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A Church of Laodiceans?

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The Germans have at last discovered that Wotan and Jesus cannot be worshipped simultaneously in one and the same church.

The Nazi Church Party, which sought to Aryanize the Evangelical Church of Germany, has been officially disbanded. The Aryan clause which was intended to force Christian clergymen having Jewish blood out of their positions has been rescinded. Choleric Ludwig Mueller, Reich Bishop, who has been hankering after a Jesus “after the German fashion”—boots, spurs, “schrecklichkeit” and all—has been forced to sever his connections with the Nazi church faction. The Bible, about which the Germans since the days of Luther have been fighting so much and so gorily, remains the source of Christian authority. The Old Testament,—that thorn in the flesh of Siegfried’s little step-children because Jews wrote it—has not been eliminated. The New Testament has not been revised and the figure of the gentle, pacifist and communist Jesus has not been recast in the mold of Thor, God of Thunder and of War. Christianity, that “product of a moribund civilization of weary Mediterraneans”, remains true to its original Judaic inspiration.

It was inevitable that the thoughtful Christians of Germany would soon come to realize the menace to their own religion involved in Hitler’s mad race theories, for they are a complete repudiation of both the history and the theology of Christianity. They are a condemnation of its sacred literature, its founder, apostles and early leaders and of all its essential ideals. To Nordicize Christianity is to destroy its proclaimed universalism. The classic though unsubstantiated but nevertheless persuasive argument of Christian apologetics has always been that Judaism was a nationalistic religion whereas Christianity overleaped all national and racial barriers and became a religion for the whole of mankind. At if in mockery of this argument come these latter-day saints of the Third Reich and set about redefining Christianity and constricting it into one of the narrowest tribal churches known to history. Under the new dispensation, even converts were to be denied equality before the Lord. . . .

The four thousand Protestant clergymen who rose up in arms against the attempted Nazification of their faith were quick to realize that it was the very soul of Christianity which was involved in the struggle, and their coreligionists in England and America who rallied to their support also realized it.

And now the millions of men and women throughout the world who applauded their courage and rejoiced in their victory wonder whether they will take the next step which is clearly dictated by the logic of their position. They must surely realize that their moral responsibility as spiritual leaders of their people does not end with the rejection of the race doctrine in their church constitution. Surely they cannot close their eyes to the millions of “Judeo-Christians” who have been denied equality of political, social and economic status under the new regime because of the Jewish blood in their veins. These millions of Christians who belong to their churches have the right to turn to them in their hour of need and to expect them to speak up in their behalf and to champion their cause.

And what of the Jews? Do not these clergymen who have now demonstrated their great zeal in protecting the historically Jewish character and values of their religious tradition feel any moral compulsion to speak up in defense of the Jews of Germany? If anti-Semitism has been found to be a menace to the Christian church is it not also a menace to a Christian State or to any civilized State?

How long can these clergymen tolerate the grotesque and incongruous situation which now prevails in Germany? For six days a week the Germans are to be taught in the schools, through the press and from the platform that the Jews are an inferior race whose blood is polluted and who are incapable of producing any real cultural values, and on the seventh day they are to be taught in the churches that the literature of this same inferior race is the sacred literature of mankind, that its moral code is the highest moral code of the world, that its history is the most significant history extant and that its ancient hymns and prayers are to be chanted by all pious people as the most beautiful and spiritual in existence.

Will not the Christian churchmen of the world who upheld the hands of the German clergymen in their war against to invasion of their church by the new Nazi ideology, now urge upon them the moral imperative of courageously championing the cause of the millions of men, women and children who have been denied their elementary human rights in the new Germany and who are being subjected to the cruelest discriminations because of their race? Do these German clergymen wish to take upon themselves the reproach which was heaped upon the Church of the Laodiceans: “I know thy works that thou are neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot.”

Surely Christianity cannot rest content with this first skirmish which it has won. The real battle which will test its soul must still be waged.

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