There is a line from my favorite WWII movie, 12 O’clock High, where newly promoted LTC Harvey Stovall, played by Dean Jagger, is sitting in the office with Gregory Peck’s character, General Savage, and two other officers. The 918th Bomb Group had just completed their most challenging mission to date and was scheduled to fly a mission against the same target the following day. As the men are discussing the day’s events, Stovall, quite drunk, stands up and interrupts the conversation, “I am confused,” he says. “I was thinking, which is a thing a man should not do.” Well, I too am confused.
It is funny how some things just simply will not go away. In my last column I talked about some of the funny things I have encountered recently having to do with race. To be fair, racism and bigotry certainly come from both sides of the aisle. But last week while my wife and I were in Gatlinburg, I saw a pickup truck drive by with the largest Confederate flag I have seen in years. Yes they were probably trying to make a statement but those who know me absolutely know I could care less about that flag. It doesn’t bother me in the least but just don’t stick it in my face and start screaming at me. To me, it is much like the Swastika. For someone who has studied the German Luftwaffe for over 45 years, I have come face-to-face with that image tens of thousands of times. It doesn’t bother me to see it in a historical context. However, put it on a flag, stick it in my face and tell me Hitler had the right idea and you and I are going to have a big problem. But the pickup with the flag reminded me of something.
While I was recovering from rotator cuff surgery several years ago, I had the opportunity to watch way too much television and I often got sucked into watching History Channel’s Gangland. If you have never watched this series, let there be no doubt that there are some disturbed individuals on this planet. But as I watched a lot of the episodes, it didn’t surprise me at how violent and mean so many of these people are. Whether it was the cutting off of body parts, burning people alive or the killing of over 1,500 people per year in one city alone, none of it really surprised me. Sickened? Yes. Surprised? No. Why? Because most of these people are doing exactly what evil people do when God is not present in their life. John 10:10 tells us that Satan comes to “steal, kill and destroy.” Why should the horrific actions of these Godless gangs be a shock to us?
Then one night I was watching an episode that dealt with the Aryan Nations, White Supremacists and KKK. As I watched the hour-long episode, I became more and more confused. Toward the end of the episode they showed about 30 people doing the Nazi salute to both a burning cross and swastika. Meanwhile they were saying, “For our Christ, for our race.” You know how a puppy tilts his head when he hears an odd noise? Well, that was me watching the television.
Let’s address some facts here. The Aryan Nations and KKK, like the Nazis in WW II Germany, hate Jews – no surprise here. The Nazi regime in its concept and practice, was atheist. Period. No question. As a small sample, each of the 21 main defendants at Nuremberg claimed to be either Lutheran or Catholic, but their actions clearly demonstrate otherwise. The Aryans, too, claim to be Christian. Of course these people hate just about everybody not like them but they hold a special hate in their hearts for the Jew. Drum Roll Please!! Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior was a Jew. He was a Rabbi. There is no question, no doubt. Jesus Christ was Jewish yet the Aryans hate Jews. Once again, basic math states if a=b and b=c then a=c. If they hate Jews and Christ was a Jew, then they love Christ? Wha-what????
Next, here goes the next heart breaker for the hard core Aryans out there. Jesus Christ was most likely not white. Just because a lot of paintings depict Him that way, it doesn’t necessarily make it so. He was and most likely looked Middle Eastern like everybody else from, guess where? The Middle East. Modern scientific and historical findings support this reality. For most Christians, this however, really doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter anyway. As for me, I could care less. Why should I stress and argue about what the Man who gave His life for me looks like?
The Aryans and KKK hate the Jews and people of color, yet most of the main heroes in the Bible were both. How can they hate so vehemently and still claim to be Christian? Numbers 23:8 says, “How shall I curse, whom God has not cursed? And how can I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?” In 1 Corinthians 10:32, we are told to, “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God. . .” Yet at their very core, this is exactly what these groups do. They curse God’s covenant people and unwittingly curse Christ and in turn His church. Amazingly, they somehow think they are doing it for a noble cause. They think they are exalting Christ while simultaneously spurning His heritage. There is no logic in that – just hate and sin. They have allowed Satan to successfully corrupt their perception of the incorruptible Word of God. How sad is that?
When Jesus gave us the love commandment in Matthew 22:37-40, He instructed us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. He then said a second commandment, upon which the whole Law and Prophets depended, was to love our neighbors as ourselves. This folks is a commandment from the Lord, not a mere suggestion. Yes as humans we all blow it and miss the mark with regards to loving others. We all do, we all have. (Just ask most Tennessee fans about Lane Kiffin). But if your entire doctrine is based upon hate and exclusion, then you really have a problem because no matter what you say, your organization cannot be based upon God’s Word and thus your organization cannot be Christian. Sorry.
Twice per month when I am not flying, I do a prison ministry at the Red Eagle Honor Farm with another man from my church. One night it was my turn to share the Word and I talked about the Neo-Nazis and KKK. The majority of guys in the chapel that night were Black and I started talking about this show Gangland on HBO. I looked at the guys and told them that of all the gang shows I watched during my 3 month rehab, I felt the sorriest for the Neo-Nazis and the Klan. Imagine the looks I initially got. This certainly seemed strange coming from a Black guy but I had my reasons.
As I explained to the men out at Red Eagle, when I looked at each of the gangs and their works, again I saw them doing the work of Satan in their lives. No God, no Truth, why should we expect them to act differently? The Aryan types, however, twisted as their ideology clearly is, still bases its hate upon a sick distortion of the Bible. I said I feel sorry for them because they have and use the Bible, read it, although out of context, eisegesisly, and use their distortions to blindly further their clearly anti-Christian agenda. The real Truth is there, staring them in the face and yet they don’t see it – perhaps don’t want to see it. I find that incredibly sad. I also believe a lot of those people are love starved and if they are at least willing to look toward the Bible for answers, then with proper instruction, love and truth, I know they will eventually see their folly.
This is exactly what Lutheran Minister Henry Gerecke discovered while ministering to the main 17 Lutheran defendants at Nuremberg. During Gerecke’s yearlong ministry, clearly some of the most hate filled, anti-Semitic men the world has ever known, when shown the love of Christ and the veracity of His Word, had to take note. As a result, seven of these men, real Nazis, unworthy of God’s mercy according to “our” standards and judgments, witnessed the parapets of their hate crumble uselessly before the light of Truth and gave their lives to Christ.
The bottom line here is that God’s grace and mercy extends to all who seek it; no matter what. I heard a line in a movie once that said, “God doesn’t care who you were but who you are.” Hate and bigotry, no matter how you package it, is wrong and reprehensible. To try and use God’s Word to justify an untenable position is even worse.