Spiritual Gestapos (IBTR #40)

Could there be a more terrifying modern-day nemesis than the Gestapo? Who hasn’t seen a movie or read a book on Nazi Germany? The tension ratchets up every time you see the long trench coat on the guy spying nearby. When the main character notices, you can see the panic in his eyes. To fall into the hands of the Gestapo is to have your life in jeopardy. There will be no acceptable explanations, no concern for the truth, just the deadly consequences of preconceived guilt.

Carry that mental image, if you will, to some Christian circles today. Although you may find it in many places, I have seen it rear its ugly head among Independent Baptists on several occasions.

There are those who watch. They also report. Then they become the enforcers who will see that consequences come. They scrutinize Facebook newsfeeds and pictures, they listen in on conversations or internet reports, they keep those eyes open. Then, in back corners of churches, or around the table at a preacher’s fellowship, or in emails, they report.

Perhaps you think the Gestapo analogy a little strong, or that childish tattle telling is a better description. Still, ministries have been ruined, individuals slandered, and division prevailed.

Here is where the analogy is strongest:

1. The Gestapo was blindly supportive of one group.

What Hiltler did was never analyzed by the Gestapo. Whether it was right or wrong was of no consequence. Their mantra was only supreme loyalty to Hitler and his Nazism. They blew off moral dilemmas like a child blows petals off a flower. How many today blindly follow their clique, even if it takes them over the cliff!

2. The Gestapo employed strong-arm measures.

The ends justified the means and so the means became brutal. In our day character assassination, getting a missionary to have support dropped, or sabotaging someone getting a new ministry are all fair game.

3. The Gestapo scared good soldiers.

Many Germans were just soldiers serving their country in the trenches of war. They were just trying to do the job they had been given. These soldiers, the real fighters, were scared of the Gestapo too. The Gestapo never helped win a battle, but sure kept their eyes on those who did. They punished some of the soldiers and took them out of the fight too. I submit that some real soldiers in the cause of Christ have been so treated too.

4. Gestapo used those who would play both sides.

Some did not agree with the Gestapo but would cooperate and report for them. To save their own hide they would throw others to the wolves. Today some have some of their own issues that the Gestapo would not agree with, but they are so good at reporting others they are overlooked. The saddest part was that this saved no one, but only empowered the Gestapo more for their dastardly work. To report one person for some supposed infraction to cover one of your own is treachery. We will never be rid of the Gestapo with those tactics!

Here Is Where The Analogy Ends

Spiritual Gestapos do not have their power unless we give it to them. When we no longer fear their threats, or care what they say, their weapons will turn to smoke and waft away. When we ignore them, they become surprisingly small. It is time spiritual Gestapos have the tables turned on them, and you and I should take control away from them. Let’s just say the Allies have arrived!

Find all articles in the series here.

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10 thoughts on “Spiritual Gestapos (IBTR #40)

  1. I wouldn’t say that they have no power. My main experience with such behavior has been via missions and missionaries. At least two good missionaries I know have had to leave the field due to lost support, and one good man never made it. And these are good men, and both who left are still in ministry–just no longer in the front-line trenches overseas, where there are already so few workers.

    Part of what makes this all so insidious is that frequently, you can’t really pin it down to one person–you mention the spies reporting, but it is not just that. Frequently, it goes immediately to an institutional level, where it is impossible to single out one person for accountability. It just happens, and everybody just does what they do, and the damage is immeasurable–but they never see it, never have to face the consequences for their actions. The preachers are still standing behind their pulpits, like the greatest saints in history, and nobody in the pew ever knows that a missionary is devastated, going deeply into debt to return home, unloading his life, leaving behind souls for whom Christ died, and a ministry that will never be the same, if it even recovers, and then that missionary comes home, full of debt, doubt and confusion in the best of circumstances. And the people sing on, and shout “Amen” to the men behind the pulpit, who also do not know, nor do they care. Yes, this one makes me mad, because it is so selfish and senseless. I can’t help but sometimes think “Ichabod” is the name of such ministries. How many ministries are just a facade, and empty inside because God’s Glory has departed, and this is a huge part of it. I cannot say that these people have no power. I wish I could.

    • I know you are right. I get really upset when I think what is done to missionaries. Many have written and told me of their plight and it is criminal. If all the rest of us would ignore these Gestapos, then they would have less power to hurt missionaries. In any event, they have much to answer for!

  2. I agree with krakowian that missions is a big problem in this regard. But honestly, it goes back even farther. We could even say “how many people could have gone into missions, but they were suppressed and had the initiative drained out of them by overbearing, over-scrutinizing leaders?” I know this is a huge problem at several Christian colleges. My wife would tell me stories about how every morning on the way out of the girl’s dorm, the dorm supervisor or some other dorm leader would be sitting at the door looking each girl up and down to make sure they were wearing “checkable” attire. Every day walking into chapel was the same. Multiple leaders from the school would be standing by the stairs leading into the gymnasium, demerit slips in hand, looking for men who didn’t shave that morning or had a tie-knot that wasn’t tight enough, or for women who might have been wearing clothes that were too tight. All of this, and more, represent an environment that is demeaning and demoralizing, and I have no question as to why people leave the faith after growing up in this type of atmosphere. It’s a Christianity that is formed around the commandments of men and not those of Christ. And it’s not just colleges. It’s churches all over the place. How many faithful believers would be active and fruitful if they had not been quenched by an overbearing system of man-made religion? You are right PJ, “when we no longer fear their threats”….. but when you don’t fear their threats they kick you out of their camp and say you apostatized. And you know what? That’s ok. We have to remember that we’re not here to please men. We’re here to walk with the Lord, make disciples, and enlarge His Kingdom. We are not here to feed a system that thrives on man-made authority via man-made religion in order to survive.
    But still, someone has to call them out and act as the Puritan. In doing so, we may save some.

  3. Amen! We escaped the gestapo a few years ago. The spieing and tattling to gain favor of the “man of god” was so overwhelming.
    I have to say that while in the IFB movement my walk with the Lord became shallow . Because we were taught to look to a man rather than to our heavenly Father. The teaching of the priesthood of the believer was never taught.
    The bondage that I was under is now gone. My walk with my Savior is sweet again.
    When I see others in their “appropriate” attire I just want to walk up and say stop living in the bondage live in freedom. The Son has set us free.
    I do believe that we need to dress in a modest and godly way. That modesty comes from the heart not the rules of a man.
    When our heart is right our outward appearance will reflect it.

  4. Pingback: It’s Time For An Independent Baptist Truth Revolution! | The Reagan Review

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