There’s a reasonably recent adage (since WW2, obviously) known as Godwin’s Law that basically asserts that, during a discussion or debate, the first person to compare a rival with Hitler or Nazism loses.

In other words, the argument has lost credibility and rationality when the darkest insults appear. It has also lost momentum. If there were a genuine argument it would be made, and there would be no need to resort to ad hominem.

Conspiracy theory

Somewhere early on in the piece, as they determined to be antipathetic towards Hillsong and C3, the chookwatchers adopted and built upon a conspiracy theory put out by Chris Rosebrough that levelled the charge of ‘fascist christianity’ at several ministries they were wont to oppose in their articles.

They made this a central theme of their opposition, even writing articles that alluded to Hitlerism, and putting up a set of ‘beliefs’ they held to based on those of ‘The Barmen Declaration 1934′ made by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and a group of Christian contemporaries during Hitlers reich.

So they not only took hold of Rosebrough’s claims, which were actually aimed at the Emergent Church, and, subsequently, following other thoughts, evangelical megachurch ministries such as Rick Warren’s Saddleback and Bill Hybels’s Willowcreek churches, but extended them to take the claims beyond fascist claims to actual nazism.

And thus they lost the argument.

Have they rescinded these charges, especially in the light of rebuttals that clearly point out Rosebrough’s (and therefore his disciples the chooks’) wrongheadedness? The answer is no. The claims of fascist tendencies remain part of the quota of inept suppositions perpetuated by Rosebrough and the chooks.

‘The Barmen Declaration 1934’ remains the ‘belief system’ the chookwatchers adhere to, despite its focus on issues that took place between 1933 and 1945 in wartime Germany. It has no bearing on current political or religious events.

Rosebrough, meanwhile, still has his conspiracy theory on fascism in the church on his pirate christian radio program. He maintains articles and programs dedicated to his Masters Thesis which was on ‘Comparisons Between The Emergent Church & Fascism’, from whence this folly was birthed.

However, despite saying at the beginning of one radio program, ‘Fascism Reborn’, “I feel I’ve been sleeping with nazis”, he goes on to say “I’m not talking about nazism’, so he seems to have confused himself a little there, but we’ll take his word for it.

Fascism lite or nazism?

So Rosebrough’s version of fascist tendencies is, as he appears to stress, fascism lite, whereas chookwatcher has taken the accusations further out into deeper conspiracy theory to heavily imply that the fascism of the churches he opposes is indeed akin to nazi fascism.

Rosebrough is addressing, or so he says, the Emergent Church, whereas the chookwatchers have taken the same theory and applied it to Hillsong and C3, which have nothing to do with the Emergent Church, and are, in fact, contemporary Pentecostal movements.

To save himself from accusations of applying Godwin’s Law, Chris adds the disclaimer that nazism is ‘the fruit of fascism’, not actually the fascism Chris is referring to. Well, if you are going to quote Jesus on knowing a tree by its fruit, then, logically, if the fruit of fascism is nazism, then both are undeniably linked, so I don’t think Chris can get away with that one.

The chookwatchers certainly don’t think so. They plunged straight into the nazi association whilst referencing Chris’s theory, giving him the hat-tip.

But then Chris adds that the fruit of the so-called Emergent Church could be on a par with nazism if, as he asserts, there is some kind of connection, including, what he calls, ‘the destruction of Western civilisation’, which seems somewhat extreme given that the Emergent Church is not exactly a huge movement.

Deep-delving diver

So, in the hope of demonstrating that he is on the trail of something big and not just chasing his own tail [or tale – Ed], Chris tells us he delved deep into many, many books on fascism, nazism and nietzcheism.

The problem with this seems to be, though, that he entered his quest with a preconceived notion – always a complication, especially if you’re trying to seem impartial and fair. He had been influenced by someone he spoke to somewhere and saw [had a vision, then – Ed] the connection between the Emergent Church and fascism. He had a negatively aligned critical premise before he did the in-depth study.

Considering his earlier assertion that he is not discussing nazism, Rosebrough spends an incredible amount of time discussing the rise and regime of Hitler on his radio program. He even states, contrary to his earlier implication, that “Hitler was a fascist”. So nazism, then, was not just the fruit of fascism. It was a militant form of fascism. Most people agree with this observation.

Rosebrough’s ‘adversary’ is the Emergent Church. He likens post-modernism to fascism. He bends the Emergent Church into a fascist ideology by associating it with post-modern deconstructionism.

Of course, the anarchic political movement Antifa is far closer to real fascism than a relatively obscure church movement. Antifa is the anti-establishment move that accuses the conservative polity of being fascist, whilst it goes around living, looking and acting liker a fascist movement.

Rosebrough’s conspiracy theory is, at best, contrived. It doesn’t meet the criteria for rational thought. It is a theory based on a failed premise.

The chookwatchers, however, have taken the flawed logic to another dimension. Using spuriously contrived links (i.e. Rick Warren and Bill Hybels speaking at a Hillsong Conference) they ignore the post-modernistic Emergent theologies and leap straight into contemporary Pentecostal movements with no outward or hidden fascist connections and link them to Rosebrough’s theory by slamming this square peg of a supposition into a round hole of nonsense.

As Dr Brown suggested, these critics swallow a camel to strain a gnat.

Rosebrough’s hang-up is community. He likens it to fascist thought, even though the Bible encourages it throughout scripture. A subject for another post, perhaps.

Angry bird

Critiquing a pastor’s message later in the above episode, Chris completely loses it and rages at the sermon, even yelling, “satan has pretty well destroyed the Church!” You what? The gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Church, Chris – Jesus’ words.

Chris, it seems, is guilty of wanting to pastor every church that puts out online sermons he can then critique. Rather than listen to messages to be edified, he publishes them with his own interjections, jeering as he rubbishes pastors.

Not content with his own work, he takes pot shots at other pastors’ sermons and rips them to shreds, completely missing the point of what is being said because of his own self-righteous prejudice and doctrinal inadequacies.

Worse of all, he misses the other point that God has set that particular pastor in that flock at that time to do His will, and it has nothing to do with Chris, who is only responsible for his own flock, and how he presents the hope of the gospel to his own congregation. Let him judge himself before he judges others, if only to save others from judging him for his judgment.

I hate to break this to him, but pastors can’t all be exactly like Chris, and maybe we should thank God for this.

Listening to this episode, it was apparent that Rosebrough’s big stick microphone angst, continual interjections, immense disrespect, and mocking, scoffing polemic was typical of his style, but well and truly out of order. Using this sermon as an example of fascism in the Church was disingenuous.

The pastor was admonishing the men in his flock to take the lead in the home by praying, studying and living out the Word of God before their wives and children as examples to them. He called the family the ‘blueprint’ for a successful life, which, according to God’s promise to Abraham, is exactly right.

All the families of the earth will be blessed in Abraham’s Seed, who is Christ. That is a promise from God. Blessing He will bless, and multiplying He will multiply. Another promise. The means of the blessing is Christ, but the delivery is through the family.

It seems that Chris completely missed this in his determination to show that this type of behaviour must be an example of post-modern fascism and not a great way to bring up a family. Studying Neitzsche will do this to you it seems. Is he saying that family equals fascist ideology?

Maybe Chris needs to spend more time in the New Testament and less in Nietzsche, but for these critics the argument is lost as long as they continue parading this conspiracy theory.