Christianity and Communism (1)
James D. Bales
(Read Psa. 14:1-4.) Why should a Christian be interested in the subject of Communism? Is it not simply a political system? It has political manifestations -- so do some religious bodies -- but it is far more than politics. It is a philosophy of life, a way of destruction and death. We who are believers in God must be against a system, which denies God and endeavors to work for the destruction of faith in God. Communism is the largest atheistic organization the world has ever known--the Communist Parties throughout the world have over 35,000,000 members.
We who believe that Christ is the Savior and died for sinners must be against a system, which denies that Christ is the Savior and that man is a sinner in need of spiritual salvation.
We who believe that men are men for whom Christ died must be against a system, which views men as economic and class animals.
We who believe that it makes a difference what one believes can find in Communism an outstanding proof of this fact. It shows what men do who act on their belief than man is not a creature of God, but an evolved creature. It also shows that although atheism may be advocated by respectable men in America, who are upheld in their character by a religious background and influence, atheism in reality debases man.
One does not have to visit Russia in order to learn about Communism, any more than one has to visit Rome to learn about Roman Catholicism. People did not have to visit Hitler's Germany to learn about Nazism. One can learn from a study of their writings what one could never learn by a tour through their countries--a conducted tour.
Contrast what the Communist leaders demand of Communists with that Christ demands of us. For example, the point on Communism as a totalitarian system. Also stress that Communism has its great commission-- conquer the world by subversion, teaching and violence--while Christians are under the Great Commission to convert the world. Who is working the hardest at it? They circulate millions of copies of books on atheism. How many do we buy and read and circulate concerning faith in God, the Bible and the gospel?
Is permanent peaceful coexistence possible between Communism and religion? From time to time the Communists have tried to leave the impression that peaceful coexistence is possible. An understanding of Communism, however, proves that the Communists do not believe that peaceful coexistence can continue; instead, religion must be finally destroyed. Communism is basically antireligious. What in the philosophy of Communism shows the such is the case?
First, Communism is militant atheism. It is therefore antagonistic to faith in any Supreme Being. Karl Marx was an atheist before he became a Communist, and he made atheism an essential part of Communism. Lenin emphasized atheism in his pamphlet on Religion. At the Bandung Conference, Chou En-lai said: "We are still atheists."
It must be kept in mind that the Communists emphasize the necessity of spreading their beliefs. Karl Mark, in the VIII Thesis on Feuerback, stated that they were not interested simply in understanding the world, but in changing the world. At the 20th Congress of the Communist Party, Soviet Union in 1956, Krushchev said: "Revolutionary theory is not a collection of petrified dogmas and formulas, but a militant guide to action in transforming the world, in building communism." (Report of the Central Committee, p. 116) This indicates that the Communist is determined to build a world, which will reflect his beliefs, and his beliefs include atheism
Second, Communism is against religion because Communism is a totalitarian system, which demands the undivided loyalty of its subjects. It endeavors to control the inner and outer life of man. Thus communism is in opposition to religion which says that there is a higher will, law and allegiance than that of the State or Party.
In his booklet on How To Be a Good Communist, Liu Shao-Chi emphasized three things. (a) The Communist must be thoroughly indoctrinated in Marxism-Leninism, which includes atheism. (b) He must be wholeheartedly dedicated to the Party. (c) He must be willing to do anything demanded by the Party leadership. The claim of this totalitarian system on the whole of the life of its followers is summed up in Lenin's statement that the Party is the mind, the honor and the conscience of this epoch. Since Communists are called on to be totally committed to the world view of Marxism- Leninism, the Communists will not forever allow, in countries which they control, any religion, for all religions have a world view which is contrary to Communism.
Third, Communism is anti-religious because Communism claims to be a Scientific World View. Religion, Communism claims, is a superstitious survival from an unscientific and anti-scientific worldview. As Stalin put it: "The Party cannot be neutral towards religion and it does conduct anti-religious propaganda against all and every religious prejudice because it stands for science, while religious prejudices run counter to science, because all religion is something opposite to science." (Leninism, Vol. 1, p. 386)
Communism claims to be scientific socialism. It maintains that Marxism is the scientific understanding of nature and society. Religion is considered to be unscientific because religion does not agree with Marxism. Therefore, religion is to be opposed.
Marxism, however, is not scientific. A1though a communist may do scientific work in some particular field of scientific research yet he cannot have the scientific frame of mind. For the scientific mind is open to truth regardless of the direction from which it may come. But the Communist must toe the Party line when so demanded, as is indicated by the Lysenko era in Russian biology.
The Communist must ignore or deny the evidence for the reality of the spiritual life. This is being unscientific.
Communism involves atheism. Atheism is not scientific. Atheism assumes that nonliving matter created life; that non-conscious matter created consciousness; that non- religious matter created man with his religious aspirations; that non-moral matter created man with his moral sensitivity and his sense of duty; that non-thinking matter created man with thinking ability. For all of this there is not only no scientific evidence, but all the evidence we have points to the fact that life comes from life, etc.
If atheism is true, matter in motion is the only reality, and thus, as Lenin maintained, thought is but matter in motion, which has been set in motion by internal and external physical pressures. If this is true, how can one claim that the thoughts, which matter forces us to think are rational. One could not have any grounds on which to claim that anything, including Communism, is rational. Materialism must deny that man can reach any conclusions on the basis of the evaluation of evidence and of logical thinking. For all that exists is but matter reacting -to matter.
Marxism has not been established by the scientific method; it has never been proven by experimentation or on the basis of the study of nature and of society.
No great scientific discovery has taken place as a result of the application of dialectical materialism.
According to dialectical materialism, the clash between opposites should produce progress. However it may produce a stalemate, mutual destruction or a backward step.
If Marxism is scientific, as they claim, it should have enabled them to make scientific predictions based on the Marxism analysis of society. Instead, however, things have not worked according to the way that Marxism says they must work.
According to Marxism, the first communist revolution should have taken place in an advanced capitalistic country, but instead it took place in Russia, which was not an advanced capitalistic and industrialized country.
According to Marxism, the worker in an advanced capitalistic country should be getting poorer and poorer; but in the most advanced capitalistic country in the world, America, the workingman has the highest standard of living in that this world has ever known. He has material prosperity, and what is better, he has freedom.
According to Marxism, a change of economic system results in a change of ideas and not the other way around. And yet, the ideas of Marx and Lenin resulted in a change of economic system in Russia so that today they have an extreme form of State Monopoly Capitalism under the control of a ruthless dictatorship.
According to Marxism, the dictatorship of the proletariat builds up a classless society, whereas in reality they have created a ruthless and new exploiting class--as Djilas has pointed out in his book The New Class.
According to Marxism, the dictatorship of the proletariat builds a worker's paradise, but as a matter of fact it has built an iron curtain and a bamboo curtain to keep the workers from fleeing from the so-called worker's State.
Marxism originally taught that when the dictatorship of the proletariat established socialism, the dictatorship withers away; but in reality it is the people who wither away under the dictatorship. In Hungary the proletariat tried to overthrow the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat, and they were crushed by Russian imperialists.
Marxism, we conclude, is not a scientific analysis of society.
Fourth, Communism is anti-religious because it maintains that religion is the tool of the ruling class and the opiate of the masses. The rulers use religion to protect their interest (The Communist Manifesto), and to paralyze the will of the masses so that they will not overthrow the rulers (V. J. Jerome, "Let Us Grasp the Weapon of Culture." Political Affairs, February, 1951, p. 207). The rulers promise the people a reward in the world to come, in order to dope the people so that they will be content to let the rulers have the material things of life while the people dream of the rewards in the world to come. Religion, said Marx, is an opiate whereby the masses deaden themselves to the misery of their existence. Khrushchev recently reiterated the Communist claim that religion is an opiate (see also V. I. Lenin, Religion, p. 12).
It is true that religion may be perverted and become a tool and an opiate. But such is not the essence of religion. Anything may be used by someone as a tool. Communists, in fact, try to use religion as a tool in order to conquer the world. Thus the leadership of Russian Orthodox Church in Russia constitutes one of the mouthpieces of Soviet home and foreign policy.
The philosophy of Communism is the opiate which the Russian Communist Imperialists use in order to give them power over the members of the Party. While promising the members of the Party that in a few years they will live in a Communist Society, the Communist leaders use these people for their own selfish purposes. In a few years there will be peace and prosperity, if you will let the Party direct your lives and determine how material goods are to be used now. This is the promise of the Party Leaders. But it is a promise, which they do not fulfill. On Oct. 2, 1920, Lenin promised the generation "which is now fifteen years old" that they would be "living in a Communist society" in "ten or twenty years time." (V. I. Lenin, The Tasks of the Youth Leagues. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953, p. 37). But what was happening in 1940, which was twenty years after? Some of these same Communists were in their grave, having been put there at Stalin's orders. And Stalin was on the throne, ruling ruthlessly. Even Khrushchev admitted, in February, 1956, that Stalin had done some very cruel and ruthless things even against members of the Party.
Thus we see that by promising their followers a prosperous tomorrow they control them for the selfish purposes of the Party leaders today.
Fifth, Communism is anti-religious because it views religion as a symbol of man's alienation from himself. Religion leads man to look outside of himself for help, and thus keeps him from bringing about his own emancipation. It is true that religion asks man to look beyond himself because there is a spiritual realm and God does exist. It is not degrading to man to bow before the Absolute, but it is degrading to bow before the relative and make ourselves the slaves of the arbitrary whims of man. And yet, this is exactly what the Communist Party leaders require of their followers. Their followers must reject their own will and submit unquestionably to the will of the Party. This was emphasized by Liu Shao-Chi in How To Be a Good Communist. Communism is thus guilty of that of which it accuses religion, it is a symbol of man's alienation from himself and of his abject submission to the will of the Party leaders.
Sixth, Communism is anti-religious because religion teaches the reality of moral law while Communism maintains that there is no moral law and that a thing is right if it serves the interest of a class. And, according to Communism, the interest of their class is determined by the decisions of the Party leaders.
The Communist Manifesto maintains that morality is but a mask behind which lurks in ambush the interest of the ruling class. A moral system is but a means whereby a class justifies its interests, protects its interests, and extends its interests. And Lenin put it: "In what sense do we repudiate ethics and morality? In the sense in which it is preached to the bourgeoisie, who derived ethics from God's commandments. We, of course, say that we do not believe in God, and that we know perfectly well that the clergy, the landlords and the bourgeoisie spoke in the name of God in pursuit of their own interests as exploiters. Or, instead of deriving ethics from the commandments of God, they derived it from idealists or semi-idealist phrases, which always amounted to something very similar to God's commandments."
"We repudiate all morality taken apart from human society and classes. We say that it is a deception, a fraud, a befogging of the minds of the workers and peasants in the interests of the landlords and capitalists."
"We say that our morality is entirely subordinated to the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat."
"That is why we say that for us there is no such thing as morality apart from human society; it is a fraud. Morality for us is subordinated to the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat."
"What does this class struggle mean? It means overthrowing the tzar, overthrowing~ the capitalists, abolishing the capitalist class." (V. I. Lenin, The Tasks of the Youth Leagues. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953, pp. 20, 21, 22.)
This means that Communism utterly repudiates moral law. It further means that the Communists believe that anything--absolutely anything--is right if it carried out the will of the Party and overthrows those who oppose them. This means that Communism in its view of morality is in opposition to religion.
Their concept view of morality means that their moral system or scale of values will not only be different from but in opposition to ours, since they maintain that their class interests are in opposition to ours and morality must further class interests. Thus one of their leading philosophers in America wrote that opposing classes have values which are not only different but which are also in opposition. (Howard Selsarn, Philosophy In Revolution. New York: International Publishers, 1957, p. 137).
To illustrate what this means with reference to morality we can take three moral laws.
First, thou shalt not steal. The Communists maintain that this is but the law of a ruling, property-holding class, which enables them to protect their property. Of course, if theft be wrong, the institution of private property cannot be wrong. The Communists maintain that their interests are opposed to ours, therefore it is right to steal if it will help the Party. This does not mean that he will be an ordinary thief stealing the ten-cent store articles but that stealing is right if it helps the Party. The Communist revolution in Russia was financed in part by bank robberies (Bertram D. Wolfe, Three Who made a Revolution).
Second, thou shalt not commit adultery. The Communist maintains that this is based on the idea that the wife is the private property of the man. Thus this law is a means of protecting his private property. The Communists maintain that it is right to commit adultery if it will advance the interests of the Party. Thus Elizabeth Bentley, in her book Out of Bondage, tells of the use of women by Communists to trap men in order that they might blackmail them or so demoralize them that they can use them for Party purposes.
Third, honor thy father and thy mother. Communists maintain that this is based on the idea that the child is the private property of the parents and therefore should obey and honor them. The Communist Manifesto indicates that the family is based on the idea of private ownership and that when Communism finally arrives the family will be abolished. They believe that children should dishonor their parents if so commanded by the Party. Thus children in Communist countries are taught to tell the authorities if their parents have and express any ideas contrary to Communism or for religion. In some countries, such as Red China, this has led to the death of the parents, and the child has been held up in the classroom as a hero. In Red China today in some of the "People's Communes" they are trying to destroy the family.
This shows what the Communists mean when they say that morality is but a means of furthering class interests and that since they represent a different and opposing class in society, according to them, their moral system is different from and in opposition to ours.
Seventh, Communism is against any religion, which teaches love and good will toward people of difference classes in society. Communism teaches that one must be ruthless and that he must hate and destroy all class enemies. And anyone is a class enemy if he is so resignated by the Party leadership. "Democratic and socialistic culture in Czechoslovakia was always imbued with the ideas of true humanism--that of the struggle of the oppressed against the oppressors. This is seen in the splendid thought of the Czechoslovak poet, Jeri Wolker, whose works sincerely and seriously reflect the problem of love for man. He says: 'Let us assume that class hatred could disappear in a class society. Nothing could be more harmful to the working class than that. They would be degraded to a position of oxen under an eternal yoke, for it is only hate that helps to maintain the worker's human dignity--class hate which one day will abolish all classes."' (Shtoll, Ladislav: "The Class Struggle and Humanism," World Marxist Review, Nov. 1958, p. 28)
Communism is against any religion, which teaches progress can come through good will, since Communism believes that revolution is inevitable and the way to true progress. The Communist Manifesto appeal to workers of the world to unite and to revolt against their governments is quoted with approval in a recent Communist publication. "The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, Unite! " (As quoted from the Manifesto in C. Obichkin, On The "Manifesto of the Communist Party of Marx and Engels. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1955, p. 38). V. Koxlov declared that it is necessary to overthrow by revolution all capitalistic states (Bourgeois Nations and Socialists Nations. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1954, p. 26). Mao Tse-tung said that revolution is necessary and inevitable, and that the period of peaceful coexistence is but the period before the bomb is ignited (On Contradiction. New York: International Publishers, 1953, p. 50). The period of peaceful coexistence is not a period wherein they endeavor to reach an understanding through good will with their class enemies. Instead they endeavor to do at least four things, which will hasten the coming of the revolution: (a) Consolidate their gains. (b) Divide their enemies. (c) Intensify subversion. (d) Conduct psychological warfare to lull their enemies to sleep with false hopes or to paralyze them with false fears.
Thus we see that in its emphasis on deceit, class hatred and violence Communism is opposed to any religion, which teaches integrity, good will and mercy.
It is in the light of these basic antagonisms between communism and religion that we can understand the statement of Earl Browder, a former chairman of the Communist Party of America. He said: -" . . . We Communists do not distinguish between good and^-bad religions, because we think they are all bad for the masses." (What Is Communism? p.149)
When we understand this, we understand that there can be no peaceful coexistence between any vital religion and Communism. He who thinks that there can be does not understand either religion or Communism.
Truth Magazine, VI:2 pp. 4-9