Communism Contra Christianity
July 1st, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
COMMUNISM CONTRA CHRISTIANITY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-1-62 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing an address, a specially prepared study.
Eighteen years ago this week, the greatest preacher our Baptist people have ever produced in America was translated to his reward in heaven. Dr. George W. Truett was the illustrious, noble, and far-famed pastor of this congregation for seven and forty years. Every year at one of the Sundays close to the date of his death, I prepare a special address. Sometimes it relates to something to which Dr. Truett gave his life, such as the Annuity Board, which was organized in this building; such as Baylor University Hospital, the philanthropy of this church and the leadership of Dr. Truett made it possible; such as Dr. Truett and Evangelism, Dr. Truett and this Church, Dr. Truett and World Missions. Through the years I have tried in memory of our greatest preacher to prepare a special address that gives me opportunity, not only to keep alive his name and his memory in our midst, but also to present some facet of our great and far-flung ministries in the earth.
Then there is another facet of these addresses. Dr. Truett died just three days beyond the fourth of July. And because of the season of the year, once in a while the address is patriotic; it concerns something that Dr. Truett would say about the destiny of our nation and the liberties of our people. So the address today concerns something that Dr. Truett mentioned, wrote about, just before his death. And the title of the address, the title of the study is Communism Contra Christianity, Communism against Christianity. It is a contrast between the Soviet system born out of the leadership of a great and learned Jew and the Christian faith born out of the sacrifice of a great and godly Jew; Communism Contra Christianity.
A year after his death, there was published in 1945 a little book entitled Christmas Messages by Dr. George W. Truett. The little book contains the last fifteen of his messages that he wrote to his friends around the world and to all of the members of this church at Christmas time. The fifteenth, the last of those Christmas messages, was written from his deathbed, about six months before he was translated. And from that last message, which I would suppose is the last message that he ever wrote—in that message he said something about the conflict that was engulfing the American people concerning America and her enemies, concerning totalitarianism and democracy. And I quote from this last message of the great pastor:
Two ideologies are in mortal combat: democracy and autocracy, freedom and tyranny. Liberty-loving people cannot, dare not be indifferent to the amazing and worldwide efforts to subjugate and enslave humanity. The two ideas in the awful conflict are as far apart as the poles. One view supremely magnifies the dignity and value and indefeasible rights of the individual. The other view denies the dignity and value of the individual and appraises him merely as a cog in a machine.
This word from the great pastor.
And this word from the prophet Jeremiah: “My anguish, my anguish! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace . . . O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war” [Jeremiah 4:19]. The whole world is divided into two camps: the East and the West. Behind these two camps are two great ideas: communism and Christianity. Behind these two great ideas rise the shadows of two great personalities: Karl Marx and his apostle and interpreter Nikolai Lenin, and Jesus Christ and His great apostle and interpreter Paul. Both come to the world with a philosophy of life and a program of human welfare, and both demand total allegiance. History has reached a point in the development of civilization where a choice is inevitable.
Both are religions. They have a messiah; his name is Karl Marx. They have a great apostle, Nikolai Lenin. They have a holy book that they reverence as much as we do our Bible, and that now is the number one publication in the earth, surpassing the Word of God. It is entitled Das Kapital, written by Karl Marx. And they have a shrine in the tomb of Lenin in the Red Square of Russia. For the kingdom of God, they substitute the dictatorship of the proletariat; and for spiritual values, they substitute material rewards.
Now I have listed here that I shall discuss eight things that in my mind characterize communism as being a religion. First: they deify their leaders. They do it before the school children; they do it at all party congresses; they do it as a studied protrusion of their state. Their messiah is Karl Marx. He was born in 1818 in Germany, the son of a well-to-do Jewish lawyer named Mordecai. When the boy was six years old, the family outwardly and for political reasons joined the Christian church. The boy grew up in disdain for and contempt of religion.
He was a student at the universities of Bonn and Berlin. He showed great intellectual capabilities, but was emotionally unstable. After the universities he vacillated between jobs, mostly in journalism; then became embroiled in revolutionary movements in France and in Belgium. In 1848, sought to lead a revolution that was unsuccessful in Germany—in 1848 he failed in his unsuccessful revolution in Germany; in 1849 he crossed the channel into London and spent the rest of his life in London, dying in 1883.
For thirty-five years under the great glass dome of the British Museum and its library, he studied. He waded through thousands of the debris of social schemes and dead philosophies of the centuries and generations past. And out of it he wrote that book which contains the seed thoughts of the world revolution in which now we are involved. In the eighteenth year of his study, he produced it. When it was published, it was greeted with silence. And Karl Marx died in frustration and despair.
But there was a nobleman by the name of Nikolai Lenin in Russia who began to study Das Kapital, that book by Karl Marx. And he carried on the revolutionary passion of Marx. In 1903—Lenin was born in 1870—in 1903, Lenin became the leader of the Bolshevik, that is, the majority. The minority is called the Menshevik. In 1903, Lenin became the leader of the Bolshevik party of international communism, meeting at that time in London. And in 1917, the Red wave of revolutionary communism spread over the cities and the villages of Russia. And the Soviet was established as we know it today.
The tomb of Lenin is visited by thousands and thousands every week. Statues, shrines are erected to him everywhere. His picture is on the wall of every classroom in the school system. You will see his picture in every railroad station. Around the world the writings of Karl Marx are held as the inspired writing of God; and Nikolai Lenin is presented as the great apostle and interpreter of the new way of life, the new humanity, the new social order. They deify their leaders, and their reverential respect and presentation of them is always religious.
They have a doctrine of God. It is this: that He does not exist. But while officially denouncing God and religion, they actually offer their communistic program as a substitute for God and for religion. For example, this will be a very typical thing that the Soviet will do: they will let children go hungry, then they’ll present a picture of Jesus and say, “Pray to Jesus for bread.” Nothing happens. Then they present a picture of Lenin and say, “Now pray to Lenin for bread”; and immediately all bounties are brought for the children to enjoy. They will make a little garden plot and label this one “God’s” and let it grow up in weeds. Then they will label this one “Ours,” and they will cultivate it bountifully and beautifully until it’s highly productive. They have a doctrine of God: that He doesn’t exist.
They have a doctrine of conversion. The Christian appeal of conversion is addressed to a man’s heart. The appeal of communism in conversion is one of the most diabolical processes the world has ever seen. In the American press you call it “brainwashing.” In a subtle, in a psychological, in a fearful, in an awesome way they make a man turn about face, denounce his father, denounce his mother, denounce his country, denounce God, denounce everything dear to his heart. They have a doctrine of conversion.
They have a doctrine of discipleship. As a Christian is invited and encouraged to follow the Lord in prayer, in study of the Bible, in giving himself to the Word and will of God, the communist is called upon to do the same, except he’s taught to study Karl Marx sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page, and every day he is asked to attend a cell meeting where he goes through excruciating self-criticism, giving himself without let, without stint, without allaying, without wearying to the cause of the revolution.
They have a doctrine of evangelism. They seek to instill the evangelistic passion and the evangelistic feeling and the evangelistic spirit and committal in all of their converts. And there are few Christians who are able to equal the true communist in his self-sacrifice, marching under the banner of the hammer and the sickle. His song is, “I will go wherever the revolution needs me.”
It is religious in the universality of its appeal. It appeals to the despairing poor. Wherever poverty grinds, there will you find a fertile seedbed for communism. And to the amazement of Karl Marx, it appeals to the disillusioned rich. Wherever men are satiated with the ennui of empty and shallow and high society, wherever life becomes purposeless, there will you find some among the privileged of the world who give themselves to the doctrine of communism.
And it has an appeal to idealistic youth. They want to do something. They want to change things for the better. They want to bring in a new creation. And the intellectual in the university sometime, in his materialism and in his agnosticism, will turn to the utopian shallow schemes of Karl Marx, as he’s written them in Das Kapital.
It is religious in its bold attack upon social and individual injustice. That’s why it found an opportunity to flourish in Russia. The people of Russia were serfs; they owned neither their body nor their soul, much less their land; and they were ground under the tyranny of an awful czarist system. And they found a seedbed in the corruption of the church of Russia. The Orthodox Church in Russia was nothing other but a spy system for the czarist regime to crowd, to grind the people unto death; a dead religion clothed in silken robes with glittering altars and chanting liturgies, and there’s no corruption in the earth like the corruption of a dead and formal religion. And they are approximating, and do approximate, the tremendous effects of religion in the virtue of their worldwide accomplishments.
One third of the earth today is under the ominous shadow of the hammer and the sickle. Eight hundred million people of the earth’s population today is ruled by the merciless and ruthless communist. When I was in India, I talked to one of the illustrious federal judges of that nation. And I said, “Surely, surely India could never be in sympathy with communism.” And he said to me, “What you in America cannot realize is that we, we, and these great masses of these subcontinents, we are impressed by the tremendous strides in gains of the Soviet system, for a few years ago Russia was a peasant nation. Now she’s the only power under the sun that can challenge the might and strength of America. And we,” and he said it again, “we are greatly impressed.”
These are the things that are characteristic of communism as they look like a religion, as they act like a religion, and as they evangelize like a religion.
But, but, there are terrible differences—as high from one another as heaven and hell, as far from one another as the east is from the west—between communism and Christianity. Christianity believes one thing about the nature of the universe; communism another. Christianity believes one thing about the nature of man; communism another. Christianity teaches that the state is the servant of man; communism teaches that man is the servant of the state. Christianity affirms—have I read that right?—Christianity believes one thing about the universe; communism another. Christianity believes one thing about the nature of man; communism another. Christianity teaches that the state is the servant of man; communism teaches that man is a pawn of the state. Christianity affirms that God is almighty; communism affirms that the state is almighty. Christianity serves and glorifies God; communism denies that He even exists. Christianity declares that the family is the central core of society; communism denies its validity. Christianity believes in the law of love and seeks to unite men; communism demands class warfare, it could not live without it, and aims at dividing men.
Here are some of the areas in which they so greatly differ. First, about God: communism is pledged to atheism. Marx wrote, “Communism begins where atheism begins. Where atheism begins, there communism begins.” Karl Marx wrote that, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” A student at a convention in Liége published this: “What we wish for is the annihilation of all religion in the church and to arrive at the negation of God.”
They differ in their doctrine of man. Marx wrote, “Man is a child of hunger: his only spontaneous movement is to get food, satisfaction, comfort, and wealth.” In other words, Karl Marx and the Soviet system makes of a man an animal without a soul. Christianity and the revelation of God says he’s just a little lower than the angels, and someday shall be exalted above them in heaven [Hebrews 2:7]. But communism says he’s just a little higher than an insect, and his life amounts to nothing worthwhile more except as a pawn of the state.
They differ in their doctrine of sin. Where there is no God, therefore it is impossible to transgress against Him. And the only sin possible in the communist world is to obstruct the progress of the revolution.
And they differ in their attitudes and definitions of morality. In the Soviet Union there is no basis, and in the Soviet world there is no basis, and in the whole communist fabrication there is no basis for honesty, integrity, truth or morality. I quote from Stalin: “Sincere diplomacy is no more possible than dry water or wooden iron.” I quote from Yaroslavsky: “Anything that helps the revolution and the communist party is ethical. If it is advantageous to lie, then lie. If it is advantageous to the party to steal, then steal. If it is advantageous to the party to murder, then murder.” That’s why it is impossible to write any treaty with a Soviet government: for their idea of honesty, and integrity, and justice, and morality is based upon the colossal lie that anything is right that furthers the communist revolution.
And of course their greatest difference lies in their attitude toward the individual, the single man, the worth of a man. In the communist philosophy and religion and doctrine, the individual is to be blotted out. They seek to create a faceless humanity. They make of their citizens slaves of the state. Living people are like so much raw material; to be chiseled, to be twisted, to be hammered, and to beat until the image of God has been erased, and in its place is the faceless image of the mass man; to destroy all property rights, to destroy the human family, to make children the wards of the state, and to use all of the processes of life for that fearful oppression: schooling, art, literature, science, music, culture, all a part of that terrible grinding process of state-ism, until finally the people lose their very raison d’etre, their reason to be. That’s why the sadness, the emptiness, the despair that falls inevitably upon any Soviet nation, upon any Soviet people, upon any Soviet city: it is dark, it is weary; there’s no future, there’s no help, there’s no life, there’s no spontaneity, because there’s no man—just a dead and lifeless soul.
The social program of the Soviet system is for propaganda purposes only. “It is pure folly to relieve misery, for,” listen as I quote, “to relieve misery is to reduce dissatisfaction; and to remove dissatisfaction is to retard the revolution.” The individual is totally unimportant; it is the state that counts.
And of course, they differ once again, violently, in their plan of action. As the Christian faces the world, he does it with God’s Book in his hand and the saving message of Christ in his soul; and he calls men to virtue, and to repentance, and to faith [Acts 20:21], and to a great godly commitment to Jesus our Lord [Romans 10:9-10]. The plan of action of the Soviet and the communist is intrigue, and betrayal, and treason, and infiltration; then finally, brute force and war, merciless and cruel. Lenin one time said, and I quote, “What does it matter if two-thirds of the world population is destroyed, if only the remaining one third is communist?” A war to them that would annihilate two-thirds of the world’s population would be nothing if thereby they had an opportunity to triumph with a third of a population still living.
Khrushchev said, “Anyone who mistakes our smile for withdrawal from the policies of Marxism-Leninism is making a mistake. These who expect this will have to wait until Easter falls on Tuesday.” Now I might say about that representative of the Soviet system, he is gifted and able and shrewd. And when it purposes to smile, he smiles. When he could serve the revolution by anger, he’s angry. But always back of that smile or back of that gesture is that commitment to the destruction of the name of the Lord and of every precious gift God hath bestowed upon us.
I quote from Lenin: “It is inconceivable that the Soviet Republic should continue to exist for a long period side by side with imperialistic states”—their description of us—“ultimately, one or the other must conquer.” And in 1923, Lenin gave a program of attack. “First,” he said, “we must take Eastern Europe. Then,” he said, “we must organize the hordes of Asia.” “Then,” he says, “we will surround the United States,” and he predicted, and I quote from Lenin, “That last bastion of capitalism, the United States, will not have to be taken: it will fall into our outstretched hands like overripe fruit.” Every syllable of the prophecy of Lenin has come to pass. “First: we take Eastern Europe. Second: we organize the hordes of Asia. Third: we surround the United States.” And ninety miles from the shores of America, they already have a bastion in Cuba. There are more than two hundred fifty thousand communist organizers south of the border, through the seething populations of South America.
Another thing about us in that vicious and merciless attack: Lenin one time called us in the United States, quote, “the willing idiots” unquote. The communists are supremely confident of victory. You heard Khrushchev yourself say, “We will bury you.” They believe under the pressure of the Cold War that we will give up our institutions one by one, until finally because of these emergencies we will one day find all our freedoms wiped out, and we ourselves living under a Soviet system.
Three months before his last visit to this country, Nikita Khrushchev said, and I quote, “We cannot expect the American people to jump from capitalism to communism; but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of socialism until they awaken one day to find they have communism!” This is not a new thought. In 1788, James Madison told the Virginia Convention, and I quote from the great president of the United States, “Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations”—this terrible hour in which we live.
Now the conclusion in the moment that remains: I have a word here concerning a call to a renewed commitment to Christ. The two philosophies, the two religions are irrevocably, eternally incompatible and irreconcilable! It poses a new problem in human history. Heretofore, statesmen could gather around any bargaining table, and by compromise arrive at a solution with which they were able to live, to bring back to their governments, to be ratified by their people. But in this there is no middle ground: the world is not big enough for both. It is either Christ or communism; it is Christ or Marx. And this rival faith of atheism is the antithesis, the annihilation of everything we hold dear—and one or the other will prevail!
And there’s only one way to meet the passion and the fire of this new religion, and that is with a passion and with a fire that excels it! You cannot bomb an idea out of existence. You cannot machine gun a faith into subjection. We must have military strength; but there must also be back of our bombs and our planes and our submarines by which we weave a cordon of blood and of iron around America, back of those instruments of defense and of peace there must be a living and a vital faith among our people. There must be a commitment on our part that transcends anything the communist world has ever seen. And this is our colossal failure! With the eternal truth of God in our hands, we flippantly juggle in this life the precious gifts and the inheritance that God has given unto us. The communists have zeal, but no truth. We have the truth and no zeal. The communist has heat, but no light; we have light, but no heat. The communist has passion and no ideals; we have ideals and no passion. We are like Christ said of the church of Laodicea: “Neither cold, neither hot, and I could spew thee out of My mouth” [Revelation 3:16].
Let this hour and this day be an hour of individual dedication and a day of individual consecration to the great living Lord, our true Messiah and King, Jesus the Christ.
How? By swaying a great crowd? A crowd has no conscience; a man has a conscience. A crowd has no sin; a man has sin. A crowd cannot repent; a man must repent. A crowd cannot dedicate itself; a man dedicates himself. And the confession of us one by one, and the dedication of us one by one, and the commitment of us one by one makes the mighty army for God. This church is I. The kingdom of God is I. The commitment to Christ is I. Discipleship in the earth is I. This church is you and you and you and you. The kingdom of God is you and you and you and you. The great commitment must be made by you and you and you and you. It is an individual response to the call and message of our great Lord [Romans 10:9-10].
Christianity will never be heroic if I am a coward. Christianity will never be gigantic if I am a Pigmy. Christianity will never be universal if I am not a missionary. Christianity will never be sacrificial if I am unregenerate. Christianity will never be redemptive if I am lost. Christianity will never be magnificent if I am miserly. Christianity will never win the heart of the world if it has not won mine. And Christianity will never baptize the earth if it does not baptize me.
The great call and the great commitment must start in a man’s heart, in a man’s soul [Romans 10:9-10]. And the great “whosoever” of Christ [Revelation 22:17], is addressed to one: to me and to you. ”Come, take up your cross, and follow Me” [Mark 10:21]. With a greater idea, with a greater ideal, with a greater love, with a greater fire, with a greater passion and with a greater commitment, we march today to ultimate and final victory in the name of Christ our Lord [1 Corinthians 15:57].
And that is the appeal to your soul this morning hour. Somebody you, give himself to Jesus [Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8]. Somebody you, dedicate yourself with us in the circle and the fellowship of this precious church, the body of Christ. While we sing our song of appeal, make it now. Could I change the invitation hymn? “We are Marching to Zion,” 308, let’s sing that, let’s sing that, while we stand and while we sing.