The contrast between Christianity and Communism has faded progressively during our lifetime. What’s more, this blurring of differences has occurred on all levels—religious and ethical as well as economic and political.
Many observers fear these disparities will now be moderated even more through the World Council’s admission of the Russian Orthodox Church. The weight of Soviet-sphere pressures in WCC policy was reflected variously at New Delhi. Bishop Hans Lilje, for example, was bypassed as a possible successor to Bishop Otto Dibelius as one of the organization’s presidents, pacifist-minded Martin Niemöller being more acceptable to ecumenically influential East German churchmen.
Developments on the Communist side, too, complicate and confuse the struggle. For one thing, more and more stress on “spiritual values” appears in Soviet propaganda. An essay on “Science and Social Progress” in the November, 1961, issue of USSR speaks of the “new communist society, a society of abundance of spiritual and material wealth for everyone.” A former Moscow correspondent of The New York Times, Harrison E. Salisbury, writes of an emerging tendency “within the most advanced echelon of Soviet science … to seek a nonmaterialist, spiritual concept of the universe,” that is, “a force or power … superior to any possessed by man” (The New York Times, Feb. 7, 1962), issue). Mr. Salisbury adds that some of the more eminent Soviet physicists, astronomers and mathematicians are involved in this movement which leans toward a faith “akin to that appearing among many of their Western scientific colleagues” although away from a formal faith or dogma. The Times correspondent then makes the amazing declaration: “They are no longer atheists” (italics supplied). ...1
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