Hook, Line and Sinker

2 01 2012


As noted in my last post, religion and politics are intimately connected.         An excellent (and sad) illustration of this point is the Theology faculty at the University of Jena in Germany in the 1930s.  Bernard M. Levinson in, “Reading the Bible in Nazi Germany: Gerhard von Rad’s Attempt to Reclaim the Old Testament for the Church.” Interpretation 62, no. 3 (2008): 238-254, illustrates how the Old Testament scholar Gerhard von Rad (1901-1971) stood up against his theology faculty colleagues who swallowed Nazi propaganda hook, line and sinker.  The Jena faculty, with the lone exception of von Rad, was more than willing to support and undergird the Nazi movement and anti-Semitic policies.  As Levinson notes, the theology faculty “. . . took a leadership role in transforming the discipline into an organ for National Socialist and German Christian ideology” (p. 240). They were fanatical to such an extent that they canceled the teaching of the Hebrew language, and they editing Hebrew words and Hebrew Bible citations out of the hymnals, the NT, and catechisms (p. 245).  It did not help that they added to the theology faculty a radio preacher (Wolfgang Meyer) whose only qualification was unqualified support of Hitler and his policies. Von Rad was a lone voice in a very dangerous wilderness resisting this Nazification of the theology faculty at Jena.

How could a divinity school, religion department, seminary faculty or thinking church folks identify so closely with a political party that was clearly the antithesis of biblical texts about compassion and love?  Of course this question is the same one we need to ask when we observe religious folks who swallow hook, line and sinker the policies and rhetoric of American political parties.




4 responses

3 01 2012
Leroy Seat

David, thanks for this post also.

It seems to me that one political party in the U.S., much more than the other, is “clearly the antithesis of biblical texts about compassion and love.” I assume you would agree, but maybe that is so obvious that it is not necessary to indicate which party that is.

3 01 2012
David May

Leroy, I hope it is obvious. Any party that advocates bombing countries into submission, that believes torture is a viable action, and supports the wealthy to the exclusion of the poor is a political party that might have the Bible on the nightstand but never opens it to the Sermon on the Mount.

5 01 2012

I hope these recent posts are an indication that you’ll be blogging more in 2012! Happy New Year.

5 01 2012
Timothy Lister

There is a recent article in the Huffington Post titled, “Conservative Bible Project Cuts Out Liberal Passages.” The article indicates that conservative ideology is being used as an interpretive guide for Biblical texts. Is there anything new under the sun?

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