BETRAYAL: GERMAN CHURCHES AND THE HOLOCAUST edited by Robert P. Ericksen and Susannah Heschel

by JF

In terms of fidelity to academic scholarship, this book is impeccable. It is actually a compilation of essays by various professorial scholars, all of which concern the words and deeds of the various leaders of the institutional churches in Germany during the Nazi regime, both Protestant and Catholic. Awhile back this reader had read a book by a Christian scholar which examined this same history and topic; that book was called HITLER’S CROSS by Erwin Lutzer, and while this reader appreciated Lutzer’s Biblical interpretation of those events, nevertheless the level of scholarship evinced by Lutzer was disappointing: HITLER’S CROSS was a superficial book.

This book BETRAYAL is not superficial at all. However, where Lutzer’s book falls down in its level of scholarship, this book was disappointing in that all of the essayists emanate from a decidedly modernist worldview. That is to say, it is obvious that none of them believe the Bible is divinely inspired or inerrant; if any of these essayists are professing believers in Jesus Christ, they are the all-inclusive, institutionalized, lukewarm kind that would find the globalist, Rockefeller-funded World Council of Churches to their liking. Yeah, that kind. But it’s not even clear that their faith is even at that level; some of these writers may be avowed non-believers, I don’t know. What I do know is that often they make valid points, but often they pass judgment on things that they don’t understand biblically simply because they discount the Bible as the Word of God, or at least they discount the New Testament.

There is some interesting history about Dietrich Boenhoffer in one or two of these essays. Of course one could read much more about this history of Boenhoffer in plenty of other and more direct sources. We also learn much about the horrible brownshirted thugs calling themselves the “German Christian” movement, and how they were countered, albeit too timidly, by the then-newly formed “Confessing Church.” We learn a bit about Martin Niemoller; he was rather too timid himself, though. We see why Boenhoffer broke with even the Confessing Church for its timidity. I suppose the most valuable thing this book has to offer in one or two of its essays is its interesting and somewhat thorough history of the brownshirted “German Christian” movement, because an easy and scary comparison can be made with the modern movements in the USA of a bunch of similar Jew-hating thugs generally calling themselves “American patriots” and “anti-zionists” or a few other similar-sounding names not worth going into right now. Truly, Ernst Rohm was the spiritual forefather of these red, white, and blue contemporary American brownshirts.

Alas, and expectedly, the couple of essays that specifically deal with the Roman Catholic Church’s reaction and behavior towards the Nazi regime are especially ill-informed and naive. Are they scholarly? Sure they are. Oh boy are they well-footnoted and all that. But if you are citing other scholarly people who also are brainwashed and uninformed about real history, then what good is that? As usual, the essayists who deal with Rome here both scratch their heads and wonder how and why so many Catholic priests could have been so rabid about Nazism, and then why was there so much enigmatic “silence” on the part of the Roman hierarchy, and then again why didn’t Pope Pius XII try to speak out and do more to stop Hitler, stop the Holocaust, etc, etc. This is historically naive, but it is to be expected. Rome has written our history. It has conquered, and conquerors write the history books, and the conquered, even (and perhaps especially) the scholarly conquered are the last ones to be able to discern reality and real history anymore. It’s too surreal for them at this late date. It doesn’t fit their programming. So all we get is head-scratching and perpetual shrugs of mystification from these professor-people. They don’t want answers; they couldn’t handle the truth even if it was presented to them.

The real lesson to be learned here is that INSTITUTIONAL Christianity is not the Christianity of the Bible. This is inevitably over-the-heads of the professorial contributors to this book, but this is the lesson to be gleaned from all this. The lukewarm, timid response of even the best of the INSTITUTIONAL Protestant churches in Germany should speak loudly to us today in the U.S., what with our modern, equally useless, equally lukewarm and timid 501c3/state incorporated American “churches.” Acts of real Christianhood, true acts of emulation of our Lord and Saviour can and will only ever come from individuals, not institutions, and especially not state-subordinated institutions such as are 99% of “churches” in the US today, as were the vast majority of “churches” in Germany back in that horrific era.

Thus, this book should only be recommended to a very discerning Christian reader, someone who’s been around the block a few times and has also done their history and Bible homework. It has a few valuable things that can be gleaned from it, a few things that were only incidental by-products of the authors’ invariably humanistic main points. That is all. It’s also not a terribly scintillating read on the whole–these are professors writing these essays, after all.

Rating: Δ Δ
11/2012

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