Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Live Not By Lies

           I recently read a very insightful book that explains some of the dangers in the current chaos going on in our American culture. Historically, there are few people who take these sorts of warnings seriously, but I pray if you are reading this you may be one of the few.

            The book is called Live Not By Lies by Rod Dreher. Over the last few years, the author has interviewed many older people living in the US who had fled from other countries for their lives and freedoms. Story after story reveals real-life testimonials of the similarities between circumstances in America today with the ways in which totalitarianism took root in their native country. If you care about your family, freedoms, and God-given liberties, there is no time to waste in becoming more aware and taking appropriate action to resist the tyranny being thrust upon us.

             I’ll simply quote the author and let him explain. Part of the Introduction reads,


What is happening here? A progressive—and profoundly anti- Christian militancy—is steadily overtaking society; one described by Pope Benedict XVI as a “worldwide dictatorship of seemingly humanistic ideologies” that pushes dissenters to society’s margins. Benedict called this a manifestation of “the spiritual power of the Antichrist.”2 This spiritual power takes material form in government and private institutions, in corporations, in academia and media, and in the changing practices of everyday American life. It is empowered by unprecedented technological capabilities to sur- veil private life. There is virtually nowhere left to hide.

The old, hard totalitarianism had a vision for the world that required the eradication of Christianity. The new, soft totalitarianism does too, and we are not equipped to resist its sneakier attack.

As we know, communism was militantly atheistic and declared religion to be its mortal enemy. The Soviets and their European allies murdered clergy and cast an uncounted number of believers, both ordained and lay, into prisons and work camps, where many suffered torture.

Today? The Western world has become post-Christian, with large numbers of those born after 1980 rejecting religious faith. This means that they will not only oppose Christians when we stand up for our principles—in particular, in defense of the traditional family, of male and female gender roles, and of the sanctity of human life—but also they will not even understand why they should tolerate dissent based in religious belief.

We cannot hope to resist the coming soft totalitarianism if we do not have our spiritual lives in order. This is the message of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the great anti-communist dissident, Nobel laureate, and Orthodox Christian. He believed the core of the crisis that created and sustained communism was not political but spiritual.

After the publication of his Gulag Archipelago exposed the rottenness of Soviet totalitarianism and made Solzhenitsyn a global hero, Moscow finally expelled him to the West. On the eve of his forced exile, Solzhenitsyn published a final message to the Russian people, titled “Live Not by Lies!” In the essay, Solzhenitsyn challenged the claim that the totalitarian system was so powerful that the ordinary man and woman cannot change it.

Nonsense, he said. The foundation of totalitarianism is an ideology made of lies. The system depends for its existence on a people’s fear of challenging the lies. Said the writer, “Our way must be: Never knowingly support lies!”3 You may not have the strength to stand up in public and say what you really believe, but you can at least refuse to affirm what you do not believe. You may not be able to overthrow totalitarianism, but you can find within yourself and your community the means to live in the dignity of truth. If we must live under the dictatorship of lies, the writer said, then our response must be: “Let their rule hold not through me\”

What does it mean for us today to live not by lies? That is the question this book explores through interviews with and testaments left by Christians (and others) from throughout the Soviet Bloc who lived through totalitarianism, and who share the wisdom they gained through hard experience.

Part one of this book makes the case that despite its superficial permissiveness, liberal democracy is degenerating into something resembling the totalitarianism over which it triumphed in the Cold War. It explores the sources of totalitarianism, revealing the troubling parallels between contemporary society and the ones that gave birth to twentieth-century totalitarianism. It will also examine two particular factors that define the rising soft totalitarianism: the ideology of “social justice,” which dominates academia and other major institutions, and surveillance technology, which has become ubiquitous not from government decree but through the persuasiveness of consumer capitalism. This section ends with a look at the key role intellectuals played in the Bolshevik Revolution and why we cannot afford to laugh off the ideological excesses of our own politically correct intelligentsia.

Part two examines in greater detail forms, methods, and sources of resistance to soft totalitarianism’s lies. Why is religion and the hope it gives at the core of effective resistance? What does the willingness to suffer have to do with living in truth? Why is the family the most important cell of opposition? How does faithful fellowship provide resilience in the face of persecution? How can we learn to recognize totalitarianism’s false messaging and fight its deceit?

How did these oppressed believers get through it? How did they protect themselves and their families? How did they keep their faith, their integrity, even their sanity? Why are they so anxious about the West’s future? Are we capable of hearing them, or will we continue to rest easy in the delusion that it can’t happen here?


            I know many Christians who would explain this away by saying something like, “God is in charge. If he wants America to survive, he will see to it. Meanwhile, I’m called to ‘mind my own business’ and do the best I can with whatever comes my way.” In my opinion, this is a “cop out” and a lie!

            The worst thing about a lie is that there is always some truth in every lie. Of course, God is in charge! Of course, he can make anything happen! Of course, we are not to meddle in others’ affairs, and God delights in our best performance. But as in most lies, it is the omission of truth that makes it a lie. The truth is, throughout history (all through the Bible) God has used people to accomplish his purposes. His plans include his peoples’ cooperation. God’s work is done through his people. We are his people. His work is our work. His business is our business. And God calls us not to tolerate indifferent (see Philippians 2:2). He calls us to resist whatever comes our way that is from the enemy (and doesn’t honor the God we serve (see James 1:7-9). Jesus calls us to be “salt” and “light” (see Matthew 5:13-16). Salt is an active preserving agent. Light dispels darkness.

         Yes, there are some times when silence is appropriate, but those times are rare. As the martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated in Nazi Germany, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

         We must know the truth, believe the truth, cherish the truth, live the truth, and expose lies that do not line up with the Truth.  And Live Not By Lies!

            God is our Refuge and strength.  Psalm 46 blessings!

 by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry