Adolf Hitler’s agenda-establishing Magnum Opus is Mein Kampf. In English, it translates into “My Struggle.” Hitler fashioned his struggle into a maniacal worldview built on destruction of all opposing ideologies and the implementation of his own millennial aspirations, the perpetuation of a thousand-year reich, based on the Nazi mythology of blood and soil. The transformation of society would come by way of force to eliminate all competing worldviews. “Hitler was obsessed with an eternal struggle between two hostile forces, the ‘Aryan’ and the ‘Jew’, the stakes of which were the survival of mankind and the planet.”1 The struggle goes much deeper.
Nazism has been described as a “political religion” that demands “of its adherents total submission of their consciences and surrender of their souls. . . . It was unconditional in its claims, inspired fanaticism and practiced extreme intolerance of those who thought otherwise. A ‘Church-state’ had emerged, with cults, dogmas and rites, whose beliefs consisted of a form of millenarianism. . . .”2 According to the late William L. Shirer, under the leadership of Alfred Rosenberg, Martin Bormann, and Heinrich Himmler, “who were backed by Hitler, the Nazi regime intended eventually to destroy Christianity in Germany . . . and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists.”3 Bormann, “one of the men closest to Hitler, said publicly in 1941, ‘National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable.’”4 For Bormann, the Nazi worldview was the final truth. “For this reason,” Bormann wrote, “we can do without Christianity.”
The Christian Churches build upon the ignorance of men and strive to keep large portions of the people in ignorance because only in this way can the Christian Churches maintain their power. On the other hand, National Socialism [Nazism] is based on scientific foundations. Christianity’s immutable principles, which were laid down almost two thousand years ago, have increasingly stiffened into life-alien dogmas. National Socialism [Nazism], however, if it wants to fulfill its task further, must always guide itself according to the newest data of scientific searches.5
William Shirer would later write: “We know now what Hitler envisioned for the German Christians: the utter suppression of their religion.”6 With Christianity out of the way, all was possible.
The Struggle Revisited
Islam has followed a similar pattern. Everything non-Muslim must either embrace all things Muslim or be destroyed. The history of Islam is the history of perpetual warfare and bloodshed in the name of an uncompromising ideology, an ideology that is religious. Islam is known by the practice of jihad. While modern-day Muslims, especially those in the Christian West, want to put a kind face on jihad by defining it as a “spiritual struggle against sin,” in reality, jihad is best understood as a militaristic struggle against infidelity. The kinder, gentler definition of jihad prevails in mainline historical sources seeking not to offend. One of the best examples of this is Karen Armstrong’s “The True, Peaceful Face of Islam.”7 Jacques Ellul, writing in the Foreword to The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, does a masterful job in unraveling the many definitions and interpretations of jihad:
At times, the main emphasis is placed on the spiritual nature of this “struggle.” Indeed, it would merely indicate a “figure of speech” to illustrate the struggle that the believer has to wage against his own evil inclinations and his tendency to disbelief, and so on. Each man is engaged in a struggle within himself (which we Christians know well and thus find ourselves again on common ground!); and I am well aware that this interpretation was in fact maintained in some Islamic schools of thought. But, even if this interpretation is correct, it in no way covers the whole scope of jihad. At other times, one prefers to veil the facts and put them in parentheses. In a major encyclopedia, one reads phrases such as: “Islam expanded in the eighth and ninth centuries. . .”; “This or that country passed into Muslim hands. . . .” But care is taken not to say how Islam expanded, how countries “passed into [Muslim] hands”. . . . Indeed, it would seem as if events happened by themselves, through a miraculous or amicable operation . . . Regarding this expansion, little is said about jihad. And yet it all happened through war! . . . [J]ihad is not a “spiritual war” but a real military war of conquest.8
Talk about jihad is minimalized similar to the way the transmigration of souls is obscured for eastern religious enthusiasts in the West. Few Americans would adopt a religion that taught that they might come back as a lowly cow. The emphasis is placed on reincarnation where one might have been a prince or princess in a past life and might move up the cosmic totem to a movie star ala Shirely MacLaine.9
The majority of people born into the Islamic faith have never read the Koran and know little of its violent origin and precepts. They are taught the practical side of Islam. A Muslim believes that Islam is the only true religion, therefore all of life must conform to its precepts. While there’s a great deal of talk about an Islamic paradise, for the most part, Islam is a this-world religion. It is this aspect of Islam that appeals to so many people who have become disenchanted with an abstracted and non-practical Christianity:
[Islam] is considered a this-worldly religion in contrast to Christianity, which is perceived as abstract in the extreme. Muhammad left his followers a political, social, moral, and economic, and economic program founded on religious precepts. Jesus, however, is said to have advocated no such program; it is claimed that the New Testament is so preoccupied with his imminent return that it is impractical for modern life.10
The Black Book of Communism
Of course, every worldview is just as unrelenting, comprehensive, and religious as Islam even though a personal, transcendent god is not at its center. Communism viewed the state in religious terms—God walking on earth—and had no problem eliminating tens of millions of non-compliant citizens to advance its worldview in the name of its god.
A large percentage of the generation that knew Joseph Stalin died as a result of his directives. These were purely political killings, “exterminations,” “liquidations” of “the enemy class” and “undesirable elements.” How many were involved? Solzhenitsyn’s estimates reach as high as sixty million. Robert Conquest, author of The Great Terror, fixed the number at well into the millions. It is doubtful if we well ever know the true total—God alone knows.11
In The Black Book of Communism, the total number killed by Communist regimes around the world approaches 100 million.12 Former Communists have described Communism as “the god that failed.”13 Even though millions were offered on the altar of atheism, Communism still had its apologists.14
The Struggle Continues
Libertines make the individual their god. Abortion, in the name of “personal freedom” and “individual choice,” is its promethean statement of personal sovereignty and god-like decision making. The majority of homosexual journalists abhor ideological competition. In a panel featuring top news executives in 2000, Michael Bradbury, managing editor of the Seattle Gay News, asks, “We have a tendency to always seek an opposing point of view for gay and lesbian civil rights issues. . . . how does the mainstream press justify that?” Moderator and CBS correspondent Jeffrey Kofman added: “The argument [is]: Why do we constantly see in coverage of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues the homophobes and the fag-haters quoted in stories when, of course, we don’t do that with Jews, blacks, et cetera?” These “journalists” want an ideological jihad on contrary opinion concerning their “sacred” lifestyle choice. Anyone one who disagrees will be shouted down, forced out of long-held journalistic and educational positions, or run out of town.15 Many college campuses are filled with professors and procedures that denounce contrary opinions as an affront to all that’s liberally holy.
The True Struggle
One can even say that Christianity operates within the context of an “eternal struggle.” But while Christianity advances its worldview through internal change, by a real and discernable transformation of the heart, all competing worldviews must use external force. When critics of religion in general, unless it’s of a purely personal variety, point out that Islam and Christianity share similar goals, they fail to recognize that all worldviews are involved in an “eternal struggle” with competing worldviews. How should Christianity and Islam be distinguished? Jesus denounced the advancement of His kingdom through force. While He could have called on His servants to fight that He might not be delivered into the hands of a bloodthirsty mob (John 18:36), He refused. He rebuked Peter for using his sword (John 18:10–11). Paul tells us that we do not war against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). We do go to war, however. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor. 10:3–4).
- Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), 92.(↩)
- Burleigh, The Third Reich, 252.(↩)
- William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 240.(↩)
- Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 240.(↩)
- Martin Bormann, “National Socialist and Christian Concepts Incompatible” in George L. Moss, Nazi Culture (New York Grosset & Dunlap, 1968), 244.(↩)
- William L. Shirer, The Nightmare Years: 1930-1940 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1984), 156.(↩)
- Karen Armstrong, “The True, Peaceful Face of Islam,” Time (October 1, 2001), 48. For a response, see Daniel Pipes, “Muslims Love Bin Laden,” Post Opinion at www.NYPost.com (October 22, 2001).(↩)
- Jacques Ellul, “Foreword,” Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, trans. Miriam Kochan and David Littman (Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996), 17–18, 19.(↩)
- F. LaGard Smith, “ReIncarnation, Western Style,” Out on a Broken Limb (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1986), 69–87.(↩)
- Larry Poston, “The Adult Gospel,” Christianity Today (August 20, 1990), 24.(↩)
- Lloyd Billingsly, The Generation that Knew Not Josef: A Critique of Marxism and the Religious Left (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1985), 37.(↩)
- Stéphane Courtois, et al., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 4.(↩)
- Richard H. Crossman, ed., The God That Failed (Chicago, IL: Regnery Gateway,  1983).(↩)
- S.J. Taylor, Stalin’s Apologist: Walter Duranty—The New York Times’s Man in Moscow (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).(↩)
- Chuck and Donna McIlhenny, with Frank York, When the Wicked Seize the City (Lafayette, LA: Huntington House, 1993).(↩)