Christ and Communism
April 15th, 1965 @ 12:00 PM
CHRIST AND COMMUNISM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-15-65 12:00 noon
And welcome everybody to this Thursday noon-day service. And remember, all of us understand this is a busy lunch hour, and when you have to leave you are at liberty to do so without apology. You will not bother me nor anyone else. Stay as long as you can, and if you have to leave one sentence before the benediction it is all right.
The theme for our services this year has been “The Contemporary Christ—Christ Today.” Does God speak to us today? And what is the meaning of our Christian faith today? Monday, it was Christ and Politics; Tuesday, it was Christ and War; yesterday, it was Christ and Modern Science; tomorrow, it shall be Christ and Death. Today, the subject is Christ and Communism.
In the apocalyptic discourse of our Lord, He said, and He mentioned it several times:
Many shall come saying, I am the Messiah; and shall deceive many…
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many—
For there shall arise false Christs, false messiahs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect.
[Matthew 24:5, 11, 24]
And on the stage of history, there has never passed any such false Christs and false philosophy and false religion as has deceived one-third of this whole present earth. The entire world is divided into two great camps: the East and the West, the free world and the slave world.
And behind those two great camps are two great ideas in mortal combat; Christianity and communism. And behind those two great ideas stands the lengthened shadow of two great men, two great personalities: Karl Marx and Jesus the Christ. They both come before us with a philosophy of life and the welfare for the human race. They present an alternative, one or the other, of a complete devotion. Their discipleship, their call to discipleship, admits of no abridgment. It is one or the other, unto death. And the world has come to a stage and a point in history where it must choose. Both men present systems of religion and both systems are systems of religion. One believes in God, and preaches the gospel of the dignity of the human soul and the worth of the individual life; the other believes in atheism, and preaches the gospel of the omnipotence of the state and the slavery of the human life.
We, who are Christians have a Messiah—the Lord Christ. We have a great apostle to the Gentiles, Paul. We have a Holy Book, the Bible. We have a sacred shrine, the empty tomb. They have a messiah—Karl Marx. They have a great apostle, Nikolai Lenin. They have a holy book, Das Kapital. And they have a sacred shrine, the mausoleum of Lenin before the Red Square of the Kremlin.
They substitute, for the kingdom of God, the dictatorship of the proletariat. And for spiritual values, they substitute economic determinism. They deify their leader. Karl Marx—born in 1818, died in 1883—was a wretch, an unspeakable wretch; one of the most loathsome of all of the characters who have ever walked across the stage of history. Karl Marx allowed his [four] children to starve to death. They read Karl Marx with the same reverence that a Christian reads the Holy Sciptures.
They deify their leader, Nikolai Lenin. He was a conniving, shrewd lawyer, a Russian, who under the connivance of Germany—in order to take Russia out of the Allied force and to liberate their eastern front in the First World War—under the connivance and supervision of Germany and with their help, Nikolai Lenin seized the revolution in Russia in 1917 and became the first dictator of the Soviet Union. His picture is in every railroad station, in every book, in every magazine; everywhere that communism has conquered and enslaved the world. They have a doctrine of God; He does not exist. They believe in atheism with that same fanatical devotion that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And their children are taught the shame and the blasphemy of atheism from the day they are born until they die.
A typical scene would be a hungry child asked to pray to God for bread, and no bread is given. Then the same child is instructed, “Now pray to Lenin,” and bread is placed in the hands of the starving child. Or another instance: here will be a garden plot labeled, “God’s,” and it’s uncultivated, filled with weeds. Here is a garden plot labeled, “The Communists,” and it is carefully and beautifully tended. They have a doctrine of “conversion,” we call it “brainwashing,” one of the most cruel and diabolical, psychological attempts that was ever imagined by the warped and twisted mind of a depraved man. They have a doctrine of discipleship; they read Karl Marx and Nikolai Lenin by day and by night, in the morning and in the evening. And they have assemblies and cell groups, where they are instructed and instructed and called to an account of how they are faring in their progress in atheistic socialism. And they have a doctrine of evangelism. Wherever there is a dedicated communist, he is an obedient evangelist to go anywhere, anytime, anyhow to spread the doctrines of the party.
They have an universal, an universal appeal; they make promises to the deprived and oppressed poor. And one of the greatest things that Karl Marx discovered to his illimitable astonishment, was the appeal that dialectical, atheistic communism has for the upper classes—the rich and the intellectually proud and idealistic. The rich, many of them filled with ennui and despair and frustration over an empty life. And an idealistic view, sitting before a professor spitting out socialistic dreams; they are a prey for this communistic blasphemy. And they have succeeded in the world. One third of this earth and between nine hundred million and one billion people now live under the awesome banner of the hammer and the sickle.
In India one time, I was talking to an illustrious federal judge by the name of Gulani, and I said to him, “I cannot understand. There are states in India that are almost communist, and the communistic appeal has a vast appeal for India. Had it not been for the incursion and invasion of the Red Chinese, I don’t know what India would have done. But they still have a violent, vitriolic party in India of communists.” And I said to Judge Gulani, “I don’t understand. Why would communism have an appeal to your people?”
He replied to me, sort of out-of-patience; and pointed his finger and he said, “Listen, listen.” He said, “What you Americans don’t realize is the unbelievable achievements of the Soviet Union, that,” he said, “a few years ago was a peasant nation and now,” he says, “is the only military power on the face of the earth that is able to challenge the might of the United States of America. And,” he said, “we are greatly impressed. We are greatly impressed.”
I admit the achievements of the socialistic Soviet Republics are powerfully, and awfully, and terribly, and blasphemously impressive. Whether you are talking about a satellite in outer space, or whether you are talking about the might of their hydrogen bombs and their marching armies, it is fearsome and awesome!
The two philosophies, the two religions, the two systems are in mortal combat. And one or the other will survive, but not them both—but not they, both! Christianity believes one thing about the universe; communism believes another thing. Christianity believes one thing about the nature of man; communism believes an altogether different thing. Christianity teaches one thing about the state; communism preaches an altogether different thing about the state. Christianity teaches that the state is to be a servant of man; but communism teaches that a man is to be the slave of the state. Christianity teaches that only God is omnipotent and all-powerful; communism teaches that the state is omnipotent and all-powerful. Christianity teaches that the center of society is the family unit; communism seeks to destroy the enslavement of a family unit to property and to possession and to the love of children, and to waste that God-given devotion and affection in a blind, enslaved loyalty to the state. Christianity teaches the law of love and the unification of mankind; communism teaches class warfare and the division of people and nations—house against house, family against family, children against their parents.
In the name of brotherhood and justice, communism calls for treachery and subversion. In the name of peace, communism calls for war. In the name of love, communism calls for hate. In the name of freedom, communism calls for slavery. And, in the name of utopia, communism calls for a police state. The woe and the enslavement of the communistic philosophy of life reaches to every man, and every family, and every child where it has power to touch, to conquer. Of God, Karl Marx said, “Communism begins where atheism begins.” Karl Marx said, “My object is to dethrone God and to destroy capitalism.”
When I was a youth I saw a cartoon out of Russia. I can remember that thing as vividly now as the days I saw it a generation ago. There was a workman on a tall ladder, leaned up against a cloud. He had a hammer drawn back in his hand. Around the base of the ladder were destroyed churches, and seminaries, and God’s people, the pastor, the minister—destroyed. And up there on a cloud was pictured as three old men, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. And the caption read to me, translated out of the Russian language, was this: “We have destroyed God in the earth! Now we shall destroy God in the heavens!”
And of morality: all morality is based in the character of Almighty God, and when God is destroyed, and God is dethroned, and God is blasphemed, there’s not any basis for a people, or a nation, or a civilization, or a culture to be honest or true or anything kind and acceptable.
Stalin said—I quote, “Sincere diplomacy is no more possible than dry water or wooden iron.” Yaroslavsky said, “Anything that helps the communist party and the revolution is ethical. If it is to the advantage of the party to lie, then lie; to steal, then steal; to murder, then murder. That’s why, in my humble opinion, any document, any treaty that the communist world signs, they will honor only insofar as to lie and to deceive is to their personal and party advantage. And of the individual man, the system blots him out; he becomes one in a faceless humanity. He’s a slave, and worse. Communism looks upon living people as so much raw material to be twisted, and to be beat, and to be defaced, and to erase the image of God, to be submerged in a faithless humanity. In any communist state, the individual has no property, no family he can call his own—no children that belong to him. And music and art and thought and everything is bent in subservience to the state. And their plan of conquest is merciless, and diabolical, and cruel—intrigue, infiltration, deception, subversion, and finally cruel and merciless war!
Lenin one time said, “What does it matter if two thirds of the entire population of the earth is destroyed, if only the remaining one third is communist?” Lenin said one time, “We’ll take Eastern Europe. Then we’ll organize the hordes of Asia. Then we’ll surround the United States, and then he prophesied—and I quote: “That last bastion of capitalism, the United States, we will not have to take; it will fall into our outstretched hands like overripe fruit.” One time Lenin called us—America—one time, Lenin called us “the willing idiots.” They are supremely confident. There is not a child in America that couldn’t quote Nikita Kruschev’s, “We will bury you!” Their order of the day and they believe that, under the constant pressure of the cold war, we will give up one democratic institution after another under the guise of emergencies until finally we are fully sovietized. Just three months before Nikita Khrushchev’s last visit to the United States, he 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.
And that’s not a new prophecy, or a new doctrine, or a new historical observation. In 1788, James Madison said to the Virginia Convention, and I quote from that great author of the Constitution of the United States, he said, “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 on the part of those in elected power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
We have this mortal war over the face of the earth. There are no frontiers! The philosophy runs down every village street, down through every periodical and magazine, down through every family and home that reads, down through every mission field where a man stands up to name the name of Christ, and it reaches into every area of life: cultural, aesthetic, economic, religious—a mortal combat between these two systems, and these two philosophies, and these two religions. And there will be someday—an ultimate day—a final and irrevocable decision. The two have no middle ground. There is no basis of coexistence. They are irreconcilably opposite! They are, they were, they ever shall be! And they are supremely confident that they will prevail. Khrushchev said, and I quote again, “Anyone who mistakes our smile for withdrawal from the policies of Marxism, Leninism, is making a mistake. Those who expect this will have to wait until Easter falls on Tuesday,” end quote.
And Lenin said, and I quote: “It is inconceivable that the Soviet Union should continue to exist for a long period side-by-side with imperialistic states. Ultimately, one or the other must conquer.” And in that prophecy of Nikolai Lenin, I humbly and devoutly concur! They will not exist forever side-by-side. One or the other must conquer. They are supremely confident; they have every right to be confident. Within almost our lifetime, we have seen the red flag of socialism, communism, slavery, cover one third of the populations of this earth. And they seem infallible and invincible. Are they? Will they? An everlasting and eternal, “No,” sounds from heaven, and sounds from earth, and sounds from the depths of the souls of free men and free governments everywhere!
“Then, why, preacher, are you so confident of the ultimate victory of the Christian faith?” For two reasons; one, their leader is not as our Leader. They worship and follow fallible men. But our Leader is the living Lord God from heaven. In 1924, at the comparatively early age of fifty-four years, Nikolai Lenin suddenly died. It came as an overwhelming, astonishing providence to the Soviet world. And when Nikolai Lenin died, the grand council of the socialistic Soviet Republics sent a message, a eulogy, over the wires to all the nations of the world. And in that tribute, the grand council said, and I quote, “No man ever wrought as Lenin. He was the greatest leader among men. He was the greatest teacher of all time. He was the author of a new social order. He was the savior of the world.”
But unknown to the grand council of the socialistic Social Republics, they spelled—unwittingly and unknowingly—their ultimate and final defeat in the tense of the verb that they used! “He was the greatest leader among man. He was the greatest teacher of all time. He was the author of a new social order. He was the savior of the world.” But he is dead! Come and look on the still and silent face of his mortal remains. Embalmed in that sarcophagus, in that mausoleum in the Red Square before the Kremlin, Lenin is dead! And just beyond, in the earth where his body now turns to the dust of the ground, is his fellow blasphemer, Stalin.
With what infinite and holy and heavenly assurance does the follower of the Lamb of God say, “No one ever wrought as our living Lord. He is the greatest Leader among men. He is the greatest Teacher of all time. He is the Author of a new social order. He is the Savior of the world!” [1 John 4:14].
Bear me just a word for my second reason why communism can never ultimately prevail; the first reason, because their leader is not as our Leader. And the second reason: because of the devotion of God’s people. Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
This is not the first time that the Christian faith has met a mortal foe. We were born in blood! We lived in the catacombs, and the insignia and sign of our faith is a dark and blood-stained and rugged cross! And to that dedication, this Easter week we offer our souls, and our lives, our love and affection unto death this day.
Christianity can never be heroic if I am a coward. Christianity can never be gigantic if I am a pygmy! Christianity can never be redemptive if I am unregenerate! Christianity can never be universal if I am not evangelistic! Christianity can never win the heart of the world if it does not win my heart! Christianity can never baptize the earth if it does not baptize me:
The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain.
His blood-red banner streams afar
Who follows in His train.
A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Savior’s throne rejoice
In robes of light arrayed.
They climb the steep ascent of heaven,
Through peril, toil and pain.
O God, to us may grace be given,
To follow in their train.
[“The Son of God Goes Forth to War,” Reginald Heber, 1894]
All hail our coming and conquering Christ! [Revelation 22:20].
And our Lord, in that commitment may we offer unto Thee the ultimate devotion of our lives, to the glory of our King, even Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth. Amen [Revelation 19:16].
I. Both are religions
A. They deify their
B. They have a doctrine
C. They have a doctrine
D. They have a doctrine
E. They have a doctrine
F. They have universal
G. They have achieved
II. Both are in mortal combat
A. Of God and religion
B. Of morality
C. Of the individual
D. Of plan of conquest
III. The ultimate decision
A. The two are irreconcilably
B. Confidence in
ultimate victory of Christianity
1. Their leader
is not as our Leader