Positive Christianity (German: Positives Christentum) was a movement within Nazi Germany which blended ideas of racial purity with Christian doctrine. It was adopted as part of the official party doctrine at the Nazi Party Congress in 1920 to express a worldview which was Christian, non-confessional, virulently anti-Semitic, and oriented to the principle of voluntary association of those with a common racial-ethnic background.
Theological and doctrinal aspects 
Adherents of Positive Christianity argued that traditional Christianity emphasized the passive rather than the active aspects of Christ's life, stressing his miraculous birth, his suffering, his sacrifice on the cross and other-worldly redemption. They wanted to replace this doctrine with a "positive" emphasis on Christ as an active preacher, organizer and fighter who opposed the institutionalized Judaism of his day. At various points in the Nazi regime, attempts were made to replace conventional Christianity with its "positive" alternative.
Theological and doctrinal differences included:
- Rejection of Jewish-written parts of the Bible (including the entire Old Testament)
- Claiming "Aryanhood" and non-Jewishness for Christ
- The political objective of national unity, to overcome confessional differences, to eliminate Catholicism, and to unite Protestantism into a single unitary Christian national socialist church
Origins of the idea 
|Part of a series on|
Positive Christianity grew out of the Higher Criticism of the nineteenth century, with its emphasis on the distinction between the historical Jesus, and the divine Jesus of theology. According to some schools of thought, the saviour-figure of orthodox Christianity was very different from the historical Galilean preacher. While many such scholars sought to place Jesus in the context of ancient Judaism, some writers reconstructed a historical Jesus who corresponded to racialist and anti-semitic ideology. In the writings of such anti-semites as Emile Burnouf, Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Paul de Lagarde, Jesus was redefined as an Aryan hero who struggled against Jews and Judaism. Consistent with their origins in Higher Criticism, such writers often either rejected or minimized the miraculous aspects of Gospel narratives, reducing the crucifixion to a tragic coda to Jesus's life rather than its prefigured culmination. Both Burnouf and Chamberlain argued that the population of Galilee was racially distinct from that of Judea. Lagarde insisted that German Christianity must become "national" in character.
Positive Christianity in Nazi ideology 
Positive Christianity was highly supported by the Nazi movement, which promoted its ideals in its journals Der Stürmer and Völkischer Beobachter, both of which stressed the "Nordic" character of Jesus. However, the party was careful to stress that positive Christianity was not intended to be a third confession, nor to contradict the traditional theologies of established churches. As early as 1920 the Nazis proclaimed in their 25-point program that the "Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us". Despite this, a number of Nazis openly challenged the established churches.
Alfred Rosenberg, editor of Völkischer Beobachter, wrote The Myth of the Twentieth Century, in which he argued that the Catholic and Protestant churches had distorted Christianity in such a way that the "heroic" and "Germanic" aspects of Jesus's life had been ignored. For Rosenberg, positive Christianity was a transitional ideology that would pave the way to build a new fully racialist faith. Instead of the cross, its symbol was the orb of the sun in the form of a sun cross and in principle it was the elevation of the Nordic race, a rejection of divine revelation, and the promotion of a German god. For Rosenberg the Aryan-nordic race was divine, and god was in the blood and its culture was the kingdom of heaven, in contrast the Jewish race was evil and it was a satanic counter race against the divine Aryan-nordic race. Adolf Hitler approved of the work, but distanced himself from Rosenberg's more radical ideas, wishing to retain the support of the conservative Christian electorate and social elite, but he emphasized the desirability of positive Christianity. As an aspect of Gleichschaltung, the regime planned to nazify the Protestant Church in Germany (Evangelical Church) by unifying the separate 28 state churches under a single national church that was controlled by the German Christian faction. After some initial setbacks, the Nazis' candidate Ludwig Müller was elected the first Reichsbischof of the new Reichskirche (so-called German Evangelical Church) in September 1933. However, the German Christians' theological initiatives met with resistance from many pastors, most notably Martin Niemöller, who organized the Pastors' Emergency League which was supported by nearly 40 percent of the Evangelical pastors. Following this failure, Hitler backtracked on attempts to directly nazify the churches.
The German Faith Movement founded by Jakob Wilhelm Hauer adopted a more thoroughly Aryanized form of the ideology, claiming to represent the essence of the "Protestant" spirit by mixing aspects of Christianity with ideas derived from "Aryan" religions such as Vedic Hinduism and "Aryo"-Persian religiosity (Manicheanism, etc.). They attempted to separate Nazi officials from church affiliations, banning nativity plays and calling for an end to daily prayers in schools.
See also 
Further reading 
- Snyder, L., (1998). Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. Wordsworth Press.
- Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-82371-5.
- Whisker, James B. (1990). The Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg. Noontide Press. ISBN 978-0-939482-25-2.
- NSDAP Party Programm. February 24, 1920, Point 24: "We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race. The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual." Quoted in Robert Michael and Philip Rosen (2007). Dictionary of Antisemitism from the Earliest Times to the Present Lanham: Scarecrow Press, p. 321.
- Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 13-51.
- Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 8, 33.
- Michael, Robert and Philip Rosen (2007). Dictionary of Antisemitism from the Earliest Times to the Present Lanham: Scarecrow Press, p. 321.
- Spicer, Kevin (2007). Antisemitism, Christian ambivalence, and the Holocaust. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p. 301.
- Joseph Biesinger (1 January 2006). Germany: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. Infobase Publishing. pp. 629–. ISBN 978-0-8160-7471-6. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- Hans Maier; Michael Schäfer (24 December 2007). Totalitarianism and Political Religions, Volume II: Concepts for the Comparison Of Dictatorships. Psychology Press. pp. 219–. ISBN 978-0-203-93542-2. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- These pro-Nazi initiatives included the introduction of the Aryan paragraph, which would exclude converted Jews, and the attempt to dispense with the Old Testament in church services.
- Overy, Richard James (2004). The dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. pp. 283–284. ISBN 0-393-02030-4.
- Stackelberg, Roderick (2007). The Routledge Companion to Nazi Germany. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-30860-7.
- Downey, Mark (2009). "Kinsman Redeemer Church: Positive Christianity." <www.kinsmanredeemer.com>. Retrieved 12-7-2011.