THE RED TERROR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-24-63 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. According to the admonition of the Word of God, reading from the second chapter of 1 Timothy: “I exhort therefore,” wrote the apostle Paul by divine inspiration,
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.
[1 Timothy 2:1-3]
And in keeping with the admonition of the Word of God that we pray for those in authority and especially for the heads of government, I have asked our people to join in prayer for the Lord’s blessings upon our American government in this hour of crisis and transition.
Judge Claude Williams, judge of the District Court in the city of Dallas, will lead us in that intercession. Judge Claude Williams:
Oh, let us pray. Eternal God, God of our fathers, our God, through the dark clouds of grief and despair, Lord, we do that which we must do. We lift up our eyes unto the hills, from which cometh our strength. Lord, on this dark day we turn to Thee in prayer, as we should do, and as we always will do. This nation, founded upon a belief in God, is prostrate at Thy feet today. O God, we ask Thy blessings upon this great nation—this nation that has survived wars and dark days before. We know that Thou art with us, because Thou hast been with us forever. And on this dark day, we turn to the future. We look to the brightness of the new day, with full knowledge that Thou art with us and that Thou will go with us, as Thou hast gone with us in the past. And O God, this nation that has a motto, ‘In God We Trust’, looks to Thee today, as we have in the past. O God, we ask Thy richest blessings upon the new head of our state—our new president, Lyndon B. Johnson. God, let him know the truth that, ‘If God be with us, who can be against us?’ Lead him, O God. Let him know the truth. Place Thy loving hands around him, and guide him, as he guides this ship of state of ours.
O God, we pray for the family of our deceased president; we pray for his sweet wife and his dear children. Be with them in their hour of grief and sorrow. And let them know that all people of this nation, and especially us, that we are with them in sorrow today.
And now, O God, as we face the future, let us face it with courage, with sweet knowledge that Thou art with us forever. For we ask these things in the name of the Savior, who said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ Amen.
On the radio this is the pastor of the First Baptist Church, bringing a special address on this Lord’s Day morning before Thanksgiving of 1963. It had been my purpose—and I had prepared the message—it had been my purpose to deliver an address on our country, founded by Pilgrims who came to our shores to build homes, houses of worship, seeking liberty of soul, and to follow the favor and remembrance of God upon that holy and heavenly effort. Because of the stark tragedy that has overtaken us as a city, as a state, and as a people, I have changed the address. I shall speak on something altogether different.
However much we may have disagreed with the policies of our passed president and with the turn of his government, and however some of us may have looked with askance upon the fruit and the destiny of those policies as they were worked out in the life of our nation, yet we are taught in the Word of God that the means of our warfare are spiritual. They are in the realm of prayer and teaching; they are in the realm of persuasion and debate, and when the ugly hand of murder and violence is seen in the political life of any people, those of us who belong to the household of God stand alarmed and aghast. The lamentation of Jeremiah that we read together from the eighth chapter of his book continues in the ninth chapter with the same lament, “Oh, oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” [Jeremiah 9:1]
The assassination of the president of the United States on the streets of the city of Dallas was achieved by a man who had been schooled and versed in the ideology of Red Communism. What is the ideology of communism? What are its basic premises? And what are its practical fruitions? That is the address of the pastor this morning.
The ideology of communism is one of murder, and blood, and revolution, and violence. There is no part of our civilized world where that vicious and blasphemous and godless system has not penetrated. It is in America; it is here in Dallas, and we have seen a part of its red hand in our own queenly and beloved metropolis. What we have seen of the fruit and the result of the ideology of communism here is no different in any respect than how it manifests itself in any other nation, or in any other city, or in any other economic or political system in the earth. It is all alike; it is murderous, it is red, it is violent, it is revolutionary.
In the year 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels issued, published, The Communist Manifesto. The thesis of The Communist Manifesto is this: that all society is a record of class warfare. The two great classes they name? One, the “bourgeois”—people who own something, people who possess something—the rulers, the rich, anybody who possessed anything, the “bourgeois.” The other they called the “proletariat”; these are those that they supposed were ground down, lived in the dust of the earth because of the bourgeois. And they proposed in that Communist Manifesto that all who possessed anything—all of the rulers, all of the so-called rich, all who belonged to that class of property owners—that they be violently liquidated and that there be ushered in the era of the rule and reign of the proletariat, those whom they describe as having nothing and being ground down under the iron heel of those who possess something.
In order to promulgate and to propagate such a system of class hatred and violence, the first thing The Communist Manifesto had to do was to repudiate religion. It would be unthinkable for a man who believed in God to believe also in such a distortion of history as class warfare and in such a distortion of the avenues of change, as to believe in such violence, and murder, and revolution.
So the great fundamental tenet of The Communist Manifesto was one of atheism, of a repudiation of God and religion. “Religion,” said Karl Marx “is the opiate of the people.” And to destroy this bourgeois and to usher in the reign of the proletariat, there must first be the destruction of all faith and of all belief in morality and in God. So the movement was launched in 1848.
In the violent crisis precipitated in Russia, in the concluding days of the great First World War, there arose a brilliant lawyer and able orator by the name of Nikolai Lenin. He had immersed himself in the teachings and the doctrines of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. He believed in the tyranny of the revolutionary way of life in the obliteration of all who believed in God and who possessed anything, in order to usher in that so-called millennium, that paradise of the reign of the proletariat. There never lived a man quite like Lenin. In his book, Masters of Deceit, J. Edgar Hoover says of Nikolai Lenin, I quote, “The skill of Lenin simply cannot be overestimated. He introduced into human relations a new dimension of evil and depravity, not surpassed by Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun.” It was that Lenin who said that, “What would it matter if two-thirds of this world were destroyed, if only the third that remained were communist?” And by blood, and by violence, by murder, and by revolution, Nikolai Lenin engineered the overthrow of the Russian government and launched it into its Soviet orbit.
An example of the unspeakable violence of that revolution can be seen in the tragedy that overtook Czar Nicholas II and his family. Huddled together in a dungeon, a cheap, brutal communist with a pistol in his hand shot down the czar, shot down the czarina his wife, shot down all of the children. That’s why the romance of Anastasia continues to float among the free nations: there was a possibility that the little girl Anastasia was not present in that awful and brutal hour. The horror of that revolution engineered by Nikolai Lenin has found its repercussion from nation to nation, and city to city, and people to people. And we stand in horror before its methods, and its teachings, and its ideology this heavy and sorrowful day.
In 1924, unlooked for, unexpected by the leadership of the Soviet government, in 1924, Nikolai Lenin suddenly died. There were two lieutenants who remained. One was named Leon Trotsky, the other was named Joseph Stalin. For the years between 1924 and 1928, there was violent conflict and war between them. In 1928, Leon Trotsky was forcibly exiled. He came to live in Mexico City, and now once again is bared that hand dripping with blood and murder. In 1940, the forces and the agents of Joseph Stalin finally ran him down, and he was slain with a pickax buried into his head. Therein Stalin obliterated the last enemy and the most hated; then began that long series of duplicity, and deceit, and war, and murder, and blood that has bathed this earth for the years since.
In 1928, Soviet Russia signed the Kellogg-Briand pact, an instrument supposing to outlaw forever war as a national policy. And the next year he turned loose the floodtide of his red armies into Manchuria, in order to wrest from China the eastern railroad that gave them an access to the Pacific sea. In 1932, Soviet Russia signed a pact of peace with Poland. They reaffirmed that pact in 1938. And in 1939, the next year, when Hitler poured in his armies from the west, by secret, conniving agreement, Stalin poured in his red hordes from the east.
In 1940, the Soviet Union faithfully promised to preserve the integrity of the three Baltic nations of Latvia and Estonia and Lithuania; and in that same year destroyed the three governments, and in violence, and in imprisonment, and in exile destroyed their government and their peoples. In 1944, the Soviet Union signed an agreement that Berlin should be a city, one city governed by the four Allied powers of America, and Britain, and France, and the Soviet Union. And in 1948, blockaded the city, and then later cut it through with that ugly and indescribable wall. In 1945, they faithfully and solemnly promised a free Eastern Germany, and in 1949 organized there this puppet communist state. In 1945, they faithfully promised a free Korea, and in 1950 plunged the free world into an awful holocaust, trying to preserve a semblance of decency and dignity and respect among governments of the world. In October, 1956, the Soviet government solemnly promised to withdraw their red troops out of Hungary. The next day they began to reinforce them; and by the third of November in 1956, the spirit and the government of Hungary were crushed and destroyed.
Today, this day, this hour, one out of every three people who lives in this earth lives under the enslavement of a communist tyrannical regime. Your eyes have seen one billion people pass under the tyranny and the murder and the repression of Soviet red revolution. And there sits in the Kremlin today an ironical man, sadistic, sardonic; he can speak a word, he can push a button, and there is a crisis in Berlin, or in Cuba, or in Venezuela, or in the Middle East, or in Vietnam, or in Indonesia, or anywhere else in this earth that he chooses. And the peoples who love God and believe in dignity and respect live in constant dread and foreboding of what any day and any tomorrow may bring. The power wielded, shaped by these men is beyond anything the earth has ever witnessed.
I think of the poem of William Blake,
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
I cannot understand the providence of life and of God that has permitted to grow in this earth such government of avowed tyranny, and atheism, and revolution, and blood.
One of the memorable hours of my life was in the home of Dr. Black, the president of Roberts College of Istanbul. He is married to a Bulgarian; lived most of his life in Bulgaria. Living there, president of that Presbyterian school in Istanbul pressed against the lower part of Bulgaria, and describing the life of the communist regime, he made the remark, “I cannot understand it, children informing on their parents, knowing that it means death to father or mother. Households spying on each other. The whole government and economic life and social order honeycombed with suspicion and dread and fear!” He said, “I have come to believe in a kingdom of darkness presided over by the prince of darkness itself.” And in that persuasion, I also have come to believe it is a darkness created by the prince of principalities and powers, who reigns over evil in hell and in earth.
And a result of that mythology, and that teaching, and that indoctrination of vengeance, and violence, the destruction of those in authority, the annihilation of those who possess, the pulling down of all who now live and reign and rule, that way of bitterness and indescribable horror is what we look upon here, there, yonder, and around this earth. “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night, for the slain of the daughter of my people!” [Jeremiah 9:1].
Now, in these closing few moments, we turn our faces toward God’s future. It is the part of a minister to proclaim the faith that God lives and reigns. It is the part of His church to hold high the light of hope and truth and assurance. It is God’s world. He sits sovereign above the circle of the heavens, and all things are ultimately in His omnipotent and sovereign hands. For ourselves, for our people, for our government, we pray God’s blessings upon our houses of legislation, upon our courts, upon our justices, upon our representatives, upon what has made America, America. In the eloquent words of Daniel Webster on the floor of the Senate of the United States, I quote:
It would be but a trifle if the walls of our capitol were to fall, if these lofty pillars were to crumble; all these can be rebuilt. But who shall reconstruct the fabric of a demolished government? Who shall rear again the well proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame together the skillful architecture which unites national sovereignty with states’ rights, individual security, and public prosperity?
It is our dedication as a Christian people, as a church, to help to frame a free, a godly, and a Christian nation.
In the days of the heavy conflict of the Civil War, the War Between the States, Josiah Holland wrote a prayer; we all have heard it, we all share in it:
God, give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; who will not lie…
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty, and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with its thumb-worn creeds,
Its large professions and its little deeds
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land, and waiting Justice sleeps.
[“God Give Us Men”; J.G. Holland]
And this hour of solemnity and burden for us is an hour of re-commitment to those treasured inheritances we have received from our forefathers. The right of worship, liberty of conscience; the destiny of a people settled not by violence and murder, but by discussion and debate; that on floors of congress and legislature, in the trials of courts of justice, in preaching and teaching and persuasion we seek to lift up a people unto God. So bless us, Lord, in that holy effort; and deliver us from the blood of violence and murder and revolution. In Thy blessed name, amen.
We stand to sing our invitation hymn. What a noble day, what a holy hour for a man to give himself to God. “Pastor, this is my hand; I come confessing Christ openly as my Savior.”
“Pastor, this is my wife, these are our children; all of us are coming this day.” To that topmost balcony, in this press of people from side to side, down a stairway at the front, at the back, into the aisle, come, come, come, while we stand and while we sing.