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ANALYSIS Atheistic materialism: replacing religion?

EDITORS’ NOTE: This explanation of atheistic socialism as an emerging trend is not a political statement. Southern Baptist International Mission Board policy discourages its personnel from involvement in the politics of the countries where they relate and forbids their working in any way with intelligence agencies. IMB personnel relate to communist countries only to share the good news of Jesus Christ, which can make better citizens, a better country and a better social situation.

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Through the years, communism and socialism have worn as many faces as the leaders who have built totalitarian governments around them.
Theoretically, communism is an economic utopia, a stage past socialism. In socialism, leaders need to use a political structure as opposed to individual initiative to share work and wealth and create prosperity. Communism’s goal, however, is to be stateless and classless. Under communism, man’s desire for all to share the wealth should theoretically make it unnecessary for a state to provide for equal distribution of goods. With a ruling class eliminated, all will prosper. But to achieve their goal, communist leaders first must use the state’s authority to steal property they intend to redistribute, and maim and murder those who oppose them. The morals of God are an immediate threat to the progress of a state in which the end justifies the means. Communist and socialist leaders in many countries have diligently taught this godless doctrine to their children for more than 80 years, ingraining a blind adherence to this hopeless religion: — There is no god. To believe in God is to place value in an entity you esteem higher than the Communist Party or the chairman dictator. To preach Jesus Christ as holding a future for you is to acknowledge a power higher than the state exists. — The higher nature of man will lead him to create a perfect materialism in which no man rules another and everyone prospers. To believe perfection is found only outside this material world and that man is a sinner who needs grace from God is to disbelieve this key principle. — There is no eternal life: Get all you can get now. You’re accountable only to the state, whose leaders are accountable to no one. — There is no transgression against God, only against the state. But this secular religion proved false. The proletariat was captured by a dictatorship of communist leaders. Left with no basis for morals and ethics, communist leaders manufactured new guidelines, rewording the Ten Commandments. They told their people to be kind and good, and inform on their brothers, sisters, parents and friends for the good of the proletariat. Over time, people lost any hope for God’s justice and eternal life.
This century’s unfolding history has revealed the experiment of political and economic communism is a failure. Communism did not produce good will or prosperity. Man’s highest nature, at its best, was still depraved and murderous — sinful. And the fall of communism in East Europe came partially because the gap in economic progress between the East and West was becoming obvious to the East.
Still, the religious dimensions of communism persist. Where communism was once a political system of applied socialism, it now has become a religious system of atheistic materialism.
The good news is that Jesus died for the communist and the atheist. His followers should look at them not as enemies, but as a mission field. A Southern Baptist worker in Asia reminds Christians, “We have a gospel of love and light to share with those who have been deluded, blinded and stripped of their spiritual sensitivity.
“Before God, we cannot write off the communist countries and people, but must include them in our circle of sharing. They too must hear the gospel, and in hearing many, too, may come to believe.”