Archives For Nazism

One of Dietrich Bonheoffer’s key advocates in England throughout the 1930s-40s was Anglican Bishop George Bell. He famously clashed with Churchill over saturation bombing, challenged the ‘kill ‘em all’ ethos of Vansittart, and stood firm against the fallacies behind Vansittartism, which painted all Germans as Nazis without distinction.

Bell’s close relationship with the Confessing Church in Germany led to his 1940 book ‘Christianity and World Order’. Bell was well aware of the German Church’s struggle against a diluted Christianity, which had been pressed into the service of an overbearing and totalitarian state [i]. The book was a brave attempt at igniting the light of post-war peace in the hearts of those fighting against a present darkness.

Through his friends in Germany, Bell had the privilege of seeing firsthand the anti-Nazi actions being undertaken by the Church. He also witnessed the suffering inflicted on the Confessing Church for standing, where many others chose to remain silent or had given up; where once-were-Christians, replaced their faith in Christ, with faith in the Utopian promise of National Socialism.

Churchill’s government downplayed the potency of the German resistance. The resistance was rejected as impotent, and discounted as inconsequential. Bell was eventually shut out by Churchill for his insistence on Allied support for it, and for his public criticism of “saturation bombing” over areas known to be populated by civilians. Churchill’s move ignored the opposition on the ground. Formed by people like Hans Von Dohnanyi, and Karl Bonhoeffer; key conspirators, who knew that a negotiated peace was only an option if the Nazis were replaced.

The conspirators knew that peace would not be a reality unless the German resistance could stage a type of 1776 revolution, akin to that of the United States. Something Bell himself concedes was difficult, but not impossible; acknowledging that the ideological vice-grip was too firmly wrapped around the hearts and minds of Germans [ii].

Still, Bell remained defiant. Churchill’s justifiable counter moves against Hitler were not justified, if Churchill became as tyrannical as Hitler. The dismissal of the existence of any German resistance, and the “saturation bombing” policy were red flags.

An Allied victory and the post-war peace which followed would see a repeat of history if Christianity was ejected from the centre of the proceedings. For Bell, any positive post-war reconstruction necessitates placing the peace handed to us by Jesus Christ into the marrow of present war aims.

His justification for this was that Christianity is a threat to all man-made systems of salvation and condemnation [iii]. Subsequently, under the Lordship of Christ, Christianity stands opposed to the Lordlessness of the totalitarian state.

Therefore, Bell concludes,

‘the extension of Christianity all over the world is vital to the future of humanity. The new movements which are pseudo-religions, such as Communism, Fascism, and Secularism in its various forms, threaten the highest spiritual values in human life with destruction.’ [iv]

Inherent within these anti-Christ movements is the denial of life. Man and woman are solely material beings; a cog in a machine.

‘These movements reject God. They reject the supreme value of humanity. They are destroyers of civilisation.’ [v]

Bell’s big warning to us in our current climate is this: the expanding State develops totalitarian tendencies.

It ‘lays claim to man, and woman, in the totality of his and her being. It seeks to impose on all its citizens a particular philosophy of life (ideology)’ – any such ‘State which advances such claims on humanity has declared itself to be not only a State, but also a religious organisation.’ [vi]

Here the State exalted to godlike status moves from servant to master. There are no free citizens, only tortured subjects and power-hungry sycophants.

Staunchly opposed to this denial of a right to life and livelihood, is Christian faith and its ‘hope which can [and does] rise above all horrors’ (Romans 8:28).

Bell states, ‘Christianity is not a fugitive and cloistered religion. It is alive, fiery, exercised and fully breathed.’ [vii] As such, Christian existence ‘protests against this terrible despotism, this overwhelming domination of human life, with all the energy at its command’ [viii].

In other words, Christian living commands defiance of the deification of personality, party or political ideology. Likewise, we must identify and critique a diluted Christianity, which is pressed into the service of an overbearing and totalitarian state.

This is why Bell asserts that ‘the Church everywhere should be a confessional Church. It should be the church of the brave Word, [bravely] spoken.’ [ix] For ‘it is Christianity alone that shows man and woman their true destiny, and enables both to enjoy fullness of life.’ [x]

These words were written down eighty years ago. They contain within them a stern warning to our governments today: any justifiable counter moves against an enemy are not justified, if they make the government as tyrannical as the enemy it fights.

Question the new normal.


References:

Bell, G. Rev. 1940, Christianity and World Order, Penguin

[i] ‘The church struggle between the German Confessing Church & German Christians was about a refusal to yield to National Socialist ideology & the pressure of the State.’ (p.71)

[ii] Bell advocates revolution against the National Socialist regime. (p.92) Although the dismissal from Churchill’s government wasn’t completely unjustified, it can be argued that the lack of serious interest gave longevity to the war.

[iii] For Bell, ‘Christianity means primarily Jesus Christ, His life, death resurrection, the new age He birthed, and the community of which He is the head.’ (p.140)

[iv] ibid, p.137

[v] ibid, p.137

[vi] Bell citing J.H.Oldham, p.69

[vii] ibid, p.145

[viii] ibid, p.70

[ix] ibid, p.146

[x] ibid, p.137

First published on Caldron Pool, 16th March 2020

© Rod Lampard, 2020

It’s not difficult to locate video footage, or testimonials from victims who’ve come face to face with mobs in masks, wielding weapons, intimidating, threatening and harassing people in the name of their ideology. They’re a global movement, have their own flag, wear a uniform, carefully manage their image via mass media, are well organized, sizably funded, and having been openly supported, on occasion, by politician and celebrity alike, have political clout.

Their tendency towards violence is well established. As is their willingness to incite violence, or the threat of violence to silence an opponent; this is often against a person deemed by their leaders, as being unworthy of having an opinion – usually because their target’s viewpoint doesn’t support the goals of their leaders, and the ideological hegemony this masked-mob is not only trying defend, but to further establish.

If you thought that this described some ridiculous fringe-dwelling “Right-wing extremist” groups looking for validation, you’d be wrong. This is Antifa. Antifa is a mainstream Left-wing (paramilitary) unit, who tag themselves as anti-fascists. Unlike their eco-“anti-fascist” cousins, Extinction Rebellion, Antifa are better organized, and funded, often recruiting online or via University campuses.

Antifa is joined by an academic collective who pride themselves on being outspoken Nazi haters. Yet, by the way in which this “anti-fascist” organization appears to be structured – the way in which they choose to deal with people, rather than exchange ideas in civil conversation – it’s becoming more and  more obvious that their DNA  matches the DNA of those they claim to be fighting against.

Appearing to consider themselves endowed with special knowledge, or powers, it’s not hard to categorize Antifa as a dangerous esoteric group. Antifa parades itself as though its soldiers have been given a special revelation from God – a special insight – that enables them to spot a Nazi, or “right-wing extremist”, where the rest of us “plebs” are unable to do so. This presumptuous self-importance powers Antifa’s contempt for the majority of Westerners. You are a suspected Nazi, or “right-wing extremist” unless you prove you’re not, or up until Antifa chooses to clear you of all suspicion.

Left-wing groups need “right-wing extremism” and Nazism, in order to stay politically relevant. Therefore these organizations need to manufacture both in order stay solvent. For example: if there are not enough Nazis to go around, hype, funds and support fall away. Consequently, they have to manufacture some, or more profitably, expand the criteria, whereby Left-wing groups can push something like the “white supremacist crisis” narrative, and then conveniently present themselves as political messiahs, selling themselves as the only ones with the special knowledge and special power to fight this new enemy. Antifa needs fascists to stay relevant. Since “right-wing extremists” are fringe groups, and there are not enough of them to fight, the quiet quest is now on to expand the criteria for what, and who can be labeled a “right-wing extremist”.

Follow the logic, and this potentially means that anyone who supports the national anthem, national flag, biological union of man and woman, binary gender, or traditional marriage, are squeezed into the “right-wing extremist” category. Under this expanded criteria “right-wing extremist” would potentially even include Grannies who serve tea at the local CWA hall on a Tuesday, who’d find themselves face to face with Antifa  bullies, dispatched (via social media) to put-down these new “right wing extremists”, deemed so by Antifa’s Left-wing overlords and apparatchik sycophants.

By default Antifa and Left-wing groups can then try to put their own organization on par with the significance of those who stormed onto Juno, Utah, Omaha, Gold, and Sword, into what Eisenhower called a ‘Crusade’ against the National Socialist abyss that was consuming Europe during the 1940s.

Left-wing groups like Antifa don’t seem to care that the West is already deeply aware of the evil and dangers of Nazism. This is because our social awareness, knowledge of history, and its inherent anti-Nazism, is an inconvenience to their political narrative. It hinders their ability to justify their claims and existence as an organization.

Through our annual remembrance of those who went head to toe with real Nazis and defeated them; by the blood and sacrifice of our forebears; every time we commemorate events like VE day, or Anzac Day, we remind these Left-wing groups of our inherent anti-Nazism.

This isn’t just something we give lip service to; it’s written into the DNA of our consciousness – the evil and danger of Nazism is written in blood on many a family tree, but this great cost is cheapened by Left-wing groups like Antifa, who call, or suspect anyone and everyone, who isn’t a card carrying member of the Left, a Nazi. They insult the memory of our forebears when they ignore the fact that anti-Nazism is carved into the imagination and social consciousness of Westerners.

National Socialism (Nazism) isn’t the only demon out there. The social consciousness of the West is yet to include the dangers and evils present within other man-made systems of salvation and condemnation, such as Islamism and Communism. These groups remain successful in hiding from Westerners the same satanic darkness, and devouring Nothingness, that embodies them.

The ability of Left-wing groups, such as Communists to control how we view the world, through the largely inadequate, left/right metaphor, has given them the ability to distance Communism from the same criticisms applied to Nazism. As long as the concerns and imagination of the world is captivated by fear of “right-wing extremism”, and a necessary focus on the evil that is Nazism, Communists can deflect attention away from their own sins; their own atrocities.

This carefully manufactured gap in Western education and its social consciousness has created a myth of the socialist as savior. By keeping Nazis in the rubric Far-Right, or right-wing extremism, Communists have been able to paint themselves into the social consciousness of the West as a hero fighting the great Satan on the opposite side of the political metaphor. Thus, Communists have been able to shift public opinion in its favor. Anything on the Right is easily stigmatized as Nazism. Whether it is so or not doesn’t matter, as long as the image of benevolence is maintained in order to conceal the true nature of the beast. The sins of socialism are not only quickly forgiven; they’re just as quickly forgotten.

Communists can then say that only Communists can spot a real Nazi. Subsequently, only a Communist can be trusted to fight Nazis because only Communists are true anti-fascists. The Berlin Wall is one such example of Communists hijacking the term anti-fascist, in order to advance their own ideology. It was constructed by Communists and called an Anti-fascist Protection Rampart. Such is the malevolence that hides behind the veneer of what the radical Left sells as “Anti-fascism”.

Everyone who questions this falls under the suspicion of being a Nazi or a “right-wing extremist”, simply because it questioned our self-appointed political messiahs. This is why Antifa can damage property, harm people and shut down businesses, all without any real accountability. Then parade as an angel of light and garnish support, simply by appearing so.

To question anti-fascism is to be exposed as, or bring oneself under the suspicion of being a Nazi or “right-wing extremist.” There can be no questioning of this new lord-of-lords. Not without punishment, or being made to grovel in a public display of penance for doubting the benevolence of the socialist system of salvation.

Though socialism is the common ancestor of Communism and Nazism, Communism has side-stepped the same global ramifications for its criminal actions that have rightly been imposed on the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis). Take for instance, the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (1939), at which very few, if any raised an eyebrow at. This Soviet pact with the Nazis allowed the Soviets to invade Finland for its resources, and justified their invasion of Poland on one side, with the Nazis invading on the other.

Other examples of immunity for the crimes committed under Communism include the hushing up of the little known and rarely taught, Holodomor (1932-1933), Gulags, brutal suppression of the Hungarian Revolution (1956), Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968), Katyn massacre, invasion & occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989). These aren’t anomalies.

So wrote Eric Voeglin,

‘modern ideological mass movements and the dominant “philosophical” schools are in some sense continuations of the various anti-Christian, Gnostic sects, which were discredited as heretical in antiquity—there is both an historical continuity and an experiential equivalence between the ancient movements and such modern phenomena as positivism, Marxism, Freudianism, existentialism, progressivism, utopianism, revolutionary activism, fascism, communism, national socialism, and the rest of the “isms.” [i]

More pointedly stated by Roger Scruton, ‘Marxism shares the category of totality not only with traditional religion, but also with its own arch-enemy and blood brother, fascism.’[ii]

Suffice to say, Nazism and Communism are two wings on the same vicious bird.

Leftism is a crime against humanity.

As Jacques Ellul stated, ‘situating everything in Marxism is intellectual terrorism.’ [iii]


References:

[i] Voeglin, E. 1968. Science, Politics & Gnosticism: Two Essays, Regnery Publishing

[ii] Scruton, R. 2015. Fools, Frauds & Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, Bloomsbury

[iii] Ellul, J. 1988. Jesus & Marx, (pp.22-26)’

* Augusto Zimmerman’s 2018 article ‘Adolf Hitler’s Debt to Karl Marx‘ on Quadrant discusses in a lot more detail the subject I’ve raised about the largely false dichotomy between Communism & Nazism; and how it shows that the Left/Right metaphor is problematic.

First published on Caldron Pool, 1st March, 2020. Also featured on The Spectator Australia, 2nd March, 2020

Pic. New York Times

©Rod Lampard, 2020

 

Entitled ‘Gideon: God is my Lord’ [i] and preached in Berlin on February 26, 1933 ‘Bonhoeffer gave his first sermon’ since Hitler had been enshrined as chancellor 27 days prior.

Bonhoeffer’s decision to preach from the Old Testament was deliberate. In my opinion, he couldn’t have picked a more controversial figure, at the time, to make a political point.

Nazism, much the same as Communism, is an industry built on victimhood. These systems need a perpetual sense of victimization and sympathy in order to maintain membership and political momentum.

Bonhoeffer understood this. He chose Gideon in a deliberate attempt to preach against the imagery used in Nazi propaganda. In a way Bonhoeffer was reaching for Martin Luther’s epic treatise ‘Bondage of the Will’, to challenge Nazism’s ‘Triumph of the Will.’[ii]

For example: Larry Rasmussen suggests Bonhoeffer contrasted a ‘young [powerless] man chosen by God to save Israel from their enemies and turn them away from the worship of false gods’ with ‘Siegfried, the unconquered Germanic hero figure (of the Nibelung saga), idealised by the Nazis.’ [iii]

Expanding on this Isabel Best writes that Bonhoeffer sets out to ‘describe God’s power in contrast to human might, and finally from Martin Luther’s ‘A Might Fortress,’ to assure his hearers that even now the power, and the victory, are God’s alone.’[iv]

Gideon’s message is God’s grace to the Israelites and through the witness of Gideon this message is also about God’s graciousness towards humanity.

Bonheoffer expresses this clearly:

‘Gideon, we recognise your voice only too well; you sound just the same today as you did then…
Who would be willing to say that he or she has never heard this call and has never answered, as Gideon did: Lord, with what I am supposed to do such great things?
But Gideon is silenced; today as just in those days, he’s told to shut up. You’re asking, “With what?” Haven’t you realised what it means that this is God calling to you? Isn’t the call of God enough for you; if you listen properly, doesn’t it drown out all your “with what” questions?
“I will be with you” – that means you are not asked to do this with any other help. It is I who have called you; I will be with you; I shall be doing it too. Do you hear that, Gideon of yesterday and today?
God has called you, and that is enough. Do you hear that, individual doubting Christian, asking and doubting Christian? God has plans for you, and that does mean you.
Be ready to see to it. Never forget, even when your own powerlessness is grinding you down to the ground, that God has phenomenal, immeasurable, great plans for you. I will be with you.’ [v]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is someone I’d heard of, yet never read with any serious interest until I started college. Since then I have made inroads into understanding his life, theology and influences.

Most Christians who’ve heard of Bonhoeffer might only know him as a an obscure martyr; others will be able to match the name in more detail with the context and images of an era when Europe was consumed by an industrial military complex, imposing new cultural laws, issuing forth blitzkrieg, euthanasia, and mass murder; inciting euphoria through the progeny of Darwinian Socialism, the false doctrines of Nazi dogma.

The latter was swarming the globe, enraging some, and finding recruits in others. All through the promise of a new dawn for humanity – one embossed in the appearance of allegiance with Christianity, when instead it was firmly based on the survival of the fittest, racial supremacy, socialism, scientism, and pagan religion.

Faced with the uncertainty of the times, Bonhoeffer reaches for a tangible example from the Biblical text.

Some of us may find the times confusing. Some are frustrated, and feel powerless in the face of new industries built up around victimhood. Those of us in this category, who have a decent amount of knowledge of history, also lament at how those new victimhood industries are fast reflecting the old.

The truth is that we are witnessing a new wave of organized chaos that has to some degree breached walls where restraint has remained the stalwart of freedom. We are dragged into a fight for freedom and the Western world. A battle that must now be fought, but one we didn’t desire, nor ask for.

In the midst of this, Bonhoeffer and Gideon’s story speaks, reminding us to carry this burden without compromise, to maintain Christ-like integrity in the heat of battle, with the knowledge that though the enemy calls our faith weakness, God calls it strength. He still reigns, and we must trust that He, in His mercy will provide the means to address the challenges of today, and the challenges of tomorrow.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – (Philippians 4:6, ESV)


References:

[i] Best, I. (Ed.) 2012 The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer Fortress Press, p.67

[ii] Veith, G. E. 2010. The Spirituality of the Cross, Concordia Publishing House

[iii] Rasmussen, L in The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonheoffer, Isabel Best, (Ed.) 2012  Fortress Press, p.67

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid, pp.67-74 & Stroud, D.G. (Ed.) Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich  Wm.B Eerdmans Press, pp.51-61

An updated version of Gideon Speaks & Sounds Just The Same Today As He Did Then  from September 24, 2014.

First published on Caldron Pool, 5th November, 2019.

Photo by Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019.

If Australia’s Prime Minister is serious about fairness, he’ll preserve the right to a conscientious objection to SSM; the right for people to hold the view, and teach their kids that marriage is between a man and a woman; and that those children have a right to equal access to their biological father and mother.

As I have hopefully made clear in the written contributions I’ve made to this national debate, I see the issues as a matter of social justice. The “no” vote has been about defending truth, liberty, fraternity, science, and even equality, from unbalanced ideological servitude.

The State wants the church to stay out of politics, but the Church is being encroached on by the State. The people want the church to stay out of politics, but it paints their political slogans on church walls, violently interferes with gatherings and misuses the Bible to manipulate or bash Christians into submission. The people want the church to stay out of politics, but they bring politics into the church, demanding a pledge of allegiance to systems that perpetuate hatred and inequality, behind a veil of tolerance, love and equality.

None of this is new, it’s the very same thing that was perpetuated by Nazis and Communists, as French theologian and Marxist scholar, Jacques Ellul noted:

‘But I’ve heard such talk a thousand times, from fascists as well as Stalinists: “You have no right to judge from the outside; first you must join up, sympathize totally with our aims, and then you can talk.” BUT that is just when one can no longer say anything! The experience of those who looked horrified, in hindsight, on Hitler’s or Stalin’s time confirms this: “How could we have taken part in that?” they ask.’
(Ellul, Jesus & Marx 1988:146)[i]

It’s a clear double standard when the LGBTQ and their supporters can freely criticise and push others to refuse service to those who disagree, then turn around and deny those in disagreement, the right to the same free speech and freedom of conscience. That’s not equality.

The line is blurring. Christians who support SSM have confused love of God with love of neighbour, and as such have compromised their neighbour, through a false [Marxist/materialist] claim that says we should place love for neighbour over and above God.

This is what is called horizontal theology. It is grounded in the errors and perversity of natural theology; the implicit claim that by blindly loving  our neighbour we can reach God through our neighbor. This encourages me to treat my neighbor as though that neighbor was a second revelation of God. The kind of ideas that lead to the false worship of Kings, rulers, prophets and objects throughout history. In short, the creature is worshipped in place of the Creator, because the Creator has been confused with His creature.

We are to be Christlike in our treatment of our neighour; have Christ in mind when we go to serve our neighbour, but we are grossly mistaken if we think that Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40 “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”, means that our neighbor replaces Christ.

This misunderstanding leads is to works-righteousness. It leads us away from the righteousness of God that is graciously placed on us by the dynamic love of God. Grace that is active, free and sufficient, in the work carried out by the obedience of Jesus Christ.

We reject grace, when we reject Christ and put our neigbour in His place. This is because we reject God’s invitation to relationship. It denies God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, “who is the way, the truth and the life”[ii] it denies the fact that life with God, begins with, God with us. Christless Christianity is an oxymoron.

Love is not love, God is love. That “they will know us by our love”[iii] is true, but that love involves the freedom to give both a reasoned “yes” and “no”. The alternative view confuses love with niceness, sloth and indifference.

What this does is turn Christianity into a numb universal ethic of niceness – a lukewarm empty shell; a stoic idol built to reflect and cater to the feelings of men and women.

The ethic of universal niceness is false and incompatible with a thinking faith that commands us to have no god before God; to “test all things, and hold fast to the good[iv]”; to discern and ultimately lean not “on our own understanding, but on God.’’ (Proverbs 3:5-7). To lean not on an abstract or vague idea of God, nor on a god created by human imagination, but on the tangible gracious grip of God, as the One who grasps us and testifies to us about Himself, in space and time, through covenant and in Jesus the Christ.

Faith seeks understanding.

Our response to this is found in prayer and gratitude. Actions; grounded in word, deed and attitude that reciprocates God’s selfless movement towards us, in covenant, manger, cross, empty tomb and beyond.

Being super nice has the veneer of Christian love, but it’s moral therapeutic deism at best, practical atheism (Christian in name only) at worst. This is the kind of thing that fed the blood and soil ideology of Nazism, and the Marxist ‘deification of the poor, over against THE POOR One’ (Ellul, 1988), through the dictatorship of the proletariat. Not that we should ignore the poor, but that we shouldn’t deify them to further the self-interests of those who take it upon themselves to designate who the oppressed and the oppressors are. For all have fallen short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23).

For those who voted “no” in 2017, there will be a need to take time to carefully consider the way forward.

If we are to be true to this “no” and the love behind it, this will involve having to rise and once again say to the world that we refuse to surrender or kneel before anyone but God, and His revelation in Jesus Christ.

To once again say to the world that love of neighbour is not love of God, nor should we confuse the two. For to do so is to make a god of our neighbour, and make love for neighbour, the means of salvation. Love of neighbour is grounded on and in our love of God, without the latter we are not free and therefore, we cannot truly do the former. We will be doomed to serving our own selfish interests.

Jesus is the way, tolerance isn’t. Jesus is the way, love is love isn’t. Jesus is the way, means that no man or woman, good work or intention, super niceness, or feeling is or can be. The true path to freedom, the only path to salvation is the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. This cannot be reversed. It is decisive. The path is set.  #bewaretheauctioneers

In light of the changes to come, Christians are to do what they are called to do, centre everything in Jesus Christ. To lay every issue before the cross, following Paul’s words in Romans 12, clinging especially to those which encourage us to ‘…rejoice in hope, be patient in trial, be constant in prayer.’

This is bolstered by Karl Barth’s reminder:

‘The Church is either a missionary Church or it is no church at all. Christians are either messengers of God [with or without words] to both Jew and Gentile, or else they are not Christians at all.’ [v]

Far too many churches, ministers and Christian scholars are staying silent, waiting to see who wins what society calls “the culture wars”, so that they can back the winner. That’s a coward’s gamble. It’s an action that they may one day come to regret. Now is the time. Speak life. Speak truth in love. Set your eyes towards Christ, because inhaled grace ignites.

Kyrie Eleison.


References:

[i] Ellul, J. 1988 Jesus & Marx: From Gospel to Ideology Wipf and Stock Publishers

[ii] John 14:6, ESV

[iii] John 13:35 & Matthew 7:16 ESV

[iv] 1 Thess. 5:21, 1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 John 4:1 ESV

[v] Barth, K. Church Dogmatics 3.3, The Divine Preserving (p.64)

(Updated and edited from an article posted in November, 2017, called, To Everything There Is a Season: Deifying Our Neighbour Isn’t One of Them. Also published on The Caldron Pool, 20th November, 2018.

Photo Credit: Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018.

XYZ’s David Hiscox recently posted about the XYZ team’s growing affection for the term ‘Unintentionally Hilarious’.

David then went on to define this as:

“When someone on the left is so blind to their own bias that they fail to realise that their argument exposes this bias, and reinforces a narrative counter to that of the left. One might even call this “unconscious bias”

I decided to take up his invitation and compile a list of examples characteristic of this ludicrous phenomenon, its dissonance and general drag on democracy:

1. Hate Trump, loves trumps hate

(Hmm. But Love is love right? Can’t someone love Trump? Hashtag: justsayin’)

2. “No borders!! The Right are xenophobic racist bigots. You’re not an American, stay out of American politics”

(This strange anti-Trump hypocrisy was exhibited when an Indian friend of mine came under attack for posting a pro-American, pro-Christian article in a Facebook academic discussion group, largely dominated by American liberal-protestants [theological leftist progressives]. I defended him and the wolf pack turned on me. Doing their best to pin bigot, racist, ignorant etc. on me.  Right up to throwing my contributions to the SSM debate here in Australia, in my face, by falsely accusing me of living off “bashing gays on the internet”. In a move I protested, sometime later, an admin made the unfortunate decision to delete the post. Thereby, giving vindication to their abuse and insults, which aimed at shutting down those who disagreed with them.)

3. “You’re a Nazi; anyone my political group says is or looks like a Nazi, is a Nazi, so find a Nazi and punch one…”

(But, in dehumanizing people you don’t agree with or dislike, or think you are superior to, via reckless labels, simplistic slogans and misguided hate, aren’t you doing what the Nazis actually did?)

4. “You’re a fascist scumbag. You disagree with me; I’m calling that hate speech and silencing you.”

(This one is self-evident, so no comment necessary)

5. You’re white and therefore racist. It’s in your DNA

 (Hmm. Isn’t the very definition of racism, unjustly judging someone by the colour of their skin?)

6.Capitalism is evil, white pride is not the same as other kinds of pride – it’s an evil kind, therefore it’s okay for other people to love and take pride their country, culture, skin colour and faith, but not you. “

(Huh…okay. But, you just tweeted support for #LOVEisLOVE, #pride, on the latest smartphone, shared it to Facebook while drinking a $7 decaf, latte, reading the free press before going shopping without fear of harassment by government sanctioned moral police or the government itself?)

7. Then there was the time when academics united to protest the outlawing, and removal, of Soviet & Nazi symbols in the Ukraine because it contradicts the right to freedom of speech” 

(This was the very same year the Dukes of Hazard  reruns were axed because the iconic ’69 Dodge charger was considered to be a symbol of racism.)

Although, I understand the XYZ affection for the phrase “Unintentionally Hilarious”,  not all of these are all that humorous. They’re outright dangerous.

Consider the issue of recklessly labelling someone a Nazi.  If you can pin someone down to being something as evil as a Nazi, you can justify hurting them, or worse.

The dark and twisted irony of this? The word Nazi is utilised in the way the word Jew was, by the Nazis.

This goes beyond the rhetoric of Godwin’s Law. In any debate, calling your opponent a Nazi without reasoned qualification, dehumanises your opponent. Turning that opponent, without justification, into an inhuman enemy.

The danger should be clear enough. From a psychological point of view this rampant ad hominem is recognised as emotional manipulation. Recklessly calling someone a Nazi is a shaming technique, designed to control the opponent in an attempt to discredit and silence them. The same goes for those who would paint all white people as racist.

Link both the reckless labelling of people as Nazis and the slogan “all white people are racist” together and the cocktail of hate is complete. All that’s needed are chambers filled with the pesticide Zyklon B, cyclone fencing, and all those determined by the Left as having “life unworthy of life”.

Any well informed reader who knows the history behind the genocidal rampaging in Rwanda, of the Tutsis against the Hutus, will see that there is good reason for concern.

Thankfully, I think most independent free thinkers are able to see these dangers. This, however, lasts, for as long as they are allowed to remain independent free thinkers.

Something brilliantly exemplified by the lengthy discussion hosted by Joe Rogan, between Professor of psychology, Jordan B Peterson and Jewish Evolutionary Biologist, Bret Weinstein. The latter is the subject of an ongoing dispute. He was suspended after being falsely accused of being a racist. His crime? Trying to stop Evergreen College from forcing all white people to take a day of absence, as part of an annual ritual held by the college.

I hold to the view that all of this ‘unintentional humour’ is rooted in pride. The power handed to the Left has made most of them drunk; so much so that their logic and reasoning has become incoherent and absurd.

I also believe that anything with pride in it needs serious critique. As I’ve stated in some of my work shared with XYZ, pride is the enemy of grace and will always be so.

Pride repels self-restraint, honest, free critique and authentic humility. It stops us from thinking clearly. Numbs us to the pain of others and dangerously over-inflates a healthy sense of ego.

This is as much a reality for the Right as it is for the Left.

Even XYZ is not exempt. Sure enough, it’s a fresh voice in a land of fake smiles, lies, high-fives and ignorant compliance. If it is to be taken seriously,  however, XYZ’s authors have to apply this very same self-restraint, honest, free critique and authentic humility. Attributes that are lacking in much of society today.

One example of this is in how far XYZ carry, and how well they define, what some call “pro-white nationalism”.

They need to counter the gross historical baggage of “pro-white national socialism”, countering it with a carefully communicated definition of what XYZ authors mean when they talk about ‘’pro-white nationalism”.

This isn’t an attack on XYZ’s authors. It’s an honest example of where, how and why, the Right need to be smarter, more aware, more gracious and more humble. Self reflection is a good thing.

Since the Left give us permission to do so, if a group of people calling other people Nazis, are doing exactly what Nazis did, shouldn’t those being called Nazis, have the right to punch a Nazi?

The answer is a tentative “no”. Those who stand opposed must do better than employ the same tactics used against them. Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Thatcher didn’t bring about an end to the Cold War by feeding the status quo.

If the excesses of the Left are to be responsibly countered; or if any attempt at stopping the worst that Leftist ideologies want to impose on the West is to succeed, then those countering it, will need to trust not in their own wisdom or strength, but in God’s.

Reason will win battles only if it is governed by humility. That humility starts with the recognition that we are not God. It recognises, even if it has to strain itself to do so, that God is God and we are not. Faith seeks understanding and to follow this, in our day and age, is to follow the road of cultural resistance. We have, because God gives. Out of this we in turn live and move and have our being.

Pride is not confidence, it’s an overbearing self-reliance that arrogantly trusts in flawed human structures. It ‘is a universal human problem and everyone suffers from it to some degree.‘ Pride leads us to obsess over power, and drags us into unjust conflict.

False humility is pride. False solidarity is self-seeking. It is an enemy of grace.

And it is the Achilles heel of the Left.

Solomon’s wisdom that echos down through the ages, both encourages and warns us:

‘Pride goes before destruction and an arrogant, haughty spirit comes before a fall.’
(Proverbs 16:18)

 

During my undergraduate research into the wide and wondrous theological landscape of Karl Barth’s rejection of natural theology, I came across some criticisms of Barth made by Martin Luther King Jnr.

628x471_barth-and-mlkjnr 1962King made these criticisms in 1952, centring them around two main points. First, the [liberal] theologian must part with Barth in his rejection of natural theology. This is because:

‘we find God in the beauty of the world, in the unpremeditated goodness of humanity, and in the moral order of reality. Second, Barth emphasises the unknowableness of God, but if God is unknowable one wonders how Barth came to know so much of the ‘’Unknown God’’  [1].

Here King shows his lean towards the theology of ‘19th century liberal protestants, who viewed human culture as being endowed with revelatory potential’ [2].

In the end, though, King somewhat affirms Barth’s theology,

‘In spite of our severe criticisms of Barth, however, we do not in the least want to minimize the importance of his message. His cry does call attention to the desperateness of the human situation. He does insist that religion begins with God and that man cannot have faith apart from him. He does proclaim that apart from God our human efforts turn to ashes and our sunrises into darkest night. He does suggest that man is not sufficient unto himself for life, but is dependent upon the proclamation of God’s living Word, through which by means of Bible, preacher, and revealed Word, God himself comes to the consciences of men. Much of this is good, and may it not be that it will serve as a necessary corrective for a liberalism that at times becomes all to shallow?’ [3]

King’s rejection of Barth’s “no” to natural theology seems short-sighted.

For Barth,

‘Christianity is the protest against all the high places which human beings build for themselves’ (Barth C.D IV/II p.524).

When viewed through the lens of World War One and German preoccupation with Social Darwinism, World War Two and the Barmen Declaration, his rejection of natural theology is more understandable. Barth’s stance pushed against the claims of national socialist ideology by aiming at its roots [4].

What Barth rejects is natural theologies,

‘autonomous rational structure’ (Torrance), [5], and its ‘self-determining knowledge of God which is absent of Jesus the Christ. The importance of the revelation of Jesus Christ is that He teaches us that we are‘ human beings and not pets’ (Olasky) [6].

Natural theology, it could be argued, bolstered the clinical one-sidedness of Scientism; Nazi dehumanization programs, rationalised ignorance, the humanist deification of humanity (seen in the führerprinzip), the Nazi gas chambers, “re-education” camps, total war, eugenics, racism and slave labour.

Barth’s ”no” to natural theology is seen better under the light of his sociopolitical context. It’s a much larger critique than that of 19th Century theology. Barth’s words fall as a warning to those who sought to detach Christian theology from Christ. It’s a criticism of those who attempted to synchronise Christian theology with the tentative conclusions of the disciples of Frederic Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin. All of whom can be found to have had a direct and indirect influence on German thought, specifically, National Socialism.

This opposition was worked out in the Barmen declaration; authored by Barth as part of the Confessing Churches stand against National Socialism in the 1930’s.

‘We reject the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords–areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him’ (Barth, 8.15 second thesis, Barmen Declaration 1934).

In 1962, ten years after his initial criticisms, King met Barth. Despite their differing position on natural theology they shared some visible common ground in their eventual opposition to the Vietnam War. Barth ‘called for opposition to the conflict in Vietnam, stating, “It is not enough only to say, ‘Jesus is risen,’ but then remain silent about the Vietnam War’ [7]. It’s possible to hear echoes of Barth in King’s words to Riverside Church in New York on the 4th April, 1967.

Barth & King 1962“There comes a ‘a time to break the silence’ because ‘’a time comes when silence is betrayal.”

This “point of contact” with Barthian theology is displayed in the overall content of King’s speeches. It’s one that can be measured alongside the Barmen declaration and matched with Barth’s own opposition, not only to the conflict in Vietnam, but also to Nazism.

Barth and King stand as examples. Both challenged ideologies with theology. Challenging old and new, political and cultural ideologies that had moved, or were moving from being a servant towards being a master. Each show that the world benefits when Christian theology stands and then seeks to steer humanity away from the rocky shores of its own making, such as the seductive Siren calls of Machiavellian agendas and unruly ‘isms.’

As the Lutheran, Gene Veith, wrote,

‘Nazism was a calculated crusade to deny the transcendence of God and usurp Christianity’. Theology must challenge ‘the ideas that led to Auschwitz with special scrutiny. This is especially true when those ideas, often adopted uncritically, are still in vogue today’ [8].

Today, its relevance calls Christians – theologians – regardless of skin colour or country, to stand side by side in a push back against the stream. To push back against the mudslide of agendas carried along by propaganda machines which often feed off of division, drama and a one-sided, segregated, party-line.

No where is this more evident in theology today, than in the virulent misuse of liberation theology. What arose with great promise as it looked towards reconciliation, now only appears to be a selective slingshot in the verbal arsenal of “progressive” stone-throwers. Causing a breakdown of dialogue which has all but confirmed the suspicions of their conservative brothers and sisters.

It’s here that we might find Barth and King’s voices of resistance. A genuine theology of Christian liberation, with Jesus Christ at the centre, as opposed to a Liberation Theology with Karl Marx, at its core. In this what might be heard is a collective “no”; the call for the reformation, and therefore the liberation of a theology of Christian liberation, from the snares of liberation theology.

King, 4th April, 1967 (transcript):


References:

[1] King Jnr, M.L. 1952 Karl Barth’s conception of God sourced 17th August 2012 from http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol2/520102BarthsConceptionOfGod.pdf (pp.105-106)

[2] McGrath, A.E. 2001 a scientific theology: nature vol1. T&T Clark Ltd. Edinburgh, Scotland (p.255)

[3]King Jnr, M.L. 1952 Karl Barth’s conception of God sourced 17th August 2012 from http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol2/520102BarthsConceptionOfGod.pdf (p.106)

[4] Gorringe, T.J 1999 Karl Barth: Against Hegemony Christian theology in context Oxford University Press New York (p.3)

[5] Torrance, T.F. 1994 Preaching Christ today: the Gospel and scientific thinking Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing Co. Grand Rapids, MI, USA (p.70)

[6] Olasky, M 2003 Standing for Christ in a Modern Babylon Crossway Books, Good News publishers Wheaton, IL (p.80)

[7] Chung, S. W. 2006 Karl Barth and evangelical theology: Convergences and divergences Milton Keynes, Paternoster Press. UK (p.199) citing George Hunsinger 

[8] Veith Jnr, G.E. 1993 modern fascism: the threat to the Judeo-Christian worldview Kindle for P.C. Ed.

Images:

Source: stanford.edu

1. The Princeton University Chapel, Dr. King on the Chapel steps, with Karl Barth (pictured on the left), April 29, 1962.

2. A stroll on campus at Princeton University,

*”The Calling to Speak is Often a Vocation of Agony”  (King, ‘Beyond Vietnam‘)