Saturday, 23 July 2005

God's preserving mercy, & the Hitler Youth

Thoughts struck up by an idea in an article in an old TSF Bulletin (66 - Summer 1973; Encounter with World Religions, Glasser) and a TV programme on children in Hitler's Germany.

The good in other religions. The article refers to H.Berkhof's view of angels as having been created as agents of God's loving providence with man's creaturely existence:

"When the revolt took place, with many of these invisible intelligences participating in Satan's challenge of God's sovereignty, their stabilizing function continued, but in a negative fashion. They now seek to keep men from the love of God. Berkhof argues that 'this understanding is especially illuminating when we think of the religio-social structures by which the world outside Christ has been and is carried along... However pointedly the Bible teaches us to see this as slavery, we should not forget that it is
still a part of God's preserving mercy, holding life in line where men do not know Christ's liberation.' "

So God in grace so works that even enslaving systems and ideologies preserve some order and good - although it is tainted in every part, not submitting to the Lord Jesus Christ.

One application of this struck me as I caught a bit of a TV programme about children in Germany with the rise of Hitler - Hitler Youth and all. I'd studied it in school, but what struck me in the reminder in this program was how much of the youth programme was good. Now every bit that was good was also perverted (no surprise to one who believes in total depravity), but there was much we can learn from the good reasons why the children were attracted to the Hitler Youth (with particular reference to our own society).

- Community - in a society that emphasizes individualism.
- Order - in a society which celebrates disorder.
- Clear roles for different ages and genders - in a society which denies them.
- Authority structure - in a society which shuns it as intrinsically evil.
- Unity - all united in common activities, aims, goals.
- All-embracing ideology (work, recreation, study, sport, music, art, thought: everything was engaged) - in a society which segregates and denies meta-narrative.

The enslaving systems of the world can only offer a perverted imitation of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should imagine neither that there is nothing good in them, nor that Christianity is merely the highest form.

I suppose these rather incoherent thoughts are along the lines of answering this: we often ask, "How can humans be so evil?" but rarely think, "What is stopping humans from being totally evil? Why are there still vestiges of good in our society, or any religio-social structure?"

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