I was in Junior High when I first remember learning of the Holocaust. I didn’t understand it at the time and I didn’t really grasp the horror of it until a few weeks later when I was looking at a magazine. I think it was Life Magazine. I saw several pages of photos of the victims. It was shocking and made me wonder how could anyone do that to anybody, let alone to an entire group of people.  I did what a lot of us do when we see something horrible and we’re not quite ready to process it; I set it aside in the back of my mind. 

Memories of the initial horror of seeing those holocaust pictures in the late 1960’s were revisited recently when I came across a New York Times article about the holocaust. As horrific as the killing of thousands of innocent Jewish people was, I was sickened to learn in this article that the Nazi’s gathered groups of disabled people and murdered them as well. This was especially hurtful to learn as I’ve long held a special place on my heart for the disabled. My dad was crippled by polio in the early 1950’s, my little brother was born mentally retarded in 1957, and one of our daughters was born with Spina Bifida in 1986.  

The holocaust was born out of Adolf Hitlers’s rise to power in Germany. He was a German political leader in the 1930’s who rose to the rank of Fuhrer in the 1940’s German Nazi party.  He believed that the Jews were Germany’s enemies, and that they were an inferior race. Full of hate and racism, he sought to get rid of the Jews by killing them, and create a country full of “perfect” people of which he, of course, would be their leader. Interestingly he did all of this while claiming to be a Christian, and denouncing Christianity at the same time.  It’s also interesting how he got so many people to follow him.

Thinking about all of this made me wonder if Hitler’s hatred for the Jews may have been fueled by his misguided so-called Christian beliefs. Regardless, whatever Hitler thought and did was wrong on so many levels. His basic beliefs were skewed to say the least. I suspect if he had a Bible he didn’t read it.  If he had, he would have learned that that Jesus was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, and died as a Jew. If he’d read the Bible, he would have learned that the Jews weren’t responsible for Jesus’s death on the cross, but all of us. It was all of our sins that nailed Him on the cross:

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14

Secondly, all of us are disabled in some way or another.  None of us are perfect; there is no such thing as perfect people or the the perfect race. We all have flaws and imperfections, physically, emotionally, and spiritually; including and especially sin.  Anyone who thinks they’re perfect and are constantly seeking perfection, are guilty of the sin of pride whether they realize it or not. Only God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are perfect, and it is not until we receive Jesus in repentance and faith does God change the way He sees us.  If Hitler had read the Bible he would known this as well:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30

Fortunately I’m not Hitler’s nor anyone else’s judge, but the Bible tells us that when we become a believer there should be a change in our life, in the way we think and in the things we do; life before Jesus and life after Jesus, there should be a difference. In John 13:35 Jesus tells of one distinguishing characteristic of the believer: 

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 



Here’s a picture of me and my 5th grade Sunday School class sometime around 1965 at Southport Methodist Church in Southport, Indiana. This was the church our family went to while I was growing up in central Indiana. It was during this time period that I hold some of my fondest memories at this church, and it was here that I first came to faith in Christ around age 12.

Around 3 years after this picture was taken, the church changed their name to include “United.” I continued my membership there into my young adult years, with increasing periods of inactivity on and off during my late teens and early 20’s, and then a resurgence in the early 1980’s. God got my attention one night after listening to Billy Graham speak on TV. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about all the sin in my life and cried out to Him in repentance and faith. I began reading my Bible and started going back to my old church.

I enjoyed being back in the church I grew up in, especially the people, but a couple of things started bothering me. My Sunday School class studied books that seemed more philosophical than biblical, and many of the pastor’s sermons were light on Bible verses and heavy on modern day stories. Around this same time, I was listening to a Baptist preacher out of Atlanta on the radio, Charles Stanley. His sermons were jam packed with Bible verses and Bible stories. This style of preaching was new to me and I found myself very drawn to it. While I really enjoyed my old church and probably would have stayed there a long time, God had different plans for me.

In 1988 I broke tradition in our family and became a Baptist, by full water immersion at age 33, at Providence Baptist Church in Riverview, Florida. It was a series of events that lead up to my change in church membership and in my relationship with God. I wrote about this experience in a previous blog, Another Gospel. In short, God wanted me to grow closer in my relationship with Him.

So now, some 32 years later, my favorite teacher is Jesus, and my favorite book is the Bible. I’m still a Baptist although I do lean more toward Reformed Theology now, which makes me more of a Reformed Baptist I guess. I very much respect the hero’s of the reformation such as Martin Luther and John Calvin. While I’m not quite a 5-point Calvinist, I do particularly like the writings of the puritans, such as John Bunyan and Jonathan Edwards. I also like Charles Spurgeon. While I don’t agree 100% with his views, I believe most of his writings are 100% spot on. For example, I don’t agree with his position that baptism is essential to salvation, but I do agree with his viewpoint that Baptismal Regeneration, the practice of baptizing unbelievers and infants, is not biblical and does not save. I also find Charles Spurgeon’s background fascinating. He was born into a family of Congregationalists, saved in a Methodist Church, became the greatest Baptist preacher in history, and also the most well know Calvinist of the Victorian era.

At the same time, I still like Arminian preachers such as John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, Charles Stanley from First Baptist in Atlanta, Greg Laurie from Riverside California, and of course, the late Billy Graham, who is probably the most well known evangelist of the 20th century. I believe God uses both Arminians and Calvinists to preach the gospel message and to teach us about the Bible. I like this quote from Arminian pastor Leonard Ravenhill, “Think like a Calvinist, live like an Arminian.”

I find debates between Arminianism and Calvinism interesting to a point, but it bothers me when soteriology becomes more of an argument between believers than the mission God intended it to be. Those who find themselves in frequent debates on this subject would make better use of their time by instead sharing the gospel with a lost and dying world, as Jesus commanded in the Great Commission. Our job is telling. God’s job is saving.

If I were pushed to choose a side in the Arminian-Calvinism debate, I would choose Calvinism. I believe God is Sovereign and ultimately in control of everything, whether we think so or not, including, and not limited to, free will. Regardless, our salvation is based upon Jesus’ finished work on the cross and our coming to Him in repentance and in faith, believing that Jesus is who He says he is.

I like the response that Charles Spurgeon once gave to someone who asked him about his theology. Though he preferred to think of himself as a “mere Christian” he also said “I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist,” and “I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist, but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’”