The Little Big Differences
Sometimes small changes make a great deal of difference. For instance, we have about 90% of the same genes as cats and over 98% of the same genes as chimpanzees. But those little differences matter a lot.
This is also true when it comes to faith. I have been doing some reading in A Church Undone: Documents from the German Christian Faith Movement, 1932-1940. The German Christian Movement was Germanized Christianity, supportive of Nazism. The church leaders involved in this movement believed that the church should be “relevant” to contemporary German experience.
As I read some of the writings of the religious leaders in this movement I was struck by how much sounded like normal, healthy Christianity. A lot of what they said deserved an “amen.” But then they would insert lines about “pure German blood”, “the proliferation of inferior people” and the need for the church to “rekindle the sense of awe and loyalty to our blood.”
In a Germanized “translation” of the beatitudes of Jesus, one of the prominent ministers in this movement rendered our Lord’s, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9), using these words: “Happy are those who are at peace with their fellow Germans; they do God’s will.” Not quite the same!
These are the kind of distortions that happen when nationalistic devotion is combined with Christian devotion. Much of the language of faith may sound very much the same as what Christians have believed through the centuries. But down deep the “little” changes actually change everything. That is why “America first” can never be a slogan fitting for people who confess, “Jesus is Lord!”
Grace and Peace,