|Jesus and Adolf Hitler|
I'm always encouraged when I ask someone if they are a Christian and they answer "No. I'm Roman Catholic." It confirms something that most Catholics know but it seems that the world doesn't know. There is a difference between biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism. Although the Roman church holds to some of the main tenants of the Christian faith, at its core it has its own entity. It has many high-held traditions that are not found in the Bible. They are Roman Catholic traditions.
Consequently, it shouldn't surprise us that Jews are very difficult to reach with the gospel. This is because many of them equate Christianity with Roman Catholicism. And why shouldn't they? When they glance at the television news at Christmas or at Easter, who is upheld by the secular world as "the head of the Christian Church"? It's the pope.
Jews therefore believe that Christians bow down to graven images and they worship Mary and many other saints. To them, Christianity is a false religion, and one that should be kept at arm's length because at its very core it is in direct violation of the First and the Second of the Ten Commandments.
Many Jews even equate Christianity with Adolf Hitler. Central to his twisted philosophy was a belief in the inherent superiority of the German race. But Christianity doesn't preach superiority. It instead preaches that you are to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. Jesus even said to love our enemies, to pray for those that despitefully use us, to turn the other cheek, to give to those that ask of us--to do good to all men. Biblical Christianity is soaked in love of humanity, while Hitler's philosophy was saturated in the blood of pure hatred. So it makes no sense that anyone in his right mind could confuse the two . . . until we understand something important.
In pre-Second World War Germany, there were 40 million Lutherans. It is significant to realize that to be part of the Lutheran church in those days one need not be converted to Christ. You were simply baptized into the church as a baby because you had to be a member to be married or buried. That was just the way it was. If you for some reason wanted to separate yourself from the church, your name would be read from the pulpit for three Sundays, and intercession was then made for you in public prayer. Consequently few took the radical step of leaving the church.
For years the denomination had been influenced by a theological liberalism that was really only secular philosophy disguised by religious language. So rather than being a vibrant Christ-centered lighthouse of biblical truth, the Lutheran church of that time (as with many contemporary denominations), was simply a huge traditional institution. (1)
After the First World War, Germany went into a massive recession. Adolf Hitler rose to political power by promising a return to dignity and prosperity for the German nation. He became their political "savior." Songs were sung in his honor -- "Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, and all is bright. Adolf Hitler is Germany's wealth. Brings us greatness, favor and health. Oh give us Germans all power!"(2)
In 1932, Hitler appointed a man named Hermann Mueller to be head of the newly formed "German Christian Party." There was nothing "Christian" about this party. It was merely a front for the Nazis to gain political strength through the massive Lutheran church. Hermann Mueller was then nominated as a candidate for the head of the church and vast amounts of money was spent on publicity.
The Nazis intimidated anyone who opposed their nominee, and when voting day came the only choice was: "Do you agree with the Fuehrer that Mueller must be Reichsbishop--Yes or No?" The Lutheran candidate wasn't even on the ballot.
With Mueller as head of the church the Nazis then had the power to appoint other leaders. Pastors who protested were either murdered and their churches closed, or they quietly disappeared into concentration camps. They were then replaced by Nazi "pastors," crosses at altars were replaced with pictures of Hitler, and Swastika flags were flown above their roofs.
These politically appointed pastors preached that any teaching about the existence of "sin" was false, and had created a complex of weakness in the German people. Biblical Christianity held them back from fulfilling their true destiny. They maintained that the German race was divine, and that God had chosen a new anointed leader -- the blessed Hitler. He had been the savior that had been "lifted up" and "would draw all men to himself(3)." He would bring Germany into a new glory -- a thousand year reign.
The pastors rejected the Old Testament, saying that it wasn't a Christian book -- that its teachings had allowed the unclean and subtle doctrines of the Jew to dominate German thinking. No non-Aryan could hold any place of office in the church and anyone with Jewish roots must be purged from it. If someone had any Jewish ancestors he was encouraged to commit suicide. They said that it was a service to God to protect His worship from pollution -- to join German with German and not to darken the nostrils of Heaven with the sour, decaying breath of a Jew. The day had come "when the tares would be gathered and burned in the fire."
But the Nazis soon found that pushing their politics from pulpits emptied church pews, so they began to meekly cloak their political agenda in biblical phraseology. Over time this left many of the more simple folk unable to distinguish the true pastor from the false.
On April 26, 1933, Hitler had said, "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without religious foundation is built on air; consequently all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . .(4)" But he later declared Nazism the state religion and the Bible was replaced by Mein Kampf in the schools. Throughout Germany he also removed pastors from their weekly hour of religious instruction in schools, and replaced them with Nazi pastors, who subtly indoctrinated German youth with teachings about their superior "Aryan blood." They mocked the Bible, and told them not to worship God but to worship the state, and Adolf Hitler as its head. Their one aim was to destroy what they referred to as their "last enemy"--Christianity. Ironically, the Nazi military machine had belt buckles that boldly said "Gott mit uns" ("God is with us")(5).
This secular German philosophy taught that Jesus was not a Jew at all, but an Aryan, and that he didn't have a Jewish father. He was a warrior and a hero who died in the fight against Judaism. They even twisted Scripture to say that Jesus Himself called the entire Jewish race "children of the devil," and thus began the terrible purging of the Jews from Germany. This was done by "pastors" in pulpits and in schools in the guise of the Christian faith. So tragically, in the eyes of many Jews, the evil of Nazism came directly through the Christian church.
As a result, when you and I approach a Jew with a New Testament in our hand, or a cross around our neck and sweetly say, "I would like to talk to you about Jesus," to them we may be saying, "Hi, I represent an institution that is filled with pedophiles, bows down to idols, worships false gods, and was responsible for the murder of six million Jews." No wonder they are reluctant to talk to us.
That's why when we talk to a Jew about God, we must start with Moses. Then we simply take them through the Ten Commandments to show them that they have sinned against God and that they desperately need a Savior. If their heart is humble, we should then unashamedly reveal the love of God displayed in the cross -- that God Himself provided a Lamb for our atonement, and trust in His great faithfulness to bring them to everlasting life that is alone in Jesus Christ.
To further learn the principles of biblical evangelism, see, The Way of the Master by Ray Comfort (Bridge Logos Publishers).