BLOOD ON THE ALTAR | The Coming War Between Christian vs. Christian
PART 13 – THE OMINOUS CHURCH OF ANTICHRIST UNDER CONSTRUCTION
| By Douglas W. Krieger and S. Douglas Woodward
To the surprise and the dismay of most Christians, it is probable that no repellent political figure in modern times ever professed faith in Christianity more than Adolf Hitler. No public official ever championed the separation of church and state more fervently than the Führer. And it is unlikely that any religious leader promoted putting faith into action with more exuberance than the leader of the National Socialist Party. Consider a small sample of Hitler’s words:
This “Winter Help Work” [a social “outreach” program] is also in the deepest sense a Christian work. When I see, as I so often do, poorly clad girls collecting with such infinite patience in order to care for those who are suffering from the cold while they themselves are shivering with cold, then I have the feeling that they are all apostles of a Christianity—and in truth of a Christianity which can say with greater right than any other: this is the Christianity of an honest confession, for behind it stand not words but deeds.[ii]
For these substantive reasons and many more (not always so warmly swaddled in biblical ideals), the German Catholic as well as the “evangelical” church failed to discern a glaring and provocative manifestation of Antichrist in their midst. The best and the brightest, the priests and the theologians, all were caught up in the rush to support the cause of National Socialism. German leaders, both spiritual and political, stood side by side to bring the Fatherland back from the brink. And Adolf Hitler inspired them to come together for the common cause.
Certainly, more than “mass psychology” was influencing 1930s Germany.[iii] Christian intellectuals, from the middle ranks to the upper echelons, professed faith in the Führer. In hindsight, we could be justifiably aghast about how the experts wholly missed the most obvious incarnation of the Antichrist since brutal, first-century Roman emperors fed thousands of Christians to the lions.[iv] How, pray tell, could this happen?
Indeed, this particular “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:7) astonishes us because Hitler not only convinced the hungry and unemployed masses, he gained the favor of the theologically sophisticated. Despite his outspoken rancor and the suspected occultism amongst him and his accomplices, opposition from the church never materialized in any meaningful way until almost the war’s end. Hitler promoted what Germans wanted to hear—that God was on their side. He provoked patriotism by calls to revere the old ways. He assured the nation that the disgrace of losing “the Great War” (World War I) had nothing to do with the Kaiser’s blatant imperialism. And despite outrageous anti-Semitism, Adolf Hitler was hailed as “God’s man of the hour.” The servants of God were simply clueless in detecting the malevolent motivating force behind Adolf Hitler. Discernment disappeared from the church.
Behold the uniqueness of Adolf Hitler! With contagious conviction, he voiced what the German soul could be in its manifold creative genius! His carefully orchestrated words disclosed complete commitment and utter brilliance as a leader of the people. With rapturous expressions, he invigorated a dejected Germany. He guided the rediscovery of its powerful but pagan roots, illuminating who they were and what they could become, with Almighty God guiding their steps (he saw no conflict between Odin—the Scandinavian king of gods—and Jehovah!) Hitler injected into nearly every German heart a divine imprimatur, which justified an inferno of destruction and death unmatched in human history. Its pristine message created a new Reich of das volk, a people destined by the triumph of their collective will to become the consummation and commencement of the kingdom of God—das thousande jahre Reich (the millennial reign, a one-thousand-year kingdom initiated in the German spirit of Charlemagne, the emperor of the First Reich, the Holy Roman Empire inaugurated at Christmas, AD 800).[v]
This infamous would-be Kaiser/Caesar/Antichrist arose in Germany over a ten-year time frame, from the end of 1924 until he became chancellor in March 1933, and soon thereafter, becoming the supreme leader—having combined the offices of president and chancellor into “führer and reichskanzler” upon the death of President Paul von Hindenburg.
There were those, however, who possessed the ability to discern the real meaning of National Socialism. They possessed the necessary time and skill to analyze the political, social, and spiritual events leading up to the Nazi takeover. But they steadfastly refused to respond to their better judgment. No doubt their failure in part stemmed from a latent (and all-too-often blatant) anti-Semitism widespread amongst the German population, arguably stimulated by Martin Luther’s strong anti-Semitic perspectives.[vi]Nevertheless, even the dramatic incidents of hate expressed toward Jews (one thinks of Kristallnacht, Crystal Night or the Night of the Broken Glass, November 9–10, 1938) failed to supply the spiritually astute with insight into what was going to happen. The appeal of Hitler satisfied a number of concerns related to national pride, providing simple answers to very complex questions, promising economic rebirth to a nation dead in its fiscal tracks, and the rehashing of the nation’s favorite Teutonic folk myths stirring the soul of its people.
Gott Mit Uns: “God with Us”
We don’t have space to concern ourselves with all the causes for the apokalypsis of Antichrist in Germany.[vii]Instead, we will focus on the spiritually based sentiments Hitler explicitly expressed, promising that his ideology and his government supported the Christian faith—that there was no conflict between National Socialism and Christianity. It was this relationship—an overtly rank expression of “religio-political apostasy”—that so disturbs us. From his countless statements made directly to Christian audiences, we will learn why Adolf Hitler was so extremely dangerous. Surprisingly (we think you will agree ours is not the standard interpretation), it was not because he could scheme so treacherously. To the contrary, the key to Hitler’s sleight-of-hand was due to his own self-delusion: He possessed unwavering faith that his was a righteous calling from God above—wrought by “providence.”
Our point in this piece: Beware! Similar circumstances are present in our land today. Americans must be on guard—especially at this most portentous time—with depressed economic conditions, a high unemployment rate, and smooth-talking politicians long on promises and short on accomplishments. Our vigilance cannot be dulled even by the most sincere-sounding statements of faith and vision from prominent public figures. Our observations must be focused not on just what is said, but on what is being done. A superficial assessment will not suffice. We must consider all the evidence carefully and draw conclusions in pious contemplation. The church (both liberal and conservative) is poised to fail miserably in recognizing who the real enemy is.
Our concern boils down to this poignant question: If Antichrist were to be revealed in America, would the faithful recognize him? Would Americans committed to spiritual values miss the same clues disclosing Antichrist’s true nature as did the Germans with Hitler?
There is little doubt that if a figure paraded himself in front of the American people resembling an easily stereotyped leader of the Third Reich—with a mousy moustache, an armband with a hypnotic logo, and wearing a brown shirt—his character and agenda would be obvious to almost everyone. Mounting the podium with an emotional appeal to our national loyalty, the adamant display of venom and vitriol against the enemies of the state, the promise of the restoration of our American “empire” through a continuing buildup of military might, the stark name-calling identifying an appropriate scapegoat to fault for our problems—all of these factors would, at best, betray a would-be Antichrist figure as a false messiah—or at worst, spotlight an artless actor who undoubtedly took us for fools.
We can be certain the apocalypse of (that is, therevealing of) Antichrist in America, an event we believe will transpire in the years just ahead, will be a one-of-a-kind challenge requiring spiritual discernment worthy of only the most circumspect and attuned “code breakers” whose specialty is exposing wolves in sheep’s clothing. We call the church to take up this mission. We believe the church of Jesus Christ, the true church that understands the authentic meaning of Jesus’ message, the coming of the kingdom of God, stands as the last line of defense.
Orchestrating the Maddening Crowd
Remember, Hitler achieved a meteoric rise to prominence and power because he understood the soul of his people. He could relate. He knew what made them tick. He realized how to couch his message in the context of the political situation and how to engage those who would be but mere spectators by relating to their financial pain and anxiety over the future. Hitler understood crowd psychology and how to manipulate it. To mesmerize his audience, he utilized the power of emphatic facial expressions and energetic hand gestures. He compelled unquestioning allegiance by conveying solutions plainly and confidently no matter how oversimplified or extreme his answers might be. In fact, the more oversimplified and uncompromising his solutions were, the better to persuade the people of their usefulness. His greatest weapon was that “wretched Treaty of Versailles” and its national humiliation—its guilt-ridden condemnation upon the German people, coupled with horrific war reparations heaped upon the German people (which capitalists in America were only too happy to finance).
What is the lesson for us? If the Antichrist were to arise in America at this moment, we would be foolish to expect him to be anything but a consummate American. He would look like us. He would talk like us. He would think—for the most part—like us. And with a straight face he might even assert a profession of Christian faith, and why he believes the teaching of Jesus Christ is so well suited for society. Following Adolf Hitler’s lead, he would appeal to the most devout class of Christian, the evangelical. He would offer opportunities to bring biblically based believers “out front”—to escape the shadows of social disdain and distance themselves from the hackneyed portrait showcased by the media and affirmed by the intelligentsia, supposing that those who call themselves evangelical are intellectually bankrupt. He would convince Bible-believing conservatives that they should no longer see themselves as simpleplebeians (common folk). Their self-image should be elevated so they regard their value no less in status than the progressive patricians of sophisticated national institutions.[viii] Not that he would identify himself with the elite or propose that the common man should be ashamed of his laborer status. Rather, he would argue that he remains a man “of the people,” yet holds himself sufficiently apart to sanctify his status as our formidable if not fearless leader.
This positioning reflects the example of Herr Hitler in many respects. Likewise, the tone and substance coming from the mouth of the Führer, although etched in the zeitgeistof that age, begs for comparison to what we hear today from select political leaders promoting the American version of the New World Order,[ix] especially those who were, are, or would be our president. Consider for a moment: Might it not be a factor in the false Christ’s persuasiveness—the fact that he could deceive, if possible, even the elect? (Matt. 24:24).
The sham to fool evangelicals will make use of more than patronizing remarks. It will turn the words of our most popular preachers against us. The ideology that should prohibit the arising of Antichrist—the Christian religion and its worldview—will be a powerful tool co-opted to capture the “believing” masses and to encourage through a moral veneer and political resolution an agenda resonating within the heart of the “folks” in these United States. Indeed, the future philosophy of Antichrist will convince us that we should resolve to be nothing less than what our most prominent spiritual leaders teach us to be—successful, healthy, and committed to classic American ideals (although our most noble notions of individual liberty, a la Henry David Thoreau and Thomas Jefferson, have long since quietly departed for destinations unknown).
In like manner, Antichrist would deftly implore citizens to follow his lead. He would criticize Christians for their failure to follow the most “positive” aspects of our faith. Indeed, it would be similar to Hitler’s “positive Christianity”—a Christianity that is proactive, expressed in “unselfish service” to others, characteristic of true Americans.
He would call us to be the best Americans we can be—a worthy aspiration for the greater good of all Americans. The health of our nation, he would argue, depends upon living productive lives that contribute to economic prosperity for all. Morality, like ethics, should be shaped to improve our communities in light of standards established by the majority. Religion, true religion, will instill these values. It will not conflict with political objectives because positive faith goes hand in hand with constructive political ideology. The manifesto of “the public good” will brand any substantial opposition worthy of elimination. True believers will be activists—but for causes that conform to the will of the many—all the better to reflect his “image,” with “great signs and wonders” to deceive (Matt. 24:24).
On the surface, the nature of these ideals will seem consistent with the Bible. After all, who would argue that the spiritually inclined should be unproductive, immoral, unethical, a burden on the public’s well being, and incapable of contributing to the community’s economic health? And yet, upon a more cautious objective inspection, there will emerge a thin but distinctive line between a laudable social compact (built upon beneficial principles for both the individual and the nation) and an overreaching “state” that demands unquestioned obedience (aka cooperation)—commanding allegiance above all other causes no matter how worthy. One thinks of the pro-life stance denying women the right to choose. American society has chosen pro-abortion. There are more than fifty million dead Americans who never made it outside the womb to gain some semblance of civil rights. Those who point out this sorry fact are liable to be labeled “social dissidents.”
Moreover, the challenge to discern the agenda of the Antichrist will be difficult for many reasons, not just intellectual. Social pressure to conform will be “maxed out.” The path to achieve clarity will be a lonely one, for our peers will be only too ready to encourage complicity. Any complaint and disparagement will be interpreted as unpatriotic, a threat to social order, and harmful not only to our own health, but to those we love and care about. An “untoward behavior” will be viewed as “self-alienation,” first frowned upon and then doggedly condemned, since it fails to benefit “the many.” One’s consciousness-raising must be done in stealth so as not to draw attention to an expressed awareness that the enemy of Christ speaks profanely in our presence. It would not be easy to resist even if we were to come to the realization that we have been asked to serve Antichrist. Our peers will plead with us not to rock the boat, not to question falling in line, not to label the state as anything but what is best for one and all.
To be “the best Christian one can be” will appear synonymous with being the perfect US citizen. Fear will lead families to betray one another: Brother will betray brother, and children will betray their parents—all in the name of doing what is “for the common good of all.” The words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew must be seen for what they really are: a sign of His soon coming.
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matt. 10:21–22)
Needing to recognize political and religious rhetoric as a potential harbinger of the evil one to come, study the words of Hitler below. He seems most open-minded. Consider just how difficult it will be to discern the voice of Antichrist when it reverberates in America:
We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the morality and moral sense of the German race. The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity, but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession.[x](emphasis added)
The National Government regards the two Christian Confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. They will respect the agreements concluded between them and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed… It will be the Government’s care to maintain honest co-operation between Church and State; the struggle against materialistic views and for a real national community is just as much in the interest of the German nation as in that of the welfare of our Christian faith. The Government of the Reich, who regard Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attach the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and are endeavoring to develop them.[xi]
The partnership of church and state constructed by Hitler was remarkable in many ways, for he appealed to Christians’ proclivity to self-righteous aspiration, beguiling them through awarding accreditation as possessors of the very “moral soul” of the nation. To enhance his appeal, he vowed that without a Christian moral foundation, there would be no German morality. In light of this, the reader of the Gospels can stop wondering why Jesus (in Matt. 24) was so repetitious regarding “deception and being deceived,” “false prophets and false messiahs,” and the like in reference to the “state of society” at the end of the age. Yet what Hitler accomplished next was a frightening prelude to the coming of the real Antichrist, of which he was only a type.
TO BE CONTINUED…
[ii] Adolf Hitler, speaking of the Winter Help Campaign on October 5, 1937.
[iii] “The main idea of Sigmund Freud’s crowd behavior theory is that people who are in a crowd act differently towards people from those who are thinking individually. The minds of the group would merge to form a way of thinking. Each member’s enthusiasm would be increased as a result, and one becomes less aware of the true nature of one’s action.” See http://en.wikipedia.org / wiki/ Crowd_psychology.
[iv] The study of who understood Hitler and fled and who did not is an intriguing study in itself. Walter Stein, student of Rudolph Steiner, whom Trevor Ravenscroft credits with the story behind The Spear of Destiny, fled to England. Paul Tillich, who later became a major voice in American theological liberalism, supposedly looked into the eyes of Hitler, saw the demonic, and left for Switzerland. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the most noteworthy theologian who saw Hitler for what he was—a mass murderer. Eventually he lost his life for participating in an assassination attempt on Hitler. He is the most famous Christian martyr of the twentieth century, although only one of millions as we have learned that the martyr death toll in the last twenty years may now exceed the total number of martyrs since the first century.
[v] Recall his true name was German, Karl the Great, in the line of Pepin, representing the dynasty of the Carolingians.
[vi] Luther’s The Jews and Their Lies (1543, Von den Jüden und iren Lügen) stands as the seminal statement on anti-Semitism. According to friend and scholar Gary Stearman, Luther makes his hatred for the Jews crudely plain.
[vii] The Greek word, apokalypsis, means “the revealing,” particularly the revealing of deep secrets, from whence the word “apocalypse” derives.
[viii] We might even have one of our most noteworthy evangelical leaders be asked to give the prayer at a presidential inauguration!
[ix] Hitler spoke of bringing about the new order as did Franklin D. Roosevelt.
[x] Item #24 of the German Worker’s Party “Program” circa 1920s.
[xi] Adolf Hitler, in his speech to the Reichstag on March 23, 1933.