Please bear with me for joining three separate subjects, that imho are related, under a single header.
Firstly, I want to talk about Nazi Germany. Back in the day, I studied for an Open University degree, just for fun, and one of my more memorable units was to do with Nazi Germany, or as the great author, William Shirer, put it: “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”. While the “Fall” is relatively straight-forward (they lost the War) the “Rise” is still up for debate, as is the churches complicity.
When Hitler came to power in the early 1930’s, Germany were in dire straits, with the economy in ruins. Hitler offered hope and, as he gained more power, he was in a position to get even more, helped by some well-timed false flags, his ability to silence the opposition and the skillful way he managed to manipulate even good Christian people, to the extent they were willing to give up their liberties for a future they thought would free them from a fear invented by the Nazi propaganda machine and make them safe and secure. The two big issues that bothered people, most, especially people of faith, were the economy and security. Hitler delivered on both these but it was at a huge social cost, not just by taking away individual liberties but in killing off those who didn’t conform to his twisted ideas of what Germanness was all about, or seen as a threat or scapegoat, on an industrial scale. As for the church, with few exceptions, such as Deitrich Bonhoeffer, they turned a blind eye to what was going on in plain sight, allowing the “Rise” to happen with barriers all but removed, even justifying their inaction on theological grounds.
In my time, Hitler and Nazism has often been presented as a danger that we need to avoid. It is often a narrative favoured by the Left to demonise the Right, especially those of a less compliant ilk. But if we consider what was the underlying doctrine of Nazism, it is “National Socialism”, the clue is in the title. It is true that one of the ideas pushed by the right, especially of the more extreme variety, is that of nationalism, and therefore in that respect their Left detractors are right. But then there is the “Socialism” part of the title. Besides Hitler’s Germany, history is full of examples of the harm done, e.g. suppression of individual liberties, corruption and government tyranny, when socialism is practiced. This form of centralized authoritarianism is seen both on the right and the left. We see socialism now being widely promoted, including in western democracies, with a new generation unprepared to learn the lessons of history. But that is not to let capitalism off the hook or to ignore it when a call for nationalism becomes an excuse for selfishness!
My own theological stable is one that puts a good deal of store on being good citizens and submitting to authority, using the Bible to support such a view (Romans 13 relates), rather focusing on being good Christians and activities like spreading the Word. This has been no better exemplified than by the actions taken by many churches in accepting the official version of events and conforming the government guidance / dictates, such as wearing masks and social distancing wherever we go, being confined to our homes for long periods, not being allowed to visit the sick and the dying, and the closure of some small businesses when large businesses thrive, some of which borders on the wicked. The question that needs to be asked is given it is always better to obey God rather than man then how do we decide what God’s will is, and when and how to act?
As an aside, during lockdown we have seen churches having to close meetings as seen as not essential when other activities that present similar risks are allowed. Also, there have been a rise in the number of arrests of those simply preaching in the open air and not posing any obvious threat. The same goes with Christians in the workplace, and the root of the conflict is light is up against darkness, and it all appears to be very subtle but with sinister undertones. While the official line is we welcome churches providing you operate in the way we expect and don’t pose a threat, e.g. preach, this may be the thin end of a wedge to shutting Christians down. When submitting to the powers that be, the point is we must do so and if we are going to suffer it has to be for doing the right thing – 1Peter 3:8-22 relates.
Sadly, many Christian leaders have failed us and those like me who say so are consigned to the religious scrapheap (although thankfully I am not beholden to hirelings). Christians, more than any, are required to unite and conquer and instead they have succumbed all too often to that of divide and rule. This is not meant to be a dig at the church (for none of us are perfect) but rather a wakeup call as part of my watchman remit. While I am uncomfortable when I see good, normally sensible Christian folk fall for government propaganda, I recognise many examples of acts in the “Love Thy Neighbour” category, by many of them, including those who side line those of us who are holding those views that are set to rock the proverbial apple cart, albeit, ostensibly at least, for the cause of truth, justice and righteousness. I also accept the complexities of the paradigm we are in and it is likely none of us know all the facts or have the complete answer as to what to what to do (not helped by mainstream media and societal leaders being untrustworthy) although we might all claim to follow the One who does. If I can make just one plea, it is question everything and FOLLOW HIM,
We are now in the paradigm where vaccinations are not only being vigorously pushed but there is every possibility they will be mandated soon and those who fail to comply will have to suffer the consequences. The church (and here I differentiate the professing church and real disciples of Jesus) is called to fight evil and right now we in a mighty war where forces of darkness are pitted against the light. If we do not take on board the lessons of history, refuse to accept the status quo, wake up to what is really going on as detailed in my other writings, then we are inviting in evil that may be as bad as Nazism. Last weekend’s barely reported London demonstrations, protesting Covid related impositions and threats, shows that people are waking up but sadly the church is largely silent (and as for the more woke elements that aren’t, they are often more into race wars, LBGT rights and climate change), just as it was in 1930’s Germany.