THE experience of the Underground Church in Communist Eastern Europe has a vital spiritual lesson for any British Christians brave enough to defy lockdown ideology.
One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist and believe that the lockdown is a planned Leftist coup to see that the socially Marxist establishment in Britain is in its ideological element. Reporting on the heavily policed anti-lockdown protest in Hyde Park on May 16, journalist James Delingpole interviewed a woman who grew up in Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1970s. She said she recognised the symptoms of Communism in lockdown Britain.
She said: ‘The situation is sending shivers up my spine. I have memories of being under Communism where you couldn’t exercise your freedom. There was no liberty of speech or of gathering. Seeing the police here . . . is really something that reminds me of a totalitarian regime.’
In Morecambe, where I live, Lancaster City Council has pinned signs with the lockdown slogans to the railings of the bay-front promenade. The signs include the UK Government and NHS logos. Is not the underlying message here that the State is now in charge of our lives?
One of the bay-front slogans even preaches ethics: ‘Consider other people.’ That is a thoroughly Christian ethic, but surely the duty of the State is to uphold liberty under the rule of the law rather than to preach morals? Britons used to believe that families and churches were God-appointed agents for passing on personal morality. Unlike the United States of America, which has a President who believes that churches are ‘essential services’ and has said he will overrule governors who refuse to allow places of worship to re-open, Britain seems to have no such champion in high political office.
The late Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001) was a Lutheran pastor in Communist Romania. From 1948 to 1956 and again from 1959 to 1964 he was imprisoned and tortured for distributing Gospels to Russian troops. He described his experiences in his brilliant and harrowing 1967 book Tortured for Christ.
He wrote: ‘The secret police persecuted the Underground Church very much, because they recognised in it the only effective resistance left. And just the kind of resistance, the spiritual resistance, which, if left unhindered, would undermine their atheistic power. They recognised, as only the devil can, an immediate threat to them. They knew if a man believed in Christ he would never be a mindless, willing subject. They knew they could imprison men, but they couldn’t imprison faith in God (emphasis his). And so they fought very hard.’
Interviewing him for a student newspaper in Cambridge in late 1984, I was privileged to meet Richard Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabine, who was also imprisoned and tortured.
Christianity, when practised authentically by the likes of the Wurmbrands, is the ultimate threat to lockdown ideology. Its belief that humanity’s brief mortal life is superseded in significance by the imminent reality of the next world threatens the utopianism of the ‘stay safe’ message.
Moreover, the voluntarist nature of Christianity, the fact that according to the New Testament it should be spread by loving persuasion rather than by coercion, is also a threat to Marxist, State-knows-best authoritarianism.
Like the licensed churches in Communist Eastern Europe, compliant British churches are no threat to totalitarianism. But courageous, counter-cultural Christianity is.
Is there any of that left in post-Christian Britain? If so, the lesson of the Underground Church under the Communists is that its practitioners should expect a hard time under the ‘new normal’ of lockdown ideology.