My recent encounter with a Hitler expert (2 of 3)
|June 2, 2012||Posted by Joseph Keysor under Blog|
There are many reasons for the failure of so many Christians in Germany to follow Christ, but many secular scholars and historians are not interested in hearing about that. All too often the preconceived desire is to link Christianity to Naziism in some ways, and showing the churches in Nazi Germany not as Christianity but as a failure of Christianity would not advance that goal. Moreover, any detailed discussion of Christianity is beyond them, they start to doze off or become impatient. One point that is sure to lose many of them because it is beyond their understanding is a teaching from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians to the effect that if I have sound doctrine (“understand mysteries and all knowledge”) but do not have love, my Christianity is worthless (“sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal . . . I am nothing…it profiteth me nothing”).
Also, Christian teachings of the nature and purpose of government as we see in Paul’s letter to the Romans are very far removed from modern totalitarianism, which can be directly linked to Hegel and his concepts of freedom in subordination to the state, of the state as the instrument of progress which we are obligated to obey. This can be seen in Hegel’s blind hero-worship of Napoleon, a precursor of Hitler (there are of course differences, but also distinct parallels between the careers of the two men). Hitler publicly displayed his respect for Napoleon in visiting his tomb – imagine if Hitler had visited Luther’s tomb! We would never hear the end of it. But, linking Hegel to Naziism (and to Communism) is too difficult for some. Moreover, it is disturbing to think that it is not belief in Jesus and attempts to seriously live by the Bible that lead to fascism, but human wisdom, secular philosophy and rejection of the Bible.
We cannot blame the world too much if they think that Europe was a Christian continent, that Germany was a Christian country, and that people who were born in Germany or in Europe were “Christians.” We cannot blame them if they think that an ordained, seminary pastor and theologian, and a church full of people are “Christians.” We cannot blame them if they fail to understand the necessity of the new birth, without which one’s knowledge of Christianity is empty and vain – but we can blame them if they try to write in learned and serious ways about the relationship of Christianity to Hitler without even understanding what the Bible itself teaches about this subject.
Concerning Nazi Germany’s many liberal Christians (to digress for a moment), it is only a statement of fact to say that “London is different from Paris” – this is not to say that one is better than the other. It is only a statement of fact to say that Buddhism is different from Hinduism – this has nothing to do with the truth or lack of truth of either religion. Similarly, it is not the beginning of an interminable argument about which version of Christianity is true to state that the liberal Christianity so dominant in much of Germany for many decades before Hitler was a very different religion from historic, orthodox Christianity.
It does not take any deep insight to see the profound and fundamental difference between these two following differing statements of faith. On the one hand, “Jesus was a religious genius with a high degree of God-consciousness but he was only a man. He was not born of a virgin, was not God come to earth in human form, did not die on the cross for the sins of the world, did not die on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, did not rise from the dead, will not return as God to judge the world, and will not reign with God as God. As to a day of judgment followed by an eternity in heaven or hell, that is outdated unscientific mythology. We do not know what will happen after death, but we do know that God is love and he would not send his children to an eternal hell. The main thing is to do your best and be sincere. Oh, I forgot to mention that the Bible is a merely book human, it has some great ideas and God speaks in it in some way, but it is full of mistakes, errors, and outdated ideas.”
On the other hand, we have the following beliefs of traditional, historic, orthodox Christianity: The Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God, written by men inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus was God come to earth in human form, born of a virgin. He did and said everything that the New Testament records about him, died on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, where he now reigns, and whence he will return. There will be a day of judgment, before which no one will be found to have lived without sin, but those who are forgiven by God will enter into paradise forever, while those who are rejected by God and whose names are not written in the book of life will be sent to an eternity of punishment in hell.
Anyone who cannot see that these are two different belief systems should not, in my view, be trying to say anything about the Christians in Germany. As to the former group, the liberals, is it any wonder that they effortlessly followed Hitler, since their empty, fake religiosity was nothing but the wisdom of the world to begin with? They built their house upon the sand and it collapsed when the storms came.