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Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey and Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies, 2nd ed.

ISBN: 9780830872060
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What you believe about politics matters. The decades since the Cold War, with new alignments of post–9/11 global politics and the chaos of the late 2010s, are swirling with alternative visions of political life, ranging from ethnic nationalism to individualistic liberalism.

Political ideologies are not merely a matter of governmental efficacy, but 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 can discern the ways—sometimes subtle, sometimes not—in which ideologies are rooted in idolatrous worldviews.

In this freshly updated, comprehensive study, political scientist David Koyzis surveys the key political ideologies of our era, including liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, democracy, and socialism. Koyzis gives each philosophy careful analysis and fair critique, unpacking the worldview issues inherent to each and pointing out essential strengths and weaknesses, as well as revealing the “narrative structure” of each—the stories they tell to make sense of public life and the direction of history. Koyzis concludes by proposing alternative models that flow out of Christianity’s historic engagement with the public square, retrieving approaches for both individuals and the global, institutional church that hold promise for the complex political realities of the twenty-first century.

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

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Key Features

  • Explores the diversity of ideologies in the history of political thought
  • Examines the strengths and weaknesses of liberalism, conservativism, nationalism, democratism, and socialism
  • Evaluates idealogies from a Christian perspective


  • Introduction: Ideology, Religion, and Idolatry
  • Liberalism: The Sovereignty of the Individual
  • Conservatism: History as Source of Norms
  • Nationalism: The Jealous God of Nation
  • Democracy or Democratism? When the People Claim Too Much
  • Socialism: Common Ownership as Redemptive
  • Transcending the Ideologies: Affirming Societal Pluriformity
  • Toward a Nonideological Alternative: Two Historic Christian Approaches
  • The State and Its Task: Doing Justice in God's World

Top Highlights

“But at this point fifth-stage liberalism encounters a dilemma. While the liberal state is supposed to refrain from judging the goodness of people’s choices and while it claims benign neutrality toward the various options lying before its citizens, it cannot overlook the unequal consequences that follow from exercising these choices.” (Page 50)

“Thus the first and most basic principle of liberalism runs as follows: everyone possesses property in their own person and must therefore be free to govern themselves in accordance with their own choices, provided that these choices do not infringe on the equal right of others to do the same.” (Page 34)

“Liberalism assigns this autonomy to the individual.” (Page 34)

“liberalism stands and falls on its foundational belief in the sovereignty of the individual.” (Page 28)

“Equality of opportunity is ostensibly not the same as equality of result, the latter of which smacks of trying to fix the game’s outcome. Yet the ‘game’ of life is repeated in every generation, and if one’s parents have not fared particularly well in their economic transactions, this will affect one’s own ability to enter the game on a fair and equitable footing. Here is where the analogy to a game breaks down, demonstrating once more a central weakness of liberal individualism: it is not only unable to account for the ontological status of community; it also ignores the connectedness of individuals to previous and succeeding generations. It pretends that the individual is an isolated runner in the race, whose success or failure depends wholly on herself.” (Page 48)

Praise for the Print Edition

Political Visions and Illusions is an absolutely indispensable text written by the most significant evangelical political theorist of our day. In it, Koyzis skillfully unmasks the idolatry in modern political ideologies before offering a compelling nonideological vision for politics and public life. Its relevance extends beyond political science to the disciplines of public theology, ethics, and philosophy—highly recommended.

—Bruce Riley Ashford, provost/dean of the faculty, professor of theology and culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

The first edition of this excellent book showed in lively and erudite prose how biblical insights into idolatry illuminate our political life. This expanded edition increases its scope and delineates the newer challenges we face. It is indispensable reading.

—Paul Marshall, Jerry and Susie Wilson Professor of Religious Freedom, Baylor University

Few could have anticipated the major political upheavals witnessed since this book first came out in 2003. Yet Koyzis’s book has stood the test of time, ranking, in my opinion, as the best introduction to modern political thought from a Christian perspective. This updated edition is welcome in its inclusion both of newer literature and fresh examples to recent political developments. As a politically engaged theologian, I’m especially thrilled to see the addition of the ‘Concluding Ecclesiological Postscript’ that could very well serve as kind of theo-political compass for church leaders wanting navigational guidance on how churches should—and should not—engage in political action.

—David Guretzki, executive vice president and resident theologian, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

Product Details

  • Title: Political Visions & Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies
  • Author: David T. Koyzis
  • Edition: 2nd
  • Publisher: IVP
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Pages: 330
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Politics & Government

David T. Koyzis holds the PhD in government and international studies from the University of Notre Dame. He taught undergraduate political science for thirty years.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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    Digital list price: $34.99
    Save $14.00 (40%)