Mar 272017

1. I just finished the audiobook version of “1944” by Jay Winik. It’s an historical narrative of that year in American history focusing on FDR and the Holocaust. I’m again convinced that any theology or political ideology that isn’t informed by what happened in German extermination camps is hopelessly ill informed.


The Holocaust isn’t simply a horrific event that happened in Germany, it’s an event that informs us of what any system or people is capable of …

2. If your “Christian worldview” doesn’t demand that you filter everything through the witness of Scripture, it’s just another political worldview among many… and no more righteous than any…

3. The “purer” your political ideology is,the less likely it can be imposed without bloodshed…

4. It’s a historical fact that Lincoln freed the slaves…and then intended to ship them back to Africa. Let us not pretend that racism isn’t ingrained in our culture and we don’t have a very long way to go in changing that both in the church and the culture…

5. As long as “biblical morality” is defined purely by sexual mores, we will never come close to being a biblically moral people…

6. A culture that can no longer decide what is true, that can no longer verify information or trust the sources of it, is always going to be one big lie away from destruction…

7. Your neighbor will either be a person to love or a scapegoat to blame…the choice will determine what kind of society you live in…

8. This is what happens to my mood when it’s too cold and too wet for too long…

9. The most odious form of arguing online is to find the most foolish looking representative of the other side of the debate and act as if that fool represents the whole of the group…

10. Oregon made the Final Four…and thankfully, gave me a way to end this…

  69 Responses to “Things I Think”

  1. So glad for the return of THINGS!

    Why would a theology be formed by the Holocaust?

  2. Josh

    Read ‘The Night Trilogy’ by Elie Wiesel… “How can I believe in a God that would let this happen…” is one of the quotes. Our theology has to be informed by this…

  3. Now , I’m not arguing, just not sure I understand the point being made.

    Would the same be said for any large disaster? Won’t they also have people asking why God would let this happen?

    Is there something I’m missing?

  4. Online arguing…one thing that bothers me is people who try for the “slam dunk” with any argument they make, as in trying to destroy their opponent in one shot. Twitter is ideally constructed for this.

  5. Josh,

    Sorry, I was recording the podcast.

    What we are brought ace to face with in the Holocaust is unspeakable evil perpetrated by “normal” people.

    We badly underestimate our capability for depravity…

    Our theology must be informed by this and all the questions it raises about both theodicy and biblical anthropology.

  6. #3 Josh

    I think it is especially important for contemporary theology owing to the callousness of the event itself and that it took place in a Europe that was “Christian” and looking for a time of universal peace. So it was in a different context from say, a natural disaster. Also, there was an ideology behind the events that made “peace” with many Christian bodies and denominations. The dissenters, such as the Confessing Church in Germany was in a minority. Then again, we had Fr. Coughlin and company here in the US…

  7. So you are using the Holocaust because it is the biggest, most obvious, recent example?

    If so, I understand what you are saying.

  8. THanks Duane, my #7 got crossed with yours. Your post fleshed that out well.

  9. Josh,

    The scope of what happened in the concentration camps is staggering.
    So is the response of people to it at the time and now.
    For example, the U.S. government was aware of what was happening, and could have saved a great many people had it chose to act.
    It chose not to.
    Also, at one point, a cruise ship full of escaping refugees came to America for asylum.
    We refused to let them in and turned back the ship.
    Hundreds died.

    We need to understand not with just our minds,but our souls…

    Thank you, Duane for chiming in…I know you understand this point very well.

  10. To how much of the mindset of the Holocaust do we owe the rise and almost (at the time) exclusive reception of Darwinian evolution.

    Evolutionists today mock social Darwinism (while retaining biological Darwinism) when Creationists bring it into the argument, but if we are looking to learn the lessons of history, such as the Holocaust and the focus on a “master race”, then I believe it is quite relevant.

  11. Michael, as to your #2.

    Is a Christian worldview incompatible then with being a citizen under a Constitutional Republic as ours.

    How can my Christian worldview be true to Scripture and supportive, let’s say, of the 1st Amendment.

    For that matter, how can any Christian ever serve in any capacity in a nation requiring an allegiance to the Constitution?

    (This is not partisan bait fishing either….I mean it as sincere discussion of your point)

  12. Steve – I think the culprit was eugenics more than Darwinism. That being said (and to be honest) eugenics was formulated by a half cousin of Charles Darwin. Shameful to say, but National Socialist Germany based many of their eugenics laws on those already in force in many states here in America (including Indiana). It was just a few steps from eugenics to the Holocaust.

  13. Michael, Duane, thank you for filling out the comments on the holocaust, interesting points.

  14. #11 Steve

    They are all valid questions… ones the Quakers, Mennonites and certain Anabaptists have struggled with for centuries…

  15. a few good people turned to help the fleeing Jew all over the world as we know from many books that those folk have written…
    do you recall the national mindset immediately after the Twin Towers came down? it wasn’t any different in 1939… some events put a nation’s thinking into survival mode… a national organ doesn’t function as a single soul who answers to God.
    That said these nations are carrying out the plan of God, are they not? We can learn much from the O.T., where God’s dealings with nations are concerned (IMO, of course). When the majority of the nation is morally bankrupt it does bad things which have bad consequences… maybe wanting to be a Christian nation isn’t a bad thing, eh? But we are not one, are we?

    My grandmother told two stories, one of her mother (talking Civil War era) who was convinced that the blacks needed education to bring them up to speed and was active in that work and the other was of her father who got up and walked out of a Harvey House when a black couple were seated in the restaurant, not because he hated them, just that he believed in segregating them … for the record, my grandparents were very concerned about the condition of the black people in early 20th century U.S. and i found a newspaper clipping in her Bible telling of the first negro family to be allowed to buy a house in Glendale, CA. (late 1950s) – the Jew had the same problem in many places in the U.S, BTW… there was that label that they were Christ killers perpetuated by a church that shall remain nameless here

    5. As long as “biblical morality” is defined purely by sexual mores, we will never come close to being a biblically moral people… that deserves a thread all its own – IMHO

    glad things have slowed down so that i can pontificate a bit, but Michael may not be 🙂

  16. P.S. to my #15… the first black family to buy into Glendale? the singer Nat King Cole…

  17. Germany and the Holocaust are too big for people to relate to – especially millennials today. It was 70 years ago.

    I would point right here – I would hold up Chicago as the lens to show what evil man is capable of.

    Here and now – everyone can grasp Chicago.

  18. Steve @ 11,

    Sorry about the delay…it’s spring break here and I’m Trey’s chauffeur…

    Those are great questions and ones I struggle with.
    I personally cannot pledge allegiance to any kingdom but Gods, but that is a matter of my conscience,not a hill to force others to die on.

    What I would say is that we do not have a real, unique, Christian worldview in this country…we have a Christian right and left that both occasionally invoke Christian ethics into their debates.

  19. Comparing the struggles of Chicago (or even Juarez) to the systematic eradication of a race is beneath comment…other than noting that it is just that.

  20. #9!!! Seriously

  21. #20 WN

    Seriously – the SS St. Louis was turned back from the US with about 500 Jewish refugees on board. Half of them would die in the camps as a result…

  22. Em,

    I’m always glad when you’re here…

  23. “Comparing the struggles of Chicago” – struggles – I like that (not)

    OK, you go capture people’s attention with Germany – but Chicago is happening with a free church as opposed to a state controlled church.

  24. MLD,

    I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

    The fact that the Holocaust may be losing relevance is to me a situation that must be remedied.

    In historical terms, it’s rather recent and shows graphically the atrocities we are capable of not only committing, but defending.

  25. Michael, I don’t think MLD is minimizing the holocaust, but suggesting that barbarism is occurring every day here in America, and most people, including Christians, are apathetic.

  26. What is happening in Chicago?

  27. Jean,

    On that point we may find agreement…especially if we look at the whole world.

    For ten years Mexico endured horrific crime…still is to an extent…and people usually just got angry at me for mentioning it.

  28. Although, the idea has taken its hits over the past 100 years, there still remains the idea that humans are progressing as moral beings, the fruit of human wisdom as a developing virtue

    I think the reality of Gen 8:21 continues normative.

  29. I always try to keep in mind a “Top 5 books every Christian should read” list. The Hiding Place is on that list, probably #1. I’ve recommended it because of the hope of Christ in the worst of circumstances, but thinking about it, the other side of that is valuable as well.

    Seriously though, is something going on Chicago? I’m googling it, but all the stuff about horrible crime and all is from Detroit.

  30. I found the book “Hitlers Cross”, by Erwin Lutzer to be an excellent read. I didn’t need anything to convince me of the evil of the human heart, but it helped immensely for understanding the churches silence in Germany. It has also served to help me guard my own heart and prevent any earthly affairs from taking the priority of my citizenship in Heaven.

  31. #27 Michael

    Read a horrifying statistic about the Holocaust – while 70% of SS officers resigned their church memberships, 30% retained their identification as Lutherans and Catholics and continued to pay church taxes and tithes…

  32. Anchored,

    I haven’t read it but the conclusion there is sound…

  33. Duane,

    That is horrifying.
    This subject also brings to mind the incredible amount of work that Southern theologians produced defending slavery around the time of the Civil War.

    Nationalistic and cultural concerns have shipwrecked the church far too often…and I fear it is happening to a lessor degree as we speak.

  34. I think running to the extreme to say that you must run your theology through the Holocaust is a bit extreme – not unlike those who compare Trump to Hitler. It’s like some feel that we must go to the furthest extreme to make a point.

    Jesus, although aware of a tragedies happening all over the world still kept everything pretty local when making a point.

    The people in Chicago, (and even my hometown – heck even in my household) are just as capable of doing what was done in Germany. We just lack the firepower. So yes, I will keep it local also.

  35. What I would say is that we do not have a real, unique, Christian worldview in this country…we have a Christian right and left that both occasionally invoke Christian ethics into their debates.
    I agree 100% with this statement, Michael.

  36. MLD

    As founding father John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

  37. MLD,

    The Holocaust was a historical event that affected millions of people not only then, but down to today.
    It challenges every theodicy and asks difficult, (if not impossible questions) of theology.

    We all are capable of repeating such…and we need to understand how deep the depravity runs.

  38. “and we need to understand how deep the depravity runs.”

    This is silly – I can see that depravity when I read of a father who kills his 5 children.

  39. “This is silly – I can see that depravity when I read of a father who kills his 5 children.”

    That is silly…the state and church were not complicit in allowing him to do so.

    Have to run…time for T to skate and me to study.
    I’m gonna be a good Anglican when I’m done… 🙂

  40. Josh, what I THINK they are talking about in regards to Chicago is the murder rate.

  41. A father who kills his own child can speak to a lot of things. He might be loaded on drugs, he might be mentally ill, he might be demon possessed. Or yeah, he might be as evil as they come.

    There is a huge difference between what one individual might do, and the Holocaust.

  42. Actually, the depravity of one person may be worse. The man is depraved and takes it out on his family. The Holocaust could be group think, with most people not giving much regard to what is happening or the consequences – but going along to go along.

    Read the Nuremberg transcripts – I for one refuse to pit one evil against another.

  43. I for one refuse to pit one evil against another.
    That’s exactly what you did when you chimed in @17…..

  44. Steve, Your comprehension is on low today. I did not pit one against the other – I spoke of effective application.
    Come on – you don’t have to disagree with me on every blog comment just to make points with the girls.- pretty high schoolish. Go back and read it and tell me where I spoke of a qualitative difference?

  45. The man who kills his family may be acting impulsively and immediately regrets his actions.

    All who participated in the events of Hilter’s Germany had plenty of time to think long and hard about what they were supporting.

  46. Good point Xenia. In fact I think it is quite common to hear these accounts as murder/suicide….the parent kills his child (ren) then also takes his own life.

  47. I think both examples should help us see that evil is all around us and if we aren’t vigilant, we may find ourselves doing things we never imagined we would do.

  48. All I am saying is I do not need to search world history to find some terrible world event to have my theological view of man’s depravity better informed.

    Perhaps I will stick with how man killed God and be satisfied with that.

  49. Well, here’s a plug for the arts…Schindler’s List was a powerful movie, and even millennials cannot deny the reality of the holocaust.

    I agree with Michael…we cannot deny the depravity of our own souls…

  50. Glad to see Things I Think. It a great start to the week.

  51. The highlight (lowlight) of my last eurotour ten years ago was visiting Aucshwitz. We drove straight from Budapest and arrived late in the afternoon, unfortunately, but did get to spend a good 3 hours at both camps. I hope to go back in 13 years with both kids when they are 18. Driving through the beautiful countryside (especially Slovakia) I kept thinking of how it reminded me of places in the USA. Yet I thought about the rivers of blood spilled there, even in my mother’s lifetime, and was saddened. I wish I’d gone sooner after The Wall fell, but we could see and feel the affects of communism.

  52. #3 comes to mind when I checked out the march this weekend in Huntington Beach, CA.

  53. I too welcome back “Things…” as a feature that I miss if it does not post.

    Morality should indeed be more than sex… the triumvirate of Money Sex and Power does much to cover the field for a full moral agenda. That being said…

    Sexual morality is a central piece of a moral theology. The culture has the hegemony on the issue. The culture now defines sexual morality, approves the acceptable language, punishes violators by marginalization and wags the moral finger at dissent. They even get us to line up against one another over the matter.

    Churches who depend on public support are conforming to the degree that they fear loss of market share. We lost this issue in the culture long ago, divorce, abortion, pornography, definition of family, now marriage and very soon the definition of male and female.

    As people of faith the rule of faith is certainly the sacred text. As per sexual morality the New Covenant community without hesitation abandoned the historic covenant definitions of temple, circumcision and ritual purity in favor of becoming a people defined by the Holy Spirit. In doing so they expressly stated that their sexual morality would evidence the Spirit’s presence; “28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Ac 15:28–29, The food strictures were worked through as applying primarily to avoiding idolatry. Therefore, in the apostolic moral code avoiding immorality and idolatry became the bedrock identifiers of the community of faith.

    Paul is our primary, but not exclusive source of moral theology. He warned every church about the essence of violating these areas. The one flesh union was clearly a reflection of the one God faith. We do well to abandon our interest in market share in favor of our interests in being a called out people.

    Currently, the storytellers of our culture have become the moral police. They have converted our children under our own noses and with our own consent and endowment.

    I see so little cogent pushback on sexual morality from the church that I wonder what on earth that point was intended to modify. I simply cannot imagine that we are talking too much about sexual morality. I think it must be predicated on a sense that conservative politics are believed to neglect justice while conservative Christians putatively support those politics partly motivate by the naive assumption that there will be some support for policies that suppress the moral demise.

    I would rather see us talk to the culture and to the accommodating church with greater wisdom, clearer arguments and simply some semblance of reflecting our claims. Right now there is no point talking about sex because the matter has been decided in favor of every man doing what is right in his own eyes.

  54. BD,

    Whenever I write this column my hope is that the comments are better than what provoked them.

    I’ve now had a successful day…well done.

    The point was close to your assumption…in my opinion “morality” has to include justice to be fully defined.

    We make much of sexual issues and those who seek justice as well are marginalized as “liberals”.

    My contention is that God speaks exponentially more often to matters of social justice and civil decency than sexual morality…and we do exactly the opposite.

  55. Michael

    I appreciate your response and hoped my words would not be taken as a rejection of your very fine and important point.

  56. I think abortion is the biggest social justice issue of our day but people, and some here, sweep it away as “culture wars”.

    America is not unlike Nazi Germany – the Church in America is not unlike the Church in Nazi Germany. Everyone of us has participated in the killings as we have not risen up to stop the slaughter. We are in fact worse than Nazi Germany because the general citizenry was under coercion to participate …. we do it willingly – and we do it much more effectively as we have killed ten times what Nazi Germany did.

    Oh, and one last thing. Nazi Germany no longer participates in their Holocaust — but we do.

  57. I’ve been here from the beginning…and I don’t recall anyone ever sweeping abortion away as simply part of the culture wars.

  58. It gets swept up as part of the evil political conversation and not as a social justice issue.

    But since you seem to agree with me as far as it not being a culture wars issue – would you not agree that we cast a much larger evil shadow than Nazi Germany did – especially since our’s is a 50 yr ongoing practice?

  59. Colin Cowherd today argued that the loss of trustworthy press is a greater threat than a bad president. I thought it was a unique and powerful take. We simply do not have a press that is interested in the truth they are only interested in ‘alternative’ truth.

  60. Not really.
    The church as mobilized against abortion and has taken a strong public stand against it.
    It’s a great evil, but of a different sort.

  61. BD,

    I agree with Cowherd.
    However, I also think it a great mistake to characterize the entire press corp as you have.
    There are people doing real journalism…and the sites ordained by those who vilify the mainstream press are as odious as the ones they hate.
    On the other hand,my mentor Bowden described the American press only in scatological terms…

  62. Yes,

    I am jaded about news left right and whatever…. I have no doubt there is some good news out there. I also have no doubt that it is very hard to find.

  63. In looking at this thread, especially with regard to sexual morality and abortion, I think we may be missing something. That something is what I guess can only be called “individualism”. We believe somehow that our own personal choices in these areas are purely our own concern. We no longer see ourselves as part of a true church community with a degree of mutual accountability.

    I can’t speak to evangelical churches and what pastors deal with, but I’ve had the recurring experience in denominations of pro-life parents seeking counsel because suddenly it’s their teenage daughter who they believe should get an abortion because “otherwise her life will be ruined” and “what about our plans for her going to college”, etc. In the end, regardless of what is said in counseling, they see the decision as being an individual one, unrelated to their church community. As for sexual morality, “serial monogamy” is more or less the norm for a little over half the population. Divorce is simply accepted both within the Church and in society at large. Again, we tend to view it as an individual decision confined to the parties involved.

    I wish that I knew of a solution, but I really don’t have one. We’ve accepted highly individualistic behavior as a norm not only outside the Church but, I’m afraid to say, within it as well.

  64. Individuality is our state religion…

  65. #64 Agreed. Worse than that, I think it’s destroying the Church in many, many ways.

  66. I can’t speak to evangelical churches and what pastors deal with,
    I can. The moment a church and its leadership takes marriage seriously is the moment that the spouse (or spouses) in sin stop attending that church and begin new at one of the dozens of alternatives in their area….

  67. #66 Steve

    “A Tale of Two Mega-Churches”
    Two in our area… One found that two of the couples involved in leading worship were involved in a “spouse swapping” group. The couples were “shocked” when the board asked them to step down from their “ministry”. By the way, they are still in that church…

    Second church found that the wife of a church board member was unfaithful. She was asked to confess her sin and name her other partners in front of the 1200 people at the 11.00 am service, which she did. Subsequently, she attempted suicide. Her husband is still on the board.

    I keep wondering if I’m crazy or if these churches are…

  68. #67 – it would seem that the second church’s leaders never read John 8:3-11

    been reading passages from the O.T. the last couple days and B.D.’s thots just enforce the theory that is developing in my ‘brain’ 🙂 … the presence of sexual immorality is not a cause but a symbiotic manifestation of a reprobate mind and usually involves worship of a false god (or a false, mushy concept of the Holy God, perhaps?)

    thinking… thinking… we usually think of a reprobate as a man who is totally blinded by and at the mercy of selfish and arrogant thinking… does that describe some inside the churches today? yikes!

  69. Keep thinking and expressing em..

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