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UPDATE: Chapter 24: Part II – German Christians during WWII; Stalin and the Orthodox Church; the ‘Word of Faith’ and ‘Health and Wealth Gospel’ movements
We were finally able to meet this past Wednesday and submit our essays and finish Chapter 24. Just one more chapter to go!
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Reading Church history as we’ve been doing for the past year and a half has been quite sobering, to say the least, for all of us as we go through MacCulloch’s book. In this chapter, we thought about the reasons why so many Christians might ally themselves with blatantly evil forces such as the Nazi Party during World War II. At times, during extreme circumstances you have to go into a form of ‘survival mode’ and defer to the powers at be in order to stay alive or not get yourself killed. Yes, this is a very watered-down reasoning on why the German (both Protestant and Catholic) Churches supported the Nazis (there are other more complex factors involved for sure), but it was, dare I say, understandable. If faced with a life and death situation, there will be some who will become martyrs for the faith in defiance towards the powers at be, and others who will compromise and capitulate to the domineering powers. Though many will make quick, knee-jerk reactions and snap judgements that they were cowards and perhaps not real Christians, in reality it’s not an easy decision to make. When you factor in personal economic and family considerations, you count how much you can lose and base your decisions on that. We cannot be quite sure how we’d respond during extreme circumstances where our faiths are tested to its furthest extent.
Also, a couple of us in the group (Michael and I) have been part of Pentecostal and charismatic churches in the past, and it was interesting to learn and read about the history of the development of its theology over the years, and why it has such a high appeal to so many people that it is the fastest growing Church movement in history.
Here are our essays.
Chapter 24: Not Peace but a Sword (1913-60) – Part II
We will finish up the rest of Chapter 24 and discuss the impact World War II had upon Christendom.
Please read the last three sections: The Churches and Nazism: The Second World War, World Christianity Realigned: Ecumenical Beginnings, and World Christianity Realigned: Pentecostals and New Churches.