“A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism.”
This is the first line of The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848.
Almost 200 years later, the specter of communism is still haunting the West today — and not just in Europe.
Conservative, Bible-believing Christians who value the principles of Christian society, personal property rights, and free markets must therefore critically examine the ideology of communism, which has had a significant impact on the world. In this article, we will explore the nature and commitments of communism, its historical rise, its atheistic roots, the atrocities committed under communist regimes, and how a biblical worldview supports personal property rights and free markets and rejects the principles of communism.
Communism, as espoused by founding figures like Marx, Engels, and Vladimir Lenin, is an ideology that advocates for the abolition of private property, class distinctions, and a stateless society where the means of production are collectively owned.
In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels famously stated, “The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”
Along with advocating for the abolition of private property and total state control over the means of production, communism boils the entirety of human history down to the concept of “class struggle.” Again, in The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels argue:
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed.”
Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, further advanced this ideology by seeking to establish a socialist state that would eventually wither away, leading to a classless communist society. He is known for saying, “The goal of socialism is communism.” He also previewed how communism planned to brainwash youth into supporting their ideology, stating, “Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.”
Lenin would leverage the “class struggle” and his own ideas to sow chaos, overthrow the Russian monarchy and aristocracy, and bring about the first communist political system — Soviet Russia.
Communism is also explicitly atheistic, which we will consider in greater detail below. As The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation explains,
“Communism—theoretically, ideologically, and historically—opposes God and all forms of religion. From the time of Karl Marx to today, communism is based on the abolition of religion. In 1844, Marx wrote, ‘Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.’”
In summary, then, communism is a revolutionary political ideology that is built on atheistic assumptions; advocates for the total abolition of private property, resulting in complete state control of the means of production; and foments class struggle in the fruitless pursuit of a utopian society.
As mentioned earlier, communism rose to prominence in the early 20th century, primarily through the Russian Revolution of 1917, which led to the establishment of the Soviet Union. This event marked the beginning of the spread of communism worldwide, with communist movements gaining traction in various countries. These movements were often characterized by violent uprisings and the overthrow of existing governments.
In the following decades, communism took root in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, and several Eastern European countries, leading to the establishment of communist regimes. These regimes, while promising equality and prosperity, always resulted in widespread suffering, economic stagnation, and the suppression of individual freedoms.
The end of the Cold War marked a significant turning point in the global struggle between the Western world and communism. This monumental event, primarily characterized by the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, dramatically shifted the global political landscape and altered the dynamics of the ideological battle.
However, despite the apparent defeat of communism, there has been a resurgence of interest in socialist and communist ideas, particularly among young people in Western democracies. Some are attracted to the perceived ideal of economic equality and social justice associated with socialism. This makes it all the more important for Christians to be informed about the dangers of communism and to be prepared to counter it from a biblical worldview.
The most tragic aspect of communism are the atrocities committed under its rule. While communist ideology promises a classless society, the reality has been far from that ideal. Millions of innocent people, particularly peasants and dissidents, have suffered and died under communist regimes.
Statistics from various sources estimate that communist regimes have been responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people through forced labor camps, mass executions, and man-made famines. The Great Purge under Joseph Stalin, the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution in China, and the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia are just a few examples of the brutality associated with communism. These actions run contrary to the biblical principles of valuing human life and treating others with love and respect.
Here are some of the staggering statistics for the death tolls related to purges carried out under various communist regimes in the 20th century. They include the following:
These tragedies have continued into the 21st century in China and other communist-run countries, including Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea.
Historian David Satter estimates that the total number of victims of communism is close to 100 million. “That makes communism the greatest catastrophe in human history,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
Simply by reviewing the core tenets of communism and the tangible, deadly impacts of the ideology on the globe, a biblical worldview response comes into clarity: Communism is wicked and should be opposed by Christians everywhere. But now let’s consider what the Bible has to say in response to communism’s specific claims.
A biblical worldview places a significant emphasis on personal property rights and the value of honest labor. In the Bible, we find passages that affirm the importance of individuals owning and responsibly stewarding their property. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11, the Apostle Paul teaches that:
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.”
Communism, on the other hand, seeks to seize the products of other people’s honest labors and give it to those who have not earned it.
Proverbs 14:23 also states, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” This verse highlights the biblical encouragement of hard work and the enjoyment of the fruits of one’s labor.
Furthermore, the Eighth Commandment, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15), reinforces the biblical prohibition against theft. This commandment affirms the sanctity of personal property and underscores the importance of respecting the property rights of others. A society that follows biblical principles recognizes the necessity of protecting these rights and promoting just economic systems.
Free markets, which allow individuals to freely exchange goods and services, align with the biblical concept of voluntary giving and receiving. In Acts 2:44-45, we see an example of voluntary sharing, whereby believers shared their possessions, but it was not mandated by the government. The emphasis is on the willingness of individuals to help one another, not on forced wealth redistribution.
As previously mentioned, communism’s foundation rests on atheistic principles. Marx famously referred to religion as the “opiate of the masses” and believed that religion hindered the class struggle. This atheistic foundation is a stark departure from the biblical worldview, which acknowledges the existence of God and His role in the lives of individuals and societies. In his short book Marx and Satan, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand recounts that Marx once said, “I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above.”
The rejection of God in a communistic society often leads to the elevation of the state as the ultimate authority and provider. This statist approach contradicts the biblical teaching that God is the ultimate source of authority and that governments are accountable to Him. Romans 13:1 states,
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
Moreover, communism’s emphasis on the collective ownership of the means of production and centralized planning leads to a concentration of power in the hands of the state. This concentration of power inevitably leads to authoritarianism and the suppression of individual freedoms, which is at odds with the biblical concept of limited government and rightly ordered, virtuous liberty.
In conclusion, a biblical worldview, grounded in the teachings of the Bible, supports the importance of personal property rights, free markets, and the prohibition of theft. Communism, as defined by Lenin and Marx, stands in opposition to these principles, advocating for the abolition of private property and the concentration of economic power in the hands of the state.
Furthermore, communism’s atheistic roots and tendency towards statism run counter to the biblical understanding of the role of God in society and the limited authority of governments. While communism has promised equality and prosperity, history has shown that it often leads to brutality, suffering, and the suppression of individual freedoms.
While Christians should strive for true justice and seek to care for the less fortunate, we must also recognize that communism’s approach is fundamentally flawed and incompatible with the values and teachings of the Bible.
As we engage in discussions about economic and political systems, let us do so with a deep understanding of our faith and a commitment to upholding biblical principles in all areas of life. But never forget: Communism, whenever and wherever it has been tried, has only resulted in death and devastation. Therefore, Christians must be at the forefront of opposing this godless, destructive political system at every level.
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