Les Sillars – The end of Christendom

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, October 6th. Good morning to you!  This is The World and Everything in It from WORLD Radio, supported by listeners like you. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Megan Basham recently reviewed the film titled Mr. Jones. It’s about a freelance reporter who broke the story on the terrible famine Stalin caused in the Ukraine in the 1930s. But Jones wasn’t the only reporter in that era telling an unpopular truth about Soviet Communism. 

Here’s WORLD commentator Les Sillars.

MUGGERIDGE: I regard liberalism as the great disease of our society…

LES SILLARS, COMMENTATOR: That’s British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge. He introduced Mother Teresa to the world in a 1967 BBC interview. Sadly, he’s largely forgotten today. But he had a biting wit and was a fierce critic of modern culture. In 1969 he went on William F. Buckley’s show, The Firing Line, and said Eleanor Roosevelt did more damage than Stalin or Hitler.

Muggeridge: Hitler and Stalin got a lot of people killed and precipitated a great war but they are now discredited. But liberalism continues to thrive despite the fact that every time it’s been applied the consequences have been disastrous…

Muggeridge abandoned Communism in the 1930s after traveling to Moscow in 1932 to write for the Manchester Guardian. Like Gareth Jones of the movie, he too sneaked into Ukraine to report on the famine there. And, like Jones, he was excoriated for it.

But it started his journey toward Christianity. In 1978 he delivered a pair of lectures at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. The first was titled, “The End of Christendom.”

Christendom, he says, is the institutional edifice on which Western civilization rests. It’s dying, but it’s not Christianity. I tried but couldn’t find a recording, so try to imagine Muggeridge saying this:

Quote: “Previous civilizations have been overthrown from without by the incursion of barbarian hordes. Christendom has dreamed up its own dissolution in the minds of its own intellectual elite. Our barbarians are home products, indoctrinated at public expense, urged on by the media systematically … dismantling Christendom, depreciating and deprecating all its values. The whole social structure is now tumbling down, dethroning its God, undermining all its certainties.” Unquote.

It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Muggeridge wasn’t done.

“The End of Christendom” was followed by a second lecture, “But Not of Christ.” We should expect Christendom to decompose and disappear, he said. The world’s response to decay is to engage in, quote, “idiot hopes and idiot despair.”

All such hopes and fears are beside the point, Muggeridge said. Quote: “As Christians we know that here we have no continuing city, that crowns roll in the dust and every earthly kingdom must sometime founder, whereas we acknowledge a king men did not crown and cannot dethrone, as we are citizens of a City of God they did not build and cannot destroy.” Unquote.

We should rejoice when empires fall to pieces, when all is confusion and conflict, he said. Quote: “For it is precisely when every earthly hope has been explored and found wanting, when every possibility of help from earthly sources has been sought and is not forthcoming, … when in the shivering cold the last stick has been thrown on the fire and … every glimmer of light has finally flickered out, it’s then that Christ’s hand reaches out sure, and firm. Then Christ’s words bring their inexpressible comfort, then His light shines brightest, abolishing the darkness forever.” Unquote.

I’m Les Sillars, and that was Malcolm Muggeridge.

(AP Photo) Television interviewer Mike Wallace (left) and British writer Malcolm Muggeridge chat with each other in ABC Television Studio prior their appearance on the network’s “Mike Wallace Interview” show in New York City on Oct. 19, 1957. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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