K MAT HEW KURIAN
Marxism and Christianity
"CHRISTIANITY^ like every great revolutionary movement, was made by the masses", wrote Friedrich Engels.1 Christianity, that is early Christianity, was the religious expression of an enslaved people struggling for emancipation. Like modern Socialism, Christianity "got hold of the masses" primarily because it provided the social consciousness for oppressed peoples who "opposed ruling systems", "the powers that be95.2
The character of the Christian Church during the period of die decline of the Roman^Empire was, however, not sustained for long. Early Christianity embodied "the outlook of an utterly despairing people after the numerous revolts of slaves, indignant people and enslaved nationalities against the yoke of the Roman Empire had been drowned in blood."3 But, soon the Church became part and parcel of the feudal hierarchy and theology was suitably modified to accommodate alien values. 'Salvation9 was detached from the motive force of enslaved and oppressed people in their fight against class oppression and exploitation. Instead it was elevated to the divine status of a pursuit of other-worldly goals. For all those who suffered the onslaught of a combined regime of feudal oligarchies and church hierarchies, religion and the theology of 'salvation5 were offered as proxy for their real emancipation.