Mainstreaming Madmen

A few nights ago I watched a documentary on the early years of Adolf Hitler. I’d seen it all many times before, but this time around a couple of spine-chilling facets engrossed my mind. First, Adolf Hitler, the narrator intoned, did not present logical ideas, precise programs, or rational remedies for the economic and emotional problems of a nation traumatized by the humiliation of the German people after World War I. Actually, the madman had essentially one thing going for him: Adolf Hitler knew how to make a speech. Whether his oratorical tirades were studies in rational discourse mattered little to the grand gatherings the Fuhrer addressed. His speeches were not designed to be rational. Hitler’s specialty was telling people what they wanted to hear. Next, the commentator suggested that the dictator would have gone virtually unnoticed—written off as a transient misfit—had it not been for the timing of his arrival on the scene. Hard times provided the opportunity for social and political lunacy to capture a nation.

Many in our secular media have taken great pains to assure us that Russia’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky is too radical to be regarded as a serious contender for long-term leadership in Russia. Don’t believe it for one minute! The man can make a speech—never mind what he is saying. Zhirinovsky is animated and exciting, particularly when pitted against a verbal plodder like Boris Yeltsin. He, or men like him, have little trouble capturing center stage when prevailing conditions seem to demand radical action.

Devious politicians…touch our lives for only a short time. Being victimized by spiritual exploiters can have a negative impact for eternity.

He is also saying what many impoverished Russians want to hear. Zhirinovsky promises to restore the empire to mother Russia, ring the planet with nuclear weapons, and use them at will. Furthermore, the man makes no bones about the character of his administration and what people can expect if he is called upon to take the reins. “I will say it quite plainly,” Vladimir says. “When I come to power, there will be a dictatorship … I may have to shoot 100,000 people, but the other 300 million will live peacefully.” Some of that number are already cheering.

Although Russia may seem a long way off geographically, we see here a clear warning for people in America and the Western world. Beware of would-be leaders who make good speeches without regard for truth or consequences. Understand also that bringing ranting radicals into the mainstream of national politics only slightly alters their rhetoric, not their fundamental objectives.

Of even greater importance is the lesson for Christians. Cultists and corrupters of the last days will be long on bombast passing for oratory and woefully short on delivering true biblical remedies for the spiritual afflictions of the day. The Scriptures repeatedly caution us to hold those who aspire to leadership roles in the Christian community to standards beyond self-stated proclamations of their call and commitment. What is said must be in harmony with the clear teachings of the Word of God. Watch out for those who attract a following with words akin to the following:

  1. “Be captivated by the way I say it, and you will soon believe what I’m saying.”
  2. “You may never have heard this before, but you can count on me, I’ll tell you the truth.”
  3. “My revelation comes straight from God. If you listen to me, you will hear Him.”

That such deceptions surpass in magnitude the transgressions of purveyors of political chicanery must not be taken lightly. Devious politicians, at their worst, touch our lives for only a short time. Being victimized by spiritual exploiters can have a negative impact for eternity.

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