I just finished reading Paul Johnson’s A History of Christianity. Though I read the old edition, you can find it currently in print. I’d count it as a popular supplement to more scholarly works.
In previous study I had seen that Hitler was specifically anti-Christian, but Johnson’s anecdotes and quotes show the depth of his contempt. He quotes Hitler as saying,
Do you really believe the masses will ever be Christian again? Nonsense. Never again. The tale is finished… but we can hasten matters. The parsons will be made to dig their own graves. They will betray their God to us. They will betray anything for the sake of their miserable little jobs and incomes. (p.485f)
In Johnson’s picture of German Christianity during the World War 2 years the only group that seems remotely able to stand against Hitler were the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Protestants and Catholics competed with each other to be more German than the other. Both feared that they would lose out to the other and lose their position in Germany forever. While Johnsons mentions exceptions in both segments of the state church, the overall picture was dismal.
But what about those Jehovah’s Witnesses? Most commonly we hear about their inadequate Christology and Soteriology and their wild notions about Jesus having returned already… but not exactly. From what I’ve seen their theology leaves much to be desired. But I can’t help but think that their suspicion of the State – whether of Nazi Germany or even of our own benevolent rulers – is more Christian than our meek subservience.
“When the Wrong People Do the Right Thing”
Perhaps they are not so wrong as your title would suggest, perhaps their Christology and Soteriology not so inadequate after all, especially since, in that situation, almost all the right people did the wrong thing.
In the past century nationalism has become an almost irresistible force.
Thanks much for your observations.
one of the insightful guidelines I’ve ever heard about obeying authority (like gov’t) was a young muslim woman explaining that her attitude when obeying her husband was that it was God (god?) she was trying to please. That way, when her husband was
“leading” into an area that she knew was contrary to God, she could follow God, not man.
I know that’s idealized; but there’s value in it.