2009 was a year of re-runs, in a way. I republished earlier works a little more than I did in 2008. Here is another, from all the way back in the print issue of from March/April 1984; 25 years ago, when I was with . I have revised it with some necessary changes, but I think it is still relevant for 2010.
Speaking of vintage material, I have obtained some old tapes of W.F. Bell from days of old. I have placed a good one called Breaking Our Nehushtans on our Sermon Audio site. It is getting quite a bit of interest. To hear it, just scroll down in the left column of this page where sermons are featured; or click on the link for in the My Other Blogs column.
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus'' (Philippians 4:7).
"Die Religion ... ist das opium des Volkes!" This statement in German is by Karl Marx. Translated into English it reads as follows: "Religion is the opium of the People!" This is one of the most quoted statements ever made. Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto, one of the "ten books that shook the world." Being myself an anti-communist, I would disagree with much that Marx wrote. I have seen what communism has done to our Christian brothers and sisters in the
One of the greatest problems in the world is too much religion. There is the Buddhist religion — the Moslem, Shinto, Confucian, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, etc. In each of these there are sub-religions and cults. In Christendom alone there are the Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Pentecostal, etc... Then there are various state churches. Then there are cults such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormon, Unitarian, Christian Science, and many others — all corrupted forms of Christianity. Most of the world's people are religious.
Although I can agree with Marx regarding religion, let me hasten to say, I do not agree for the same reasons. He wanted to abolish all beliefs, good and bad, from the face of the earth. Communists are atheists and believe there is no god. When I say I am in agreement, I mean that Marx's statement correctly expresses the problem. Millions of people are drugged on religion.
Lenin also wanted to abolish all religion. He said, "Religion is a kind of spiritual gin in which slaves of capitalism drown their human shape and their claims to any decent human life.” (1) In examining why Lenin and Marx hated religion so much, I found that much of the reason focused on the Russian Orthodox Church and its great wealth. Also, its corruption, identification with the czar and high visibility in largely backward, czarist Russia made it easy for Marx and Lenin to blame religion for many things, and they hated all religion.
I am not advocating we emulate their hatred, but compare their statements with reality. We have to admit there is some truth in their statements, regardless of their motives. Religion and religious people have helped to get the world into its present mess as much as greedy politicians.
Before someone thinks I've gone off the deep end, I'm speaking of religion, not Bible Christianity. There is a difference! In Acts 17:22, Paul, speaking to those in
Before we self-righteously divorce our modern city situation from first century
Since he wrote these words in 1873, you can substitute your modern city and my own (
Religion is a drug. What we need is not "a religion." We need Jesus Christ, the living person. Not abstract words about Him, but Him. He lives and without Him we cannot live. "I give unto them eternal life" (John ). As A. W. Tozer has well said, "A religion, even popular Christianity, could enjoy a boom altogether divorced from the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and so leave the church of the next generation worse off than it would have been if the boom had never occurred. I believe the imperative need of the day is not simply revival, but a radical reformation that will go to the root of our moral and spiritual maladies and deal with causes rather than with consequences, with the disease rather than with symptoms"(4) (emphasis mine).
Yes, I know Marx meant to abolish the true with the false, the good with the bad. But true Christians in the
"We are not concerned with religions," says Aida. "There are many religions, some with difficult and complex rituals, some thought up by men. The Christian religion without the living Christ is powerless: such a religion does not save. It is dead and cannot enable a man to be born again. We are not religious people. We are Christians!"(5) (emphasis mine).
By contrast, Marx said, "But communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religions and all morality. Instead of constituting them on a new basis, it (communism) therefore acts in contradiction to all past, historical experience"(6) (emphasis mine).But, ironically, the system that claims to have abolished religion has one all its own. It is not only "slaves of capitalism" who are "drowning in spiritual gin." In the
David V. Benson has well said, "Communism is a religion, if by religion we mean a collective cult excites the adoration and motivates the actions of a people. If we disregard its atheism for a moment, communism has all the trappings of an organized religion: (1) its messiahs and saints — Marx, Engels and Lenin, with hosts of other figures who wax or wane in popularity as the ruling priests decide; (2) its sacred scriptures — the writings of these men; (3) a band of apostles and prophets — the communist party; (4) an elect nation — the Russian (or Chinese) people; (5) a sense of predestined authority — the immutable course of the dialectic working in history; (6) a millennial period of transition — socialism; (7) which leads to an endless state of bliss — pure communism; (8) redemption — through the sacrifice communists must make to free the working masses; (9) bondage — living under capitalism; (10) sin — rejecting communism; (11) conversion — becoming a communist; (12) and above all, faith — that complete trust one must have in the truth of communism's holy dogmas (numbering emphasis mine).
Benson continues "Only thus can the heartbeat of communism be understood. It is a religion, and as such its transgressions of logic and consistency, its narrow-minded prejudices, its violence and fanaticism are all essential parts of its makeup. For no man-made religion in all of history has ever been impregnated with a sense of a holy war of deliverance more than has communism."(7)
Jesus Christ? The communists call Him a mythical character, yet today in 2010; He is still worshipped by over sixty million evangelicals in Communist China! These worshippers are not the drugged ones. The drugged ones are those who worship the false ritualism of the state in any country. Even though there is no
Perhaps you, dear reader, only have a religion. You may be very devout. A. W. Tozer said, "Religious work can be done by natural men without the gifts of the Spirit, and it can be done well and skillfully. But work designed for eternity can only be done by the eternal Spirit. No work has eternity in it unless it is done by the Spirit through gifts He Himself implanted in the souls of redeemed men."(8)
If you are drugged on this opium of the people, if you are drunk on spiritual gin, I ask you to sober up. If you are a devotee of some religion or even if you consider yourself an atheist, I beg you to consider the words of Jesus Christ. He said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
(1) Lenin's Selected Works, XI (New York: International Publishers, 1943).
(2) Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives us two Greek words that are translated "religion." In the King James Bible the word "religion" is only used five times. Deisidaimonia primarily denotes fear of the gods. Threskeia signifies religion in its external aspect; religious worship, especially the ceremonial service of religion.
(3) William Arnot, Commentary on Acts (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978), p. 327.
(4) A. W. Tozer, Keys to the Deeper Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957), p. 12.
(5) Michael Bourdeaux, The Evidence that Convicted Aida Skripnikova, (Elgin, Illinois: David C. Cook, 1972), p. 60. A Letter from Aida, a booklet, may be ordered for $1.00 postpaid from Russian Bible Society,
(6) Karl Marx quoted by Cleon Skousen in The Naked Communist (Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishers, 1961), p. 92.
(7) David V. Benson, Christianity, Communism and Survival (Glendale, California: Regal Books, division of Gospel Light Publishers, 1967), p. 3.
(8) A. W. Tozer, op. cit., p. 40.