I recently picked up a new collection of writings from A.W. Tozer called “Culture.” (I admit the title grabbed me.) Thought he died in 1963, Tozer’s writings remain incredibly timely and relevant. For instance, check out this chapter from the book, entitled Nothing Can Destroy Christianity If We Live Like Christians:
I don’t think communism is the great danger to Christianity. I don’t believe that communism can ever destroy Christianity, if Christians will really live like Christians…
They couldn’t destroy Christianity in the Roman empire. Every time they killed ten believers, one hundred others came forward and said, “Kill me, too.” History tells us that. The emperors threw so many Christians to the lions in the pits that began to get embarrassed, and said “What are we going to do with these fools? We kill ten, and a hundred others stand up and confess that they are Christians, too.” So, they had to call it off. And they said, “Let’s try to save face. Don’t kill so many – the place is getting too bloody.”
Christians were willing to live like Christians, and to die like Christians. Christian blood was the seed that made the church grow. That’s why I say that communism can never destroy the church of Jesus Christ. And you need not worry about the true church behind the Iron Curtain. My brothers and sisters, there have been periods down through the years when Christians met in damp basements, among the flatworms and cobwebs, and worshipped their God. Then they had to sneak out to their jobs, and at night like Gideon, went again to some hiding place and prayed and sang in a low voice, and read in portions of Scripture they could get. They kept the fire alive in the midst of the fiercest and most brutal persecution.
The fire of God can’t be damped out by the water of man’s persecution. It is only when the church is rotten inside that she can die. If the church in Russia is dead today [remember, this was written in the middle of the 20th century – BW], it is not because of communism – though communism is from hell, there’s no question about that – but hell can’t destroy the church. I say, if the church in Russia is dead – and I don’t think it is – it is because the institutional church has died from within.
The tree that is blown down in the storm is rotten in its heart or it wouldn’t be blown down. And the church that falls because of persecution is a church that was dead before it fell.
Well, Tozer always called it like it was. I recommend, Culture, and if you haven’t ever read his classic’s, The Pursuit of God, The Divine Conquest [God’s Pursuit of Man], and The Knowledge of the Holy, you can now get them in one great hardback volume from Moody Publishers. Highly recommended.