Stalin & Christianity

This past week I finished reading Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore. This biographical presentation takes us from Stalin’s birth to the Bolshevik Revolution. Even though Montefiore does a great job of presenting the influences that shaped this man’s life, one is still left wondering how a man could become such a horrific monster. Stalin ruled as an avowed atheist. However, he migrated to atheism after turning from the earlier influences of Christianity. In fact, Stalin was a seminarian that almost spent his life as a priest. In later years, his mother lamented that he did not become a priest instead of a Bolshevik. Some of his earlier colleagues called him “The Priest” as a nickname. Stalin began to doubt his faith but for a time remained on course for the priesthood because he saw the priesthood as a means to feed the poor. Reading Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species took him farther away from his Christian roots. At the time, Stalin was considered a gifted singer in the choir and the best reader of the Psalms. After Darwin he began to be influenced even more by communist philosophers. Montefiore notes, “At prayers, the boys had the Bible open on their desks and read Marx and Plekhanov, the sage of Russian Marxism, on their knees (p. 68).” His atheistic conversion became complete. He would later express admiration for Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, while tempering his admiration due to Tolstoy’s Christianity. So Stalin moved from adherence to doubting to convenience to rejecting to disdain and ultimately to defilement. On one occasion Stalin led a friend to desecrate a church icon by smashing it and urinating on it. He commented to the friend, “Not afraid of God? Good for you (p. 69)!” If you enjoyed this, you will probably want to read the following: