The Challenge Of Persecution

Patriarch and Prophets: Persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church Today, by Michael Bourdeaux (Praeger, 1970, 359 pp., $10), and The Urgency of Marxist Christian Dialogue, by Herbert Aptheker (Harper & Row, 1970, 196 pp., $6.95), are reviewed by Blahoslav Hruby, managing editor, “Religion in Communist Dominated Areas,” New York City.

A matter that should be of great concern to Christians in this country is the plight of religious and political dissenters and of Jews and ethnic minorities in the U.S.S.R and other Communist countries, and the violation of human rights there. Nobody can excuse himself by saying that information on this subject is lacking: several works published in recent years deal in detail with these problems, and Religion in Communist Dominated Areas, a semi-monthly of the National Council of Churches, has been covering this area for the past nine years.

Michael Bourdeaux is a clergyman of the Church of England and the author of two previous books on religion in the Soviet Union. He has now produced yet another timely and important volume.

In some church circles, there is a tendency to be very cautious in dealing with the religious situation in Communist countries. This is said to reflect a desire to work toward a dialogue between East and West and toward a detente. In these circles, it seems, the theology of revolution and Christian dialogue with Marxists are cultivated, while protest—or even prayers—on behalf of harassed and persecuted Christians in the Soviet Union are discouraged.

Bourdeaux’s new book is an urgent reminder to the Christian community and to all who are concerned about freedom and human rights. Its great value is that Bourdeaux, instead of describing the plight ...

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