Saving Dmitri: The Soviet spectre at work
Lately, it has become easier to see the moral future of the West. Unfortunately, it does not seem so hopeful as it was when my grandfather was 20. He lived in a country that knew little of padlocks and alarm systems. Confusion was simply cured by curiosity, and differences were concluded by conversation. Maybe he was ill-informed and well unaware of what really went on in the West, or maybe he lived in a different moral age than I do.
On the other side of the world, Dmitri, a Soviet priest, was frequently reminded that he lived in an unforgiving land. The full power of the law was shown to him on several occasions, as he was jailed, sent to work camps and stalked by the KGB for preaching the gospel and speaking against Soviet totalitarianism. Eventually, Dmitri’s refusal to praise Stalin alone landed him on Soviet television. There, he was forced to renounce his faith and command the Christians of the land to follow suit. He was only following orders, orders that my grandfather would never hear in the refuge of the West.
Now, as both my grandfather and Dmitri have passed, we young people must establish what the morals in our neck of the world will be. Systems established are never systems in stone, and morals that no one upholds are not morals. The decision is on us 20-somethings to deliberate and debate what carpet we roll out for our generations to come. And in my view, the leaders that we elect with votes, likes, views, dollars and time must be those who submit themselves entirely to Christ’s authority.
Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.” According to Reagan, the bleak world from which Dmitri’s story comes lies near. In fact, it is, perhaps, in progress. The chains of law that westerners have remarkably been free from for centuries do not come all at once, but they come silently through tinted windows and steamed glasses. When vision is obscured, sometimes chains look like freedom, and sometimes bad looks like good. And in my moral age, goodness has become so perverted that any sense of perversion at all has worn off.
It is this way that Hitler was able to win over church leaders, people of faith to join the Nazi party. The Holocaust Encyclopedia contends that the Nazi party was effective at drawing in Christians by misinterpreted scripture and by identifying itself with the underlying biases and beliefs of the typical German Christian. And in this way, Satan shows his character as a deceiver. With subtle steps toward evil, Satan urges Christ followers to collapse at the feet of their fleshly desires, and eventually serve him with an appetite for evil, or simply, an apathy for virtue.
Societies that have been ransacked by evil regimes such as the Nazis rarely pose as evil, but rather, masquerade as virtuous unifiers. They do this wisely, as all people understand that something is wrong with their situation, and they seek an answer. If a culture finds no answer in God, its people will soon rely on one of their own to hail as “champion of peace.” By allowing God to work through his children, we can delight in the unity of Christ, blessing the nations in the will of his way.
In my place and time, however, the totalitarianism that Dmitri crumbled to is approaching very quickly. It can be sensed simply by the fact that my dictionary has 10,000 words in it, and I am only allowed to use 9,000. My grandfather knew less words than I do, and yet, all of them were his to use. But no words of mine can quell the rising threats of bondage or sustain a long-lasting union of liberty. My words themselves are not living words; those words manifest themselves when I speak the words of the Bible. Outside of its law, there will be no response for when one demands worship from the people of my land.
When Dmitri was ultimately tested, he elected to defend his flesh rather than the God he had supposedly devoted his life to. As our western comfort comes to a close, it is time for believers to prepare ourselves to meet God’s tests faithfully, as he did not fight those who nailed him to the cross. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
Kilker is the opinion editor for the Liberty Champion