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Originally posted on Jesus Army’s website.
Recently Oxford Dictionary announced that the word of the year is “post-truth”. It’s an adjective used when describing how facts and truth take a backseat position in favour of emotions and personal opinion.
During just the last six months people have been increasingly talking about “post-truth politics” and a “post-truth world” as several politicians in the UK and the US have blatantly lied and ignored facts, quoting their own feelings or the feelings of their supporters as sufficient evidence for their positions.
An example of this was when American politician Newt Gingrich argued that the crime level in the US has gone up because “the average American… does not think crime is down”. When challenged by a reporter who quoted FBI statistics that showed the opposite, he simply responded “That’s your view”.
I’m a master of blog titles, am I not?
This week my first book in Swedish was released. It’s called Jesus was Also a Refugee and is co-authored with evangelical pastor Stefan Swärd. It develops a Christian perspective on the refugee crisis and the European xenophobic movement. Our conclusion is obviously that Christians should bless and welcome immigrants and refugees and not oppose migration from poor, dangerous countries to rich and safe countries.
One surprising finding is that many xenophobic and racist Christians have a liberal, or progressive, view on theology. This is very evident if you look at Nazi Germany in the 1930’s: liberal theologians like Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch celebrated Hitler and hated Jews. They combined their Nazi rants with biblical criticism and despising any effort to follow the commands of Jesus as they are expressed in the New Testament.
Liberal Christians are also very prominent in the main xenophobic party of my nation, the Sweden Democrats. This party has neo-Nazi roots and try to appeal to Christian values in contrast to Muslim or socialist values. They have been working hard to gain influence in the Church of Sweden, by electing people who hold on to nationalism while also being very liberal theologically. (more…)
Today is 70 years since the Nazi death camp Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops, and it is also the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We must never forget the horrible attrocities during the world war when approximately seven million Jews, Romas, disabled, homosexuals and others were brutally killed by the Nazi regime and their allies. And as Christians, we must never forget that many who participated in this called themselves Christians, and that parts of the church leadership supported Nazism – although there was a lot of Christian resistance as well.
A lot has been written about the religious views of Hitler himself, and it seems to be a bit self-contradictory and populistic – which isn’t too strange since he, after all, was a Nazi. I’ve heard several neo-Nazis and other racists today declare that they fight for “Christian values” while they also hate religion and, of course, revere pagan gods. This is obviously extremely paradoxical but could be explained by that for many racists religion is merely a suit, which importance is heavily subordinated the nationalist and racist values that one fights for. Hence, the Party Platform of NSDAP read in 1920:
“We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not jeopardize the state’s existence or conflict with the manners and moral sentiments of the Germanic race. The Party as such upholds the point of view of a positive Christianity without tying itself confessionally to any one confession. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit at home and abroad and is convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only be achieved from within on the basis of the common good before individual good.”
The state-censored religion proposed here should be unacceptable to any descent Christian, but both Catholics and Protestants started to dance to the Nazi pipe after Hitler became dictator. Paul Althaus, one of Germany’s leading Lutheran theologians, wrote “Our Protestant churches have welcomed the turning point of 1933 as a gift and miracle of God”.
Jesus came in contact with several people who weren’t orthodox Jews, but rather were heretics or idolaters. We have the Samaritans, who had mixed Judaism with pagan influences, and who were forbidden to worship the Lord in Jerusalem. The Romans were colonialist immigrants from other parts of the empire, and even if some had become proselytes (like Cornelius, Acts 10), most of them worshiped the Roman idols of Jupiter, Mars and others. There were also adherents of other religions in the areas of Decapolis, where Jesus did some miracles (Mark 5).
How did Jesus relate to these idolatrous Gentiles? Well, He simply took control over a state, became President and deported them. Wait, He didn’t? Then at least He commanded His disciples to take control over a country and deport all the idolaters? Huh, He didn’t do that either?!
Not that those ideas didn’t float around in Jesus’ time. The Zealot movement and other radical Jewish groups wanted to fight against the Romans and drive those stupid colonialists back to Europe (which they also tried in 70 and 135 AD, and failed miserably). Many believed that this was what the Messiah was supposed to do. Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans (Jn 4:9), and vice versa, and when some Samaritans heard that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, they forbade Him to enter their village. Enraged, John and James suggested that Jesus should order a heavenly genocide from above, burning those heretics alive (Lk 9:51-54).
But Jesus rebuked them. He didn’t come to barbeque idolaters but to save them. He loved Samaritans, shared the Gospel with them and used a Samaritan as the good example in His famous parable about loving everyone indiscriminately (Jn 4, Lk 10). He told His Jewish disciples to love the Romans, pray for them, and walk the extra mile with them (Lk 6). Do to them as you would have them do to you (Mt 7:12). He didn’t fight to kick the Romans out of Israel. Instead, He was crucified by them, dying for their sins. On the cross, He shouted: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!” (Lk 23:34). (more…)
Yesterday was the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day that feels extremely important to remember in xenophobic Europe of today. As Spain is going fascist, the neo-Nazi “Christian” party Jobbik has 12% of seats in the Hungarian parliament and islamophobia is growing rapidly, many are afraid that the economic crisis will throw Europe back to a similar state like the 1930’s. The period when Adolf Hitler gained power.
There is a great number of extremely simplistic solutions to how the second world war would have been prevented, the most common is probably to kill Hitler as a child. I cannot count how many times I’ve heard people dream about this “what if” scenario. Not long ago it was discovered that Hitler actually almost died as a child when he fell through the ice, but a friend, who later became a priest, saved him. The Daily Mail called it “the most devastating act of mercy in history”.
But of course, Adolf’s soul was darkened not because of mercy but because of lack thereof. The upcoming genocide in the Central African Republic won’t be stopped by people who let children die but by people who save them. Our culture is so dipped in a logic of death that we think the best way to stop a murderer is to kill him, that the best way to stop the Holocaust was to kill civilians in German cities, that the best way to stop the war against Japan was to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people with nuclear bombs.