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Clenched Fist Toward God

A story I heard personally from Malcolm Muggeridge (that stirred me then and still does even yet) was his account of a conversation he had with Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of Josef Stalin. She spent some time with Muggeridge in his home in England while they were working together on their BBC production on the life of her father. According to Svetlana, as Stalin lay dying, plagued with terrifying hallucinations, he suddenly sat halfway up in bed, clenched his fist toward the heavens once more, fell back upon his pillow, and was dead.

The incredible irony of his whole life is that at one time Josef Stalin had been a seminary student, preparing for the ministry. Coming of Nietzschean age, he made a decisive break from his belief in God. This dramatic and complete reversal of conviction that resulted in his hatred for all religion is why Lenin had earlier chosen Stalin and positioned him in authority—a choice Lenin too late regretted. (The name Stalin, which means “steel,” was not his real name, but was given to him by his contemporaries who fell under the steel-like determination of his will.) And as Stalin lay dying, his one last gesture was a clenched fist toward God, his heart as cold and hard as steel.

Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, (Word Publ., Dallas: 1994), p. 26.