The Divine Plan: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Dramatic End of the Cold War
By Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando (Intercollegiate Studies Institute)
Individuals remember the Cold War (1946-47 to 1991) in different ways. Many only know what they learned in school. For others, classroom “duck and cover” drills brought fear. For some, images of the barbed-wire topped Berlin Wall and Soviet tanks rumbling into Hungary and Czechoslovakia remain seared in memory.
However, the end came as a peaceful, dramatic surprise for most people—but not for Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan. Was the emergence of these leaders at a precise moment in history coincidence or part of a divine plan? In their book, Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando invite readers to answer the question.
On the surface, the world leaders seemed unlikely friends. Yet, they shared a passion for defeating the Soviet Union. Their theatrical backgrounds taught them to communicate orally and visually. Even before his presidency, Reagan wept when watching Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit to Poland. Assassination attempts in March and May of 1981 left both men moments from death. Each emerged confident God spared him and the other as part of his divine plan to end the Cold War.
The authors describe the growing friendship of these “called and confident” men who found common ground in their deep faith, unshakeable hope, and firm belief in the “twin beacons of faith and freedom.” They shared intelligence and worked closely with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power with his family’s faith background, they sensed he would play an unwitting part in the divine plan.
Through interviews and facts, the best-selling author and documentary writer-director detail actions that led to the collapse of Communism and the roles a Protestant president and a Polish pope played. In the end, they make a persuasive argument that “an alliance of morality and decency” ultimately led to the fall of the USSR.
Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president
Baptist General Convention of Texas