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.
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.
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.
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.