Marxist Theology and Atheism in the Former Soviet Union

QUESTION: Marxist Theology – Atheism in the Former Soviet Union

ANSWER:

Marxist theology has remained consistent throughout the history of communism. From Marx’s time to the present, communists everywhere have vehemently denied the existence of God. This becomes especially obvious when one considers the theological stance of the former U.S.S.R. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, published in Moscow in 1950, called on the Communist Party to oppose religion and “to fight for the ‘full victory’ of atheism.”1 The Young Communist League’s list of Ten Commandments contains the declaration “If you are not a convinced atheist, you cannot be a good Communist....Atheism is indissolubly bound to Communism.”1

Marxist Theology – The Opium of Religion
In 1955, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev said, “Communism has not changed its attitude of opposition to religion. We are doing everything we can to eliminate the bewitching power of the opium of religion.”3

The Atheist’s Handbook was published in Moscow in 1959 in conjunction with Khrushchev’s campaign to eliminate the remaining traces of religion in the U.S.S.R. This text attacks the Bible, the Qur’an, Christianity, and Islam. “Science,” says the Handbook, “has long since established that Jesus Christ never existed, that the figure of the alleged founder of Christianity is purely mythical.”4 And according to the Handbook, the Apostle Paul, too, turns out to be “a mythical figure.”5

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (Moscow, USSR: 1950), quoted in Bales, Communism, 37.
2 Young Communist League’s “Ten Commandments of Communism,” quoted in Bales, Communism, 37.
3 Nikita Khrushchev, speech, September 22, 1955, quoted in Bales, Communism, 165–6.
4 The Atheist’s Handbook, [Sputnik Ateista], (Moscow, USSR: Gos. Izd. Politicheskoi Literatury, 1961), reproduced in English by U.S. Joint Publications Research Service (Washington, DC), 117.
5 Ibid., 69.

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