100 Years of Communism—and 100 Million Dead

The above headline appeared in the Wall Street Journal this week. Oddly enough last week we celebrated 5 centuries ago when Martin Luther’s 95 theses began the Protestant Reformation which emancipated individuals from the control of the Catholic Church. This releasing of individual freedom, led to the application of Biblical capitalism, which has elevated so many out of poverty. But this week, one century ago modern communism was founded with the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Was this good or bad? The article subtitle gives us a hint by stating, “The Bolshevik plague that began in Russia was the greatest catastrophe in human history.” 

The article continues…Armed Bolsheviks seized the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg—100 years ago this week and arrested ministers of Russia’s provisional government. They set in motion a chain of events that would kill millions and inflict a near-fatal wound on Western civilization. The revolutionaries’ capture of train stations, post offices and telegraphs took place as the city slept and resembled a changing of the guard. But when residents of the Russian capital awoke, they found they were living in a different universe.

Although the Bolsheviks called for the abolition of private property, their real goal was spiritual: to translate Marxist-Leninist ideology into reality. For the first time, a state was created that was based explicitly on atheism and claimed infallibility. This was totally incompatible with Western civilization, which presumes the existence of a higher power over and above society and the state. The Bolshevik coup degraded the individual and turned them into a cog in the machinery of the state. Communists committed murder on such a scale as to all but eliminate the value of life and to destroy the individual conscience in survivors.

Such convictions set the stage for decades of murder on an industrial scale. In total, no fewer than 20 million Soviet citizens were put to death by the regime or died as a direct result of its repressive policies. This does not include the millions who died in the wars, epidemics and famines that were predictable consequences of Bolshevik policies, if not directly caused by them. The victims include 200,000 killed during the Red Terror (1918-22); 11 million dead from famine and dekulakization; 700,000 executed during the Great Terror (1937-38); 400,000 more executed between 1929 and 1953; 1.6 million dead during forced population transfers; and a minimum 2.7 million dead in the Gulag, labor colonies and special settlements.

If we add to this list the deaths caused by communist regimes that the Soviet Union created and supported—including those in Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia—the total number of victims is closer to 100 million. That makes communism the greatest catastrophe in human history.

The assumption was that communism, a socialist system of forced collective ownership, was virtuous in itself. When the killing became too obvious to deny, Western intellectual sympathizers excused what was happening because of the Soviets’ supposed noble intentions. Their reasoning was simple: Capitalism was unjust; socialism would end this injustice; so socialism had to be supported unconditionally, notwithstanding any amount of its own injustice.

As I have stated in these blogs capitalism is not perfect, but the principles are Biblical and lead people to experience God’s blessing and lift them out of poverty. Yes…there is a danger of greed tainting these Biblical principles, but the alternatives of socialism and communism continue to demonstrate failure both morally and economically (Venezuela and Cuba).

I would not take the time to write about the failure of socialism and communism, as it seems to be obvious to all who lived through their failure; however I continue to observe the millennial generation flirting with these economic systems. Likely this is because of the influence of socialist university intellectuals and also the fact that they did not live through this onerous time of world history to observe it.

 

Source: 100 Years of Communism—and 100 Million Dead. The Bolshevik plague that began in Russia was the greatest catastrophe in human history. Satter. D. Wall Street Journal. November 7, 2017. Mr. Satter is the author of “Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union” (Yale).

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If Martin Luther Only Knew

Five centuries ago this week, Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation by couragously  hammering his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, an article appeared speaking of this historic event and its effects on the world. The title of the article, What 500 Years of Protestantism Teaches Us About Capitalism’s Future, indicates it is focusing on more than spiritual issues. Luther himself merely wanted to grow closer to God, but in doing so he released the power of individuals fueled by freedom.

The article spoke about how the Protestant Reformation led to an increase of individual freedom. Martin Luther mattered because of his huge cultural impact of confronting and challenging the Catholic Church’s iron grip (control) on society. It is said that Luther ushered in what is called the “the age of the individual,” and thus Luther laid the groundwork for capitalism, which is built around individual freedoms.

Freedom is one of Adam Smith’s three pillars of capitalism found is his book The Wealth of Nations. We don’t want to enslave others or control them, rather we want to help all mankind be free and at liberty. We want the gifts and talents God has given us to be used for His glory and the benefit of others. The Biblical principles of capitalism generally embrace individual freedom of choice and individual responsibility.

Capitalism should help us to embrace Jesus command to love our neighbor as ourselves. We love our neighbor so we seek to make a product or provide a service that will enhance people’s lives. Since we care about our neighbor we do not want to make an inferior product that we ourselves would not be delighted to use. Since we care about others we do not want to abuse them as employees. We don’t want to steal from others because we want to be a blessing to them.

Certainly Martin Luther could not have imagined the full spiritual and economic impact of his 95 theses that has resounded down through these centuries.

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More Than Just Hard Work

I had the opportunity to see some of you at the Kingdom Business Association gathering last week in Charlotte, South Carolina. My topic was He Gives Us the Ability to Produce Wealth. This title comes from Deuteronomy 8:18 which states. But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability (power) to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” Let’s break that down for a moment.

The “ability to produce wealth” seems to speak of something more than just hard work. Here are a couple of reasons why: One, I think we all know of people that work really hard and are not wealthy. Also, verse 17 speaks a warning so that we don’t “say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’” So in light of this we understand this ability to produce wealth is more of a Biblical revelation and maybe away of thinking than it is only a strong work ethic.

So what was the covenant with your ancestors spoken of here? At the time of the writing of this scripture, these ancestors were of course Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As I have written in these blogs, it was God that introduced himself to these early Hebrews as El Shaddaithe God of more than enough… and this was the covenant spoken of here in Deuteronomy. But as I have said, there is a social side of this as well that goes with these scriptures about experiencing God’s abundance. God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 is that he would be “blessed to be a blessing.”

Wealth created in a free society like the Bible teaches does not stay with a few powerful kings, nobles, lords or dukes. Instead it expands to touch all within reach and all are lifted. This was true for Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Jesus, the good Samaritan and we hope it is true for us too.

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What a Devil Art Thou, Poverty!

Last week one of the DOVE Canada pastors, Lynn Ironside, led a prayer and intercession team to the nation of Columbia. It is a country that is filled with abject poverty and this was one of the issues the prayer team was led to address in prayer. Here is Lynn’s post in which she quotes Walt Whitman on poverty…

“I do not know how to express what I experienced today as we took a gondola up to the top of the mountain in Medellin. Perhaps Walt Whitman’s quote is worth sharing … “What a devil art thou, Poverty! How many desires – how many aspirations after goodness and truth – how many noble thoughts, loving wishes toward our fellows, beautiful imaginings thou hast crushed under thy heel, without remorse or pause!”

And so today we did what may, to some seem trivial when you consider the desperate need, but which I believe to be of great worth – we prayed for the poor of Medellin. Thankfully there has been some improvements in these remote communities on the hillsides overlooking the city but there is still so much to be done. If you would – please join us in praying that Colombia would rise up and take a stand to end the horrors of children being sold or lured into the sex trade.” 

Columbia is a Catholic nation so why is it so poor? The answer is found in what has been taught by the Catholic Church. I noticed many years ago on my many trips to Brazil that these nations with catholic influence had no middle class. It was only the rich and the poor. How did this happen? In a recent conversation with a South American immigrant who is now a pastor in Florida, I ask him why? His answer confirmed my suspicion.

Quite simply the Catholic Church taught that it was more spiritual to be poor. So the Catholics stayed poor. In his book Find Your Promised Land, Korean businessman Israel Kim targets this incorrect thinking taught by the Catholic Church.

One of the lies taught about resources is that holy people should be poor. This concept of poverty and piety was developed during the Dark Ages by monastic orders of Catholic monks who were reacting to the audacious wealth, greed and corruption of the Roman Church. In those circumstances it may have seemed right, but in truth it is a curse that has kept many talented and anointed people from fulfilling their God-given destiny. The idea that poverty is a sign of humility and devotion to the Lord is simply false. If it were true the poor within the “10-40 Window” would have no need for evangelization.

Many Christians will say God is good, but because they have always struggled financially, they have developed a mindset that God is stingy and is holding back blessings. There are two sides of this coin. We must be convinced that poverty and lack is a curse and we must be convinced that God is a loving, abundant provider.

 

Source

Kim, Israel. Find your promised land : getting through your wilderness, (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2009).

 

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Caring For The Needy

The Biblical principles of capitalism must be blended with social values to present a thorough safeguard from greed and other excesses prevalent in capitalism. Jesus spoke clearly of the need to care for the less fortunate. Right after the parable of the talents, which teaches capitalistic concepts, Jesus described the end of time when the sheep will be separated from the goats according to judgment based on how well we care for the needy. Let’s read it.

 The King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matt. 25:34-36,40

We find a similar theme in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke16: 19-31). The rich man who smugly lived a life of luxury without helping the poor, is compared to Lazarus, who was longing to eat the crumbs off his table. After the two died the rich man was sent to a place of torment and Lazarus to a place of blessings. Clearly Jesus was teaching that we should use what we have to help others. Jesus also modeled this as well by directing his ministry to the needy. Harold Eberle states it like this:

Jesus associated with the downtrodden and lowly. He revealed the heart of God and established a pattern by which all Christians should live. It is also important to note the blessings associated with helping the poor. Not only in the next life, but God has promised to bless in this life those who care for the needy.

That is practical. That is Biblical. That is Christian.

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No More Living for the Week-end

As we previously discussed, in the Old Testament God helped to break the tribal, cyclical Hebrew thinking by having Moses develop a written linear record of their history. Very few other cultures had any written record at this time. From this record the people could see the progression and growth of their society and themselves as individuals. To build on this God gave them promises for their future. He promised His Kingdom would take over the entire earth and last forever.

As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces…But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.           Dan. 2:34-35, 44

Thus God’s people developed a consciousness of their past and future. They thought of time as linear with the world moving forward. They were able to plan for the future. Living for the moment or the week-end was no longer a viable option. This affected every area of their lives, including their finances. They made long term decisions because they could depend on His promises. They learned the value of an inheritance to future generations in many different ways. They learned the value of being frugal and saving for the future.

Jesus taught this same theme in the New Testament in His parables. He reaffirmed the Jewish concept of linear time and progress. He taught this about His kingdom in the parable of the mustard seed and the yeast. He told us that his kingdom was like the mustard seed that would grow anywhere—that it was like yeast that takes over the entire loaf of bread—that His kingdom would grow and grow and take over the entire world (Matt. 13, Luke 13). He also taught us in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6) that His kingdom would come and that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. We are taught that the future is secure and that we can invest and build His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Let’s do it.

Source:

Economics 101- What is God’s plan?; Dr. Art Mathias; Wellspring Ministries, 2016

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To Prosper…Work Hard and be Honest

It seems so simple. How can something so simple be so profound, and so ignored? In the Monday edition of the Wall Street Journal appeared an article entitled – Bring Back the Work Ethic. It is an interview with Bob Funk, who is CEO and founder of Express Employment Professionals, one of the nation’s largest job agencies. Since he started the firm in 1983, he has helped 6.5 million people find jobs. So he is a bit of an expert.

“So many people do not realize how important the soft skills are to unlocking job opportunity,” he says. He shares a small brochure his company puts out summarizing a recent survey of employers. In order, the survey found the top five traits employers look for are as follows:

  • Attitude
  • Work ethic/integrity
  • Communication
  • Culture fit (teamwork)
  • Critical thinking

Four out of the top five have to do with character, godly character. Only critical thinking would be considered outside this area. Drugs are a huge character problem today as well, with many would-be employees putting themselves out of the running when they fail drug tests. Some are happy pot is legalized in various US states, but they don’t realize how it affects their ability to get a job. In the US, a certified truck driver can start at $55,000 to $60,000 a year, for example, but no one’s going to hire you if you do drugs.

If all this sounds old-fashioned, it is—and Mr. Funk isn’t ashamed of it. Where does Mr. Funk get these radical ideas? They are from the Bible. He is a Christian with a degree in theology among his various degrees. So in Matthew 7:12 when Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”, I guess we could say that means, “work for others as you would have others work for you.”

So many people, Funk says, are unfamiliar with the fundamentals of work, from knowing how to dress and showing up on time to taking direction from a boss. At a time when employers are complaining they can’t find the people they need, Mr. Funk says being honest and having the right attitude will help you stand out from the pack.

Nor does Mr. Funk look down his nose at so-called McJobs: “Those low-paying, entry-level jobs,” he says, “are good training for the soft skills you need for upward mobility.” It is far better than falling into the socialist trap in which people end up losing their appetite for work because they become too comfortable with government benefits meant to be temporary.

Mr. Funk generally starts people out as temporary employees, but points out that 62% of the “temporary” workers he places end up being hired to stay on full-time. “Try before you buy,” he calls it—and says that goes for the worker too! “It’s the greatest feeling in the world to help someone who wants to work find a good job,” he says. “I’ve helped a lot of people find jobs in my life,” he says. “And I’ve learned that if you are honest, have a strong work ethic, and stay off drugs, there’s a great future for you out there.”

Source:

McGurn W. Sept. 4, 2017, Bring Back the Work Ethic- ‘There’s a person for every job and a job for every person,’ says Bob Funk., wsj.com

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