By Dr. Mike Murphy
As he woke, he began to gather his bearings. He found himself in a hospital room not knowing why. He was connected to monitors and his head was bandaged. For the life of him, he could not remember why, or how he had got there. He began to realize that he could not remember anything, that his life was a complete blank. He could not recall what he had done, what he did, or even who he was.
After several weeks of recovery, his body healed but his mind had not improved. At his release from the hospital, he decided he was given a second chance, and that he would spend his life to make the most of it. He spent the next several years involved in a charity to help those in need.
One day, he noticed a man that continued to stare at him. The man looked at him so often it gave him a very uneasy feeling. Soon he saw the man approach with two policemen by his side. The policemen immediately placed him under arrest, and he was brought to the station and he was fingerprinted. He soon learned he was being charged with a series of robberies in a town several miles away. He had committed a slew of crimes that he could not even remember. Who was this man who had done such things? And how could this man possibly be him?
We have all watched as movies and television shows have been created on this very premise. The plots and twist of these shows pull us in, and connect us with the characters of the story. But what few of us know, many of us today are witnessing similar events to this story. We are a part of a real life case of amnesia. Those of us in this country who believe in Christ, are watching as the plotline of this story plays out around us. We are caught in the middle of this thriller, not even realizing we are the lead character. We, the Church, go about our daily lives without knowledge of who we are, or of the Word that directs us. Our history and our purpose have become a blur, tucked away in the depths of the conscience in our mind. We walk around aimlessly, not knowing where we are going or where we have been. The Church today suffers from amnesia, we find ourselves caught in a dangerous identity crisis.
A famous man once said, “In this hour I would ask of the Lord God only this: that He would give His blessing to our work, and that He may ever give us the courage to do the right. I am convinced that men who are created by God should live in accordance with the will of the Almighty. No man can fashion world history unless upon his purpose and his powers there rests the blessings of this Providence.” He went on to say, “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.”
So who made these comments? What man of history am I quoting? A worthy world figure, or a Church leader? Would you believe neither. The man who said the two above quotes was none other than Adolf Hitler!
At the time Hitler rose to power, ninety percent of all Germans professed to be Christian. But when we look at the society of Germany in that day, we soon discover that although ninety percent claimed to know who Christ was, few believed in what Christ did or taught. Most considered themselves a Christian is they had received infant baptism or occasionally attend a worship service. A belief in Christ was not a prerequisite for being called a Christian. Hitler, himself, was baptized as a child in the Catholic Church. He served as an altar boy, and at one time in his life wanted to become a priest. Hitler’s life and history would show us that one who attends church, and one who professes Christ as their Savior are two completely different things.
In the early 1930’s, Hitler saw the Church as a tool in which he could use and control the people. In 1933, Hitler signed the Nazi-Vatican Concordat with the Catholic Church. This pact announced the Catholic Church’s support and acceptance of Hitler and Nazism, and in return Hitler would guarantee many religious freedoms for the Catholic Church. At this time, Hitler proclaimed the praises of a Christian faith and went on to say how he wanted to rid Germany of all atheism.
So why would Hitler go to such trouble to gain the support of the Church? Hitler knew that if he did not first trick and deceive Christians into following him, they would interfere in what he had planned in the future. His eventual goal was not just to rid the nation and the world of Jews, but to change the very beliefs of the Christian faith into one that followed his own sadistic views. One of Hitler’s closest followers said at the Nuremberg Congress in 1936, “I am absolutely clear in my own mind, and I think I can speak for the Fuhrer as well, that both the Catholic and Protestant churches must vanish from the life of our people.”
Few realized in that day, but Hitler’s goal was to replace Christ with himself in the views of the Church. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, once said, “Our Fuhrer is the intermediary between the people and the throne of God. Everything the Fuhrer utters is religion in the highest sense.” He even went a step farther. teaching that every house of worship needed a standard to follow. In 1942, the New York Times published Hitler’s plan called the “National Reich Church”. This was Hitler’s plan to raise himself up in the place of Christ. A few of the rules stated.
–The National Reich Church has no scribes, pastors, chaplains or priests but National Reich orators are to speak in them.
–The National Reich Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible in Germany as well as the publication of Sunday papers, pamphlets, publications and books of a religious nature.
–The National Reich Church has to take severe measures in order to prevent the Bible and other Christian publications being imported into Germany.
–The National Reich Church has made it its sacred duty to use all its energy to popularize the coeternal “Mein Kampf” and to let every German live and complete his life according to this book.
— The National Reich Church will clear away from its altars all crucifixes, Bibles and pictures of Saints.
–On the altars there must be nothing but “Mein Kampf”, which is to the German nation and therefore to God the most sacred book, and to the left of the altar a sword.
— The National Reich Church does not acknowledge forgiveness of sins. It represents the standpoint which it will always proclaim that a sin once committed will be ruthlessly punished by the honorable and indestructible laws of nature and punishment will follow during the sinner’s lifetime.
These are but a few of the thirty rules that Hitler looked to replace the Church with. Although during his early political years Hitler often quoted the Bible, he later claimed the Bible was a fairytale invented by Jews, thus banning the Bible in all of Germany. He would then print his own bible, removing all Hebrew words and replacing the Ten Commandments with twelve of his own. He also rewrote the Lord’s Prayer, making it mandatory to recite to the youth on a daily bases. “Adolf Hitler, you are our great Fuhrer. Thy name makes the enemy tremble. Thy Third Reich comes; thy will alone is law upon the earth. Let us hear daily thy voice, and order us by thy leadership, for we will obey to the end, even with our lives We praise thee; hail Hitler Fuhrer my Fuhrer, given me by God. Protect and preserve my life for long. You saved Germany in time of need; I thank you for my daily bread; be with me for a long time, do not leave me, Fuhrer my Fuhrer, my faith, my light – hail, my Fuhrer.”
Hitler even used one of the most loved and renown German figures of history to sell his false doctrines to the German people. Martin Luther had been a founding father of the Reformation Movement, and his work forever changed the Church as we know it. Luther taught that salvation and the heavenly eternity that springs from it, was not earned by our good deeds, but could only be received as a free gift of God’s Grace through our belief and faith in Jesus Christ. He taught that the Bible was the sole source of Divine knowledge, and God could only be understood through the Bible itself. He also taught that sin could not and did not need to be forgiven by a priest(Sacerdotalism), it could only be given to man by God Himself.
For most of his life, Martin Luther taught a kindness toward the Jewish people, with an aim of converting them to Christianity. But in his latter years as his health faltered, something in Martin Luther snapped, and his kindness toward Jews turned to hatred. He became angry that many did not convert, and his words became venom. Shortly before his death he said, “Such a desperate, thoroughly evil, poisonous and devilish lot are these Jews, who for these fourteen hundred years have been and still are our plague, our pestilence, and our misfortune.”
In his publication, On the Jews and Their Lies, he stated seven actions that all Christians should carry out against the Jewish people.
–First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn.
–Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.
–Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.
–Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.
–Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews.
–Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and be put aside for safekeeping
–Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow.
Sound familiar? These were the very practices that Hitler implemented against the Jewish people. The very practices that led the world to devastation and brought the deaths of countless millions. And much of the German population followed blindly. Many, if not most in the Church, did nothing until it was way too late. The Church in Germany bought into the lie, often without question they followed the ravings of a lunatic, marching to the edge then following him over the cliff.
You may ask yourself, why would the Church in Germany allow and then follow this? Because they did not know the truth! They were not based in God’s Word, so anything could be presented and sold to them as the Word of God. Many of the pastors, priest, and churchgoers of that day in Germany, knew the name of Christ, but did not know who Christ was or for what purpose He had come. They knew there was a Bible, but they could not tell you the Words of God that filled it! Their own ignorance and apathy had been used against them, thinking themselves secure, they had become lost.
When you look at the Church of Germany in the early thirties, and you look at the Church in our nation today, it is not hard to see a few parallels. We see how many within the Church and this nation as so easily deceived because they no longer have a bases in God’s Word. We watch today as God’s Word is twisted and misquoted to make fit the circumstances of the day, and the personal beliefs of men. We are often told what the Bible says, without knowing or seeking out exactly what God’s Word does actually say. Truth has become circumstantial, relative to the situation we find ourselves in. God’s Word is twisted to justify our own actions. We watch as many lessen the purpose and the life of Christ, placing other religious leaders on equal footing. And we see many replace the promises made to God’s chosen people with the Church itself, often spouting hatred and venom at the nation of Israel as they do this. The scariest part about this is, we do not just see this in the pew, we often hear this from the pulpit. If we actually knew and spent time in God’s Word, we would have read Paul’s warning, “and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them”(Acts 20:30).
We must find ourselves again following another quote from Paul. 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?” When we find Christ in us, we find ourselves grounded and based in the Truth of God’s Word. The ways of the world become just that, the world’s ways! Only then can we begin to see, the failed logic of man can never stand against the wisdom we can only find in God. The Church in this nation must once again find itself proclaiming, “man does not have all the answers, but we know One who does!” But for us to make this proclamation, the Church must once again find itself.
It is not always easy for us to face our faults. It can be very difficult for us to admit our mistakes. But it is time the Church took a long hard look at itself, and began to heed the words of Paul. We need to test ourselves, and examine just where we stand. With a long, hard look in the mirror we may not like what we see. The imagine that shows back to us may not be one we recognize. We may no longer remember the face that stares back. But we must once again go back in the recesses of our mind, and begin to recall the face we once saw and knew. We must overcome this amnesia we find ourselves confused and dazed by, and remember the One who brought us here, and the Truth that should keep us here every day!
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:2-3
Praying each of you do not face an identity crisis, knowing the Name Above All Names!