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Great Jewish Thinkers-Marx-‘Religion is the Opium of the Masses’

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Marx was one of the most influential thinkers in history. He divided society into two strata, the bourgeoisie (elite ruling class) and the proletariat; and he viewed religion as a means of social control and the opium of the masses. He recognised the petit bourgeoisie (small business owners), though they were viewed as subservient puppets to their bourgeoisie overseers. Until the means of production were communally owned to reverse the fragmentation of the labour force causing alienation and until the bourgeoisie was overthrown, the class struggle would continue. He considered religion as a way in which class boundaries could seemingly be justified.

Marx certainly had a point concerning the controlling mechanism within religion and the potency of its influence. Consider Hinduism and the caste system which makes it almost impossible to advance beyond caste boundaries either via occupation, marriage, or other means. There is enormous wealth contained inside the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and it is an incredibly powerful institution too. Cults have arisen that are manipulative and some of them have an unhealthy control over their subjects socially, psychologically, emotionally, and of course financially. Marxists and Functionalists understood religion to be created by society, though unlike Durkheim, Marx saw no place or use for religion in society and advocated the elimination of religion as an importance step towards happiness.

After Marx died, Communism arose, yet failed, and religion remained. Marx made blanket statements concerning the role of religion in society. Nonetheless, not all religions are the same despite the throw away comments made by some, drawing comparisons on a superficial level. Marx might not have been familiar with the numerous verses in the Bible concerning the need to support the poor, orphans, widows and strangers, the Jubilee year provision in the Torah (Leviticus 25:1-8-which would prevent inherited cycles of poverty) and James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unpotted from the world”.

The Bible transcends politics and human causes and clearly teaches that there is a day of judgement. Religion is not the product of society, and neither will the abolition of religion lead to worldwide happiness. The earth is the Lord’s and all its fulness and every beast in the field is His and He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 24:1; 50:10). The Exodus is a powerful and literal narrative, in which the Israelites were freed from oppression and that event is still celebrated at Passover each year. The Scriptures explain that God is actively involved in human events and Cyrus II was both prophesied about and mentioned by name by Isaiah as the one who would allow the Jewish exiles to return to Judah (Isaiah 44:28-45:4; c.f. 2 Chronicles 36:23:24; Ezra 1:1-4).

Yeshua (Jesus), the Messiah condescended into our world and took on flesh and dwelt among us. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).” He left the glory of heaven and was born in a lowly stable. He said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20).”He performed miracles, authenticating His ministry and identity which was from above. He fulfilled numerous prophecies, suffered an anguishing death, rose from the grave, and ascended to heaven. Messiah will return to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, which was also where He departed, and He is coming back. Real hope is not in revolution but in the resurrection of the risen Messiah.

Marx was one of the most influential thinkers in history, yet the Lord Jesus is the first and the last and is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Revelation 1:8; Hebrews 13:8). The flower fades and the grass withers yet the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). He is before all things and in Him all things consist (Colossians 1:17). Marx was concerned about owning the means of production, yet the King of the Universe owns history. He is fully God and fully Man who entered into our time and space, laid aside His majesty which He had from eternity past and gave Himself willingly to atone for sin and to reconcile man to God.

Marx said that “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.’ What did Jesus say about the soul and in whom is there a real, enduring, and certain hope? “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul (Matthew 16:26).”