DEATH IN DÉTENTE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-10-75 10:50 a.m.
In our preaching through the Book of Isaiah, we have come to the tenth chapter, and before me is a text for the address to be made this morning, Death in Detente or The Cultivating and Courting of the Cancer and Curse of Communism:
Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed:
To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of My people . . . .
What will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from afar? to whom will you flee for help? and where will you leave your glory?
Without Me they shall bow down under the prisoners, they shall fall under the slain. And for all this His anger is not turned away, His hand is stretched out still.
O Assyrian, the rod of Mine anger, and the staff in their hand is Mine indignation.
In the ancient world, for centuries, 900, 800, 700, 600s BC, the ruthless and merciless and brutal and cruel Assyrian Empire held the whole civilized world in an iron hand. Four times in the lifetime of Isaiah the prophet did Assyria overrun Judah, and she destroyed forever the Northern Kingdom of Israel with its capital Samaria [2 Kings 18:13, 17, 24:1, 10, 25:1].
Assyria in the ancient world was a veritable ogre to the Jew. In our modern world, there is an empire far greater: more brutal, more ruthless, more merciless. And it is appeased and accepted by the modern nations of the world. There has never lived an empire as cruel, as oppressive, as that of atheistic, communistic Red Russia. Her colonies are held in an oppressive and terrible grip. All other modern colonial empires have been liquidated and dissolved.
The British Empire is gone. The Dutch empire is gone. The German empire is gone: the Italian, the Portuguese. All modern empires have been liquidated except this one of Communist Russia. The poor colonies that are held in an iron vise in her hand, four times have in desperation rebelled, like Hungary and East Germany. But four times has the Red Army crushed them. And today, there are thirty-one Red divisions occupying those nations, lest they rebel again. How is it that such a blood-thirsty, murderous, torturous, horrible, brutal empire is allowed to exist and to expand among the nations of the modern world? There are two answers. One lies in the imponderables of Almighty God.
When that question was raised in the days of Isaiah—why God permitted the brutal and merciless Assyrian Empire to overrun the people of God—the Lord sent word through Isaiah to Judah saying, “That Assyria is the rod of Mine anger, and the staff of Mine indignation” [Isaiah 10:5]. God raised up the Assyrian Empire to chasten and to punish His people for their sins. There is a like imponderable known but to God in heaven. It may be that God allows the ruthless Red Russian Empire to exist in our modern world as a scourge and as a chastisement of the Christian nations of the West. It is a miracle!
Communism; I was a guest in the home of Dr. Black, the president of the Presbyterian Robert College in Istanbul. He had married a Bulgarian. And when I asked him, “How it is that children will inform against their parents, knowing that the parents will be sent to death?” He said, “I cannot explain it.” It is something in the imponderables of God. He said to me, “As there is a kingdom of light and glory in the earth presided over by Jesus [Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:12-13], the Son of God, so there is a kingdom of darkness presided over by Satan himself” [2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:12]. That lies in a choice and in a mystery in heaven into which I cannot enter. As God allowed the expansion of Red Russia as a scourge, as a chastisement of the decline of the Christian faith in the free and Western world, I do not know. Only God knows.
But this I can see. I can easily understand the acceptance and the expansion of the Red Russian empire in the nations of the world by an immediate and a patent reason. It lies in the left winger, in the socialist, in the welfare-stater, in the liberal, in the “pink” and the fellow traveler. Wherever they are in the world—and they’re in all of the governments of our Western nations—wherever they are in the world, they are soft toward communism and easy on Russia. They’re always open to governmental planning, and to state socialism, and to the nationalism of state resources. They are ever eager to support a government that more and more regiments the people and grasp the reigns of industry. They’re soft toward communism, and they’re soft toward Red Russia.
The only thing that a liberal is against in America or in any other nation in the world is the conservative who believes in work and in paying your debts and in living within your budget. Look at Britain! Hong Kong is administered by the government of Britain. In 1967, in the terrible riots that tore the city apart, the British government closed down the communist schools. Since that time, the British government has not only reopened all of those communist schools, but have allowed them to proliferate. And now, there are more than seventy communist schools in Hong Kong alone. These are the schools that are teaching the children and the high schoolers of Hong Kong atheism and communism.
Missionary Victor Frank, with whom we broke bread, was describing a visit they had made in the home of a family, a Chinese family, in Hong Kong. They were atheists and announced to the missionary couple, “We do not believe in God.” A little fellow, a little fellow who was in the communist schools spoke up immediately, and said, “I believe in God. His name is Chairman Mao Tse-tung.” This is the liberal, as they open the floodgate toward the communists.
I listened to the British industrial empires as they made report to the British people. Night after night, I listened to those reports on television. They have nationalized their industries. They live under a socialist government headed by Harold Wilson. First of all, I listened to the electric utilities as they reported: every month, millions and millions of pounds in debt. I listened to the gas industry as it reported: every month, millions and millions of pounds in debt. I listened to the coal industry as it reported: every month, millions and millions of pounds in debt. I listened to the steel industry as it reported: every month, millions and millions of pounds in debt. I listened to the transportation industry as it reported: millions and millions of pounds in debt. And the taxpayer must pick up the tab. The British government is facing absolute bankruptcy! There is no government that can run an industry profitably. It cannot do it!
When the government takes it over, when it regulates it, there is soon to follow scarcity, and want, and finally absolute dissolution! The pound is buying less and less and less. And these are the people who have seized the governments of the Western world, the left-winger, the socialist, and he’s soft and easy toward communism and toward the expansion of Russia. So Harold Wilson, while we were there, packs up his bags, on the way to Helsinki to sign the document of detente.
The same thing is true in America. The left-winger and the liberal, the “pink,” the fellow traveler, the welfare-stater is the same anywhere you find him in the earth. And he, the left-winger in America, has brought our nation to disgrace and to despair! For the first time in the history of America, whose glorious two hundred years we are beginning to celebrate, for the first time in American history, we have seen our flag hauled down in defeat, and in shame, and in ignominy! And we’ve seen the image of the American nation in the dust of the earth, and the isles of the sea and the nations of the world cowering before the onrush of the Red blood. How did that come to pass? I will tell you exactly how it came to pass.
In the Orient, a man who has lived in Vietnam for years and years, a close friend of General Westmoreland, said to me, talking to the head of the armed forces of America in South Vietnam, General Westmoreland said to him, “I could conclude this war in victory, in a matter of weeks. All I would need to do would be to take the armies of South Vietnam, our armed forces, and march them to the DMZ, and call for the Seventh Fleet to stand offshore and send word to Hanoi, “You will either withdraw your forces from South Vietnam, or face invasion and annihilation!” And General Westmoreland said, “The war would be over, overnight!”
Why wasn’t that done? Because of the left-wingers in the United States government. Because of Senator Halfbright from Arkansas who was head of the Foreign Relations Committee. And because of the other members in Congress and in the Senate who are exactly like him. They so weakened the power of America to march and to fight for the liberties of our nation and the nations of the world that we lost the war in disgrace and in shame!
Why should we be afraid of Russia? Why? Russia cannot feed itself. It cannot support itself. No socialistic system can! A war is not won by numbers of men in the army or numbers of ships on the sea. A war is won by logistics. The logistician wins the war, that is, the support of the nation for the men who are fighting. Russia cannot support itself. It cannot even feed itself, much less mount a sustaining war to victory. Russia is two and one-half times the size of the United States. Russia is forty-five times the size of France. Russia has thirty million farmers. We have six million.
I have flown over the great Ukraine, this way, this way, and this way, thousands of miles of the richest farmland you could ever look upon. Have you ever flown over Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, those rich rolling farmlands, producing the food that America needs? Russia, in its Ukraine, is exactly like that. Rich, black alluvial soil: productive and fertile. What’s the matter? Why can’t it feed itself? Because of the system; the system will never produce! The system has not produced, and for us to cower before Russia when it cannot feed itself is unthinkable and unimaginable and cowardly! What we do is, we ship our food to Russia. We give them our technological achievements. They can’t excel in any category. They do it because we sustain and subsidize their failures. Without us, they would not exist. They would fall to the ground in a very short while.
In Vietnam, the tanks and the trucks that were used to slay our American boys were made in factories that our technicians went over there to Russia and showed them and helped them to build. The policy of America stated openly and followed is one of appeasement and concession to Red Russia. It has never deviated from that awesome and tragic course. We think, “Let’s feed the wolf, let’s feed him. Let’s keep on feeding him. Let’s give him more and more, and finally, he’ll go away.” That has been the undeviating course of the American government.
There has just come to visit us one of the greatest literary geniuses of our time, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. This is a man who believes in God. This is a man who has dared to defy the Kremlin. This is a man who believes that humanity is not a mass of protoplasm, a hunk of evolutionary process, an animal, but he believes that under God we are created in the image with sensitivity to right and wrong. This is Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
The White House and the American government snubs him. Why? They publish the reason blatantly, openly, unashamedly. We will not invite Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the White House or to a public state affair of America because we are afraid of offending the Russians! This has been our policy through the years and the years and the years. Our armies in victory marched before Berlin. We would not dare take it, we might offend the Russians.
Churchill says, “For God’s sake, let’s invade the soft underbelly of Europe, and let’s snatch from the maw of the Russians the nations of Eastern Europe.”
“No,” says Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “by no means, lest we offend the Russians. The Japanese are within a few days of unconditional surrender. We bring in the Russians and give them the northern isles of Japan, lest we offend them in a unilateral victory.”
And in this recent war in the Middle East, when Israel surrounded completely the army of Egypt, the United States government sent word to Israel, saying, “Withdraw your forces and let the Egyptian army go, lest we offend Russia.” This is the policy that governs the life of America: not what we choose, not what we think, but what the Kremlin chooses and what those enigmatic, mysterious, convocations decide on the inside of those high, forbidding walls. And this is détente!
So we pack up and send the president of the United States to Helsinki to sign the instrument of detente. I don’t know whether you saw it in America or not, but all through the papers of Europe, the newspapers of Europe, there you saw a picture of the president of the United States as he came to Europe to sign that accord of detente. And as he stepped off the plane, he slipped and fell. And the picture of the president of the United States is prostrate, and he’s grasping and groping for a way to stand. And as I looked at the picture, a great, strong, mighty man, down on his face, grasping for a way to stand up, I thought, this is a picture and a parable of the great, mighty, strength and glory of America down, down, down on its face, groping for strength to stand up.
Détente! What is detente? Have you read that document? Look at what we give. Look at what we concede. One: forever we concede to Russia 182,000 square miles, not acres, 182,000 square miles of the lands of eastern Europe that belong to Finland, to Poland, and to Romania. The borders of Russia have been extended westward into the very heartland of central Europe. That we signed in detente.
What else did we give in detente? We forever obliterated the little nations of Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania. They are now by our decree and our signature forever lost, swallowed up in the maw, in the ravages of the Russian empire. That we did in detente. And something else; forever we said, the nations of eastern Europe are colonies of Red Russia. The boundaries are set. They belong to the Red Russian Communist Kremlin rulers. In defeat and in despair, we have assigned them forever a life of misery and oppression. That we did in detente.
What did Russia concede to us? What did we gain by signing that document? We gained something like this. One: if there is a son or a daughter on this side of the Iron Curtain, he may have the privilege under certain circumstances of visiting his relatives. That was one thing they conceded. The other thing they conceded was this; that under certain conditions a correspondent on the other side of the wall can come out and look at us. That’s it! That’s it! My brother every one of those things are basic human rights; the right to visit a family that calls you by their name, and the right to look at another people and another nation and another government. These basic human rights, by detente we say we concede to the Russian government and give away forever the peoples who live in despair in eastern Europe! That is detente.
When you look at the future, what does it hold for us and for the nations of the world? For the Red menace spreads, and it spreads, and it spreads. It’s a story familiar now in India, in Portugal, in the nations of Africa, in South America, around the whole earth. Does the future belong to them? Do we cringe and die in fear and foreboding before it? Is that the way of the tomorrow?
In Hyde Park in London, I listened to a communist, on a tall stepladder with a platform, with a big red flag flying above him. He mouthed the platitudinous axioms of Karl Marx. I wish I had time to repeat some of them just to show you how ridiculous they are in actual life and how oppressive they are in the life of the people. He was mouthing them up there, and as he did so, the people were heckling him from every side. That’s the privilege in Hyde Park.
So as he was storming about the glories of communism, one of the fellows spoke up and said, “Say there, explain to us the anti-Semitism of Karl Marx, do that if you can.” And he stumbled around, there was no answer and so as he went on, another heckler said, “You up there, you with the red flag and the communist life, tell us about the murders of the millions who were butchered by Joseph Stalin! Tell us.” Oh, he mouthed something about that. And as he went on, another heckler spoke up and said, “You up there with the red flag tell us, tell us what about that wall in Berlin and the Iron Curtain that separates the peoples?” And he mouthed something about that. So they were heckling him on every side.
Finally, the fellow came to a peroration, and this is what he said, “The wave of the future belongs to us. We shall have revolution in every nation of the earth, liberating the oppressed working masses.” Listen to him, as he says, “It has happened in Russia, it has happened in China, it has happened in Vietnam, it has happened in Cuba, it is happening in the nations of Africa and South America, in Portugal, and in India.” And then he added, “The only one that could intervene is the United States of America, and she is somewhere playing some kind of a game called mumbo, jumbo.” And when he said that, you would have thought there would have been five hundred hecklers stand up and say, “That’s a lie. That’s a lie, that’s a communist lie!” There was absolute silence, absolute silence. There was not a man or a woman who spoke up.
What would you say? He said it has happened in Cuba, it has happened in Vietnam, it has happened in the nations of the world. The United States is off to the side playing some kind of a game called mumbo jumbo. You bow your head, pray God is that true? Is that true? If it is, if it is, if the wave of the future is theirs, then it means the loss of human freedom; the destruction of the home and the family. It means the annihilation of the church, and it means the dissolution, I would say, extermination of the people of God. Is that the wave of the future? Is that what we face in God’s world where we live?
I have an answer from heaven. Along with those that always queued up to go into Lenin’s tomb in the Red Square, before those frowning Kremlin walls, I lined up, finally made my way into the tomb. And on this side, and on this side, and on this side, looking into the dead and silent face of Nikolai Lenin. He died in 1924 at the age of fifty-four. His death came as a shock to the communist world. And when he died, the grand presidium, the grand presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Russia gave this announcement to the world, and I quote it verbatim. The grand presidium said, “No man ever wrought as Lenin. He was the greatest teacher of all time. He was the greatest leader among men. He was the author of a new social order. He was the savior of the world.” But he’s dead. And as I walked on this side and that side and that side, I turned over in my mind that pronouncement of the Supreme Soviet. “He was the greatest teacher. He was the greatest leader. He was the author of a new social order. He was the savior of the world.” But he’s dead.
Look at him! Look at him—still and silent—in death! Unknown to the grand presidium, unknown to the Supreme Soviet that sits in the Kremlin, they spelled their ultimate defeat in the very tense of the word that they used. “He was the greatest teacher.” He’s dead! “He was the greatest leader.” Dead! “He was the author of a new social order.” Dead! “He was the savior of the world.” He’s dead! Look at him.
With what glory and with what triumph does the Christian stand in this dark world? He raises his voice and lifts his face toward heaven and says, “He is alive! [Revelation 1:17-18]. He is alive! [Luke 24:36-48; John 20:24-28]. He was raised from the dead” [Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:5-7]. There’s no tomb before any frowning wall to which you can visit and say, “There is our dead Christ.” He is alive! And He reigns in heaven [1 Peter 3:22], and someday He shall reign in earth [Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 11:15]. He is! He is! He is! He is the greatest teacher of all time. He is the greatest leader among men. He is the author of a new social order. He is the Savior of the world, our coming, reigning King! [1 Corinthians 15:24-28].
I met a couple this morning, one of our dear sweet doctors. He and his wife have just come back from Russia. As upon me, so upon them, the Christians gathering in the Baptist church in Moscow made a profound impression, weeping, crying with hands uplifted to God. Just one church for a city of seven million people, that’s allowed to be a showcase for the tourists who are thereby persuaded there’s religious freedom in Russia. It’s a showcase. And the people are hurt and oppressed, and you see it in their faces and in their tears.
They have a choir that sings like ours. It sings gloriously. They were singing a song. It had a triumphant note in it. There’s only three words that I could recognize. Iēsous, Jesus. Christos, Christ. Hallelujah, that’s praise God in all the languages of the world. I turned to the Russian minister seated next to me in the pulpit, I said, “What are they singing about? What are they singing about?”
He said, “They’re singing about the second coming of Christ, the triumph of our Lord when He comes again.” Iēsous, Christos, Hallelujah.
Jesus shall reign where e’er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
Till moon shall wax and wane no more.
[from “Jesus Shall Reign Where E’er the Sun,” Isaac Watts, 1719]
Iēsous Christos, Hallelujah!
All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.
[from “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” Edward Perronet, 1779]
Iēsous Christos, Hallelujah!
Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending,
Swell the glory of His train:
God appears on earth to reign!
[from “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending,” John Cennick, 1752]
Iēsous Christos, Hallelujah! Come, blessed Jesus [Revelation 22:19-20].
Take the kingdom, it is Thine! And when He comes, there’ll be a people towelcome Him and to receive Him in the earth [Luke 18:8].
Ah, what a faith, what a commitment, what a love, what a triumph, what a waiting, what an optimism, what an indomitable and indestructible spirit, that belongs to the people of God! General, God multiply your kind in the earth. And our honorable congressman, may there be others stand by your side as you seek to bring American back to the foundations upon which it was built by our forefathers. And please God, give it to our children, unsullied, without shame and disgrace. God Bless America.
We stand now to sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, go ahead, while we sing it, to give your heart to Jesus, to put your life in the church, there’s time and to spare, come and stand by me. May angels attend you in the way as you come, while we sing.