Live Not by Lies: a Word to Pastors and Laypeople

Should the church prepare for a totalitarian regime?

There always is this fallacious belief: “It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.” Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

The above quote heads up the introduction to Rod Dreher’s book, Live Not by Lies: a Manual for Christian Dissidents.Dreher draws comparisons between the onset of the totalitarian regimes of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union in the early Twentieth Century.  He then correlates those conditions to the current conditions we find here in the United States. 

He goes on to explain how the church in Germany and Russia failed to prepare and guide their parishioners.  Instead they allowed themselves to be co-opted and used by totalitarian governments.  Waking up too late, tens of thousands of Christians were arrested, tortured and executed in those countries.

In contrast, Dreher explains how one prescient Catholic Jesuit priest fled the Gestapo in 1943 and settled in Czechoslovakia.  There he warned Catholic Christians of what was to take place when one form of totalitarianism defeated another.  He foresaw that the Soviets would rule the Czechs through a Soviet puppet government.  The priest began to prepare the Catholics to get ready for the coming persecution.  That priest was Father Kolakovic.

He began to organize Family groups comprised of people from various walks of life.  They studied the Bible and prayed.  Kolakovic began to lecture on philosophy, sociology and intellectual topics.  He trained young followers how to work in secret and withstand the interrogations that were sure to come.  These Family groups spread out across their nation.

Kolakovic was eventually deported from Czechoslovakia, but he had already done his work.  Two years later, the Communists seized power and brutalized and arrested Christians, including Family group members.  When the latter emerged from prison they followed what Kolakovic had trained them to do.  They set up a network of underground churches. In this way, their faith and the church survived Soviet rule.

The Church Victorious

Underground churches were formed in other Soviet-bloc countries, including Poland and Romania.  In Poland, Christian families secretly taught their children what it was to be Christians and Polish patriots.  They paid a high price for their convictions. 

The same situation took place in Romania, and that story is related to us in Richard Wurmbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ; also available at Kindle for a very small price. As I mentioned, these Christians paid a high price for their liberty to teach the truth.  Amazingly, many commentators believe that it is the church that finally took down the communist governments in these countries. You can listen to Dreher as he speaks at Pepperdine School of Public Policy.

Here is another place to listen to Rod Dreher.

Dreher gives us suggestions for how we might prepare to live in a soft totalitarian government. His work is especially important to us now. Mattias Desmet (The Psychology of Totalitarianism) believes that one of the prerequisites to totalitarian governments is a mechanistic view of humanity, based on the belief that humans are a type of machine, or that nothing exists outside of the material world.  Those of us who understand the Imago Dei (Image of God) know quite differently.  You can read more about Desmet’s work in my last article, North Idaho and the Hazards of Thinking in the Information Age.

Special Offer to Pastors in Boundary County: the Work has already been Done

An entire series of videos and outlines for a study/teaching group centered around this book has been prepared for Pastors and leaders by Reformed Apologetics on YouTube. If any Pastor in Boundary County, Idaho is interested in reading Dreher’s book, Live not by Lies, I will purchase one copy of the book and have it mailed to an address of your choosing. Just let me know. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy looking over the Reformed Apologetics video series and listening to Dreher’s keynote speech at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy.

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