* Lecture delivered in several of our churches.
A few preliminary warnings against a possible misunderstanding of the purpose and character of my lecture for tonight may not be superfluous. My subject might conceivably arouse the expectation in your hearts and minds that I am about to deliver a war speech, or that my lecture aims at justifying our giving as much as possible aid to Great Britain. Surely, you might argue, it is Nazism that in this present war is seeking world-dominion and control of all things, and that as such is fighting the democracies of the world, has already ruthlessly trampled under its brutal feet many weaker nations, brought the proud republic of France into abject subjection, and is now making a desperate attempt to overcome and destroy the British Empire. If, therefore, it can be shown that Nazism is principally antichristian, that, perhaps, it manifests the nature of the Beast out of the sea as pictured in Rev. 13, it is proved to be an evil force which we do well to oppose with all the power and resources at our disposal. But if this should be your expectation, I must warn you from the outset that you will be disappointed. My lecture does not intend to be anything of the kind. It is not directed against our aiding Great Britain, nor does it mean to be a plea in favor of it. It does not mean to be a political speech, nor does it intend to solve economic problems. It has nothing to do with the question of armament and physical preparedness. It purposes to limit itself to spiritual truths and realities. It considers Nazism from a spiritual aspect. And, therefore, since spiritual powers of darkness cannot be overcome by the sword of the government, even though it can oppose their physical aggression, my lecture means to be an exhortation to put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand in the evil day.
Secondly, I must warn you not to expect that tonight I will don the mantle of a prophet in specific sense of the word. You might expect that it is my intention to convince you that Nazism is very definitely the final form of antichristendom, and that Hitler will be Antichrist. But I have no such intentions. It is true, that when tonight I use the term “antichristian” I like to have it understood in its final, ultimate sense. In general, of course, Antichrist is always in the world. In that sense I might speak of the antichristian implications of many other movements in the modern world, e.g. of “modernism,” or even of “democracy.” It is not in this general sense that I use the term tonight. No, I am thinking of the antichristian empire in its final sense, as it will appear in the end, when I use the word. The question I would like to present to you is: Does Nazism in its nature and strife resemble the beast of Rev. 13? But lest you might expect that I would draw the definite conclusion that it is that Beast, I speak intentionally of antichristian implications. Without venturing to make any definite predictions as to the immediate future, I purpose to show you that Nazism manifests the fundamental features of the Beast, and that, if it should succeed in the full realization of its ambitions, it would be antichrist in its final form indeed. But at the same time I like to suggest by this qualifying term “implications” that personally I very seriously doubt that we must expect Nazism to develop into the ultimate form of the Beast. To do this I can best call your attention to:
Its Conception of the State
Its Religious Views
I. That, in trying to point out the antichristian features of Nazism, I must call your attention to its conception of the State, is self-evident. For there can be no question about the fact, that according to Scripture, the final manifestation of Antichrist will assume the form of a political world-power. The dragon will make a final attempt to oppose the dominion of Christ and replace it by his own, to gain control over the kingdoms of this world. To realize this purpose he can find no better medium than the institution of the State with its mighty sword. And this institution he will use. His human representative on earth, the Antichrist, will have political world power. That this is true is evident from all Scripture wherever it speaks of this subject. It is very evident from Rev. 13. The beast is symbol of a world empire, as it arises out of the sea of peoples and nations and tongues. Its heads are representations of so many mighty empires of the past, the present and the future. Its ten horns symbolize so many kings or separate governments. Antichrist, therefore, will be the head of a State, together, of course, with its empire or kingdom. We have no time in this connection to enter into detail. But we must point out concerning this antichristian State two things that are of importance for the subject I am treating. First of all, we must remember that the antichristian State will have dominion over the world in the literal sense of the word. For “power was given him over all kindreds and tongues and nations; and all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. It will be a world-dominion. And, secondly, this antichristian State will have unlimited power over all things in its dominion. It will be the sole authority that exists. There will be no other spheres of authority and sovereignty within its dominion, next to it, excluding it, such as that of the Church, of the Home, of the School, of Industry and Commerce, What the Dutch call “souvereiniteit in eigen kring” will be contrabande. There will be no freedom. What you shall eat and drink, and whether you shall eat and drink; what you shall teach in the schools, and whether you shall teach at all; how you shall conduct your business and industry, and whether you shall be permitted to conduct it at all; whom and how you shall worship, and whether you shall worship at all,—all these are absolutely determined by the State when Antichrist shall make its final appearance. Also this is very evident from what we read in the thirteenth chapter of the book of Revelation.
In both these respects I find that Nazism strikingly resembles the Beast.
I am not now thinking primarily of Hitler’s dictatorship. It is true that it is an essential feature of Nazism that it vests all the power of State in one person. Dictatorship is inseparable from Nazism. Throughout his “Mein Kampf” (My Battle) Adolph Hitler emphasizes this. For this we could quote many passages from this “gospel of Nazism.” Hitler has no patience with democracies. He raves against parliaments and parliamentary forms of government. Already when as a young man he sojourned in Vienna to study art, he came to the conclusion that parliament is an “assembly of babblers,” without a sense of responsibility. He declares: “This institution can be pleasing and valuable only to the most mendacious sneaks who carefully shun the light of day, whereas it must be loathsome to every honest and straightforward fellow who is ready to assume personal responsibility. Therefore this kind of democracy has become the instrument of that race which shuns the sunlight because of its internal aims, now and for all times. Only the Jew can praise an institution that is as dirty and false as he is himself,” p. 116. Instead Hitler proposes dictatorship as the only sound and responsible form of government. By this he understands that the people elect one leader, der Fuhrer, who, after he is once elected, is not responsible to the people, nor, in fact, to anyone; in whom is vested all the power of the State, whose will is absolute and alone the law for all; and who, therefore, also is the sole responsible head for all that is done and occurs in the State. Writes he: “Indeed, what must distinguish the folkish view of life from that of Marxism in principle, is that it not only recognizes the value of the race, but by this also the importance of the person and therefore makes the individual the pillar of the entire edifice. . . . The folkish State, from the community up to the leadership of the Reich, has no representative body, which decides my majority, but only bodies of council who stand at the side of the respective elected leader, receiving their share of work from him, so that, as the circumstances require, they in turn have to assume absolute responsibility in certain domains, exactly as on a large scale has the leader himself or the head of the respective corporation. . . . The folkish State, in principle, does not tolerate that in concerns of a special kind, for instance of economic nature, people are asked for advice or judgment who, by virtue of their education and activity, are unable to understand anything of the matter. . . . No voting ever takes place in any chamber or senate. They are working institutions and not voting machines. The individual member has an advisory vote but never a deciding one. The latter is the exclusive privilege of the respective responsible chairman. This principle of unconditional connection of absolute responsibility with absolute authority will gradually breed up a choice of leaders as is inconceivable today, in the era of irresponsible parliamentarianism,” pp. 670, 671. There can, therefore, be no doubt that dictatorship belongs to the very essence of Nazism from a political viewpoint. And, of course, it must be admitted that this may easily facilitate the formation of the “almighty” state. But in this dictatorship as such I do not recognize a necessary feature of antichristendom. This would be the case, if it could be proved that antichrist will be one individual vested with all political power rather than a government consisting of a plurality of persons who together are invested with the authority of State. But as this is by no means an established fact, dictatorship can at present not be considered as an essential characteristic of Antichrist in its ultimate manifestation, but must be viewed merely as a more concentrated form of government than that of democracy. A dictator in whom would be vested merely the authority of the State and no more could not possibly be the Antichrist in person.
Different, however, it is with respect to the Nazi conception of the State itself. For, there can be no doubt that its conception is that of the “almighty State,” alongside of which there can be no room for other spheres of authority, that swallows up all other authority and responsibility, and thus becomes the sole power in all the various domains of life, social, economic, education and religious. Dr. Schilder in his “Geen Duimbreed” warns against this Nazi conception of the State throughout his brochure against the N.S.B. in The Netherlands. He writes: “This ethical, mighty, organized community is called State; it is the State that causes men to maintain themselves as persons. One sees. . . . that all this is directly related to the Hegelian apotheosis of the State,” p. 25. Again: “Hence, all this leads to practical deification of the State.” And again: “In the meantime it must be expected that the concrete dictator of flesh and blood will claim for himself such a measure of authority to determine what is right, that at all events his State becomes absolutistic, and that he proclaims himself to be the personification of human autonomy,” p. 39. On p. 46 he writes: “For all these reasons it is implied in the connecction of these ideas, that a confessing, prophesying church, and a free, reformed school must come into conflict with this idea of the State and its maintenance.” He insists that the “leading principle” of the N.S.B. that of the “preference” of national interests above the interests of various groups (family, society, etc.) and of the latter above personal interests, is corrupt, and that the Nazi State-coercion is in conflict with the Reformed principle proclaimed by Dr. A. Kuyper, that of “sovereignty in one’s own domain,” pp. 54, 55. And Dr. H. Dooyeweerd writes: “What it (i.e. the totalitarian State of Nazism) intends, is indeed the subjection of all the internal social spheres of life to the Total State,’” Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, III, p. 349.
That this is, indeed, the intention is sufficiently evident already from “Mein kampf.” It is true that in this book, which was written in the early twenties, before Hitler came to power, he expresses himself rather cautiously, especially with regard to the Church. But even so the tendency toward State absolutism is sufficiently evident. “The State,” according to Hitler, “is a means to an end. Its end is the preservation and the promotion of a community of physically and psychically equal living beings.” Mein Kampf, p. 594. It aims at training of the spiritual and ideal abilities of its nationality, p. 595. Hitler emphasizes the importance of breeding and purifying and preserving the pure Aryan or Nordic race, for the Nordic or German race is the noblest and highest, always the bearer of culture in the world. It must occupy a leading, a dominating position in the world. On its preservation depends the preservation of culture, the salvation of the human race. This task belongs to the State. It follows that the State must have strict supervision over the institution of marriage. It determines, not only who and who may not enter into marriage,, but also controls what parties may conclude this sacred union. Especially the intermarriage of Aryans and Jews must be opposed, idem p. 603 ff. But this care of the State for the welfare of its nationality extends not only “to the time of birth of the young member of people and race,” but it also “has to educate the young offspring towards becoming a valuable member in view of later propagation.” Education, therefore, must be strictly under the control of the State, idem. p. 613. To the State belongs the task of the formation of character as a part of its educational program, idem, p. 621. “As some day the folkish state has to devote its highest attention to the education of will and determination, it is to implant joy in taking responsibility and courage for confession into the hearts of the young from their early years of life,” idem. p. 625. It will even have to take over the scientific school training, idem. p. 626. What this means in practical reality for the Christian School may be gathered from the following footnote by the American editor of “Mein Kampf” on p. 642: “Under the Republic, the great majority of German Schools had been confessional in character. Protestant groups soon began to feel the pressure of the new order. Their Youth Organizations were ordered to merge in the Hitler Youth. The right to give religious instruction was more and more infringed upon; and elections were held to determine whether parents preferred the old ‘confessional’ or the new ‘community’ schools, under auspices which virtually guaranteed the extinction of the first. During 1936 the Synod of Oeynhausen protested not only against the restrictions which had been placed upon the Church but asserted that two mutually exclusive views of life were fighting for the German school, and added that matters had gone so far that teachers who professed to be Christians were being discriminated against as being ‘politically unreliable.’ On May 1, 1937, Hitler replied to these and similar charges by saying: ‘There are some old fools with whom it is too late to do anything. But we take the children away from them! We educate them to be new German people. When the little rascals are ten years old, we take them and form them into a community. When they are eighteen we still do not leave them alone,” Mein Kampf, 643, 644. “Religious” instruction as given at present in the schools follows the gospel of “Mein Kampf.”
In this same way the Nazi State has absolute control of the written and spoken word, science and art, the press, the university, the theatre and movie, industry and labor. A “Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda” has been established, headed by Joseph Goebbels. The duties of this minister are determined by Hitler. Decree XXXI of the Third Reich transfers to Goebbels full power over the spoken and written word. Decree XXXIV and XXXV establish a Ministry for Science, Education and Public Instruction. This minister, responsible only to Hitler, has full legislative powers in all educational matters. In the article in Foreign Affairs, April, 1936, by Dorothy Thompson, from which I gleaned the above information, the author writes: “Who may and who may not write, compose, play, sing, act, produce, print, is defined in a set of decrees having the full force of law, and carrying penalties for their violation. What shall be written, sculptured, built, composed, played, acted, and printed is controlled by an army of bureaucrats and spies. Dr. Goebbels’ bureau is a cultural inquisition, its word is final, its force unchallenged.”
In the same issue of Foreign Affairs Chas. A Beard has an article entitled “Education Under the Nazis,” in which he writes: “There is. . .documental proof for the proposition that the administrated supervision over education in Germany has been brought under a single national office and that the scope of its authority embraces every form of intellectual activity even remotely related to education. It is equally evident from the mass of laws and decrees spread over hundreds of pages that German educational administration is not concerned merely, or even primarily with providing physical conditions for intellectual and moral life in institutions of learning. On the contrary, decree after decree shows that it is above all interested in imposing a rigid pattern of life and thought on teachers and pupils alike, and is openly hostile to every manifestation of free inquiry and discussion in the schools, from the bottom to the top. The subjects to be taught, the books admitted to the school rooms, the papers and magazines bought for school libraries, and the very spirit of instruction are prescribed in minute details. . . . The celebrated ‘Lehrfreiheit’ is now at an end.” What all this would mean for such institutions as the Free University in the Netherlands, theological schools, and our own system of Christian instruction, can easily be surmised!
Some of the outstanding principles that control this education are the following: 1. The doctrine of sheer force; the State is power and Adolf Hitler is the State; the will of the State is his will; the supreme law is made by the Leader, master of force. This force is a good in itself. The man of force is to be glorified. In him is reflected the soul of the nation. 2. The doctrine of race. Germany owes its greatness to the pure Aryan blood. This race has made all history worth mentioning in Western Europe and will make still greater history. The breed must multiply and must be kept pure. Jewish elements must be expelled; inferior and democratic races must be barred. 3. Fear of the German God, not the Jehovah of the Jews, nor the God of Augustine or Martin Luther; and honor of Adolf Hitler. And the spirit in the classroom is best expressed in the words of Hans Schemm, leader in the National Socialist Teachers’ Union: “We will, Adolf Hitler, so train the German youth, that they will grow up in your world of ideas, in your purposes, and in the direction set by your will. That is pledged to you by the whole German system of education from the common school to the university,” Chas. A. Beard in Foreign Affairs, April, 1936.
Equally subjected to the power of the almighty State is Industry and Labor. For labor unions, Christian or otherwise, there is no room in the Nazi State. “Today the old voluntary labor unions are completely outlawed. Their elected leaders are dead, in exile, in concentration camps or prisons. The old constitutional guarantees of civil liberty, and the old legal rights of workers to collective bargaining and to their own Works Councils have been swept away. Labor union property to an estimated value of sixty million dollars has been confiscated.” “Labor Under the Nazis” in Foreign Affairs, April, 1935, by N. Thomas. Instead of free labor organizations there is created by the State what is called the ‘German Labor Front.’ It is an organization that includes all German brain and hand workers, employers and employees, “leaders” and “followers.” This organization is an organ of the Nazi party. And no other organizations are tolerated.
It is evident, then, that the almighty, the totalitarian State is the ideal of Nazism, one of its essential features. It is the implication and consummation of all authority in human society. It lords it over all domains of life. No other spheres of authority are acknowledged or permitted. This idea itself is contrary to Scripture, which certainly acknowledges the home, the church as well as various other spheres in the life of society as domains that are sovereign within their own limits, not to speak now of personal liberty. And it is the necessary prerequisite for the exercise of the antichristian power in its ultimate realization. For only the power of a totalitarian State can lord it over the Church and use its mighty sword to exterminate the last vestige of Christian truth, confession and influence. It is the indispensable condition for the exercise of that power that can and will determine that no one shall either buy or sell unless he adopts the mark of the beast!
But, of course, this power can only hope for success if its sway is universal, if it becomes a world- power in the fullest sense of the word. The question, therefore, is whether Nazism has ambitions to become such a world-power and strives after this ideal. And also this question, I think, we may answer in the affirmative. National Socialism can never be satisfied to remain nationally limited. This may be deduced from its conception of State. According to its conception there is an “idea” State. In this Nazism is truly Hegelian. This idea State is embodied more or less perfectly in every State. But the Nazi form of the State is its most perfect realization. The conclusion is that Nazism cannot rest till this perfect embodiment of the idea State shall have become universal. This is also to be deduced from its philosophy about race. The Aryan race, the Nordic race, the German people are the highest, the purest and strongest race in the world. It is the bearer of all “culture.” It, therefore, must be kept as pure as possible. But it must also occupy a leading, a dominating position in the world. It must rule. Its rule is the salvation of the world. This idea is reiterated again and again in “Mein Kampf.” But I can quote literal statements by Adolf Hitler. In “Mein Kamf,” p. 598 he writes: “If, in its historical development, the German people had possessed this group unity as it was enjoyed by other peoples, then the German Reich would today probably be the mistress of this globe. World history would have taken a different course, and no one would be able to decide if in this way there would not have arrived what today so many blind pacifists hope to beg for by moaning and crying: A peace, supported not by the palm branches of tearful pacifist professional female mourners, but founded by the victorious sword of a people of overlords which puts the world into the service of a higher culture.” And if we add to this what Nazism not only is doing at the present time in Europe, not only in subjugating the nations it already has overcome by its power and in trying to introduce the Nazi State in those countries, but also what it did for a number of years before the war in the form of propaganda through the notorious fifth column, it will be perfectly safe to say, that National Socialism must and actually does aim at world-dominion and that it cannot rest until the Nazi State has become universal.
(Points II and III cont. in next issue)