(Part I of VII of Pastor Foley’s introductory essay to Rev. Richard Wurmbrand’s Preparing for the Underground Church. To order a print or electronic copy of the bilingual Korean/English edition of Preparing for the Underground Church, including Pastor Foley’s introductory essay and a foreword by Voice of the Martyrs historian Merv Knight, visit Amazon or click here to visit the bookstore page on our website.)
Persecution inevitably catches the church by surprise. Despite Jesus’ warnings to his followers about how they would be perpetually reviled by the world, the church does not expect to be persecuted. Because the church seeks to do good even to its enemies, it mistakenly expects to receive the regard of the world in return. It does not perceive itself as a threat to anyone except those who demand its worship, which it reserves for God alone.
That is why Rev. Wurmbrand knew that he faced a difficult challenge in persuading Christians in the free world that they must prepare to take their churches underground. Christians in the free world simply can’t imagine an opponent motivated and capable of systemically persecuting all of them. Christians in the free world put great faith in their governments. Even when they don’t agree with their political leaders, they are confident that their country’s law and culture will protect them from losing the right to believe and freely practice their faith. They trust that their country’s courts will generally protect their freedoms and provide redress against individual attacks. Christians in the free world also have great faith in the power of their churches. Even in the countries in the free world where the church is a minority, it is usually influential, wealthy, educated, and well-connected internationally. Thus, even though the Apostle Paul warns that “everyone who seeks to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” Christians in the free world tend to regard themselves as immune from persecution by means of their geography.
But even four decades ago when Rev. Wurmbrand first presented Preparing for the Underground Church, he knew that the church in the free world would itself come under serious persecution one day. He did not believe this would happen only as the result of political regime changes. Instead, he believed this would happen because of what he had come to understand during his fourteen years of imprisonment in communist prisons, as well as his subsequent years of working with persecuted Christians in communist countries. Rev. Wurmbrand came to see that there was something hidden deep within communism–a principality or power that didn’t have anything to do with politics or economics or military power at all. Communism was only the vessel. What the vessel held was rebellion against God.
Rev. Wurmbrand wrote about this hidden wellspring in his book, Marx and Satan. He documented how Karl Marx “was once a Christian” who “began life in a God-fearing family.” Wurmbrand detailed how “a drastic change at some point in his life led Karl Marx to a deep personal rebellion against God and all Christian values.” Long before he had any interest in communism, Marx wrote, “I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above.”
This is why Rev. Wurmbrand was not focused on defeating communism as a political system. He was focused on exposing it as a satanic power from which people also needed to be spiritually freed. Communists weren’t the enemy; Satan was. For Satan, the important issue is never economics or politics. These are only pretext. The important issue is always destroying authority, since all authority, even twisted and misused authority, must come from God. Satan used communism to create chaos in the realm of economic and political authority, with its call to workers to “throw off” the yoke of their capitalist oppressors.
But as Rev. Wurmbrand traveled to speak around the free world, he could see that Satan was not content only to fight economic or political battles, and he was certainly not confined behind the Iron Curtain. In Marx and Satan he wrote,
It was with a sense of horror that I read the mystery of the seventh degree of Satanism inscribed on a poster at the University of Paris during the 1968 riots. It had been simplified to the formula, “It is forbidden to forbid.”
It is forbidden to forbid. Satan had created much chaos through communism. But what Rev. Wurmbrand and other Christian thinkers of his time began to discern was that Satan’s strategy was hardly restricted to political or economic realms. Ultimately, Satan’s strategy would be actualized even more fully in the realm of personal identity, which would come to drive the politics and economics of the free world in ways that few had foreseen or could imagine. It would be through that realm, buttressed not only by politics and economics but also by science, education, entertainment, and even spirituality, that “forbidding to forbid” would come to be hailed as the enlightened ethic of the free world.
It would be through that realm, more commonly called “the sexual revolution,” that Satan would seek to level his conclusive blow against the church, deriding it as the greatest forbidder in history.
 Richard Wurmbrand, 1986. Marx and Satan. Bartlesville, OK: Living Sacrifice Book Company, back cover.
 Richard Wurmbrand, 1986, p. 107.
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