The question of whether the Christian church was complicit in the Holocaust has been the subject of much debate ever since. Many believers like to comfort themselves with the thought that those who succumbed to Hitler’s propaganda were only nominal Christians, not real disciples.
It was only around ten years ago that I first became aware that the truth is far more shocking – that even evangelical Christians who claim to believe in the absolute authority of the Bible fell for the devilish lies of the Nazi party. And that Christian antisemitism goes all the way back to the Church Fathers who succeeded the Apostles.
Now a colleague of mine has extricated evidence that even the German Pentecostal Church passed a resolution in 1938 supporting Hitler’s new race laws.
Why is that particularly shocking? Well, the Pentecostals are so called because of their belief in the necessity of a special encounter with the Holy Spirit such as the first disciples experienced on the Day of Pentecost. And the Holy Spirit, Jesus promised his followers, would guide them “into all truth” (John 16:13).
The worldwide 20th century Pentecostal movement was still in its relative infancy at the time of this resolution, and you would have thought the fresh experience of the Lord’s presence and power would soon have clearly exposed Nazi propaganda as the enemy’s work.
The movement spread across the globe like wildfire, bringing millions into the kingdom as it changed lives and even influenced nations. I thank God for this extraordinary latter-day revival and am a ‘card-carrying’ Pentecostal myself. Their theology is generally sound and is seeing fruit all over the world. So it was a great shock for me to discover that those I had considered beyond such treachery had also compromised with Hitler and betrayed the Jewish people.
But what happened in Germany is a reminder to us all of how easily we can be deceived once we take our focus off Jesus and allow our hearts and minds to be poisoned by worldly ‘woke’ doctrines turning previously assumed moral laws upside down.
Referencing scriptures such as Romans 13:1-7 (on submitting to those in authority), the 1938 resolution states (in part):
“We honour and accept the nation’s leadership and government. In sincerity, we promise all loyalty and every obedience, which we are indebted to render together with all Christians to our earthly authorities according to God’s will and the word and spirit of our Lord.”
It later adds:
“The leading-out of the Jews from the community of our people, as also from other peoples, is for us a process according to divine providence and divine will.”
As a revision of the church’s constitution made in compliance with the Nuremberg (race) Laws of 1936, the resolution came into effect just 27 days before Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) when Jews throughout Germany were mercilessly attacked, mistreated, and deported, paving the way for much worse to come.
I have mentioned the antisemitism perpetrated by the church over the centuries. Even Martin Luther, the great reformer, railed against the Jews in his last years, though I have heard some excuse his actions on the basis that he was ill. Nowadays all sorts of conditions are used as an excuse for bad behaviour.
But at the end of the day each one of us is responsible for his or her own sins and choices for which we will appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).
We are not, however, individually responsible for the sins of past generations, as many ‘woke’ activists are claiming today, especially over the issue of slavery, though it is right and proper to acknowledge it.
But where past actions are still the cause of injustice and discrimination, as with Christian antisemitism which is ongoing due to lack of repentance, it is a different matter. Repentance must be more than mere words; it should be backed up by loving action.
Wherever there are opportunities to show love and compassion to the Jewish people, we should take them with both hands, standing up against the relentless rise in antisemitic racism, for example.
When the annual Holocaust Memorial Day comes around, do we Christians even acknowledge it? Do we pray for the Jewish people, Jesus’ brothers in the flesh?
Above all, we should be sharing the gospel with those who brought the good news to us Gentiles. We owe them a great debt (Romans 15:27) and would not have known the glory of salvation without them (John 4:22).
Stephen Glover, writing for the Daily Mail, rightly exposes the misguided virtue-signalling of those who would have us compensating for the sins of our fathers with regard to slavery, especially since all the perpetrators (and victims) are long dead.
And yet, as Stephen points out, none of these woke flag-wavers is calling on us to repent (and compensate) for our grievous sins against the Jewish people, who are still here in their millions despite the efforts of the Nazi butchers. And if you think that, unlike Germany, Britain was blameless in this regard, we refused entry to Palestine (then under our control) for Jewish people trying to escape the concentration camps. We too have blood on our hands – see Britain’s Shameful Betrayal, published recently on Israel Today and elsewhere.
Suffice to say for the present that the Jewish people generally are still suffering the after-effects of the Holocaust. And antisemitism is as bad today as it was in the 1930s.
I wonder if the so-called Berlin Declaration of 1909 has something to do with it. This was when a group of German evangelicals got together to decide whether the aforementioned Pentecostal revival was of God. They decided it was of the devil!
I am not alone in considering this the unforgiveable blasphemy of the Holy Spirit which unleashed such unprecedented wickedness on the world.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; To the Jew First, A Nation Reborn, and King of the Jews, all available from Christian Publications International.
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