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Training to Lose

Written by Gary North on May 28, 2016

The Communists were successful until they lost hope in the future. By the mid-1980’s, they lost hope. In December 1991, the USSR went out of business.

Before that, they looked like winners, as I explained in late 1980.

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Paul used the simile of the athletic contest on several occasions. “I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:14). “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (I Cor. 9:24). At the end of his career, he wrote: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Tim. 4:7-8). The requirement that Christians press hard, overcoming their own weaknesses, pains in the legs, and pessimism, is the focus of Paul’s concern. He assumed that his readers have a tendency to become passive, and he warned them against this evil.

The athlete has to train before he enters the race. He must discipline his body and his will, in order to be fully prepared for the exertion of the contest. The contest has winners and losers, and the Christian is not supposed to be a loser. This means that he must enter into the contest with self-confidence, enthusiasm, and a strategy for victory. He is not to spend time looking over his shoulder to see how far he has come from the starting- point, or how well his competitors are doing. He is to look straight ahead at the finish line, pacing himself so that at the end he will have spent all of his reserves. He should give the race everything he has– emotionally, physically, and strategically.

If we look at modern Christianity, we find very little of this sort of training for life’s race. Christians act as though victory is achieved passively, as it the race were not worth training tor, as if the hope of victory were not part of the motivating factors in running. If we were to regard modern Christianity as a training program, and it lite were viewed as a race, how would we judge the success of the program? Would we conclude that modern preaching has raised up a generation of skilled athletes who are ready for the competition? Or would we have to conclude that the program has produced a lot of overweight, under-motivated weekend joggers who would collapse half way to the finish line?

The Psychology of Victory

Back in the early 1960’s, Sonny Liston was the heavyweight champion in boxing. Before his fights with Royd Patterson, he would stare down Patterson, giving him the “whammy” with his eyes. He was a fearsome-looking mauler, and Patterson couldn’t cope with the aura of invincibility displayed by Liston. But young, brash, supremely confident Cassius Clay wasn’t intimidated at all. He predicted victory, the same way that Joe Namath predicted victory in the famous professional football game between the New York Jets and the Baltimore Colts. That brashness rubbed off on Namath’s teammates, and they beat the “invincible” Colts. People who regard their likelihood of success as nil generally don’t succeed. They are no match for those who do believe they can and will win.

The Communists are winners. They have an eschatology of victory, as F. N. Lee’s book, Communist Eschatology, demonstrates so well. (Box 13, Nutley, New Jersey: Craig Press, $15.) They believe themselves to be the vanguard of the proletariat, the cutting edge of inevitable historical progress. They have captured the minds of generations of university students in the Third World, as well as the minds of intellectuals all over the world, precisely because they offer a success doctrine. As Prof. Ludwig von Mises noted in 1922, “Nothing has helped the spread of socialist ideas more than this belief that Socialism is inevitable. Even the opponents of Socialism are for the most part bewitched by it: it takes the heart out of their resistance.” (Socialism [New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, (1922) 1962], p. 282.) The Communists, as the most consistent, disciplined, and ruthless of the socialist parties, have triumphed politically because they can

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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