaks of "resigning up" and "quitting", rather than "alienating”, “transferring", or "relinquishing". But his terms have precisely the same force as the latter. And in using them, Locke—like Hobbes—has in mind the voluntary sacrifice of complete freedom of action, for the sake of the existence of political society. Because of the great importance he attaches to the existence of political society, he too considers this sacrifice to be highly desirable.[8]


Rousseau agrees with Hobbes that alienation is a "voluntary act", and that voluntary acts have as their object the good of the agent. From this he infers that the act of "alienation" has no validity when it does not serve the good of the agent. Re then proceeds to attack the view that it is even possible for people to transfer sovereign authority over themselves to another individual. Grotius is the proponent of this view on whom Rousseau's attack centers. Rousseau's argument is that nothing comparable to what would be given up can be gained by doing so; and that therefore no such transfer of sovereignty is in fact valid, the opinion of the contracting parties notwithstanding.[9]


But Rousseau is not arguing that there are no circumstances under which sovereign authority over oneself may properly be alienated to be "vain and meaningless" unless this authority is transferred to a community (rather than an individual), in which all are on an equal footing. And he also maintains not only that such alienation is possible in this case, but also that it is a condition of the very existence of a community. In fact, he takes the position that it is to be unconditional: "Each gives himself to all", and give himself "without reservation".[10] (See my Enlightenment syllabus).


But he has more in mind as well. In his discussion of alienation he. is moving beyond the meaning associated with this and similar terms in earlier social contract theory, toward a notion of alienation in which not merely certain natural rights are renounced or transferred, but moreover the person himself is surrendered to the community.[11]


One of Hegel's two main senses of "alienation" would appear to derive from Rousseau's discussion. Hegel was familiar with this chapter of The Social Contract; he even says of it that it contains much that, while "abstractly stated, we must allow to be correct. "[12] The phrase "surrender of the particular self," which fairly characterizes what alienation involves for


Rousseau, occurs frequently in Hegel's discussion of alienation in the Phenomenology. Much the same thing is involved in one type of alienation as Hegel conceives it; the end to be achieved is similar in both cases; and Hegel's attitude toward this alienation is similar to Rousseau's. In short, Hegel's debt to Rousseau would seem to be considerable here. Thus states Schacht.[13]


Hegel's  Contermpoaries:  Fichte and Schiller


J. G. Fichte did use the term "Entausserung" (meaning "surrender" of "divesture"), which is closely related to "alienation" and "Entf remdung" in social contract theory and the Phenomenology. Because of this fact, and because Fichte exerted a considerable influence upon Hegel, his use of this term is relevant here.[14]


Fichte's basic program is that of bridging the Kantian gap between the phenomenal world on the one hand and the spiritual world revealed by reflection on moral experience on the other. He seeks to work out an interpretation of freedom which is meaningful not solely from the standpoint of man's moral consciousness and practical activity, but also from that of his relation to the phenomenal world. Fichte finds it possible to do so, by virtue of his radical idealism. Man may appear to be bound by the chains of necessity, because h'is bodily existence places him in the law-governed phenomenal world; but Fichte views the phenomenal world as a product of spiritual creativity. Insofar as man is spirit, therefore, he is not merely a part of this world but rather* the ground of its existence. And by virtue of his consciousness and reason, it is within his power to reassert his primacy over it, by coming to recognize where the true dependence lies. It is in these terms that Fichte conceives man's fundamental freedom.[15]


The phenomenal world (the "object") is produced by spirit (the "subject). It is brought forth by spirit out of .itself, and is set out by spirit over against itself, as something that is now in a sense external to it. Fichte characterizes this process as an "Entausserung" on the part of spirit—an externalization and detachment of something of its own.[16]


In this sketch of Fichte's general scheme, one can see the basic elements of much of Hegel's thought, insofar as his conceptions of both the development of spirit and the nature of freedom are concerned. With regard to the categories in terms of which he works them but in the Phenomenology, however, it is doubtful whether Fichte should be given credit for anything more than suggesting to him that the term "Entausserung" might fruitfully be employed in this connection.


It remains to consider one other writer who strongly influenced Hegel, and Marx as well: Friedrich Schiller. Walter Kaufmann has pointed out Hegel's acknowledged admiration of the Letters, and his "far-reaching agreement" with Schiller, particularly in the Phenomenology.[17] It is therefore of interest that, as Kaufmann observes, Schiller is concerned with something similar to Hegel's "alienation" in the Letters.


He does not use the term "Entfremdung" itself, in any of its forms. However, he does speak of men experiencing the state as "alien" under certain conditions.[18] And he says of the "speculative spirit" which "strove after imperishable possessions in the realm of ideas", that it had "become an alien in the material world".[19] These remarks may have suggested to Hegel the employment of the term "Entfremdung" in connection with ceasing to feel at one with the state and with the world.


In the Letters Schiller maintains that there presently exists a disparity between man's actual condition ("in time") and his true, essential nature ("in idea"). He proposes that it is the "great task of every man's existence" to "harmonize" the two.[20] When they are harmonized, "the inner man is at one with himself". As long as they are not, he is "at odds with himself".[21]

Schiller further holds that for the inner man to be at one with himself, the two basic elements of man's nature—"Reason" and "Nature"—must occupy their proper positions of equal importance. Only then does his existence "in time" correspond to his existence "in idea". .It does not do so when one or the other of these elements oversteps its bounds and predominates.[22] One of Hegel's central concerns in his discussion of alienation is with the establishment of just such a balance between roughly the same basic elements. And one of his major uses of the term is precisely in connection with an imbalance between them.


"This antagonism of powers is the great instrument of culture."[23] Cultural or spiritual development, he feels, can occur only piecemeal, through concentration on different areas singly. In a sense, therefore, "It was culture itself that inflicted this wound upon modern humanity," through the "division of the sciences" and of labor ("occupations").[24] That is, this "wound" or fragmentation is the unavoidable price of development. Hegel takes up this theme, and Marx after him.


In the long run, according to Schiller, this loss of immediate unity is not a misfortune, because it is a precondition of the attainment of a new, higher, conscious, and rational unity, which is also a more secure one. This idea is developed at length by Hegel, and is basic to his entire discussion of alienation.


In short, Hegel's use of this term appears to have been influenced significantly by Schiller. Schiller may not have used it himself; but he focuses Hegel's attention on many of the most important phenomena in connection with which Hegel employs it.


Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit  


An adequate understanding of Hegel's use of the term "alienation", and a proper appreciation of his discussion of "self-alienated spirit", require an awareness of the general character of the book in which they occur: his Phenomenology of Spirit. Some idea of its character is obtainable from a literal reading its reading of its title: It is a systematic study of those phenomena collectively describable as manifestations of the human spirit. In brief, he attempts in the Phenomenology to tract the entire development of the human spirit. Hegel holds that the world in which man lives is, to a considerable extent, a world he himself has created. Social, political, and cultural institutions constitute what he refers to as "the social substance," or more frequently, simply "the substance." The social substance has come into existence, and has been substained in existence, through centuries of human activity. As a product of the human spirit, Hegel considers it to be essentially "spiritual." "This world is a spiritual entity, it is essentially the fusion of individuality with being; this, its existence is the work of self-consciousness . . . ."[25]


This suggests that there is a sense in which a spiritual nature is imparted to everything transformed by human activity, as well as to that which is created through it. In this view, since much of the natural has been transformed by human activity, it too may be said to have acquired a "spiritual" character. Hegel even goes so far as to suggest that, since to perceive is to transform, the entire phenomenal world is "spiritual" by the same principle.[26]


For Hegel the material world is controlled and propelled by the "Geist". The Geist is throughout everything, but it is a little more than all the parts. The Geist is an ever-flowing phenomenon, in fact to attempt to stop it is to hinder the Geist. This free-flow, Hegel believed to be goal-directed by the Geist. This propelling of the Geist created meaning and purpose as it moves toward a goal. By his phenomenological method, however, Hegel could not show this Geist to be the Christian God, although he believed the flow of the Geist was toward the goal of Christianity;

Hegel believed the mind to be a free-flow. This free-flow was also goal-directed by the Geist. He kept the Geist separate from the individual. To fit into the Geist was to flow with the goal of the Geist in the activity of man.


Virtually the whole of his' discussion of alienation occurs in a section on "Culture and Its Realm of Actuality" in the Phenomenology of Spirit, which is precisely the world of social substance.[27] The social substance is man's creation. He regards it as the objectification of the human spirit, in which spirit finds the objective form that is essential to its actualization. Thus he also speaks of it as "objective spirit".


Hegel's Conception of the Nature of Man


Hegel recognizes that man is essentially individual. But he insists that individuality is only one aspect of his nature. A more balanced characterization of man's nature, he suggests, can be given in terms of "spirit", which balances the idea of individuality with that of universality. For instance, in his Philosophy of Right he says:


Spirit is the nature of human beings generally, and the nature is therefore twofold:      at one extreme, explicit individuality of consciousness and will, and at the other,  universality which knows and wills what is substantive.[28]


That which is universal in the relevant of interpersonal interaction in the social substance; and it follows from this that if the individual is to achieve universality, he must “make himself conformable” to it, and live in accordance with it. Hegel says that a "substantive basis" for universality is to be found only "in social institutions", they alone make it possible.[29]


Hegel's Twofold Use of Alienation


One cannot meaningfully speak of Hegel's concept of alienation, because he uses the term in two different ways. At times he uses it to refer to a separation or discordant relation, such as might obtain between the individual and the social substance, or between one's actual condition and essential nature. This is a negative aspect of alienation.[30] He also uses it to refer to a surrender or sacrifice of particularity and willfulness , in connection with the overcoming of alienation in a negative sense and the retainment of unity. When the term "alienation" is used in this sense it is used positively according to Hegel.[31]


Negative alienation for Hegel is a condition which occurs when a person goes through a certain change in his self-conception. It is neither something one does nor the intended result of a deliberate action. One finds that the condition has come to exist. Alienation in a positive sense, on the other hand, is—as it was for social contract theorists—something deliberate. It involves a conscious relinquishment or surrender with the intention of securing a desired end: namely, unity with the social substance. Negative alienation is to be overcome completely—in part, precisely through positive alienation. The latter, however, is to be permanent, or, more precisely, continuous; for only in this way can negative alienation be kept from recurring.[32]


Hegel used the philosophy of alienation to opt for surrender to the state. A person ought to consciously stop the free-flow of his spirit (thus positive alienation) to realize his separation as an individual from the social substance (negative alienation). Upon realizing his negative alienation, he should be willing to surrender himself to the state as an institution. Thus, through positive alienation from his own individuality, he realizes himself totally.


Marx's Criticism of Hegel


Hegel attempted to salvage and rescue the Christian Faith so that he might reinterpret the Christian Faith in the new secular model that had succeeded the Aristotelian model. No longer was unity to be found in physics and metaphysics but now it was to be found in the emerging secular city with its political, social, economical, and environmental concepts.


Marx, however, criticizes Hegel because he claims that Hegel's view does not make a concrete connection with the new history in the secular city. Thus Hegel has reinterpreted the Geist and the Christian Faith in a system that is merely an abstract, logical, and speculative expression of the historical process which is not the real history of man.


Marx views Hegel's account of the 'the historical process' as an abstraction, but one in which the outlines of 'the real history of man’ can be discerned. Accordingly, he undertakes to bring it down to earth, to cut away the accretions due to its development in abstract form, and to set forth 'the real history of man1 in the concrete terms appropriate to it—those of 'political economy.' He finds justification for this endeavor in Hegel himself; for he persuades himself that Hegel's standpoint is that of modern political economy.[33]


With this concept of modern political economy and the accomplishment of his task, one can easily see his fascination with the term alienation. But in Marx/Hegel's two senses' of alienation are fused together in that they emerge as separation through surrender. His use of alienation is not as defined and systematic as Hegel's because the separation to which the term is related in some way refers to a certain surrender which is the surrender of one's control over one's product and labor. Thus we have the contrast and differentiation of the alienation of Marx and Hegel. In Marx, the separation is the result of the surrender and in Hegel the separation is overcome through the surrender.


Thus Marx explains  self-alienation in characteristics of truly human life.


A man is self-alienated for Marx if his true 'human nature is something alien to him—if his life fails to manifest the characteristics of a truly human life. There are three such characteristics for Marx: individuality, sociality, and cultivated sensibility. Self-alienation thus takes the form of the dehumanization in the spheres of life which correspond to them: production, social life, and sensuous life. It may be best understood in terms of dehumanization in each, of these areas.[34]


Consequently Marx is assuming that all who exist within a society become creatures of it and operate within its social context. But it is possible for a person not be a product of his society and to operate in a different philosophical or social context. Plato, for example, expresses his alienation in his magnus opum. The Republic. Marx himself is also an example of one who has been alienated from his society in that his philosophy expresses a remedy to that which he defined as the alienation of his time.


Since Marx himself was alienated from his society, a question is raised concerning the nature of alienation. Is alienation only existent in the corporate entities such as the social, economical, or political? Or is alienation an existent reality that has characterized man throughout his existence? Can alienation be conquered in the secular city?


Futurology, Alienation, and Marxism


Because of Aristotle's model of the unity of physics and metaphysics, Christian God-talk has been understood in the metaphysical model of transcendence. But with the beginning of the modern age, the Aristotleian model which the theology of the Church has been channeled through has found itself in a realm of reality that is not in this age considered relevant to the existence and transcendence of man. Modern man no longer considers himself as part of the cosmos and nature, but he has become the Lord of Creation and the Master of His Destiny; he has become the maitre de la nature. The metaphysics of heaven no longer have the ability to unlock the physics of the earth, but the physics of the earth are unlocked by the subjective anger of man.


Since the physics of the earth cannot be explained by the metaphysics of heaven, the transition from the Aristotelian model to the new model of existence and transcendence offers a new reality in which the God of the Aristotelian model is dead. Thus into this tension of history that exists in the realm of history between life and death, person and society, subjectivity and objectivity, and necessity and freedom, the experience of transcendence, which is an answer to the problem of alienation, is being explained through many different models. Marx attempts to offer the solution through political and social transcendence. Not only is Marx making this offer, but proponents of secularism and futurology are also offering a political and social transcendence. These answers to this historical tension that exists formulate a point of fusion in their answer in political and social transcendence, but their concepts of authority and history are completely different. So in order to evaluate futurology, alienation, and Marxism, we must consider the Marxist philosophy; and we will also explore and evaluate Harvey Cox's discussion of the secular God who is seen in the sociological problem, the political issue, and the theological question. And finally, we will explore and evaluate the eschatology of Jurgen Moltmann and his explanation of the Deus qui est futura.


The theology of Ludwig Feuerbach can be understood in terms of anthropology for in his demythologizing of God, man has become God. Thus man has become the highest object of philosophy; and man together with man in the unity of the "I and Thou" is God. Thus, his humanism is the consistent fulfillment and secularization of God through Christianity and Luthern Reformation. Feuerbach attributes man's strange refusal to reappropriate what is his own to an immature desire for sharing the humiliating restrictions of one's private existence with the entire human species.[35]


Marx accepted Feuerbach's view of religion as an alienation of man and never changed his position concerning the issue. In his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 which initiate his own philosophy, Marx writes: "If I know religion as alienated human self-consciousness, what I know in it as religion is not my self-consciousness, but my alienated self-consciousness which is its essence, is not confirmed in religion but in the abolition and suppression of religion." For Marx, alienation could not be explained simply in man's sloth and vanity, but alienation is found in the social and economic conditions of modern life. (See my syllabus, Christian Faith and Political Economic Theories.)


If the alienation of man can be explained through social and economical conditions, man cannot be the highest form in the universe because he is in slavery and bondage to his own system. Man, the maitre de la nature, has created an alienation which has found its origin in an imprisoning determinism. Thus for Marx both Atheism and religion are symptoms of alienation which can only be dissolved by destroying the economical and social bondage of man.


In this secular era and technological age economical and social alienation exist in abundance, but this analysis by Marx does not have the ability to offer an explanation of alienation that existed before the social and economical conditions that he criticized in a new and struggling capitalism. How would Marx explain the alienation of Plato to escape the foolishness of the politicians? Or how would he explain the alienation of Paul in his classical statement? How would Marx explain any type of alienation that existed before the development of the capitalistic system? Thus, alienation is not limited to only economic and social conditions, but it also exists in other areas of reality that man experiences.


Secularism, God, and Alienation (See my Five Faces of Atheism)


The secular world is characterized by an era of relativism; no longer can God or the Church be spoken of in the sense and reality of Biblical theology. Thus the concept of God will differ with each society and culture. If this is so, Bonhoeffer in his Gesammelte Schriften (V. IV, p. 606) has given us a hint about understanding God in the secular city: "God is not for us a common concept by which we designate that which is the highest, holiest and mightiest thinkable, but God is a name .... The word means absolutely nothing, the name God is everything."


To speak of God in this secular city is to speak of him in more than social terminology for God must also be understood as a political issue because our view of the world is being politicized.

In order to understand God in his social and political concepts, it becomes a theological issue to see if the God of the Bible exists or-if he is a rich and imaginative way that man has fashioned in order to talk about himself.


God must be spoken of as a social problem in the secular city because the word God emerges from a certain sociocultural setting. According to Harvey Cox in his discussion of speaking of God as a sociological problem, "No language was ever handed down from heaven. When words change their meaning and become problematical, there is always some social dislocation or cultural breakdown that lies beneath the confusion."[36] Thus equivocality would be caused by social differentiation and historical change.


With the abrupt decline of the Aristotelian model and the emergence of the new model of the secular city,  the concept of God has changed.  It is no longer understood in the model of Aristotle or the  term and concept of God must now be encountered in the new sociocultural setting of the secular city. Thus, as C.A. van Peuraen has indicated, "The word God can no longer function as a metaphysical entity. It can no longer be used to fill the gaps in our knowledge .... Christianity is  in danger of becoming supernatural when it remains within the realm of metaphysical and substantial thinking .... It becomes a metaphysical escape."[37] Thus  the metaphysical concept has been made equivocal by both historical change and social differentiation. As a result, the metaphysical  event cannot be discarded until the break with  the Aristotelian model of Christianity and  the departure from the sub-cultural enclave that has been formulated by this model.


The metaphysical model had the ability to unify the world before the advent of the secular city, but now unity is understood in political complexities. Therefore, to understand God and his work it is necessary to see the life and death issues of the secular metropolis and to respond to them. "Politics also describes man's role in response to God. It is 'activity, and reflection on activity, which aims at and analyzes what it takes to make and keep human life human in the world. '"[38]

Thus the Church must respond to and act upon what the politician-God is doing in the secular metropolis. Consequently, the language of theology is no longer metaphysical but it is political.


"Thus we meet God at those places in life where we come up against that which is not pliable and disposable, at those hard edges where we are both stopped and challenged to move ahead. God meets us as the transcendent, at those aspects of our experience which can never be transmuted into extensions of ourselves."[39] In this theology of God, man becomes a co-partner; man's relationship to God derives from the work that they accomplish together. As a result, the name of God is not important but the work and meaning that he defines in the sociocultural perspective. "It is a functional way that man comes into contact with the reality of God, that God acquires a meaning in history, .... As the church we have to respond to the world through our acts."[40] Therefore, the work of the Church and the work of man is determined by the social and political conditions of a society. Consequently, in order to understand the work of the Church one must formulate a social policy and political policy that will free the captives and dissolve the bondage within which man finds himself ensnared.


As a result, a new way of conceptualizing, that which we define as God, will emerge in the tension between the past and the future. "It will emerge as the issues of the urban civilization are drawn into rehearsal of the past, reflection on the present, and responsibility for the future, which is history."[41]


Theology of Hope, God, and Alienation (See my Hegel, Marx and Liberation Theologies)


The answer to the problem of alienation in the secular city is to understand God in the new model. He is no longer the God of the Aristotelian model, but He is the God that can be understood in social and political issues and through understanding a theology of Him in this secular era. Theology of Hope also hears the categorical needs of the world; but it sees the real misery of man in the is tic terminology of sin and not in the economic or social only. This self-inflicted servitude under the powers of sin is responsible for death and man's alienation; so if there is political and social alienation it is initiated by the sinful nature in man. "The categorical imperative which leads to the historical initiative for the overcoming of this misery in correspondence to the justification of the godless is the election of the lowly and the gift of world-conquering hope to the dying.”[42] To those who are suffering socially, politically, and economically obedience to the Lord through a ministry of love is the means by which this is remedied.


How then does the mission of the Christians for the future of the world realize itself? Part of this realization must be in response to the afflictions and sufferings that man is encountering in his existence. Not only does the Christian look to the Coming Christ; but the Christian has the responsibility to bring this ultimate future into the present. According to Moltmann, this means that the Christian hope must be creative and militant if it is to bring the future of Christ into the present. "For the Christian hope, the eschaton, the kingdom, and the city of God do not simply lie in readiness like the future of the new aeon in apocalypticism, so that one could only relate to it in conceptualization and wait for it by leaving the present as it is."[43] Consequently, the Christian must enter the battle for God's righteousness on earth and since we are living in apolitical era he must engage in a political battle in order to accomplish God's purpose in the present.


As a result cosmological theology must now be replaced by political theology. "In political theology the future of God is mediated in the world changing powers of man, so that today this future makes these powers and possibilities of man legitimate in their use and they anticipate it at the front of the present misery."[44] The problem of malum is the creation of man and God is against it, and it is the responsibility of the Christian to direct themselves against misery caused by malum.


This eschatology of the world which as political theology replaces the old theological cosmolgy, furthermore, takes the theology of existence and personal faith into itself. If underlying these theologies of personal existence-illumination is the question of identity, this question finds its concrete answer through the identification of the believer with his calling to be a co-worker of the kingdom of God. The way in which the world of non-identity, fragmentation, and darkness as regards himself man is given identity in the way of consciousness and hope in renunciation. In the world of sin and death Christ has realized his identity with God (Phil. 2) and has thus conquered the power of alienation. Only in the correspondence to his self-realization through self-renunciation will the believers find themselves and their true being: only he who looses himself—for the sake of Christ and the Gospel of the kingdom—will find himself, in eternal life which is the future of God. The way in which the power of self-estrangement is here broken is the way of self-renunciation in favor of a human and free world of God that is our home. Thus, the Christian answer to the fundamental identity question of man leads man to the practical answering of the theodicy question. Political theology unites cosmological theology and the theology of existence in the eschatological understanding of the history of man and world.[45]


This concept of man is extremely different from that of Marxism or that of the secular city for they think of man only as good while evil exists in the environmental and social conditions that must be overcome. They do not see man as both the builder and destroyer of the future which should be apparent from the annals of history. Thus, these theologies and philosophies of change are blind in this respect. The English Revolution did not bring the kingdom of God but democracy; the Industrial Revolution introduced the irrationality of civilization dynamics; and the Russian Revolution did not bring the classless society.


Thus revolution, where it establishes itself, swallows its own hopes in order to cover up the shame of its 'accomplishments'. It eats up its fathers and orphans its children. The deeper problem of this ambiguity of action lies in the fact that it is logically and practically impossible to anticipate the end of history under the conditions of history, that it is impossible under the conditions of estrangement and as one who himself is estranged to anticipate the home of true humanity, that it is impossible as a sinner to anticipate the home of true humanity, that it is impossible as a sinner to overcome sin. Thus out of this battle always new history emerges , new estrangement of man and new sin. In order to be able to act with certainty in the face of this impossibility, we need the consciousness that this future is not built with our own hands but comes toward us with forbearance.[46]


This gratis data of the future can only be understood in the kingdom of God which is realized in the present for it is the only hope that can conquer both man's alienation within himself and the alienation that exists in our secular city. Marx attempted to answer the problem in terms of economic determinism and freedom from this enslavement, but alienation had existed before economic determinism. So Marx's answer is dealing only with the superficial aspect of the problem—that which seems to be most visible. But this in reality is only a symptom in that the real problem-is man himself who is both the builder and the destroyer. The secular city seeks to explain man only in terms of a new model and to understand God only in that terminology, but this new model does not comprehend all of reality. How will political and social answers solve individual alienation? How will political and social answers give man freedom from himself in that he is both builder and destroyer—or more specifically if groups A and B> are alienated from each other because of their opposition? Thus the answer can only be realized in the cross of Christ and the Coming Kingdom which allows itself to be realized in the present and it must be committed to standing in opposition against that which brings political and social alienation. Not only must it stand against political and social alienation, but it must also stand against sin which is ultimately responsible for both individual and corporate alienation. (See my syllabus Consummation of Creation; Eschatology)




Cox, Harvey. The Secular City. New York: Macmillan Co., 1965.

Dictionary of the History of Ideas.  S.v. "Alienation."

Encyclopedia Britannica. S.v. "Philosophy of Right," by G. W. F. Hegel.

Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  S.v. "Alienation."

Grotius, Hugo. De Jure Belli ac Pacis. London: John W. Parker, 1853.

Hegel, G.W.F. Lectures on the History of Philosophy. New York:  Humanities Press, 1963.

Herzog, Frederick. The Future of Hope. New York: Herder & Herder, 1970.

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. New York: E. P. Button, 1950.

Kaufraann, Walter. Hegel:  Reinterpretation. Texts, and Commentary.  New York: Doubleday,


Locke, John. Social Contract. London: Oxford University Press, 1947.

Marty, Martin E., and Peerman, Dean G.  New Theology Number Six.  New York: Macmillan

Co., 1969.

Masterson, Patrick. Atheism and Alineation. Notre Dame:  University of Notre Dame Press,


Meszaros, Istvan. Marx's Theory of Alienation. Harper Torchbooks, 1970.

Oilman, Bertell. Alienation. Cambridge University Press,  2nd ed. 1976, reprinted 1977, 1978.

Van Peursen, C.A. "Man and Reality, the History of Human Thought". Student World 1, (1963).

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Social Contract. London: Oxford University Press, 1947.

Schacht,  Richard. Alienation.  Introduction essay by Walter Kaufmann. Garden City, RY:   

Anchor Books, Doubleday & Co., 1971.

Schiller, Friedrich. On the Aesthetic Education of Man, in a Series of Letters. New Haven:   

Yale University Press, 1954.

[1] Patrick Masterson, Atheism and Alienation (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1971), pp. 1-2.

[2] Richard Schacht, Alienation (Garden City: Doubleday and Co., 1970), p. 16.

[3] Hugo Grotius, De Jure Belli ac Pacia (London: John W. Parker, 1853), vol. 1, p. 342.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (New York:  E. P. Outton, 1950), pp. 106-108.

[6] Ibid, p. 109.

[7] John Locke, "Second Treatise on Civil Government," in Social Contract, ed. Ernest Barker (London: Oxford University Press, 1947), p. 71.

[8] Schacht, p. 18.

[9] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "The Social Contract," in Social Contract, ed. Ernest Barker (London: Oxford University Press, 1947), chap. 4.

[10] Ibid.. p. 256.

[11] Schacht, p. 20.

[12] G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, trans. E. S. Haldane and F. H. Simson (New York:Humanities Press, 1963), vol. 3, p. 401.

[13] Schacht, p. 21.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., p. 22.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Walter Kaufmann, Hegel:  Reinterpretation, Texts, and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1965), pp. 46-49.

[18] Friedrich Schiller, On the Aeatheteic Education of Man, in a Series of Letters, trans. Reginald Snell (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1954), p. 41.

[19] Ibid.. p. 42.

[20] Ibid.. pp. 31-32.

[21] Ibid., pp. 33-34.

[22] Ibid.. pp. 32-34.

[23] Ibid., p. 43.

[24] Ibid.. p. 39.

[25] Schacht, pp. 38-39.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Schacht, p. 40.

[28] Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. "Philosophy of Right," by G. W. F. Hegel.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Schacht, p. 43.

[31] Ibid.. p. 44.

[32] Schacht, p. 44.

[33] Schacht, p. 79.

[34] Ibid., p. 110.

[35] Martin E. Marty and Dean G. Peerman, eds., Nev Theology Number Six (New York: Macmillan Co., 1969), p. 154.

[36] Harvey Cox, The Secular City (New York: Macmillan Co., 1965), p. 213.

[37] C. A. van Peursen, "Man and Reality, the History of Human Thought" Student World (1, 1963):19-20.

[38] Cox, p. 223.

[39] Ibid., p. 229.

[40] van Peursen, p. 21.

[41] Cox, p. 223.

[42] Frederick Herzog, ed., The Future of Hope (New York: Herder & Herder, 1970), p. 44.

[43] Ibid., p. 45.

[44] Ibid., p. 47.

[45] Ibid., pp. 47-48.

[46] Ibid., pp. 48-49.