The Problem is on the Inside

depositphotos_35420335-stock-illustration-vector-cartoon-heart-with-devilOn a trip to Russia just after the collapse of communism in 1991, I had a conversation with a Marxist scholar who was devastated by revelations about the horrors just then coming to light in his country. “I had no idea things like this were taking place,” he said. “I became a communist with the best of ideals, to fight racism and poverty, to bring about a just society. Now I learn that we created a monster. We saw evil in others—the capitalists, the rich, the exploisters—but not in ourselves. I have learned to distrust any utopian philosophy, especially one that sets ‘us’ against ‘them.’ The danger of evil is inside of all of us, rich or poor, socialist or capitalist.”

–Philip Yancey,
Rumors of Another World

Lenin: “I made a mistake”

xlenin1917-jpgqitokppun5vpi-pagespeed-ic-7iuphm2lodLenin himself admitted “I made a mistake. Without doubt, an oppressed multitude had to be liberated. But our method only provoked further oppression and atrocious massacres. My living nightmare is to find myself lost in an ocean of red with the blood of innumerable victims. It is too late now to alter the past, but what was needed to save Russia were ten Francis of Assissis.”

–Phil Yancey,
Rumors of Another World

Seeing evil only in others

jewcommoOn a trip to Russia just after the collapse of communism in 1991, I had a conversation with a Marxist scholar who was devastated by revelations about the horrors just then coming to light in his country. “I had no idea things like this were taking pace,” he said. “I became a communist with the best of ideals, to fight racism and poverty, to bring about a just society. Now I learn that we created a monster. We saw the evil in others—the capitalists, the rich, the exploiters—but not in ourselves. I have learned to distrust a utopian philosophy, especially one that sets ‘us’ against ‘them.’ The danger of evil is inside all of us, rich or poor, socialist or capitalist.”

— Philip Yancey,
Rumors of Another World

The Heart of the Problem

119773145_0419a86325_m-copy-2Those seeking to condemn religion as the great source of human violence will inevitably cite the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. Those seeking to defend religious faith and place the blame for human atrocity elsewhere will invariably respond by pointing to the Holocaust and the Gulag…

At the root of these atrocities, whether they are classified as “religious” or “secular,” we find neither religion or ideology. These atrocities and all atrocities are the product of human nature. It is our inborn inclination to pursue our own self-interest and to disregard the interests of those outside our particular group . . . that drives humans to enslave and kill. And it is because humans are born with this evil inclination that genocide and slavery have been so common in so many of our cultures for so long.

The great insight of the Judeo-Christian tradition is that we are the source of evil in the world. The great promise of the Judeo-Christian tradition is its power to inspire men to overcome evil in their hearts…

Modern ideologies such as Nazism and Communism, by contrast, did not seek to transcend human nature, but to empower it. These new ideologies turbo-charged our natural selfishness and encouraged it as the greatest good. Elevating and unleashing humanities dangerous impulses was a perilous enterprise. Genocide was as certain as the sunrise.

The point is this: Communism and Nazism were not evil ideologies that coincidentally rejected the Judeo-Christian idea. These ideologies were evil precisely because they rejected the Judeo-Christian idea.

–David Brog,
In Defense of Faith

When God is Absent—Power is God

oppression11So long as the Self is temporal in space and time, nothing preceding birth, nothing beyond the grave, it follows quite necessarily that the perpetuation of the best possible state of being is the only end worthy of pursuit in an otherwise brief and brutish existence. And this ultimate purpose consists, unequivocally, of a fourfold pursuit:

1. To prolong existence
2. To maximize pleasure;
3. To minimize pain; and finally
4. To ensure by any means necessary that nothing may compromise the pursuit.

It is only too easy to see why the pursuit of power is logically inexorable to this purpose. Power is, by definition, the means by which one’s interests are secured, which applies as much to the Self as it does to the State. And if Ultimate Power does not reside in the Kingdom of Heaven, it falls upon the Self to claim it on Earth, which is the very drive of self-deification . . . the first crime in Eden. In God’s absence, the only pursuit worthy of existence is power. In a word; God is power, or power is God…

The conclusion I would like to draw from this thesis [is this]: that without the Law of Heaven, the Law of Earth is but the Law of Power, and that consequently the Secular State will always be characterized by the oppression of its own people and war with every other people.

It would not be amiss to begin by pointing out that the logical outworking of this has been played out time and again in history, culminating only recently in the two most militant and genocidal regimes ever known to the human race… substantiating that long-maintained theory of the theologians; that those who scoff the notion of Hell are usually the first to institute a Hell on Earth.

–Bo Jinn,
Utopia, The Secular Delusion

The Unsuccessful War on Faith

leninstatue1If any country in the world should be known for its cynicism and contempt for religion, it should be Russia. For over seven decades the Russian populace was exposed to a tireless barrage that mocked Christianity and sought to liberate the masses from all such “ridiculous superstitions.” The soviet state ruthlessly pursued its goal to obliterate religious belief through propaganda, imprisonment, torture, and mass murder.

One would expect that this region of the world would now be a hotbed of atheism, the Mecca of materialism.

Not so.

The relentless onslaught backfired. Communism collapsed, but faith in God didn’t. It flourished.

According to Wikipedia approximately 50% of Russians now identify with some branch of Christianity. They have tasted and seen firsthand what a Christless state is all about. It wasn’t good. They have been there and have come back. Russia tried secularism and discovered it is morally bankrupt.

The West has yet to make that discovery.

–J. O. Schulz

Who has fought for freedom?

Richard WurmbrandI defy my honored opponents to give me the name of a single man imprisoned in the United States, Great Britain, or West Germany for being an atheist. But in former communist countries, millions of our Christian brothers and sisters in faith have passed through jails or been killed. Who has fought for freedom and obtained it — atheists or Christians?

–Richard Wurmbrand,
A Romanian Christian minister who
suffered imprisonment and torture for his beliefs.