Richard Wurmbrand’s Marx and Satan: The most relevant book you can read this year

(Here’s an English version of the Foreword I wrote for our new Korean language edition of Rev. Wurmbrand’s book Marx and Satan, to be released in a few weeks. You can find an English language edition of the book here–minus my Foreword, of course.)

What do Marx and Satan have in common?

Some might answer that the commonality is that no one believes in either one anymore, that they are both personages whom the world has outgrown and left behind.

Yet more than one billion people live in countries which continue to officially espouse Marxism, with the largest of those countries, China, emphatically committed to it. The two hundredth anniversary of Marx’s birth in 2018 was marked by supportive popular and scholarly appraisals of his work. A new film portraying Marx’s early years received enthusiastic response worldwide. Even a giant new 4.5-meter tall bronze statue of Marx was erected in the town of his birth—a two-hundredth birthday gift from China.

But Marx’s deepest and most lasting impact may not be on the countries that continue to adhere to his ideology but rather on the countries that opposed it. For in the countries that opposed Marxism—the countries of the so-called “free world”—the cost of overcoming Marxism was that they came to have such faith in their own contrasting system of economics and political rights that they ended up adopting Marx’s central tenet: That human beings no longer need God.

Herein lay the commonality between Marx and Satan and the nature of their shared work–not in the economic system of communism, not in the political system of totalitarianism, not on behalf of one side of the Cold War, but instead in the advocacy of the promise that ultimately captivated the nations on both sides of the Iron Curtain and that holds sway around the world today: You shall be as gods.

Today, statistics show the nations of both sides of the former Iron Curtain to be about equally forgetful of God. Atheism has firmly taken root in all political and economic systems. In fact, what either is or soon will be the largest Christian nation in the world is an officially Marxist nation: China. Lest this suggest that Marxism is somehow compatible with Christianity, it is worth noting that the Chinese church is presently engaged in one of the worst waves of persecution in history as the Communist Party of China seeks to remake Christianity in its own image. Marxism is still not compatible with Christianity, and it is no longer afraid of it. It has seen much of the church around the world brought to heel in our day by Marx’s materialism, and it is more than happy to repeat to the church in China Satan’s standing offer, “All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.”

This is what makes Marx and Satan more relevant today than when it was first published in 1976: In the light of history it is more apparent than ever than Marx and Satan were double agents in the Cold War. Through their partnership which Rev. Wurmbrand details in the book, they ensured that their real work—the work of presenting a world without God as achievable, reasonable, and inevitable—would triumph regardless of which political and economic system actually won. In this way, God imprisoned all—communist and capitalist alike—in disobedience, so that he might have mercy on us all.

But that mercy can only come to us when, as we read this book, we confess, “The times that have now befallen us have come because we—in the West and in the East, in the Communist world as well as the capitalist one—have forgotten God.” As Rev. Wurmbrand would no doubt note were he writing a Foreword for the book today, it was not free market economics that saved us from Marx and Satan, nor was it liberal democracy, nor military strength. It was God.

And it is God who must save us once again from Marx and Satan. We need to read and re-read Pastor Wurmbrand’s book until it is clear to us how deep a partnership these two personages have had. This is not Cold War history. It is about a battle that remains to be fought. Perhaps many will say that no one believes in Marx or Satan anymore. But that likely troubles neither one, since they have always done their main work underground.

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The Five Zones of Persecution

The Five Zones of Persecution

The Bible does not portray persecution as a product of particular political systems the way we are prone to today. Such a portrayal leads us to think of persecuted Christians as beleaguered minorities peacefully minding their own business and beliefs, whispering worship songs and Bible verses under blankets while candlelight illumines their angelic faces; meanwhile, snarling secret police officers let the dogs out in hot pursuit. Such minorities need protection, pity, and money, we reason, and we tell our own governments so.

Instead, the Bible portrays persecution as a turf war where idols and their devotees, with violence rooted in well-reasoned fear of utter loss, defend their hard-won territory and assert their rights of soul control over those they’ve cowed into submission. Biblically, it is the Christians who are on the offensive; the idols and their subjects are the ones engaged in self-defense and always appealing to governments for protection. It is the demons who ask nervously, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” They then ring up the relevant government authorities and discuss how to subdue the Christian menace, like dispatching so many unwanted bed bugs.

Persecution, in other words, happens whenever and wherever the enemy panics. Where the enemy has things well in hand (in places like America and South Korea where the pursuit of wealth, beauty, and pleasure, the opiates of the people, have reduced our societies–and, often, us–to a mellow haze), he has no need to persecute. He persecutes in the times and places where Christ is advancing at a good clip and even the enemy’s best weapons and troops seem powerless to staunch the flow.

That is why VOMK’s persecution map is different than other ones you may have seen. It does not tote up acts of violence against Christians in an effort to cause us to wring our prayerful hands nervously and thank God that we live in one of the blank, bland spots on the board. Instead, it is a strategy map, one which seeks to identify the patterns of Christ’s advance globally (which take the form of faithful martyr-witness) and the enemy’s concomitant, powerless hand-wringing (which inevitably takes the form of persecution).

Each zone represents a particular type of idolatry into which Christ is penetrating–Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Communism, and Secularism. In our ongoing updates through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and our website, you see glimpses of the martyr-witness being made in each zone and the persecution that is happening in response. For more detailed information about each zone, make sure to watch our video, The Five Zones of Persecution.

I realize it is impolitic today to refer to other religions as types of idolatry and to refer to Communism and Secularism as kinds of religion, but such is the divine classification in Psalm 2 verse 1, which refers to anything other than the worship of God as “rage” and “a vain thing”, inevitably issuing forth (in verse 3) in persecution against us. And according to the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12, even our mere desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus is enough to panic the prince of this world into persecuting us, which according to Jesus in John 8:44-45, he does through those whom he has sired, who are by rights required to do his bidding as slaves.

As in the advance of any army, even a steadfastly nonviolent one like ours, there is constantly work to do behind and before enemy lines, and even along the supply trains. In reviewing this map and the explanatory video, let us be encouraged, edified, and exercised to continue to do our part as we marvel together anew, as according to the words of Acts 11:18, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

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Church sanctuaries decked with national flags and leader’s photos. The Ten Commandments edited. Bibles re-translated as state church leaders emphasize the need to free Christianity from its ‘foreign cultural captivity’. These are the reports emerging from China today. According to many Chinese religion analysts, they represent not a return to the Cultural Revolution but to something even earlier.

“Put the photos of 1930s German church sanctuaries and 2019 Chinese church sanctuaries side by side. Put the speeches of the leaders and officials side by side. The similarities are striking,” says the Rev. Dr. Eric Foley, CEO of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, part of a worldwide fellowship of organizations aiding persecuted Christians worldwide with roots dating back to World War II. “Xi Jinping calls it Sinification—freeing Christianity and other religions from foreign cultural entanglement. Hitler called it Nazification. Both pledged freedom of religion to those who would hang national flags and leader’s portraits in their sanctuaries. Both trotted out theologians who insisted the Bible needed to be re-translated to be properly understood. Both accused those who disagreed of seeking to subvert the state.”


“Think Stalin and Hitler, not Mao,” says the Rev. Dr. Bob Fu, founder and director of China Aid, a US-based organization that helps Chinese Christians and reports on human rights and religious freedom developments in China. “China is now taking a page from the 1930s totalitarian playbook. Whereas before the government’s goal was to stamp out Christianity, now all efforts are directed at co-opting the moral influence of Christianity and other faiths to advance the Communist Party’s social agenda.”

Foley and Fu see a parallel not only in the actions of the governments but in the response of the faithful Christians of both eras. They are calling on church leaders around the world to offer today’s dissident Chinese Christians things their earlier suffering German and Russian counterparts were unable to receive: solidarity and global theological endorsement.

“There was no Internet when the German ‘Confessing Church’ wrote the Barmen Declaration in opposition to Hitler’s attempt to redefine Christianity,” says Foley. “Today the Barmen Declaration and those who wrote it are revered. But at the time they were cut off from the Body of Christ around the world and forced to suffer while their ‘Confessing Church’ was crushed.”

That has Foley and Fu calling on Christian leaders worldwide to add their names to a declaration of religious freedom written by the former law professor and now-jailed Chinese pastor of the Chengdu Early Rain Church, Wang Yi. The document, entitled “A Joint Statement by Pastors: A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith”, was originally published in September 2018 with signatures from 439 Chinese pastors.

“As the author of this important document, Pastor Wang and Early Rain were also the ones responsible for gathering the signatures of pastors for it,” says Fu. “Now that Pastor Wang Yi and the Early Rain leaders are in prison and many pastors who signed the statement are facing similar difficulties, we as Christian leaders worldwide must carry on the good work they began. We must sound a global ‘amen’ that the Christianity for which they are now suffering is ‘the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.’”

The document written by Wang Yi and signed by the Chinese pastors contains four declarations:

1.       Christian churches in China believe unconditionally that the Bible is the Word and Revelation of God. It is the source and final authority of all righteousness, ethics, and salvation.

2.       Christian churches in China are eager and determined to walk the path of the cross of Christ and are more than willing to imitate the older generation of saints who suffered and were martyred for their faith.

3.       Christian churches in China are willing to obey authorities in China whom God has appointed and to respect the government’s authority to govern society and human conduct.

4.       All true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church.

The full declaration is available at, the website created by Voice of the Martyrs Korea and China Aid to enable pastors and church leaders to add their own names to those of the 439 Chinese pastors. Those wishing to sign the declaration should do so, along with their church name, role, and a contact email, by the end of March. Voice of the Martyrs Korea and China Aid will verify each signee and present the ‘signed’ document to the Chinese Embassy in Seoul.

“It’s important to note that the declaration written by these Chinese pastors is entitled ‘A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith’,” says Foley. “This is about more than China. It is about the Christian faith. An attack on the integrity of the Christian faith anywhere at any time is an attack on the integrity of the Christian faith everywhere at all times.”

“439 Chinese pastors signed this declaration,” says Fu. “We are asking the Lord for each signature to yield a hundredfold harvest, which means we are praying for 43,900 pastors and church leaders around the world brave enough to sign this document in suffering solidarity with the pastors of China.”

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