Christianity Today presents this exclusive interview with Dr. B. P. Dotsenko, who was one of the Soviet Union’s top nuclear scientists. It marks the first time a detailed account of his dramatic Christian transformation has been published in his own words. Dr. Dotsenko now teaches at Waterloo Lutheran University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He belongs to a Mennonite church.

Readers will discover that he is a convinced Christian, a thinking believer, one readily able to give reason for the hope he now has within him.

Question. Dr. Dotsenko, why did you forsake the Soviet Union?

Answer. There was a lot to it, but the last straw for me was the realization that under the Communist system even family relations must be considered secondary to man’s loyalty to the party and state. It happened to my own (former) family.

Q. Yes, but had you not attained privileged status as a scientist, and did this not make for a relatively easy life?

A. Except that I had some shocking experiences. They left me with a feeling of disgust. The price for such an “easy life” was service to the KGB, and that I reject.

Q. How was it that you were able to get out of the country at all?

A. In preparation for an assigment to supply the Soviet espionage system I was sent to Canada. It was to be an introductory visit to the West. That was in October of 1966.

Q. And you never went back to the Soviet Union?

A. No.

Q. Obviously, though, this was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. How did it all come about?

A. During World War II, I was in Siberia. At the age of fifteen I went to work on the construction of boilers for factory power plants. The mixture of steam and coal dust made it hard to see more than ten steps away. It brought on convulsive outbursts of coughing. One would spit a black sticky substance instead of the usual saliva.

Little food besides bread was available: a bowl of watery soup called balanda and two or three spoonfuls of mashed potatoes from the kolkhoz (collective farm) fields, where it was well frozen in advance. That was our usual late lunch or “dinner.” The daily ration of bread was about the size of an average fist, and when pressed between the fingers it turned into a gooey mass. But it was food and it was precious. Sometimes, to pacify the pangs of hunger in the evening, another lad and I risked being shot by a sentinel in crawling through a ditch to a nearby kolkhoz field. Each of us stole a head of cabbage, and clutching this meal to our chests we inched back to our barracks. We did not have any cooking facilities, so we ate this cabbage raw after warming it up a bit in our hands. More than once I swore I would get out of that place.

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Q. How did you get out?

A. I was taken into the army. But in the process of training I suffered a concussion and was dismissed “due to the illness” as “unfit for regular military service.”

Q. What then?

A. In 1944 my family was “reevacuated” to Ukraine. I was still a metalworker, and conditions were not much better there than in Siberia. Frustration and desire to get an education made me enter an electrotechnical communications school, the students of which were released from working duties by special decree of the U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers. There is a law in the Soviet Union that requires every man and woman to work. During the war, even students, except those in especially important fields, were ordered to work.

Q. Did you have any spiritual yearnings at that time?

A. I was allowed to take a two-month break from my studies at the electrotechnical school to see my parents. On my way to the village where they were staying I contracted pneumonia. It took me about three weeks to recover. One hot and humid afternoon in August I wandered into an old barn in our yard and went to sleep on the haystack. Upon awakening I discovered I had slipped between the hay and the rough wooden back wall of the barn. Struggling to get out I only sank deeper, until my bare feet were on the floor below. There at my feet were some copies of an old prerevolutionary magazine called Niva (“The Wheatfield”). I began reading. The life described in Niva was quite different from what was told us by Soviet propaganda of the times prior to the October Revolution. I look further through the bundles of literature stashed there and found a book without a cover. Its pages, yellowed with time, were covered with strange type—ancient Slavic. On opposite pages appeared a Russian translation of the text. I read: “The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” It was frightening and intriguing. I remembered the heap of ruins on the central square of that village; the ruins were of a cathedral blown up by the Communists. They were claiming that religion was an opiate of the people. The preaching of it was a crime, although the essence of this crime was not disclosed to us. I hid the book under my shirt and sneaked back to my room. There I resumed reading. It was strange reading. I felt uncomfortable, nearly ridiculous. I had been rather thoroughly brainwashed from this sort of thing into Communist ideology, and I believed in the truthfulness and realism of Communism. I adored Stalin, who said, “Who is not with us is against us. And if the enemy does not surrender, he must be annihilated.” Also: “Morally justified is everything which supports the dictatorship of the proletariat.” The proletariat is supposed to be led by the only righteous party, the Communists. Revolution led by the Communists is supposedly the only way to improve the life of the workers. “Violence is the midwife of history” (Marx). The proletariat (the working have-nots) will conquer the world if they follow the leadership of the Communists. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the way of transition from the capitalist society (where all workers are supposedly suppressed) to the workers’ paradise, where workers are free (except that those who do not work do not eat) and “nearly” everybody is happy. Those who do not feel happy are treated very simply—they are considered as “not with us” and then annihilated or removed. So only happy people are left. That was the logic of revolutionary progress as the younger people of the Soviet Union were (and most of them are still being) taught by the huge, overwhelming stream of Communist propaganda.

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Q. So you resisted what you read, right?

A. Yes, but it sank deep, nevertheless. The Great Commandment spoken by Jesus somehow frightened me. If these words were true, then all the teaching of Communism was false from the roots. Love your neighbor? As a follower of Marx and Lenin I was supposed to be ready to betray not only my neighbor but my family if necessary. The saint of Soviet youth is the “Young Pioneer” Pavlik Morozov, who betrayed his father and his uncles when they tried to save their families from starvation by not giving 95 per cent of the crop to the Communist authorities. I have since thought, too, of an old woman from the village who was sentenced to five years in prison for gathering rye in the fields. It occurred to me that the Communists would not have crucified Jesus and his apostles for gathering grain on the Sabbath; they would just make them to rot alive in one of the isolated Siberian camps or mines.

Q. Was there anything in your discipline that prompted any theological wonder?

A. Yes. In 1945 I quit the electrotechnical school and went to a university in Lvov to study at the faculty of physics and mathematics there. One of the most fundamental laws of nature that interested me was the law of entropy, concerning the most probable behavior of the particles (molecules, atoms, electrons, etc.) of any physical system. This law, put simply, states that if any system is given to itself it will decay very quickly, inasmuch as particles composing any system have a tendency to run wild. It means that all the material world should have turned into a cloud of chaotic dust a long, long time ago. I thought about this, and it dawned upon me that the world is being held in existence by a non-material power that is capable of overruling this destructive entropy. I began to realize, moreover, that the most brilliant scientists in the best equipped laboratories still are incapable of copying even the simplest living cell. I started to pray and to worship God. It was in the early fifties.

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Q. Anything else?

A. My inner rejection of materialism was upheld in a very special way. In 1949 I was sent to Leningrad to do my master’s thesis under the supervision of Dr. Jakov I. Frenkel, a world-renowned scientist. While browsing through his library one day I came upon another Bible. So here was a man with the most intimate knowledge of the laws of nature, a brilliant Jewish scholar, keeping the Book of God in his library. It was a puzzle then not only because I was still hesitant about the priority of God but also because it simply was dangerous to keep this book openly in one’s house. For Communists, the ideological enemy is the worst enemy. Interestingly enough, a few years later, when the anniversary of the publication of Lenin’s Materialism and Empiriocriticism was being observed, Frenkel was invited to make a comment on this “treasure of Marxist-Leninist thought” at a party meeting (the work was a fierce attack on all those in the party who might be inclined to reconsider their materialistic stand in favor of positing the possible existence of God). Frenkel stood up and quietly but firmly said, “I do not consider this book, nor the whole philosophy of Marxism-Leninism, as any valuable contribution to modern philosophy.” The meeting was adjourned, and the party started to work on Frenkel. Not long after that Frenkel was dead (of a heart attack, according to the official verdict).

Q. Was this the end of your education?

A. No. As one of the three best students upon graduation I was sent to the Moscow State University. In 1954 I obtained my Ph.D. in physical and mathematical sciences and was assigned to work in the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. on intercontinental and space rocket research. During this period my personal ideology was swinging further and further away from Communism. Two incidents played a key role.

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Q. What happened?

A. Once while on vacation I witnessed the brutal beating of a sick old woman by the drunken chairman of a kolkhoz. Her only crime was that she had been unable to produce a doctor’s certificate for her inability to work (the doctor was a drinking partner of the chairman). The party chairman for that district was a friend of the chairman, so no one intervened.

Q. And the other experience?

A. It was while I was working on rocket research, which was top-secret activity, closely supervised by security agents. One of these people became very friendly and used to tell me stories and pass along gossip about the life in inner party circles. Once he mentioned that Lenin died of syphilis in a state of practical madness. Another time he told me that in the Soviet concentration camps during the Great Purge more than 12 million people were “eliminated.” A feeling of numbness and deep disgust overtook me.

Q. Your superiors apparently were impressed by your work, however.

A. Apparently. By this time I was married. In 1957 I was invited to work at the nuclear department at the Institute of Physics in Kiev. In the spring of 1958 a very polite and friendly major of the KGB (Committee of the State Security of the U.S.S.R.), M. I. Zapivokhin, approached me and asked me to “help” them in their work, reporting about most interesting ideas in science, especially in nuclear physics, and also about my colleagues. I am thankful to God that I managed not to betray anybody but was able to disclose for myself some disguised provocateurs from the KGB. Then came a proposal to send me abroad. But then I found that my father and my wife were reporting on me regularly to the KGB. I began to fear them. It was the psychological death of my family. I prayed: “My God, kill me or take me out of here.” In the fall of 1964 the strain became intolerable. I took an overdose of sleeping pills. When I regained consciousness in the hospital 1 remembered having said, “My Lord, thy will be done.” So death did not work. It was an answer and I decided to wait.

Q. And you got abroad eventually.

A. Yes. I was regarded as a successful scientist and was appointed head of the nuclear laboratory of the Kiev State University. In October, 1966, I was called to Moscow, to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist party. I was told that I would be sent to Canada and after that to Vienna to the International Atomic Energy Agency. There, working as a senior member of the scientific staff, I was supposed to supply the Soviet espionage system with the most important information about the achievements in nuclear research throughout the world. Comrade Baskakov, one of the top men in the party, received me. Lifting up his finger to indicate a quotation from the highest source he said, “Boris Borisovich, we can reward your service very greatly, up to the Nobel Prize.” Two days later I was in Canada, at the University of Alberta. When I started to unpack my luggage in the room given to me I pulled out a drawer. There was a book, the Holy Bible, placed by the Gideons. My hands trembled when I took it. I applied for political asylum. The Soviets were furious. Although they failed to make the Canadian government expel me, they managed through their sympathizers to create such an atmosphere at the university that I felt it better to leave. I could not get a job at any other university, so I went to teach in a high school at Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. Before going there I asked a minister in Edmonton to baptize me. I became a Christian.

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Q. Actually, not many defect from the Soviet Union, and there have been relatively few disturbances against the government in the more than fifty years the Communists have been in power. What keeps people in Communist countries seemingly content with their lot?

A. The mark of Soviet society is to show outward absolute obedience and acceptance of all issued orders, all regulations, and all political and ideological statements. Penalties for violations are extremely severe. Khrushchev did not hesitate to order the shooting of hungry people—mainly workers and their families—in the early 1960s in Novocherkassk. The people had gone to the streets not for political change but with the demand, “If you want us to work, give us bread and meat! We cannot work eating liquid porridge and spoiled vegetables!” The demonstrators chased police with stones, and army units were called in. The workers put their wives and children in front of them. The soldiers refused to shoot. They were ordered away and court-martialed. Then specially trained units of the Bashkir cavalry were called in. These are Mongolian tribespeople who live on the lower Volga and in the South Urals and who are said to hate all white people. They shot more than 300 men, women, and children. Even the lower ranks of the party were taken aghast. But F. R. Kozlow, a party boss, said “We cannot tolerate such irregularities. We will repeat these actions of keeping peace in Soviet society if necessary.” Similar “irregularities” happened also in Sverdlovsk, in the Urals. Both cities were in a state of siege for two weeks, but the Western press was silent: from the outside the people were “seemingly content with their lot.” Kozlow’s colleagues continue to work on keeping people “content with their lot.” Maybe this is the reason for the very high consumption of vodka.

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Q. As a scientist, Dr. Dotsenko, how do you confirm the validity of the Bible? How do you justify it as truth?

A. The Bible is the greatest book of faith, where the acts of God are recorded for believers. Faith does not need any justification. It is given to whom it is given. Those who do not see the light express doubts in its existence. It is rather frustrating to try to describe the light to the blind one who stubbornly expressed doubts in the existence of light on the grounds that it cannot be described in terms familiar to him. As to the factuality of the historical data, there are many excellent evidences. The final proof of the Bible will come with the return of our Lord and the establishment of his Kingdom. As for the present, the task of “justification” of the Bible can be formulated as carefully and rigorously analyzing all arguments against the Bible and showing that no one argument would be truly correct. I intend to undertake this task by an analysis of Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian. When I first read this work, it left me puzzled and nearly dismayed. Scrupulous examination of it, however, showed me that even such a prominent mind fails when trying to disprove the existence of God and his Word. Another side of the task of “proving” the Bible is to break the wall of cynical, atheistic, and egocentric propaganda that some self-assured “free thinkers” (who quite often deceive even themselves by false arguments) have created in trying to stop the teachings of God’s revelation. If such a wall is removed or at least cracked, the power of the truth stored in the Bible will inevitably attract many non-prejudiced people. And this would be the best justification yet of the Bible. Man has a feeling for the truth, unless he is biased and brainwashed. Correctly developed objective reason strengthens faith and clarifies it. Distorted reason sometimes kills it. The first drug-pusher was Satan, the enemy of truth and man. He managed to provoke man to be egocentric, and now he is trying to prevent man from knowing the truth recorded in the Bible—by using false arguments.

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Q. You mentioned a work by Lord Russell. Which thinkers have influenced you the most?

A. I was impressed by the scientific writings of Einstein, Gibbs, Bohr, Heisenberg, Dirac, Schroedinger. Also by Wheeler, Wiener, Wigner, and Bethe. I enjoyed reading the works of Frenkel. In philosophy, I would mention initially the works of Lenin, Marx, and Engels, but these did not stand up to scrutiny. Then I would list Plato, Aquinas, Hobbs, Hegel, Spinoza, and (among Christians) C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer. In general reading: Scott, Shakespeare, Stevenson, Homer, Milton, Dante, Longfellow, Cooper, Verne, Tolstoy, Lermontov, Paustovsky, Shevchenko (partly), Solzhenitsyn, and Jack London. I could mention many more but I am afraid of testing the patience of the reader.

Q. Assuming you believe God to be creator of the universe, do you mean by this only a personal way of looking at the universe or God’s causal relationship to the rest of reality?

A. Both. God, however, cannot be treated as the cause of all causes, because by the definition of general nature each cause must have its own cause. Each and every cause is a part of the universe as a whole. God is not a part of the universe. He keeps and controls all the universe and each party of it. Grossly oversimplifying, one could consider an analogy of the small particles of iron placed in a magnetic field. All movements of particles are controlled by this field, though the field itself does not become part of the system of particles and the particles preserve their “individuality.” Many other more sophisticated examples could be given, but of course even all of them could not give a complete description of the relation of God to this world simply because we can think only in terms of this world and God does not belong to this world, to “this” reality.

Q. Is there really a difference in the way in which Communist science and Western secular science contemplate nature?

A. Definitely—and a big one. So-called laws of dialectical materialism are constantly being pumped into the minds of Soviet scientists. Einstein’s theory of relativity was classified by Lenin as simply a description of the movement of material bodies with great velocity. Any other interpretation was considered unnecessary, and this hampered understanding of important laws of the universe. The suppression of genetic studies long after Stalin’s death is another good example of the influence of Communist philosophy on science. Many officially paid “philosophers” are keeping close watch over intellectual developments in Soviet science. They hold the power of manipulating the development of Soviet science and controlling the careers of scientists (especially the younger ones). Any deviation is quietly but efficiently twisted and eliminated.

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Q. How about what you have seen of Western science?

A. The existence of agnostic or egocentric philosophical opinions among Western scientists leads to exaggeration of relativism in the interpretation of the phenomena under study. But this could be overcome by proper evaluation of the guiding laws of the universe. The great freedom of exploration should, if honestly done, lead sooner or later to proper understanding of the universe and to realizing that God keeps it all.

Q. How about the Soviet-Communist view of man? How does that differ from what you have found in the West?

A. Soviet Communists consider man a part of society that is under permanent and thorough control of the party through the government. The KGB and MVD and the Soviet military are the real holders of power. Everybody is required to be loyal to the state and party. No one has any right to change his work or his place of living without the permission of the authorities.

Q. How about the standards of morality? How do they differ?

A. Soviet morals are derived from the Marxist concepts of class society and class struggle. Everything that increases the power of Communism is morally justified. In the West, man is considered as basically a free individual who has a right to choose his own way of life, as long as it does not hurt other men. The basis of morality in the West is taken from Judeo-Christian belief and from the ideals developed gradually through the evolution of Greek, Roman, pre-Christian German, and other civilizations.

Q. What about anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union?

A. No question about it. At the time of Frenkel’s death a vicious anti-Semitic campaign had been launched by the party apparatus under Stalin. It was accompanied by a campaign against Ukrainian nationalists and, in science, a campaign against any appearance of bourgeois “idealism.” Stalin proclaimed cybernetics to be an “idealistic” invention. Now the Soviet Union, being about ten years behind in the development of computers, can testify about the “positive” influence of dialectical materialism upon science and industry. But don’t be alarmed, for the West has come to the rescue. Fear of Communism, which eats away the foundations of Western society, is not so great as the fear of losing profits. IBM and Honeywell are selling computers to the Communists. So are the British. At the same time, Soviet authorities impose quotas on the admission of Jews to universities in spite of the brilliant abilities of Jewish students, and impose a shameless tax on Jews who want to go to Israel, like the tax on slaves who wanted freedom. Ideologically, Soviets are the worst enemies of the state and people of Israel. Stalin was made secretary-general of the Russian Communist party after he wrote a special work in which he denied for the Jews the right to be called a nation and scorned Jewish religion and customs.

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Q. What passages of Scripture mean the most to you?

A. John 1:1, Mark 12:29–31, Matthew 22:36–40, and in the Old Testament Genesis 1:1–2 and Exodus 20:1–17. Finally I would say Luke 23:42 and 43, for in these words there is all: hope, faith, love, anguish of suffering, and the light of eternal life of man and his Lord God.

Q. What is your view of truth and justice?

A. Truth is the word of God (John 17:17). Justice is the implementation of moral norms of behavior in relations between man and God and between people. This implementation includes forceful restoration of moral patterns of behavior (punishment) whenever such patterns are violated because of the spiritual imperfections of man.

Q. Is there any rationale for pacifism?

A. The idea of peace is very attractive to many people, and rightly so. But the priorities must be put forward clearly and definitely. Peace with whom? Peace at what price? What is more important, peace with the enemy of God or faithfulness to God? What is more important, from the Christian point of view, this earthly life or readiness to suffer in the fight for gaining eternal life? Jesus put it very clearly to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you.” Also, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword.” From this follows very clearly that the true peace can be established only in the family of believers. An attempt to establish peace without first unifying people into this family means an attempt to establish peace with the enemies of God. It is against God’s will, because God does not want anything false and such peace would be definitely false. These enemies are led by the devil. Naturally, however, every Christian should strive for peace inside the Christian community and should forgive his personal enemies by loving them. We need to remember that the words of Jesus in Luke 22 are quite different from the Sermon on the Mount. In both instances he is talking to his disciples. In Luke 22 he says he had initially sent them without purse, scrip, and shoes, but now he is telling them, “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” Prior to this he was there protecting them, but it is another thing when he is going to the cross. Now he will be guiding them only in a spiritual way, so that for their own protection they need to buy the sword. From this it follows that the Christian has a right and the duty, indeed, to protect himself and the people entrusted to him by God—using the sword, if necessary.

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Q. How important is the question of verification of data? Of experience?

A. The basic method of learning and understanding is trial and error. Data are results of active and passive tests, experimentations in practical life, and initial observations (motivated contemplations). Abstract thinking (which is the gift of God) specifies causal relations between observed data. Knowledge of causal relations enables man to exercise control over the surrounding world. In the case of animals without abstract thinking (animals do possess some degree of concrete thinking in reflected images), there is instead a reflectory adaptation to the existing conditions (adaptation can be both passive and active). Verification of data is important for checking abstract conclusions. Accumulation of the knowledge of causal relations in man’s memory, and accumulation of conditional reflectory reactions on real and imaginary situations in the animal’s memory, are called experience. Both kinds of experience are of vital importance.

Q. How do the principles of logic and scientific thought relate to a person’s view of God?

A. Paraphrasing Francis Bacon, one may say that superficial and egocentric knowledge leads to atheism, while genuine, deep, and objective study leads to faith in God.

Q. How much religious liberty should there be in any given political control system? To what extent should Christians living in a Communist country obey its laws?

A. The Lord’s commandment was to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. Paul wrote, “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God.” Therefore, true powers are of God. What is the property of true power? Paul answers: “For rulers are not a terror to good works but to the evil.” Those, then, who reject God and his supremacy cannot be called the true powers, because the best work is the work of serving God. God allows such false powers to operate to test our faithfulness to him, to check our worth for the eternal life. Christ himself in all his humility rejected the offer of the devil (who by Christ’s definition was the prince of this world): “If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Elsewhere, Christ called King Herod “that fox” when told that Herod could try to kill Christ before his mission was fulfilled. Conclusion: No true power has a right to intervene in the worship of God and Christ as it is prescribed in the Scriptures. Christians ought to obey all laws that do not make them turn away from worshipping and serving God and Christ. Christ also warned that one cannot serve both God and mammon (earthly temptations by money, also by lusts and by false power and fame). To accept the leadership of Communism is incompatible with the true service of God. It is like accepting the assertion that the thief is the lawful owner of the things he stole.

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Q. Why does the atheist Soviet government allow any churches to remain open and hold services?

A. Despite all the efforts of Stalin and others to exterminate faith by force, Christianity and other religions have survived in the Soviet Union. All the people saw the patriotism of the believers during the war. But then Stalin and his successors decided to take control of the faithful by appointing specially trained and conditioned agents to key positions of the church—especially the Russian Orthodox Church, but also in others. These appointments were made in an indirect way, by allowing only those churches that suited the Communist government to function. Communist agents entered seminaries, were ordained as ministers, and started to preach blind obedience to the “ruling powers.” They were and are well versed in the Scriptures—as was Satan when he was trying to make Jesus obey him, not by the threat of torture but by offering him power. There is considerable literature on the subject showing the fate of believers who do not follow the way of blind obedience to godless powers. The existence of open churches allows the Communists to claim they respect freedom of opinion. In this way they brainwash people in the West and entice tourists. These, in fact, are allowed to see altogether not more than 5 to 7 per cent of the Soviet territory, and then only after asking to do so well in advance. Another important point: By developing relations between the churches in the Soviet Union and those abroad, the government creates another way of sending agents into the West.

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Q. There seems to be some discernible Christian influence among intellectuals in the Soviet Union. How do you account for it? Does it stem from some identifiable common factor?

A. Many of the so-called intelligentsia of the Soviet Union are deeply disillusioned and cynical people who report on one another, and on everyone else about whom they are asked, to the KGB. By “many” I should say that the number of such people is probably not less than one-third of the total number of Soviet intellectuals. Others are just living from day to day, doing their job and waiting in lines for food, inexpensive clothes, and other goods. After such hunts, most of them are so tired that they do not think about anything but getting some rest, perhaps some entertainment (ideological films, vodka). But there is an intellectual minority that does not submit itself either to cynicism or to prostituting careerism, or to waiting in line for vodka. These are the ones who suffer because they seek truth and justice and find it in Christ. Many are silent. Some, if they work in professions that allow them to conceal their real feelings, could even be successful in their fields of activity. But quite often they resent such success. One of my former colleagues confessed to me once that he would rather be a simple worker than a successful theoretician. I knew what it meant to be a worker in that system, so I said nothing. Disillusionment with the ideology of materialistic Communism is that common factor in the life of Soviet intellectuals who are finding God.

Q. What can we do for Christians in the Soviet Union? What do you think of smuggling Bibles into Communist countries?

A. Do everything that your conscience, your courage, and your trust in God allow you to do. Shall we submit ourselves to this godless force or shall we follow the commandments of our Lord, “Feed my sheep”? I must confess that I admire Brother Andrew and his co-workers. I pray for them, that the Lord will continue to keep them under his protection and inspire them for their further service. This is the true spiritual battle, where people risk their lives and personal freedom for their brethren to bring them the Word of God.

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Q. You mentioned a campaign against Ukrainian nationalists. Is there any religious element to Ukrainian nationalism?

A. I am not aware of any correlation.

Q. How is it that Arabs, militant Muslims, have gotten along with atheistic Communists?

A. I do not know. The Christian should be more acceptable to the Muslim than the atheist. Incidentally, however, I am certain God will protect his people in their Promised Land. His plans are now being worked out.

Q. How do you regard the scriptural admonition about praying for our enemies?

A. The true enemies of the Christian are those who are the enemies of God. All other people are his brothers and sisters in Christ. These he should love and forgive. Concerning the enemies of God, only one prayer is possible: that the Lord in his mercy will open their eyes and soften their hearts so that they will repent and accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour. For otherwise, if they sin against the Holy Spirit they are doomed by the verdict of our Lord (“He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation”).

Q. What do you think about the easing of tensions between the United States and Canada and the Soviet Union and China?

A. Easing of tensions between these countries is acceptable and can be welcomed as long as it is not accompanied by the weakening of the Western countries relative to the strength of the Communist counterparts. Peaceful discussions eventually lead to better understanding by all people as to where justice and truth are, ergo, to God and his Son. But as long as God permits the price of such agreement should not be that of submission to the enemy of God, not of giving the enemy the military and ideological victory.

Q. What did you think of President Nixon’s visits to the Communist countries?

A. It was a courageous and far-reaching step. By doing this he forcefully presented the good will of the American people to the world and to his counterparts. He took the lead in establishing the channels for a just peace, leaving behind the Communist leaders with their claims that they are the leaders in the “struggle for peace.” At the same time, Mr. Nixon did not compromise his ideological stand. He attended a service at the Baptist church in Moscow. The American people can be proud of having a President who combines in his person a deep political mind and initiative with clear and faithful service to God.

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Q. Dr. Dotsenko, what has troubled you most about life in the West in the four years you have been here?

A. For one thing, I have been disturbed at the passive attitude of the majority of people to acts of violence on the part of relatively insignificant but vocal groups, and the violation by these groups of the most sacred moral, religious, and social norms and customs of Western society. These groups claim that, unless they are given what they insist upon, it would be the suppression of the “freedom of the individual.” But this disregards the fact that the most important condition for the really free society is the responsible behavior of each and every member of the society toward any other member and toward the society as a whole. If the society does not demand responsibility, then it openly invites totalitarian dictatorship, which brings an end to all individual freedom.

Q. What else?

A. I am also disturbed by the passive attitude toward the infiltration of materialistic ideas into the Western educational system. The quiet replacement of Christian norms in relations between people (especially in the areas of love and sex) leads to the debasement of human relations to levels lower than that of beasts (animals normally follow very strict regulations established by the Creator).

Q. Any other thoughts on this point?

A. A third observation I would make is about the tolerant, “pacifistic” attitude of so much of liberal society toward the Communists. People with true democratic and liberal attitudes ought to know that the liberty of a man is based on God’s gift to man, namely, the freedom of choice. The Communists have never renounced their ultimate goal, the establishment by all means of the ruthless, oppressive, and inhuman dictatorship of the party elite and their functionaries. They disguise it by the demands for the rule of the proletariat, but the hungry workers and their relatives who were shot in Novocherkassk ten years ago are better witnesses of the true Communist goals.

Q. How much of a danger is this ideology insofar as the West is concerned?

A. Probably the greatest menace facing the West today is the presence of a widespread network of Soviet Communist agents. This network was initiated by Lenin himself at the second meeting of his party in London in 1904. The Communists in their propaganda are calling those who actively oppose them “Fascists,” trying to conceal the fact that Hitler learned from Stalin how to run a dictatorship in its most ruthless and inhuman way. They also are not eager to admit that Stalin was made secretary general of the Russian Communist Party after he wrote a special work in which he denied for the Jews the right to be called a nation and expressed scorn of the Jewish religion and customs.

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Q. What about poor people and those unable to find jobs in the West? Is it surprising that Communism should appeal to them?

A. They should remember that, for example, the normal salary of a janitor in the Soviet Union is about 70 or 80 dollars a month. The monthly salary of an average worker is around 160 to 180 dollars. The price of food is not high, but the supply is meager, and the price of other goods is relatively higher than in North America. An existence of “closed” (secret) stores for the privileged party, KGB, and military “elite” where everything is available in great selection and with grossly reduced prices is another evidence of deep and very “materialistic” corruption in the Soviet ruling system. General free medical care and low apartment rents do not mean much for the hungry stomach—not to mention that often three or four families must live in one apartment. Students and other “free thinkers” should remember that it is an official and strictly followed policy of the Communist apparatus to suppress by all means, including physical elimination, when possible, or incarceration in mental asylums, all those who are critical about even the most ridiculous (sometimes) statements made by the party “prophets.” Workers have to remember that they are the part of the living body of the whole society. If the society is torn apart, as Marxists aspire to do, the workers will suffer not less than anybody else. Under the Communist dictatorship everybody loses any chance to improve his life by his own choice.

Q. Summing up, to one who has experienced deeply both of the great ideological options open to twentieth-century man, just what difference does the resurrection of Jesus Christ make?

A. The main desires, anxieties, fears, and passions of man today are about his life, his health, his family, his food, his career. Basically these are not much different from the emotions of men of ancient Israel, Rome, or Greece, England, or Germany. They are very intimately related with one question: What will happen to me and to my dear ones in the future, the near future and the remote future? For the person who believes in the power of God to give life, the answer is that he shall live a much better life as a result of the Resurrection.…

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Q. What is on your mind and heart that you would like, in conclusion, to share with the readers of “Christianity Today”?

A. My wish to them is the same as it is to myself. And that is, to learn the Truth and the ways of a just and reasonable, really human life as a child of the Most High God, who suffered and died for our sins in the person of Jesus Christ—his own expression. Keep the blessings of God protected. I am a witness that here in the West there is, compared to the rest of the world, great abundance in both the material and spiritual life. Reject loose, egocentric morals. Give full support to leaders who are working to protect and develop the ways of productive and free life in the framework of well-adjusted, time-tested laws. (And I would say here that I am very much in favor of the study of the Bible in schools for those who want it.) The most important part of life is creative work together with your Christian neighbors, following wise and responsible leaders, for a better life and freedom and a better chance (not handouts from a totalitarian state) for everyone, according to the commandments of our Lord—for the glory of God.

George M. Marsden is associate professor of history at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has the Ph.D. (Yale University) and has written “The Evangelical Mind and the New School Presbyterian Experience.”

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