This year Adolf Hitler is receiving a posthumous birthday present. Today, Adolf Hitler's birthday, a new book is being released which is entitled, "Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible" by Joe Keysor.
The book seeks to analyze anti-Semitism, National Socialism and the churches in Nazi Germany. Joe Keysor's background includes being an English teacher in various private schools, a college and a Chinese University. He holds a BA in Russian and East European Studies and a Masters Degree in adult ed.
Some authors function as rifles: yes, indeed they hit their target with perfect accuracy. However, we end up noting that the target equated to a very narrow focus. Indeed the target was hit but we are left asking why the author did not delve into this or that relevant aspect of the topic.
Other authors function as shotguns: they go in one hundred directions at once and certainly cover a lot of ground. Yet, after smoke clears we note that while shooting that sawed-off-twelve-gauge certainly was fun (and/or informative) we are left wondering whether there was a main point--what, or where, was the target?
Joe Keysor has managed to manufacture a new weapon that combines the multidirectional spray of a shotgun with the on target focus of a rifle.
As it occurred I had working on an essay which will serve as a response to Richard Dawkins' claims (in "The God Delusion") about Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Nazism and Communism when the publisher of "Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible" ("Athanatos Publishing Group") contacted me to ask if I would be willing to review the book. Well, my head was swimming in Nazism and as it is said, "`coincidence' is not a kosher word." Thus, I am posting this review and will follow it by posting my parsed essay.
The issue of "Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible" is very important to me for very many reasons two of which are: 1) some of my relatives were murdered in Nazi concentration camps and 2) the claim that Christianity was to blame for Nazism either exclusively or in large part.
Part history, part logic, part polemic, part critical and all common sense; Joe Keysor's book takes us on a circuitous ride into the very heart, soul and mind of Adolf Hitler and Nazism in general which makes various stops along the way in order to pick up the various related issues.
As, alluded to above Joe Keysor's scope is wide and yet focused as he considers:
In part I "Christianity and National Socialism";
The New Testament and the Jews
Medieval Christian Anti-Semitism
Adolf Hitler's Secular and Ungodly Ideas
The Christians in Nazi Germany
In part II "The Origins of National Socialism";
The Historical Background
One useful feature of the book is that it is part bibliographical criticism in that along the way he notes various books and even websites that relate to his subject matter and notes their strengths and weaknesses.
An example regarding books states, "A more academic attempt to directly link Christianity to Naziism is Richard Steigmann-Galls' The Holy Reich" which, "asserts that Adolf Hitler `regarded Christ's struggle as direct inspiration for his own' and claims `Adolf Hitler insists that Christianity is at the center of Nazi social thought' and `regards the teachings of Christ as direct inspiration for the `German' socialism advanced by the party.'"
Then, in a refreshingly straight forward and commonsensical manner, Joe Keysor writes, "This explains why Adolf Hitler cared nothing for political power, was a pacifist, and commanded his followers not to fight on his behalf" (p. 3)
Another example regarding websites is Jim Walker who will have some major s'planing to do form both the, now, discredited website which he runs and the fact that he refused to correspond with Joe Keysor,
Walker claims that Hitler believed in the God of the Bible, and then attempts to substantiate it with words from Hitler's speeches and from Mein Kampfthat show Hitler to have had many ideas directly contrary to the Bible's teachings. That is a peculiar sort of logic, to strongly assert a point, and then offer evidence to the contrary in support of it [p. 116]...To prove Hitler's Christianity Walker gives a quote showing that Hitler had a purely secular and humanist concept of it [p. 117].
These are mere examples of the dissection that Joe Keysor performs on Jim Walker's propaganda.
Joe Keysor also tackles various attempts to read anti-Semitism into the New Testament (note that of the 27 New Testament books/epistles 25 were written by Jews). For instance, the fallacious claim that the New Testament condemns "the Jews" for Jesus' death while excusing the Gentile Romans as exampled by Pontius Pilate literally and figuratively washing his hands of the judgment he handed down to have Jesus crucified (by Gentile Romans).
Joe Keysor comments thusly, "What sort of commentators think that a judge can knowingly sentence an innocent man [which Pilate admits] to be tortured to death and then clear himself by a simple theatrical gesture?" (p. 30). To further this point and evidence non-anti-Semitic Christian attitudes in post-Medieval Christianity reference is made to Matthew Henry's 1706 commentary on this text (his Bible commentary is still very popular today) which states,
By saying; in which, First, He clears himself; I am innocent of the blood of this just person. What nonsense was this, to condemn him, and yet protest that he was innocent of his blood! For men to protest against a thing, and yet to practice it, is only to proclaim that they sin against their consciences. Though Pilate professed his innocency, God charges him with guilt, Acts iv. 27.
Since "Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible" tackles, in part, the question of whether Christianity logically, and/or theologically, leads to Nazi-like concepts and actions part one begins with an elucidation of what C.S. Lewis termed "mere Christianity." A basic overview of what, biblically, is a Christian and therefore, what is Christianity?
It will be fascinating to see what sorts of opinions will arise as to Joe Keysor's book because those interested in the subject range widely, and wildly, from the scholarly works of careful researchers to those who are satisfied with claiming that since the Wehrmacht wore belt buckles that read "Gott mit uns" the matter is settled. Little do such pseudo-skeptics stop to ask who is this Gott, what are its attributes, whence comes such a theology. And this is not even to mention (ok, mentioning) that the "Gott mit uns" motto dates to Otto von Bismarck's 1870 imperial standard and that the SS's motto was "Meine Ehre heißt Treue." (my honor is loyalty).
If we could judge a person's entire worldview by their belt buckles I would imagine that there are literally millions of professional rodeo bull riders.
Thus, in another commonsensical note; Joe Keysor writes,
there are people today who have faith in Adolf Hitler's honesty (or pretend to) and claim that he was an upright and truthful man who expressed his religious views with candor and sincerity. These people say "We know Adolf Hitler was a Christian because he said so himself!" (p. 74)
This goes to the point that was made by Moishe Rosen,
The phrase "2,000 years of history leading up to the Holocaust" is more than a reference to past prejudice and persecution. It is an indictment against Christianity that misinterprets Christ's message and intent. Anyone who gives credence to such an accusation bestows upon Adolf Hitler the power to change theology [Compiled by Eliyah Gould, Rich Robinson and Ruth Rosen, The Y'shua Challenge - Answers for Those Who Say Jews Can't Believe in Jesus (San Francisco, CA: Purple Pomegranate Productions), p. 21, citing Moishe Rosen, "Am Yisrael Chai," Issue, 9:4 (1993), p.2].
Otherwise, this sentiment "well describes German `Christians' like Hans Kerrl, the Nazi Minister for Church Affairs, Kerrl stated `A new authority has arisen as to what Christ and Christianity really are--Adolf Adolf Hitler'" (p. 21).
In counter distinction,
it bears repeating that the total percentage of `Christians' who have actively persecuted Jews in nearly 2,000 years of Christianity is a small one. Random mobs in the Middle Ages or in eastern Europe, a cruel Inquisition in only a small handful of countries out of the many in which Christianity has flourished--these denials of Christianity were nothing but sin an devil, directly contrary to the New Testament's calling for the Christian (p. 28).
Yet, this is no mere assertion on the part of Joe Keysor but it contextualized by references to the Bible, on the one hand, and references to history, on the other. As for those who fallaciously attempt to justify their malicious actions by appealing to the Jesus or biblical Christianity "That they practice evil in the name of Christ does not justify them, but rather intensifies their guilt" (p. 29).
It is also elucidating to note that as for those who are satisfied by myopically condemning Christianity and Christians for the actions done by those who violate Christianity ethics, "a blood libel has been attached to the teachings of Christ, often by the very same people who hypocritically object to a blood libel being applied to themselves" (p. 37).
I must admit that upon reading Joe Keysor's review of the Crusades I thought it utterly inadequate as he thought to accomplish this in half of one page (p. 53). Yet, studying the Bible has attuned me to think in terms of context--both immediate and greater. Thus, so as to not take a text out of context to make a pretext of a prooftext I recalled that what I was reading was not "The Pope, the Crusades, and the Bible" but "Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible." The context in which the Crusades are mentioned is not everything you ever wanted to know about the Crusades but where to apathetic to research but was to consider whether the Crusades could logically, and/or theologically, applied to the account of Jesus or biblical Christianity.
With reference to the Inquisition Joe Keysor notes, in part:
The vicious and devilish brutality of the Inquisition was of course directed from above [meaning the "church and political authority"], but it not only persecuted Moslems and Protestants as well as Jews--it also never had the aim of simply massacring Jews. It was the result of a false concept of the church that was entirely divorced from the New Testament and had nothing to do with biblical Christianity (p. 52).
While his point, again, is to ascertain whether the Inquisition's actions were truly Christian and thus his consideration is succinct, not as succinct as the Crusades section, he does not mention that the Inquisition was premised upon political intrigues. As The Jewish Encyclopedia notes (1906 ed. Vol. XI, p. 485), "It remains a fact that the Jews, either directly or through their correligionists in Africa, encouraged the Mohammedans to conquer Spain."
Indeed, directly prior to the commencement of the Inquisition Turks attacked Otranto where the choice was offered to convert to Islam or, as was done to the 800 Christians who refused, beheading on The Hill of the Martyrs. Overall, 20,000 were slaughtered along with the archbishop and a bishop. Thereafter, the Turks attacked Vieste, Lecce, Taranto and Brindisi.
Joe Keysor's book deserves serious consideration and while I am afraid that he is up against difficulties, hopefully it will be encountered by honest scholarly reviewers.
The difficulty is that the combination of the New Atheist movement and the Internet have turned far too many people, let us speak of those atheists who correlate Christianity with Nazism, into pseudo-skeptics who would consider a satisfying response to an entire and carefully researched book to be something to the likes of typing, "Adolf Hitler was a Christian" into a search engine, copying the first hyperlink that shows up, pasting into the comments section of a website/blog and saying, as it were, "Answer that!"
These are the sorts of thinkers, if they may be referred to as such, who think that pointing out the "Gott mit uns" belt buckles is sufficient refutation. There is a stunningly lack of skepticism within the ranks of they who argue that Adolf Hitler was a Christian because he made reference to "God," "Jesus," "the Bible," "the Church," etc. Little do they consider vast and various other references that Adolf Hitler made.
To solidify what Joe Keysor is up against when confronted by this crowd: attempt to imagine claiming that Adolf Hitler was a Christian. What would this mean? What would it look like in the real world outside of easy answers and polemics? It would mean that the world's most infamous and notorious anti-Semite worshipped a Jew as his Lord, God and Savior. Indeed, it is with such as realization that we begin to imagine that perhaps when Adolf Hitler, and the Nazis in general, made reference to, and this is key, the terms, the words "God," "Jesus," "the Bible," etc. they meant something quite different by them. They used the same words as does the Bible and Christianity but they definedthem very differently. This, Joe Keysor, makes very clear via multitudinous examples. In this regard it is of the utmost importance to note that Adolf Hitler and Nazism believed that Christianity was a Jewish invention who manufactured it as a puppeteer manufactures the puppet who will act while he is in control from behind the scenes.
Likewise with so many fallacious claims such as that Adolf Hitler praised Martin Luther. Are we to believe that Adolf Hitler the good, practicing, devout Roman Catholic would praise the world's most infamous and notorious anti-Roman Catholic? Indeed, praising Martin Luther would mean praising Protestant Christianity but why would Adolf Hitler the good, practicing, devout Roman Catholic praise Protestant Christianity? Hint: Martin Luther was a German and "The Nazis weren't similarly interested in Calvin or the English reformers" (p. 234).
Furthermore, along these lines there are pseudo-skeptics who liken eugenics--as mentioned within the context of Nazism--to breeding cattle, dogs or attempting to breed a black Koi with an orange spot. One can only guess as to whether this denotes a shocking level of ignorance or else a self refuting failed attempt at polemics, or rather, propaganda.
One of Joe Keysor's "Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible" monumental tasks is to take us on a, troubling, journey through the history of thought or philosophy (or as he terms it "misosophy").
One very important point that Joe Keysor brings up particularly in part II is that in their fervor to tie Christianity to Nazism many seek to leap tall buildings in a single bound from their misreading of the New Testament as being anti-Semitic, to the Crusades, to the Inquisition, throw in a little "persecution" of Galileo Galilei, add a little Martin Luther as "proto-Nazi" for good measure and viola!--thus ariseth Adolf Hitler.
Joe Keyson, lamentably, notes,
I wish some people would study the writings of 19th-century German writers looking for every single scrap or clue linking their ideas to Adolf Hitler as diligently as they study the New Testament. (p. 36)
Luther also got angry with the Jews, and he lashed out when he should have spoken softly and reasonably. His attacks have been of great service to those who wish to discredit Christianity...It is too bad that so many think the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century is more important for an understanding of National Socialism than the German secular and sometimes overtly anti-religious philosophical tradition of the 19th century. (p. 70)
Indeed, the philosophy of the 19th century and prior? What of Descartes, the French Revolution and Napoleon, the German "enlightenment," Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau, what of the Flokish movement's founders Paul Lagarde and Julius Langbehn, what of Voltaire, Richard Wagner, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Charles Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, Friedrich Nietzsche, et al? As Joe Keysor notes, "What is central is the fact that ideas basic to National Socialism developed outside of the Christian tradition" (p. 270).
when we look at the lifeblood of German culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries and consider the poets, philosophers, novelists, scientists, and painters that made German culture renowned throughout the world, do we find that even one of them was a serious Bible-believing Christian?
Beethoven, Schiller, Goethe, Schopenhauer-Christians?...And what shall we say of Stefan George, Bert Brecht, Fritz Lang, Lotte Lenya, George Grosz and Marlene Dietrich-Christians?
Then of course there are Thomas Mann, Oswald Spengler, the German expressionist painters, Wagner, Nietzsche, Haeckel, physicists like Heisenberg and Planck-Christians?
Is there one major figure in the 130-odd years of German cultural history from 1800 to 1933 that was a dedicated biblical Christian?
Looking at any general secular history of Weimar Germany, we do not get the impression of a deeply Christian culture...
People who say "Germany was a Christian country" reveal their ignorance not only of the teachings of Christ, but also of the profound influence of Darwinism, Freudianism. (pp. 141-142, 143)
But what of German theologians such as Friedrich Schleiermacher, F.C. Bauer, Albrecht Ritschl, Julius Wellhausen, Adolf von Harnack, et al? "Theologian" means orthodox-biblical-conservative-Christian, right?
these and other theologians diligently undermined the Bible and the historic Christian faith and had a great responsibility for the Protestant churches' collapse before National Socialism. (p. 172)
That some will surely merely respond by stating, "But, but, but--the belt buckles!" makes "Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible" all the more important.
Upon considering that still, today, over half a century later Nazi propaganda is still alive and well in working its accursed magic I was in awe at the skills of the propagandists. It is not only alive and well in the backwoods of neo-Nazism but in the thoughts of anti-Christians worldwide and on the world-wide-web. Yet, on second thought; the effectiveness of Nazi propaganda is not in its brilliance but in that there are actually many people who want to fall for it. It serves their purpose and justified, in their own minds, their prejudices and so they want to accept it even though doing so discredits them while leaves Christianity unscathed.
Joe Keysor's journey through the history of thought is very well handled as each subject/person upon whom he touches would require a book of its own to consider in detail. Yet, at various points along the way he reminds us that we must remain focused upon our destination: the relevance of each subject/person to Adolf Hitler/Nazism.
One thing that will become exceedingly clear upon reading this history of thought, particularly secular-anti-Judeo-Christian aspects, is that the so called, "New Atheists" (and the older as well) are absolutely nothing "New." Their instant fame and wealth, their celebrity status, may be "New" but they have made careers by merely plagiarizing the secular-anti-Judeo-Christians upon whose feeble shoulders they stand.
It is also very noteworthy that another refreshing aspect of "Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible" is that throughout, and particularly whilst considering the history of thought, Joe Keysor notes the objections to the very point that he is making and offers responses.
Lastly, I wish to note a very unique aspect of Joe Keysor's book: his various words of warning of which I will name two aspects very briefly as these are best considered and understood where they were made, well within the context of "Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible."
One is that he notes particular cultural and governmental events that lead up to, and which occurred within, Nazism. He takes such occasions to peppers correlations between these historical realities and events occurring, or unfolding, in the world today, including in America.
The other is the warning to be vigilant of such trends and points this warning particularly to American Christians. How is that? In a majority Christian nation, what is there to worry about? Exactly.
It is question such as "what is there to worry about?" and the implied ridicule of anyone who would dare make, much less entertain and promulgate, such paranoid delusions which make the point. Joe Keysor makes his own points to this effect yet, I will offer my own examples:
What is the big deal about store clerks are saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas"? And why should "In God We Trust" and "One Nation Under God" be on public display? After all, the Declaration of Independence only makes reference to our "Creator...nature's God."
That we are moving from a country founded upon the premise of freedom of religion expression to one which calls for freedom from religion may not even be noticeable to some while it is certainly encouraged and celebrated by others.
What I will say is this: when my relatives, or even when unrelated and non-Jewish human beings, found themselves in ghettos, in trains, in concentration camps, in gas chambers I wonder, I wonder if they ever thought, "How could we have not noticed the little incremental steps that lead to this? How and why is it that even when we did notice we did nothing?" How? Why? How and why indeed?
The fact that some already ridicule American Christians for their, apparent, concern for the slightest offense (as in defense vs. offense) is indicative of the point and a red flag that any and every slight offense must, within legal and moral bounds, be objected.
Overall, Joe Keysor's "Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible" is a great read which combines the excitement of a thriller, the intellectual satisfaction of carefully considered historical information and logic, the dichotomous nature of polemics, along with an emotional roller coaster.
This is a very serious book on one of world history's most serious subjects and yet, I have never laughed so often whilst reading such seriousness as Joe Keysor's commonsensical approach exposed the sheer nakedness of the pseudo-skeptic propagandists time and time, and time and time again with a touch of gentle "irreverent" whit with an occasional touch of sarcasm.
Surely, an important contribution to the historical study of Adolf Hitler and Nazism, the discernment of polemics and propaganda, the sensitive nature of multi-cultural relationships, and the essential importance of treating the Bible and Christianity in a fair and hermeneutically appropriate manner.