From “On the Law of God,” by Metropolitan Philaret (Voskresensky). Translated by Hieromonk Varlaam Novakshonoff.
Let us now examine the question of the relationship of Christianity with Communism more precisely, to that particular form of communism which has now appeared as an attempt to realize the ideas of socialism. This form of communism emerged in history as a sworn and bitter enemy of Christianity.
For its part, Christianity recognizes it as completely alien and inimical with itself.
The history of the Church in apostolic times reveals that, in those times, it had its own Christian communism and the faithful held everything common, as the Acts of the Apostles says. Even now, this Christian communism exists in the form of Koenobitic monasticism. Both the concept and reality of communal property is a bright, idealistically elevated type of Christian inter-relationship, examples of which have always existed in the Orthodox Church.
How great is the difference between such Christian communism and Soviet communism! One is as far from the other as the heavens are from the earth. Christian communism is not an independent self-motivated goal to which Christianity might strive. Rather, it is an inheritance bred of that spirit of love by which the Church has breathed from the first. Moreover, Christian communism is totally voluntary. No one says, “Give us what is yours, it belongs to us,” rather, Christians themselves sacrificed so that
“none of them considered any of their possessions to be their own.”
The communalism of property in Soviet communism is a self-motivated goal which must be attained no matter what the consequences and regardless of any considerations. The builders of this type of communism are attaining it by purely violent means, not balking at any measure, even the slaughter of all those who do not agree… The bases of this communism are not freedom, as in Christian communism, but force; not sacrificial love, but envy and hatred.
In its struggle against religion, Soviet communism goes to such excesses that it excludes even that most elementary justice which is recognized by everyone. In its class ideology, Soviet communism tramples on all justice. The object of its work is not the common weal of all the citizens of the state, but only the interests of a single class. All the remaining state and social groupings of citizens are “thrown overboard,” outside the care and protection of the communist government. The ruling class has no concern for them.
In speaking of its new order, its “free” state, communism constantly promises a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” It became clear a long time ago, however, that there is no sign of this promised dictatorship of the proletariat, but instead, there is a bureaucratic dictatorship over the proletariat. Moreover, there is no manifestation of ordinary political freedom under this system: neither freedom of the press, nor freedom to assemble, nor the inviolability of the home. Only those who have lived in the Soviet Union know the heaviness and intensity of the oppression which reigns there. Over all this, there reigns a political terror such as has never before been experienced: executions and murders, exiles and imprisonment in unbelievably harsh conditions. This is what communism has given to the Russian people instead of the promised freedom.
In its political propaganda, communism claims that it is attaining the realization of freedom, equality (i.e., justice) and brotherhood. We have already spoken of the first and second. The idea of “brotherhood” was borrowed from the Christians who call each other “brother.” Apostle Peter said, “Honor everyone, love the brotherhood” (1 Pt. 2:17). In practice, communism exchanged the word “brother” for the word “comrade.” This is very indicative, since comrades can be co-participants (but not brethren) in any activity, but one cannot really speak of “brotherhood” anyway, there where class struggle, envy and hatred are preached.
All these cited differences between Christianity and communism do not yet exhaust even the very essence of the contradiction between them. The fundamental difference between communism and Christianity lies deeper still, in the religious ideology of both. No wonder, then, that the communists struggle so maliciously and stubbornly against our faith.
Communism is supposedly an atheistic system which renounces all religion. In actual fact, it is a religion – a fanatical, dark and intolerant religion. Christianity is a religion of heaven; communism, a religion of earth. Christianity preaches love for everyone; communism preaches class hatred and warfare and is based on egoism. Christianity is a religion of idealism, founded on the faith of the victory of God’s truth and love. Communism is a religion of dry, rational pragmatism, pursuing the goal of creating an earthly paradise (a paradise of animalistic satiety and spiritual reprobation). It is significant that, while a cross is put on a Christian’s grave, the grave of a communist is marked by a red stake. How indicative and symbolic for both. With the one – faith in the victory of life over death and good over evil. With the other – ignorant darkness, gloom and emptiness, without joy, comfort or hope for the future.
While the sacred relics of the holy ascetics of Christ’s faith blossom with incorruptibility and fragrance, the rotting corpse of the often-embalmed Lenin is the best symbol of communism.