The question of Christian socialism is very tricky but it is an ad hoc hybrid of two very different perspectives. The Reformation ignited the era of modern revolution and while Luther was, in the end, a kind of conservative next to a figure like Thomas Munzer who amazingly was the first ‘communist’ of modern times, rapidly written out of the picture. Christianity might thus have been a reformation revolutionary force but in the end it was not anything whatever like that. The Reformation ignited a century of horrifying religious war at the end of which even Protestantism was crippled as the modern transition moved rapidly into the phases of the Enlightenment and so-called secularism. And the generation of Marx was aggressively against religion but with an ideology that was also crippled from the start with its brittle theories of history and economics.
Let us note that Christianity in one form gave birth to the idea of proletarian struggle and proto-communism. But Munzer was in the end murdered by the Protestants themselves. It is unrealistic to think that christian socialists can resolve the issue of a future society. They are looking backward and that is a fixed given. That said, christianity is a tricky historical labyrinth more than able as a dying beast to maul the radical leftist now the shell-schocked secular humanist.
In the end, the tide of modernity is sweeping away Christianity and socialists should be wary of the siren call of a socialist/Christian hybrid. It caters to a small minority of highly intelligent Christians that can see their way to socialism, but end up sending a Trojan horse into the confused secular field.
The left thus has a double problem: Christianity is slowly but surely sliding away while the failure of historical materialism is already a modern fact (under debate no doubt). Christianity at its most superstition was never as leaden footed with reductionists scientism as historical materialism and the marxist left consistently drives people away and it is not surprising they try to find a socialist path to a new future. But in the end Christianity has no real future: the tide of modernity is moving against it. A study of the eonic effect makes this epochal tiding of religions clear.
Whatever the case I have learned over time that Christian socialists should be welcome on the left but a leftist is not required to keep silent about his beliefs and the hopeless morass of theology that Christian socialists can’t resolve.
This is becoming a lost cause for Christian socialists who have dwindling chances for the future as Christianity slides into oblivion. But secular left has become stuck in its own now dated confusion and the strange mindset manufactured by Marx.
The left should thus be wary of the issue of christianity because in the end it became an ideology of empire and the work of dissenting socialist christians has no chance against that and at the same time one might be mindful that ironically, despite its superstitions, Christianity was often more intelligent than the sterile materialism foisted on the left by Marx. Take a few simple questions, like, does man have a soul? The materialist left is adamant, fanatic, on this and other points. But in the end the christian, despite the total confusion of his version, wins that argument. That and many other questions are a warning that radical politics has no real foundation in anything but the useless scientism of the early positivist era.
So the secularists are right to be wary of trojan horse Christianity but at the same time must realize that secularism has itself proved too limited.
It is probably true that christian socialism will always for the reasons figures like Marx indicated against it, it is a hapless orphan of a established religions and their reactionary monopoly (and all too obvious embrace of capitalist ideology).
For the Left, the historic contribution of Christian socialism was its ability to relate the values of modern socialism to the time-honored themes of traditional religious teaching. The Left would do well to recover those lessons today.