McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–June 6 will mark the 60th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France. The bold D-Day assault on the beaches of Normandy was critical in turning the tide of World War II. Men fought — and many died — in order to defeat Germany’s tyrannical advance fueled by Adolf Hitler’s noxious philosophies.
However, destroying armies has proven easier than discrediting ideas. Ironically, six decades removed from the blood-soaked beaches of Normandy, many of the doctrines the Allies warred against now are embraced by the Western world.
The Nazi rejection of a personal God who posited absolute truth is in vogue throughout Europe, Great Britain and the United States. Hitler once quipped that the idea of conscience was concocted by the Jews. The Nazis loathed the children of Abraham, not solely because of race, but for what they represented: transcendent monotheism. “By killing the Jews, Western culture would eradicate those who had ‘invented’ God,” professor George Steiner observed in his book, “In Bluebeard’s Castle.”
If the idea of a personal God was anathema to the Third Reich, so was biblical authority. The Nazis put up with Christianity, but barely. In order for the church to function under Hitler, it had to see no evil, speak no truth and hear no pleas for mercy. Those who dared oppose the Nazis suffered imprisonment and even death. The end result was a neutered public faith and a muzzled prophetic voice.
At present, across the whole of Western civilization there is a growing disdain for the idea of a personal God and biblical authority. There are even those in America who believe the only good church is a silent church. So long as faith is private, it is tolerated. However, if you dare espouse moral absolutes in the public square, you are dismissed as a danger to democracy.
In place of God and biblical authority, the religion embraced by the Nazis was humanism, a philosophy which could well be the most popular today in Western culture.
For the humanist, man is the measure of all things. In essence, man is his own deity and determines what is right and wrong.
A natural byproduct of humanism is a pragmatic moral relativism. “Justice is what the Aryan man deems just. Unjust is what he so deems,” stated Third Reich minister Alfred Rosenberg; thus, whatever helped the Third Reich achieve its goals was good.
Unencumbered by absolute truth, Hitler persuaded Germany that whatever he commanded was good for the state, and what was good for the state was ultimately good for the individual. Eventually, Hitler asserted that what was good for Germany was good for the world. With little or no reference point for right and wrong, the masses followed willingly.
Today, perhaps like never before, pragmatic moral relativism infects most of Europe, Great Britain and America. The individual is sovereign and “truth” is relative to what is practical at any given moment. Tolerance and choice are touted as the chief virtues of our day. Those who dare suggest there is absolute truth are chided as moral bigots.
The rejection of God and the embrace of moral relativism paved the way for the Nazis’ justification for killing fellow human beings. Anyone viewed as detrimental to the welfare of Nazi Germany was deemed expendable. In the book “The Nazi Doctors,” Robert Jay Lifton observed:
“Of the five identifiable steps by which the Nazis carried out the principle of ‘life unworthy of life,’ coercive sterilization was the first. There followed the killing of ‘impaired’ children in hospitals; and then the killing of ‘impaired’ adults mostly collected from mental hospitals, in centers especially equipped with carbon monoxide gas. This project was extended (in the same killing centers) to ‘impaired’ inmates of concentration and extermination camps, and, finally, to mass killings, mostly of Jews, in the extermination camps themselves.”
In like manner, Western culture allows for the death of the weakest members of our society. The predominant justification for allowing a woman to kill her unborn child is individual choice. Abortion has become nothing more than a cruel form of birth control.
Given the path we are on, it is only a matter of time before euthanasia is not only widely embraced, but also enforced.
It is tragically ironic that many of the ideals held fast by Nazi Germany are in vogue today. What threatened the world 60 years ago now is openly embraced. It seems that Western civilization is headed for self-destruction, and nothing short of a D-Day of absolute truth will change its course.
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears each Friday in Baptist Press, is pastor of the Portland-area Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.