It would be wonderful to be able to report that racial discrimination and segregation were not a problem within the church—that God’s people would never have allowed such obviously (to us) unchristian and patently unfair thinking and practice to hold uncontested sway in their midst, but sadly, they did. It is always easy, and usually unfair, to judge the ignorance of the past by present day enlightenment. It was, it would seem for the most part, a blind spot rather than a consciously malicious way of thinking. We dare not harshly judge those who were of another time, for the reason that we may be, for all we know, judging people who were in many ways, better persons than we are. But we can judge what took place. The ignorant and virulent racism that stains our past was cruel and immoral, a dark seed sown that has reaped the whirlwind, both socially and within the church, doing terrible damage to the wonderful Christian unity that might have been, should have been, but may never be. How tragic—what a waste! Blacks were excluded from the “Christian Only” Bible colleges and Universities which had shamefully turned out to be for “White Christians Only.” The result of this would be that blacks who would be trained for the ministry went to the schools, which would accept and even provide scholarships to them, the liberal institutions which had been utterly abandoned by the Church and which were in the business of destroying the true faith. This gave birth in the 1960s to a new black liberal theology, or as Dr. Jerry Buckner puts it, “The Cult of Black Liberal Theology.” This development has not turned out to be any better for society or the church than the racial segregation of old, since it has become another seemingly insurmountable wall of division among those who should be working in harmony to preach the gospel to a lost world.
And Then Along Came John
Just as many fundamentalists were climbing down into their cultural manholes and pulling the covers over their heads, seeds of radical social change were being sown. In 1933 John Dewey authored the Humanist Manifesto. In it he argued that there is no creator, no creation and no moral absolutes. This was a sharp departure from the birth certificate of the nation, the Declaration of Independence, which affirmed belief in all three. In 1934 Dewey authored a book titled, A Common Faith, in which he further argued for abortion, euthanasia, and for the aggressive teaching of these views.
Also in1934, the Teachers College of Columbia University took up the same banner as John Dewey in using education to accomplish social engineering,
The first issue of The Social Frontier, produced by Teachers College of Columbia University, urges the remaking of American society through the schools. The journal’s first editorial says that “for the American people the age of individualism in economy is closing and the age of collectivism is beginning.” This journal describes not “teachers” but “educational workers.” It says these must join “into a mighty instrument of group consensus, harmonious expression, and collective action.” Overtly urging teachers (sorry, educational workers) to indoctrinate students, the journal soon calls for a “united front” between progressives and Marxists, as the brief Popular Front Era begins.
Social Darwinism, collectivism, psychology and indoctrination of another kind was flourishing, largely unchecked by the Christian community. Many Social Darwinists believed that the human race could be perfected through genetics and selective breeding. Adolph Hitler was a Social Darwinist who loathed Christianity as a religion of the weak and hoped to help evolution produce the ideal man through “purifying the gene pool,” murdering both physical and racial “inferiors” to allow the superior Aryan “superman” to evolve. Many Americans today do not realize that Eugenics, as this “selective breeding” program is called, was not really a new idea in the 1930’s, nor was it confined to “evil Nazis” in Germany. Their full party name was National Socialist or the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. They were brought together through community organizers and were the political progressives of their day. The Nazis were duly elected, not only in Germany but as America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World. Don’t Let Freedom Slip Away, in Austria as well:
I believe that I am an eyewitness to history. I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history. We elected him by a landslide – 98% of the vote. I’ve never read that in any American publications. Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force. In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25% inflation and 25% bank loan interest rates.
The citizens effectively gave their leaders the power to implement their worldview and turn these ugly and evil ideas into legally sanctioned murder. However, the German Eugenicists didn’t invent these ideas they borrowed the theory from America and England, where these ideas were born.
American Feminist leader, Victoria Woodhull, who in 1872 became the first woman to be nominated for president by a political party, stated,
Thus society, while expending millions in the care of incurables and imbeciles, takes little heed of or utterly ignores those laws by the study and obedience of which such human abortions might have been prevented from cumbering society with their useless and unwelcome presence. Grecian and Roman civilizations were, it is true, deficient in the gentler virtues, the excess of which in our day is hindering the progress of the race rather than helping or ennobling it. They, by crushing out the diseased and imperfect plants in the garden of humanity, attained to a vigor and physical development, which has never been equated since. And in so doing they were entirely in accord with nature, whose mandate is inexorable, that the “fittest” only shall be permitted to live and propagate. She is a very prodigal in her waste of individual life, in order that the species be without spot of blemish.
Not so our modern civilization, which rather pets its abortions and weaklings, and complacently permits them to procreate another race of fools and pigmies as inane and useless as themselves.
Margaret Sanger, greatly honored today as the founder of Planned Parenthood, pushed the Eugenics idea even further than past adherents had. As a devout humanist and evolutionist, she advocated the elimination of “inferior” human beings, such as the poor and minorities. Their problems, in her view, weighed down society and held back the superior human stock – the wealthier and supposedly more highly evolved white race.
She bluntly defined “birth control,” a term she coined, as “the process of weeding out the unfit” aimed at “the creation of superman.” She often opined that “the most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,” and that “all our problems are the result of overbreeding among the working class.”
Sanger frequently featured racists and eugenicists in her magazine, the Birth Control Review. Contributor Lothrop Stoddard, who also served on Sanger’s board of directors, wrote in “The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremecy” that “[w]e, must resolutely oppose both Asiatic permeation of white race-areas and Asiatic inundation of those non-white, but equally Asiatic regions inhabited by really inferior races.
Through the early decades of the century psychology continued to grow. After all, if there was no God to whom we are accountable, as is the logical outworking of Darwinian evolution, why do we as humans do the things we do? Why behave “good” vs. “bad”? Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, Sigmund Freud, C.G. Jung and others had been making their mark. A young Abraham Mazlow had served as the first research assistant to Dr. Harry Harlow beginning in 1932. He nearly gave up on the idea of being an academic psychologist as he neared completion of his doctorate due to his perception of anti-semitism within that discipline. However, largely due to pressure from his wife, he pressed on.
By 1935 when Maslow joined Thorndike’s lab, New York City has become the new capital of psychoanalytic thought, a mecca for refugee analysts in flight from Nazism. Maslow attached himself for a while to Alfred Adler, got to know Karen Horney and Erich Fromm, and audited courses at the New School given by Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer, who emphasized the importance of inspiration – the “aha!” moment. It was a heady time, and Maslow began to think that it might indeed be possible for him to synthesize an important new theory of personality. Research-oriented behavioral psychology increasingly struck him as too narrow, focusing on the most routine aspects of human behavior while neglecting the ideas and emotions that made people interesting. Freudian psychoanalysis, on the other had, was preoccupied with the abnormal, the pathological. The question Maslow wanted to pose was: “What is the nature of psychological health?”
Defining health as anything other than the absence of disease is always tricky. Defining psychological health is even more challenging. Before we can say what qualities make up the healthy personality, we must make assumptions about the meaning and purpose of life.
It seems that this burgeoning new pseudo science was having trouble recognizing that Hitler was simply acting on the views (Darwinism, Social Darwinism and Collectivism) which they themselves had accepted as being true and was an underlying theme in psychology. The attempt to be able to “fix” human beings and thus create the “good society” was a driving force. Maslow’s question about the nature of psychological health is a good one but how could that really be defined? After all, if survival and reproduction are all that really matter how could one even determine right from wrong behaviors? Is good psychological health simply a matter of what makes an individual happy or is it following the rules which society (not God) has set up, for the benefit of the whole? What is the purpose of our existence?
Maslow’s theory of personality would be a protest against the idea that there is a necessary conflict between the individual’s pursuit of happiness and the good of society as a whole. If conforming to the rules of civilization made people feel stifled and unhappy, then there was something wrong with the rules. Looking back on his work in 1968, Maslow acknowledged, “My concerns were socialistic, with American socialism… There is the Jewish tradition of the utopian and the ethical and I was pretty definitely looking for the improvement of mankind.”
So Maslow, as with other academics of that time who were the educational elite were in the process of carrying out the social engineering Dewey envisioned which would in turn bring about the “good society” in man’s evolution. Collectivism, Darwinian Evolution and psychology were having a great impact at the university and college level where the future educators, economists, attorneys, doctors, politicians, and even ministers were being trained or “indoctrinated.” Many who were financially supporting these institutions were largely unaware of the changes that were taking place under their noses and with their money in the name of “academic freedom.” Fundamentalists could offer no voice of descent as they had already abandoned this arena which so largely shaped the thinking of the future generation. With the coming of the Second World War many of the fundamentalists as well as some of the end-times cults, were fairly confident that they were in the last days as they understood the book of Revelation and the Lord would be returning any moment. Therefore, to interact with the culture with an attempt to see it turned around was almost regarded by them as fighting God’s plan. Add to that the contempt that the “fighting fundies” had toward intellectualism as it was represented within the institutions of higher learning and it is little wonder that they felt vindicated within their “safe” community. All they had to do was hold on a little longer and God would soon deliver them from this foreign “godless” world.
Now whether one holds to a pretrib, mid-trib, pre-wrath, post-trib (or what some have said a pan-trib, however it pans out is fine) should have very little bearing on how we live out the Christian faith in the day to day. We co-laborers in the ministry of Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc., do not agree on the timing of the Lord’s return. We do understand that the Scriptures teach that we are to live as though He may return today and also as though His return is a long way off (Matthew 24:42-51). But the trend of this period in history within the fundamentalist movement did not appear to be disposed in that direction. Eventually this would lead to dire circumstances within what was fast becoming a foreign culture in which they found themselves living.