“And as it is appointed unto men once to die,
but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27)
There is a phrase in the Bible which is used no less than twenty-three times, spanning across the centuries. Time and again we read, “and he died.” The Bible teaches that every person has a date with their destiny of death. There is a time to be born, and there is a time to die.
Many ideas have been proposed to avoid death, or, after death, to bring people back from the dead. Some of these proposals are sad and tragic; others are humorous, such as the idea advanced by the Cryonics Institute. Instead of being buried or cremated, individuals can choose to be frozen after their legal death, in the hope of one day being thawed, and brought back to life. Cryonics is viewed as the ambulance into the future.
There is a warehouse in Clinton Township, Michigan, where bodies are stored, having been cryonically frozen in a tank of liquid nitrogen. Bob Ettinger, the pioneer of cryogenics, is among the chosen frozen. He died at the age of 92. His number is 106. After paying $30,000 a person, more than 200 people have been frozen, and pets too. Among the frozen is the baseball player, Ted Williams, who died in 2004. There is a debate as to whether or not the whole body needs to be frozen, or just the head. I doubt if Fidel Castro will be frozen.
Perhaps his body will be placed on permanent public display like that of Vladimir Lenin. Since his death, at age 53 on January 21, 1924, the body of Lenin has been viewed by millions of people who have visited Red Square in Moscow.
I once visited Red Square, and passed by the Mausoleum where the body of Lenin rests. I went to Red Square to pass out free copies of the Sovereign Grace New Testament, a book I have written setting forth the sovereignty of God, and the doctrines of grace. I had this book translated into the Russian language because I wanted to make a statement: “JESUS LIVES!” Stalin is dead. Lenin is dead. But, “My GOD lives!” The book was well received by the Russian people as I passed out this free gift of grace with soldier marching by.
Because Fidel Castro embraced Communism, and the Communist leaders, especially Nikita Khrushchev, he will want to be remembered with them in a quest for eternal glory. It is possible that his body will be put on permanent public display.
While other mortal men decide the fate of Castro’s dead body, God will decide the fate of Castro’s eternal soul.
Castro was educated by the Jesuits, so he was familiar with Christian dogma and the teaching of life after death. Castro was familiar with the Biblical teaching on heaven, and hell. Specifically, Castro attended three Jesuit institutions. Unfortunately, by the time of the Cuban revolution in 1958-59, some of the Jesuits in Latin America were fully embracing Marxist-Leninist in ideology. Knowing this helps to explain why Castro said, “I never saw a contradiction between the ideas that sustain me, and the ideas of that symbol, of that extraordinary figure, Jesus Christ.”
Of course there are many contradictions between Jesus Christ, and Communism, even when a portion of the historic church has been corrupted by a terrible ideology to the point of embracing it. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood the differences, and preached against Communism. “Let me state clearly the basic premise of this sermon: Communism and Christianity are fundamentally incompatible. A true Christian cannot be a true Communist, for the two philosophies are antithetical, and all the dialectics of the logicians cannot reconcile them.” Dr. King went on to list the basic differences.
“First, Communism is based on a materialistic and humanistic view of life and history. According to Communist theory, matter, not mind or spirit, speaks the last word in the universe. Such a philosophy is avowedly secularistic and atheistic. … Cold atheism wrapped in the garments of materialism, Communism provides no place for God or Christ.”
“Second, Communism is based on ethical relativism, and accepts no stable moral absolutes. Right and wrong are relative to the most expedient methods for dealing with class war. Communism exploits the dreadful philosophy that the end justifies the means. It enunciates movingly the theory of a classless society, but alas! its methods for achieving this noble end are all too often ignoble. Lying, violence, murder, and torture are considered to be justifiable means to achieve the millennial end. Is this an unfair indictment? Listen to the words of Lenin, the real tactician of Communist theory: “We must be ready to employ trickery, deceit, lawbreaking, withholding and concealing truth.” Modem history has known many tortuous nights, and horror-filled days because his followers have taken this statement seriously.
In contrast to the ethical relativism of Communism, Christianity sets forth a system of absolute moral values, and affirms that God has placed within the very structure of this universe certain moral principles that are fixed, and immutable. The law of love as an imperative is the norm for all of man’s actions. Furthermore, Christianity, at its best refuses to live by a philosophy of ends justifying means. Destructive means cannot bring constructive ends, because the means represent the-ideal-in-the-making and the-end-in-progress. Immoral means cannot bring moral ends, for the ends are preexistent in the means.
Third, Communism attributes ultimate value to the state. Man is made for the state and not the state for man. One may object, saying, that in Communist theory the state is an “interim reality,” which will “wither away” when the classless society emerges. True–in theory; but it is also true that, while it lasts, the state is the end. Man is a means to that end. Man has no inalienable rights. His only rights are derived from, and conferred by, the state. Under such a system, the fountain of freedom runs dry. Restricted are man’s liberties of press and assembly, his freedom to vote, and his freedom to listen and to read. Art, religion, education, music, and science come under the gripping yoke of government control. Man must be a dutiful servant to the omnipotent state.
All of this is contrary, not only to the Christian doctrine of God, but also to the Christian estimate of man. Christianity insists that man is an end because he is a child of God, made in God’s image. Man is more than a producing animal guided by economic forces; he is a being of spirit, crowned with glory and honor, endowed with the gift of freedom. The ultimate weakness of Communism is that it robs man of that quality which makes him man. Man, says Paul Tillich, is man because he is free. This freedom is expressed through man’s capacity to deliberate, decide, and respond. Under Communism, the individual soul is shackled by the chains of conformity; his spirit is bound by the manacles of party allegiance. He is stripped of both conscience and reason. The trouble with Communism is that it has neither a theology nor a Christology; therefore it emerges with a mixed-up anthropology. Confused about God, it is also confused about man. In spite of its glowing talk about the welfare of the masses, Communism’s methods and philosophy strip man of his dignity and worth, leaving him as little more than a depersonalized cog in the ever-turning wheel of the state.
At the center of the Christian faith is the affirmation that there is a God in the universe who is the ground and essence of all reality.” (How Should a Christian View Communism?, Strength to Love)
Perhaps there was a secret struggle in Castro’s soul between his moral and religious upbringing, and the unspeakable immoral behavior he displayed for so many years, even with the approval of a segment of the Catholic Church. True Christianity knows better than to embrace Communist ideology.
As he grew older, Castro reached out once more to the mainstream historic Catholic Church. He allowed Pope John Paul II to visit Cuba in 1998. Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba in 2012. Pope Francis visited Cuba in 2015.
It was all too little, and too late. Long ago the heart of Castro was given up to lying, violence, murder, and torture. Long ago God gave Castro over to a reprobate mind. Castro’s life demonstrated that. Jesus said that by their fruits men can be known. Read, The Double Life of Fidel Castro, by Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, Castro’s personal bodyguard and personal aide for 17 years. Castro lived a life of shame. He brought suffering to many others. The evil that he did lives on after him. “And he died.”
Castro’s death will confirm another gospel truth. There is a day of judgment. Raul Castro, your brother, Fidel, is dead at age 90. You are next. Soon, you too will die, and after that, the judgment.
What is true of Fidel, and Raul, is true of you and me. That is why we need a Saviour. That is why we need Jesus.
“He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay.
I needed someone to wash my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song,
Amazing grace all day long.
Christ Jesus paid a debt I could not pay.”