Looking back at recent history, we can see one of the most blatant and ludicrous attempts at replacing Jesus with another, man-made 'Jesus' was by the Third Reich in the 1920s and ’30s. They did this when they were rising to power through their ''Positive Christianity'' as a way to 'Aryanize' Jesus as a Galilean (who by their definition weren’t Jewish). Literally, they tried to remove the Jewishness of both Jesus and the scriptures from the Bible.
But they weren't the only ones. Just another in a long line of people trying to redefine Jesus.
Thus, as I was doing some research on Christian persecution over the last few hundred years, I noticed that I kept seeing the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons included in the list of persecuted Christian groups. I understand that Mormons and JW’s have been persecuted by various regimes over the years, but being lumped in with Orthodox groups as if they were one and the same troubled me. To many outside the Christian faith, both JW’s and LDS are grouped together with Christians, even though by definition, they are not anymore Christian, then a Muslim is a Hindu.
They cannot be Christian because they deny or alter some of the very basic tenets that make Christianity unique. It makes as much sense as saying one was a Muslim but denying the basic tenets of Islam.
Positive Christianity grew out of the Higher Criticism of the nineteenth century, with its emphasis on the distinction between the historical Jesus, and the divine Jesus of theology. According to some schools of thought, the saviour-figure of orthodox Christianity was very different from the historical Galilean preacher. While many such scholars sought to place Jesus in the context of ancient Judaism, some writers reconstructed a historical Jesus who corresponded to anti-Semitic ideology. In the writings of such anti-Semites as Emile Burnouf, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and Paul de Lagarde, Jesus was redefined as an Aryan hero who struggled against Judaism. Consistent with their origins in Higher Criticism, such writers often either rejected or minimized the miraculous aspects of Gospel narratives, reducing the crucifixion to a tragic coda to Jesus's life rather than its prefigured culmination.
The three main tenets of Positive Christianity were:
1. Rejection of Jewish-written parts of the Bible (including the entire Old Testament)
2. Claiming "Aryan hood" and non-Jewishness for Christ
3. The political objective of national unity, to overcome confessional differences, to eliminate Catholicism, and to unite Protestantism into a single unitary Christian national socialist church
First, in order for the Nazis to use Christianity, they had to deny what makes Christianity
unique. Christianity has its roots in the Hebrew Scriptures and accepts Jesus as a Jewish Messiah. Whereas many unorthodox groups attempt at changing the mechanism of Salvation (ie…through good works or ritualism), they (the Nazis) attempt to deny the actual ethnicity and/or personhood of Jesus Christ. Ethnically speaking, Jesus was Jewish, not Aryan, Arabian, Persian, Asian, Anglo-Saxon, or any other modern-day rebranding. And He certainly wasn’t Palestinian (as the name Palestine wouldn’t even be used for another 100 years!)
Secondly, they attempted to unite Christians, not under Jesus Christ, but under the State. Similarly, the Roman Catholic Church attempts to unite all believers within Christendom under the control of the papacy. When people are prompted to unite under any other person, institution, or system outside of the biblical personhood of Jesus Christ, it is apostate and doomed to failure. It doesn’t matter if it is Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Smith, the Pope, the Motherland, or Adolph Hitler.
Nazism wanted to transform the subjective consciousness of the German people - their attitudes, values, and mentalities - into a single-minded, obedient "national community". According to Ian Kershaw, in order to achieve this, the Nazis believed they would have to replace class, religious and regional allegiances by a "massively enhanced national self-awareness to mobilize the German people psychologically for the coming struggle and to boost their morale during the inevitable war".
The Nazis disliked universities, intellectuals, and the Catholic and Protestant churches. According to Gill, their long-term plan was to "de-Christianise Germany after the final victory". The Nazis co-opted the term Gleichschaltung (coordination) to mean conformity and subservience to the National Socialist German Workers' Party line: "there was to be no law but Hitler, and ultimately no god but Hitler". (Source)
The term ‘Kirchenkampf’ in German means the ‘struggle of the church’. Historians are divided somewhat on exactly how this played out, but there was an attempt by the Nazis to squash evangelical and orthodox Christian churches with the state-run Nazi propaganda church.
First (spring to fall 1933)
Hitler makes efforts to assimilate the churches into the culture of National Socialism.
Hitler moves to eliminate Political Catholicism: dissolution of Catholic aligned political parties and signing of Reichskonkordat with Vatican. Sporadic persecution of Catholics.
Preparation to create unified single Reichskirche from the 28 regional Protestant churches: Hitler installs pro-Nazi chaplain Ludwig Müller as Reich Bishop; splitting German Protestants.
Second (fall 1933 – fall 1934)
Regime attempts to bring churches under control of the Nazi state (Gleichschaltung).
Nazi breaches of Concordat commence immediately after signing: sterilization law promulgated, Catholic Youth Leagues dissolved; clergy, nuns and lay leaders harassed.
Heretical views of Reich Bishop and German Christians, leads Martin Niemoller to found Pastors' Emergency League which grows into Confessing Church, which reasserts authority of Bible and from which some clergymen oppose regime.
Third (fall 1934 – February 1937)
Regime tries to bring the Protestant churches under its control by taking charge of church finances and governance structures.
Failure of Müller to unite Protestants in Nazified Church sees Hitler appoint Hans Kerrl as Minister for Church Affairs.
1936, Nazis remove crucifixes in schools. Catholic Bishop of Munster August von Galen protests and public demonstrations follow.
1936 - Confessing Church protest to Hitler against antisemitism, "anti-Christian" tendencies of regime, and interference in church affairs. Hundreds of pastors arrested, funds of the church confiscated, collections forbidden.
Fourth (February 1937 – 1939)
More open conflict based on "Nazism itself and its anti-Christian worldviews". Regime increases imprisonment of resistant clergy.
March 1937: Pope Pius XI issues Mit brennender Sorge encyclical, denouncing aspects of Nazi ideology, protesting regime's violations of Concordat and treatment of Catholics, and abuse of human rights.
Regime responds with intensification of Church Struggle. Trumped up "immorality trials" against clergy and anti-Church propaganda campaign. Christmas 1937 address, Pope tells cardinals "rarely has there been a persecution so grave"
1 July 1937, Confessing Church banned. Martin Niemöller arrested. Theological universities closed, pastors and theologians arrested.
Fifth stage (1939–1945)
More clergy were imprisoned - Clergy Barracks established at Dachau.
July-Aug 1941 - Cardinal von Galen's sermons denounce lawlessness of Gestapo, confiscations of church properties, and Nazi euthanasia. Govt takes program underground.
Clergy were drafted into the military
Church publications were censored or banned
Services and functions restricted or banned
22 March 1942, the German Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter on "The Struggle against Christianity and the Church":
Inspired by Cardinal von Galen, the White Rose group becomes active in 1942; group members are arrested by the Gestapo and executed in 1943.
Nazi assault on churches and "Christian conscience" motivates many of the July Plot participants in failed 1944 coup against Hitler. Leading clerical resistors Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Alfred Delp are implicated. Both executed in 1945.
Do any of the above stages seem eerily similar to what we see going on in the United States today?
Sign of the Times
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?' And Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:3-5)
Jesus warned us that many would come in His Name, and would deceive many. I used what the Nazis did as an obvious example of people denying the historical truth of who Jesus was for an example for us today.
But even though that twice-dead tree was hewn down, the roots of ‘Higher Criticism’ were left intact, and once again have begun to sprout new life into another heretically damning theology. This time around, it is subtler and seeks to do the very thing that Satan said to Eve in the Garden when first tempting her:
"Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1)
At the outset, I mentioned Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses as non-orthodox groups lumped in with Christian groups. Originally, these groups broke away from mainstream Christianity claiming they were the only ‘real’ believers who had the NEW revelation from God. If you didn’t belong to them and follow their rules, you were doomed. So why now, are they now actively seeking to be included back into the groups they once denounced as Apostate?
“Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 1, p. xl
Why are Hindu’s now claiming Jesus was really an enlightened guru, who may or may not have been Jewish incarnate of the Krishna?
“Was Jesus a Hindu or was he a Buddhist? Let us avoid these labels. Jesus was surely a divine person who belonged to the whole world and the whole human race. Let us listen to his message of love and adopt it in our lives without getting involved in such debates that would lead us nowhere. Let us always remember Jesus as a Son of God who brought to us the message of love.
Time has come to liberate Jesus from churches, theologians and clergy. Let us spread His message of selfless love. Modern world needs peace that can come only from love and not from wars. Today's world needs Jesus more than ever before.” Anil Chawla
The church's struggles (kirchenkampf) didn't begin or end with the Nazis. They were simply another in a long line of apostates attempting to hijack Christianity. As far back as the Judaizers in the first century, to the subsequent gnostics and their centuries-long assault on the truth, Satan has desperately tried to derail Christianity. As the last of the last day approaches, there will be an increasing onslaught from every conceivable direction that will seek to keep the sinner from Christ, and the Christian from living their Christianity. There is power in the name of Jesus Christ. There is power in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is power in the truth of the Scriptures.
Power, which has for thousands of years, set men and women free eternally. It is the liberation of men and women under the bondage of a sin curse that draws people to Christ. When you remove any component of either the humanity of Christ or His Deity, you have another ‘Jesus'. Whether you cloak your re-visioning in the name of the National Socialists movement, political correctness, some new revelation, or coopting into another religion, you don’t have the Jesus of the Bible, King of Kings, Lord of Lords…but just another man named jesus who can’t save you, because he never existed.
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude 3-4
Omega Letter Archive- March 27, 2012