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Christianity good, secularism bad

Book Book Review Part II, Title How Should We Then Live?, Author Francis A. Schaeffer, Rating 2.5, Part 2 of 4, Christianity good, secularism bad

The second part of this four-part review of Francis Schaeffer’s How Should We Then Live examines the author’s historical approach, and evaluates his comparison of Christendom and secular society.

Ideology and ethics aren’t the only historical influences

Schaeffer had a strong tendency to exaggerate the influence of ethical systems on societal behavior and ignore other contributing circumstances, in particular, the selfish behavior that is universally human, which manifests itself in every aspect of human society, except to occasionally dismiss it as a valid consideration in evaluating the history of Christendom. Yet the complex resultant behaviors driven by greed and fear, the tussle to survive and attain security via power and money, usually done by one group of people at the expense of another group of people, are at least as important in the analysis of history as are the dry theories of ethical philosophers, religious or otherwise.

What men think and feel is of the utmost importance; but thoughts and feelings must always be related to the circumstances surrounding them. Thus, changes in a religious ethos are complementary to and go hand in hand with developments in other areas of men's lives. Cause and effect in such matters are hard to distinguish.
-The Western Intellectual Tradition, Bronowski & Mazlish, p. 97, footnote
Relatedly, ideas once released typically have a life of their own, and are modified or co-opted or assimilated by subsequent historical actors for their own, very often alien purposes to those intended by the original authors. For example, Calvin’s willingness to tolerate the accumulation of riches while opposing excessive usury was not surprisingly embraced by the rising bourgeoisie for their own selfish purposes, even conceding their embracing of such an ideology in and of itself. Bronowski and Mazlish provide another example: "In all essentials, Calvin's Geneva was a theocratic dictatorship. Yet, as in the case of Luther, Calvin's movement, as it worked itself out in history, led to a greater independence of the individual. It contributed, intentionally and unintentionally, to personal, economic, and political individualism." (The Western Intellectual Tradition, p. 95) 

Non sequiturs as historical analysis: Embracing post hoc fallacies

In Schaeffer’s analysis of Western civilization he often employed one-sided over-simplifications in the explanation of historical events, sometimes in the form of post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies. (note 1) So let’s play along for a moment. Consider this: Modern Western nations all arose from Christendom. So Schaeffer must be correct, that the best elements of modern Western societies also arise presuppositionally from the Christian worldview. But then clearly so do the worst elements. The decline of the Roman Empire was triggered by the adoption of Christianity as its state religion. (note 2) Nazism was a Christian movement; after all, Hitler professed his Christianity in Mein Kampf, and justified his desire to destroy the Jews using passages from the Bible. Christianity is clearly racially bigoted, since white supremacists in the United States are led by ordained Christian ministers, operate out of churches, and claim moral justification of their beliefs via their interpretation of Biblical passages, not unlike U.S. Southern slave owners and preachers prior to the Civil War. Ku Klux Klan members burn crosses as a symbol of their faith in Christ.

Yet these non sequiturs are at best partial explanations for complex events, similar to those the author employed in his explanations of totalitarianism, the Holocaust, modern Revolutions, modern philosophy, and so on.

Is godless secularism the root of all totalitarian evil?

-Family,

Chisinau (Kinishev), Bessarabia Pogrom Memorial. Family.

The author showed a picture of a memorial to East Germans who died trying to cross the Berlin Wall into West Berlin, killed by a decidedly illiberal secular authoritarian regime, by way of suggesting that totalitarianism was a secular phenomenon. (page 128 opp.) He included no pictures of memorials to the Jews killed by Christian pogroms or Crusaders, fellow Christians killed in the many Christian wars of religion, heretics burned at the stake, Saxons slaughtered by Charlemagne for refusing to convert to Christianity, etc. Brutal and amoral behavior abounds in history, whether under Christendom or, in the author’s example, under a secular totalitarian regime.

Schaeffer explained that the brutality and violence of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century came about because they were led by godless men who worshiped strength over weakness. Many books have been written about these regimes, and call out many significant influences and conditions of their formation, including Christian influences, ignored by the author.

How could a few amoral men like Lenin and Stalin change the course of Russia, a large and powerful Christian nation? Did a few guys with a Marxist-Leninist ethic convince tens of millions of people that their moral system was superior to the prevailing Christian worldview? Did the Russians just blindly follow these men away from their own Christian presuppositions? (Where is the strength of the Christian worldview?) From this, did all the brutality and repression of the Soviet Union arise? This just seems awfully glib.

The brutal totalitarian repression of Soviet Russia had many relevant historical antecedents besides the secular ideologies mentioned by the author; Tsarist Russia was not secular, but was mono-religious Orthodox Christian, a Church which for much of its history was aligned with the government. The typical religiously-based coercion and repression found in Christendom permeated Russian culture. Beyond religious repression was the centuries-old Tsarist political and economic repression of serfs, the vast majority of the population. Tsarist Russia contained the world’s largest Jewish ghetto, the Pale of Settlement, created to cordon off Jews from the rest of Russia after Russia failed to expel them or convert them all to Christianity, and has one of the historically worst records of murderous pogroms against Jewish communities. Repression in Soviet Russia was in no small part a continuation of its Tsarist predecessors. (In another example, the repressive organs of state security in the Soviet Union, the Chekhists, were initially modeled on their Tsarist predecessor, the Okhrana.) None of this is found in the author’s account.

Did secular values create the Holocaust?

-PD-US,

I am doing the Lord's work.. PD-US.

Schaeffer explained the Holocaust as the inevitable result of secular values, including the theory of evolution and its bastard child, Social Darwinism: "Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945), leader of the Gestapo, stated that the law of nature must take its course in the survival of the fittest. The result was the gas chambers." (page 151) Embarrassingly, he offered no other thoughts regarding the Holocaust, since Christian culture bears a significant portion of the blame. (note 3)

Hitler said many often conflicting things in defense of this indefensible behavior, these among them:

Did the gas chambers come about because Hitler’s said that by killing Jews he was doing God’s work, based on his presuppositional Christian worldview? Or because Himmler referenced secular Social Darwinism to justify the murderous treatment of the Untermenschen? Did medieval knights destroy prisoners who wouldn’t convert to Christianity, or hunt down and kill Jews on the way to killing Muslims to take back the Holy Land, because God told them it was righteous? Were Christian Popes defending the Faith when they hired armies, laid siege to cities and killed their inhabitants in order to extend the territory of the Papal States? (note 4)

Maybe, just maybe, there was more to it than a Christian presuppositional worldview or the embracing of secular or pagan ethical systems.

– Maybe the gas chambers came about because Germany felt the wrath of Europe after World War I, a war they started. The Treaty of Versailles imposed severe sanctions on Germany, crippling their military, required them to pay for the destruction they caused, and forcing unwanted changes in their government. This plunged their country into economic and political chaos. Maybe Germany sought a way out of this mess by becoming once again belligerent.

– Maybe the gas chambers came about because the Germans grew up in a Christian society which, from its earliest history, scapegoated Jews for societal problems, periodically herded them into ghettos, exiled them wholesale while confiscating their wealth, and episodically killed them in droves (This is the main argument in typical Holocaust histories). The Nazi’s virulent anti-Semitism had enough common ground with the German public’s less murderous anti-Semitic attitudes to gain tacit acceptance for the gradual development of the policies of Jewish annihilation, the Final Solution.

– Maybe the gas chambers came about because of the German people’s sense of being desperately weak, stripped of their defenses, cornered and surrounded by enemies made them susceptible to the völkisch arguments by the Nazis that they were in fact racially superior to all that surrounded them and were justified in enslaving and destroying those who they felt threatened them, or they felt had betrayed them, or they felt had taken what was rightfully theirs from them.

– Maybe the Nazi’s twisted arguments from German myth and eugenics and Christian hermeneutics were applied as a means to justify what was in fact an overarching ethic of strength over weakness. Desperate people do desperate things. Power-hungry people will do terrible things to attain and to hold power.

The Nazis appealed to cultural biases, Christian and pagan, to convince the German people to help them regain their “rightful” place as heirs to the glories of the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire (the Third Reich is the third Empire in that succession), to regain lost power and wealth and share with them the spoils at the expense of their enemies. They played on the fears and prejudices of their own people. The Nazis also employed terror and then violence on a societal scale, both internally and externally, as empires do, and as the nations of Christendom often did, to achieve their goals.

It can be argued that the Nazis did not really believe their own justifications for the final destruction of Untermenschen: While Nazi policy for removing civil rights of the Untermenschen was tolerated and even sometimes embraced by the German people, the Endlosung policy (Final Solution) for the wholesale murder of entire peoples (Jews, Roma, Slavs, etc.) was generally hidden from the German public, even when they thought they were winning the war, and as the war turned against them, they went to great lengths to destroy evidence of these activities, just like common criminals who try to cover up their crimes.

Gott mit uns

-CC-BY-SA-3.0, Remas6

German Wehrmacht WWII belt buckle: God is with us. Attrib: Remas6, CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Particularly difficult for the author’s contention that the Holocaust was a purely secular horror is that the people who carried it out were overwhelmingly brought up in the Christian traditions. Most of the Germans who lived under Nazism and who served its cause, including some of its leadership, wore crucifixes, prayed to God to save their nation and keep them and their families safe and to destroy their enemies: Germany under Nazism was still predominantly a Christian nation. In forming the Third Reich, or third empire, the Nazis explicitly drew on the past history of authoritarian Christendom, justifying the creation of their new empire as the continuation of the Christian Holy Roman Empire, and in doing so described the Third Reich as a Christian empire. On the belt buckles of German soldiers of the Third Reich was written: Gott mit uns, meaning God is with us, a phrase utilized by the German military from the German Empire on as a rallying cry: "'Gott mit uns' was a Protestant as well as an imperial motto, the expression of German religious, political, and ethnic single-mindedness."(Alan Davies, Infected Christianity, p. 42)  .

-CC-BY-SA-3.0, Dnalor 01, Wikapedia Commons, modified

Gate to Auschwitz KZ: Work makes you free. Attrib: Dnalor 01, Wikapedia Commons, modified, CC-BY-SA-3.0.

The path to Auschwitz is a historically complicated one, but the primary road as described by many Holocaust historians is paved by the brutal anti-Semitic attitudes and actions of the dominant Christian culture towards Jews, going back to the earliest days of Christendom and justified via the Bible. These Christian attitudes were in full display under Nazism, where for example the German Protestant Church played a substantial role in supporting Nazi anti-Semitic policies, including their regular use of Luther’s writings to justify the Nuremberg Laws and Kristallnacht, among other Nazi measures against the Jews. (note 5) These measures led to the Endlosung, the Final Solution.

Many if not most of the good Catholics and Lutherans of Germany were aware of the concentration camp system, (note 6) and almost all who were called upon to do the dirty work did not shirk, as they did not shirk when called upon to invade the countries of inferior nations in search of resources and Lebensraum, leaving many millions of dead civilians, the vast majority of them fellow Christians, in their wake.

The German’s own Christian culture aside, as the Nazis moved eastward into Poland, the Baltic States and the Soviet Union, they found in each place a wholly Christian society who eagerly assisted them in hunting down, rounding up and murdering their own Jewish neighbors, as they had been doing for more than a millennium. (In the same population, at great risk to their well-being, some Christians also made efforts to hide and protect the Jews.)

Good and bad revolutions

The author also compared and contrasted the English and French Revolutions, and concluded that the English Revolution was bloodless because it was driven by Reformation thinking, while the French Revolution was based on "Voltaire's humanistic Enlightenment thinking, so the result was a bloodbath and a rapid breakdown into the authoritarian rule of Napoleon Bonaparte." (pages 120-121) Revolutions are so simple!

The Bloodless Revolution in England wasn’t bloodless, even though it has been labeled as such, but was simply less protracted and violent than its predecessor, the English Civil War, which was more decisive, to boot. The English Civil War began as a swelling struggle between Parliament and the King, resulting in bloody battles between the merchant class and their allied nobles and in England’s only regicide, the execution of King Charles I by the Puritan-dominated Rump Parliament. It was indeed driven by aspects of Reformation changes, but much more by trends that pre-dated the Reformation. Charles’ insistence on ruling by divine right was a clumsy attempt to reclaim powers that had been ameliorated by the long rise of Parliamentary power, and was in England never a complete reality, as the English King was almost never more powerful than his largest vassals, and Saxon expectations of some say in government went back almost a thousand years, highlighted by the King John’s signing of the Magna Charta in 1215. (Saxon political structures are described in the earliest history of German tribes, Tacitus’ 1st century De Origine et situ Germanorum, or Germania, well pre-dating Christian influence among the Germans.)

Under the Tudor’s, the merchant class continued to gain power via the House of Commons; the power of Parliament grew in part because the Crown needed access to the growing wealth of the merchant and gentry class. This class was influential in standing up to Charles, and many were men influenced as Schaeffer suggested, by Puritan and other Protestant thinking. The Puritan Cromwell became Dictator during the Interregnum, or Commonwealth period after the end of the Civil War, and he proved to be as illiberal, curtailing Parliamentary power as much or more than did Charles before him! Cromwell is still remembered bitterly in Ireland, where his good Protestant troops appropriated the best property and moved recalcitrant Irish Catholics to the poorest land, when they were not simply slaughtering them. When he died, Parliament regained its power, and became more powerful than the subsequent Stuart king, Charles II, invited back only if he was willing to accept a reduced regency.

When his successor, James II was crowned, the dominant Puritan factions in Parliament feared that he would bring Catholicism back to England, so they conspired with William of Orange to violently overthrow the King in order to preserve Protestant dominance. (The Stuart reign in England was always troubled by Protestant worries about the chance of changing the state religion from Anglican back to Catholic, due to the Stuart’s and Scotland’s historical alliances with Catholic France. A law enacted at the time banned the regent of England from marrying a Catholic, only recently rescinded in 2013.) William and Mary took over the monarchy, now even further reduced in power. This ‘Bloodless Revolution’ in England was less chaotic than the subsequent French Revolution because of the central role played by Parliament, whose power and dominance was established gradually from the time of the Germanic invasions. Save the two Stuart kings, England did not remove its aristocracy, but gradually marginalized it over hundreds of years. (Inventing Freedom: How the English-speaking Peoples Made the Modern World, by Daniel Hannan, provides a decent exploration of historical influences on liberalism in England, and their subsequent influence on the U.S., to include the primacy of Saxon political expectations.)

In France, in contrast, the Estates General had been rendered almost powerless by Bourbon rulers, and rarely even met by the time of the French Revolution. When the French revolted in 1789, there was no powerful or generally accepted political institution to replace the First and Second Estate that were significantly reduced by the revolutionary fervor, so there was much less to build on, and the transition was much more chaotic. France not only broke the nobility, but in doing so, had to fight noble interests internally, and more importantly, the rest of European nobility (including England). The nobility of Europe was heavily inter-married, royal family interests were not just found in their country of residence, but in other countries, and other Europeans nobles understood the radical changes in France threatened their own reigns. European nobility plotted and fought to return France to a monarchy: this was a critical factor in the formation of the Napoleonic empire, as France was fighting the rest of Europe for its life.

Note also that the Reformation did indeed influence the French Revolution, though not in a way the author was comfortable mentioning: The violent Wars of Religion (between Huguenots and Catholics in France) were a major influence on Voltaire and the philosophes, and on their attitude towards the First Estate (the officials of the organized Catholic Church). During the brutal Revolutionary Reign of Terror, considerably fewer people died than during the terrible Huguenot wars. The corrupt Catholic Church garnered so little respect among the middle class of France, who were the primary actors of the Revolution, that they had little compunction in reducing its wealth and power when they had the chance. To speak of corruption was to mention the terrible immorality of the Church, which took a good deal of the money collected in the churches from its parishioners and spent it on palaces, furs, and property only accessible to the Church elite.

Schaeffer argued that secular humanistic thinking made the French Revolution chaotic and turned it into an authoritarian state under Napoleon. One has to admire how hard the author worked to build his thesis, how hard he must have struggled to avoid obvious historical facts to do so. Particularly obvious here is that France prior to the French Revolution, the one being held up by Schaeffer as the shining exemplar of Christendom, was an authoritarian state itself dominated by the nobility and clerics! France returned to an authoritarian structure under Napoleon to continue defending itself from nearly every other European nation, all of them authoritarian regimes with a Christian worldview who were attempting to violently re-conquer France on behalf of the nobility, and of course, God. The foolish attempt to abolish religion during the French revolution was gainsayed by Napoleon’s Concordat of 1801 with the pope, which restored Catholicism as a partial state religion, but placed sufficient limits so as to allow Protestants freedom of worship. (This is not to ignore the destructive aspects of the Napoleonic empire, which while clearly a reaction to external existential threat, produced its own extensive violence and havoc.)

It was through the Napoleonic dominance of Europe that the secular ferment of the French Revolution inoculated Europe with so many of its modern ideals, liberté, égalité, fraternité, which over the long term fatally weakened the authoritarian regimes of Christendom, paving the way for modern nation-states, most of which gradually grew into secular liberal democracies during the 19th and 20th centuries.

(On another note: There are still vestiges of a state religion in England, although freedom of religion gradually became de facto in England, if not entirely de jure, particularly during the 17th century. Today the regent of England is still the titular head of the Church of England. All officials and clerics of the Church must swear allegiance to the Crown, and some of the administration of the Church is as yet in the hands of Parliament.)

Christian ideas, secular ideas, human nature shaped modern Western culture

Christian, non-Christian and secular influences together have shaped the historical events of Western culture. Regarding the Holocaust, non-Christian Aryan myths provided arguments for racial superiority, secular ideas about eugenics provided a “scientific” rationale for sidelining or destroying “inferior” people, and Christian anti-Semitism provided longstanding cultural, legal and ethical precedent and Biblical rationale for subjugating and destroying Jews and other Untermenschen, etc. In the end, the Holocaust was perpetrated by people under these influences and others, such as German societal crises and degradation after World War I, their very human fear and their desire for dominance.

The selfish exercise of power too often trumps codified morality in every society, regardless of the ethical system in place. People and governments justify themselves through words to get what they want, and often don’t even believe their own words, but believe that those words will get them what they want. Ethical systems are useful, and are often employed with a genuine desire to instill behavior considered best for society, but they are all too commonly used as Machiavellian window dressing by popes, potentates, politicians, and preachers who are seeking power and prosperity, and who, under the pretense of purer motives, are looking to persuade others in that pursuit or to push aside or punish those who protest.

Christendom was no better or worse than today’s secular governments

The central thesis of this book, that by a study of Western cultural and political history, the Christian worldview can be demonstrated to be superior to modern secularized society, doesn’t hold up.

While Protestantism influenced the development of individual freedoms in Western secular society, much of that influence was less constructive than the author opines: Secularism grew as well in reaction to the coercive and violent Christian culture, and the individual freedoms pried loose by intolerant Protestants from intolerant Catholics came to have a life of their own. The biggest impetus towards secularism in Western culture may have been that, when Christianity had the keys to the kingdom, warring Christians nearly destroyed it over who was more Christian. Even that idea is ameliorated by the inextricable mix of motivations that can be attributed to those wars or any others: The religious or ideological reasons cannot be isolated from the dynastic and economic motivations, the greed and the fear.

Both secular and religious ideas have contributed substantially to Western society, and will continue to; each influence the other, often unwittingly. History is full of unintended consequences, including the always ironic use of authoritarian terror and violence for, say, the winning of individual freedoms, or the winning of souls to God. History is also full of self-serving repression and violence, which no system of ethics has proven capable of sufficiently moderating. Societies have and will continue to struggle with the selfish tendencies of their citizens and struggle to find solutions to the next set of problems that confront them.

Schaeffer’s proffered solution for liberal societies is clearly distorted and untenable: A return to a sanitized, fairy-tale version of the good old days of Christendom in order to save us from a straw-man mirage of today’s United States as an ‘authoritarian’ regime.

The Historiography of Francis Schaeffer

Good historical writing requires generalizations, but such writing generalizes without ignoring or minimizing relevant facts and trends, and balances the influence of ideas with circumstance and human nature. The author did not meet these standards with this book, even considering the necessary compression of historical analysis for such a large subject.

Schaeffer deliberately glossed over, twisted or left out many relevant historical events that would have weakened his history-based theses, and did so unapologetically, as an exercise in . . . Christian apologetics. Too often the author applied a highly sophistical historical filter when assessing the ideological influences on certain modern developments, such as the development of liberal representative democracies: He carefully pointed out the Christian influences while he simultaneously downplayed or ignored other non-Christian and secular influences, all the while carefully distancing Christianity from what he narrowly described as purely secular horrors, like the Holocaust. (note 7; Hankins documents some of the author's apologetic approach to history in his biography of Schaeffer.)

Double Standard regarding Religious Violence
Aug 2011 U.S. Poll, Public Religion Research Institute (N=2,450)

When someone commits acts of violence in the name of Christianity, do you believe they are really Christians? 13% said Yes.

When someone commits acts of violence in the name of Islam, do you believe they are really Muslims? 44% said Yes.

In any ideology there is a divorce between theory and praxis. Can Marxism be fairly assessed by judging it by what ensued under Stalinism? Schaeffer was sure that it could be, just as he was sure that it was unfair to judge his Christian beliefs by what ensued during the violent outbreaks of Christendom. Regarding ethics, he provided no historical or logical defense of his favored “absolute” Biblical standard, simply declaring it the absolute word of an all-powerful God. Yet when he assessed ethical standards other than his own he applied historical and logical tests to argue that all other ideologies were weaker than his own, even other Christian traditions like Catholicism. It seems that Schaeffer mistook a double standard for an absolute one.

The author cherry-picked historical facts to such a cartoonish degree so as to reduce his theme to Christianity Good, Secularism Bad.


End of part 2 of 4.

(To read part 3, click here. The third part of this 4-part review examines Schaeffer’s claims that Christian ethics are the only absolute standard for society.) To read part one, click here.

 

Notes

1. Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies. "The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event. Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs."(Post-hoc fallacy The Skeptic's Dictionary

2. Oddly enough, Gibbon, in his famous book the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, postulated that Christianity was a primary causation of the Western Roman Empire’s fall! Contemporary historians generally find that a vast overstatement.

3. The Holocaust is secular? This idea can be found in other Evangelical Christian writing. Another example can be found from a recent effort by Os Guinness: "Horrific earlier events such as the Nazi death camps have already exposed the deficiencies of the Enlightenment vision of religionless progress." (The Global Public Square, Os Guinness, p. 53)  Most Holocaust histories are unsurprisingly written by Jewish writers, and it is equally unsurprising that their view of the causes of the Holocaust differ significantly from the narrow arguments of Schaeffer and too many other Christian apologists. Christian anti-Semitism is front and center in these accounts, alongside other cultural and secular influences. Davidowicz opens her discussion of German anti-Semitism with Martin Luther, as does Martin Gilbert.

"A line of anti-Semitic descent from Martin Luther to Adolf Hitler is easy to draw. Both Luther and Hitler were obsessed by a demonologized universe inhabited by Jews. 'Know, Christian,' wrote wrote Luther, 'that next to the devil thou hast no enemy more cruel, more venomous and violent than a true Jew.' Hitler himself, in that early dialogue with Dietrich Eckart, asserted that the later Luther - that is, the violently anti-Semitic Luther - was the genuine Luther. Luther's protective authority was invoked by the Nazis when they came to power, and his anti-Semitic writings enjoyed a revival of popularity. To be sure, the similarities of Luther's anti-Jewish exhortations with modern racial anti-Semitism and even with Hitler's racial policies are not merely coincidental. They all derive from a common historic tradition of Jew-hatred, whose provenance can be traced back to Haman's advice to Ahasuerus. But modem German anti-Semitism had more recent roots than Luther and grew out of a different soil - not that German anti-Semitism was new; it drew part of its sustenance from Christian anti-Semitism, whose foundation had been laid by the Catholic Church and upon which Luther built. It was equally a product of German nationalism. Modern German anti-Semitism was the bastard child of the union of Christian anti-Semitism with German nationalism."(The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945, Lucy Davidowicz, p. 54)  

 

"First steps to iniquity. For many centuries, primitive Christian Europe had regarded the Jews as the 'Christ-killer': an enemy and a threat to be converted and so be 'saved', or to be killed; to be expelled, or to be put to death with sword or fire. In 1543, Martin Luther set out his 'honest advice' as to how Jews should be treated. 'First,' he wrote, 'their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it.' Jewish homes, he urged, should likewise be 'broken down or destroyed'. Jews should then be 'put under one roof, or in a stable, like Gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land.' They should be put to work, to earn their living 'by the sweat of their noses', or, if regarded even then as too dangerous, these 'poisonous bitter worms' should be stripped of their belongings 'which they have extorted usuriously from us' and driven out of the country 'for all time'. Luther's advice was typical of the anti-Jewish venom of his time. Mass expulsion was a commonplace of medieval policy. Indeed, Jews had already been driven out of almost every European country including England, France, Spain, Portugal and Bohemia, Further expulsions were to follow: in Italy Jews were to be confined to a special part of the towns, the ghetto, and, in Tsarist Russia, to a special region of the country, the 'Pale'. Expulsion and oppression continued until the nineteenth century: Even when Jews were allowed growing participation in national life, however, no decade passed without Jews in one European state or another being accused of murdering Christian children, in order to use their blood in the baking of Passover bread. This 'blood libel', coming as it did with outbursts of popular violence against Jews, reflected deep prejudices which no amount of modernity or liberal education seemed able to overcome. Jew-hatred, with its two-thousand-year-old history, could arise both as a spontaneous outburst of popular instincts, and as a deliberately fanned instrument of scapegoat politics."(The Holocaust, Martin Gilbert, p. 19)  

4. Cherry-picking facts. This is also a demonstration of how easy it is to mislead by cherry-picking facts to bolster an argument, and leaving out others that would weaken the argument.

5. The Christian Church and the Holocaust. Christopher Probst’s recent book Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany provides a detailed account of the role of the organized Christian Church in supporting Nazism and its anti-Semitic thrust, as does Robert Ericksen’s Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany

6. Nazi Ghettos and Concentration Camps. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has been documenting all of the concentration camps and their related satellite camps, ghettos, slave labor sites, sex-slave brothels and extermination camps since 2000, and have begun publishing their results: the first two of seven volumes of the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945 have already been published, and the remainder are scheduled to be completed by 2025. The rough estimate of 7,000 such camps grew to 42,500 by the time the research was completed; this shocked even veteran Holocaust scholars.

Last year the New York Times summarized the research:

7. Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America, by Barry Hankins. Chapter 8 of Hankin’s biography of Schaeffer provided multiple accounts of other Evangelical theologians privately calling out his less-than-forthright arguments regarding Christian influences on Western culture; in these familial disagreements Schaeffer justified his playing fast and loose with history because it was for a righteous cause, an apologetical approach where the ends justified the means. Hankins also documented the active political role played by Schaeffer behind the scenes among the Evangelical elites like Jerry Falwell and among leaders of the conservative Republican Party.

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