Film about Steve McQueen symbolizes Gospel compromise

A short time ago, I reviewed Greg Laurie’s book about actor Steve McQueen’s conversion to Jesus Christ. See here.

I usually catch the last five minutes of Laurie’s radio show every morning as I’m driving into work and lately he’s been pumping the movie follow-up to the book. “Steve McQueen: American Icon” will be playing in selected theaters across the country on Thursday, September 28th only. This is an evangelism tool with Laurie giving an invitation to accept Christ at the end of the film. See the official website here.

I enjoyed Laurie’s book about McQueen and I was even contemplating going to the theater to see the movie. But as one of his pitch points, Laurie mentioned that actor/director/producer, Mel Gibson, is interviewed during the film. Mel Gibson? Again? Laurie featured Gibson on his last TBN-televised Harvest crusade and there’s a quote

GLMG
Laurie and Tridentine Catholc, Gibson, kibitzing for the audience at a Harvest crusade

from Gibson recommending “Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon” on the book’s dust jacket. But Mel Gibson is an ultra-traditionalist, “Tridentine” Roman Catholic, meaning he believes in salvation by sacramental grace and merit and he also believes the last six popes were imposters because of the changes adopted by the church at the Second Vatican Council. Mel Gibson is certainly not a supporter of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE. So why has he been rubbing shoulders with Laurie so much? Gibson might be a sedevacantist, but he’s also a busine$$man. Evangelicals strongly supported his film, “The Passion of the Christ” (2004), and Gibson is pragmatically counting on their support for the sequel, “Resurrection,” which is slated for release in 2019.

Greg Laurie, a TBN regular, does preach the Gospel of grace, but he also troublingly embraces as Christians those who promote a false gospel. A lot. Many evangelical pastors and para-church leaders do the same thing. Is it that Laurie looks the other way and compromises the Gospel for the sake of money and numbers? He’s just following in the footsteps of his hero, Billy Graham. Laurie and Gibson are using each other for their own purposes in an ungodly, symbiotic dance.

No, I won’t be attending “Steve McQueen: American Icon.” Maybe instead I’ll watch McQueen’s 1968 classic action thriller, “Bullitt,” which I bought on Blu-ray several weeks ago. At least there’s no Gospel-compromising shenanigans going on in that movie!

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The Mortara Case: When the pope stole a child from his parents

Roman Catholics like to imagine their popes were holy and pious men who were always guided by the Holy Spirit and correctly led the church in all matters of faith and morals, but even casual students of papal history know that the reality was far from this fanciful idealization.

I’m currently reading a book by a Catholic author that mentions one of the more bizarre episodes of papal history, known as the “Mortara Case.” Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti aka pope Pius IX was elected to the papal throne in 1846. In 1857, the church inquisitor for the city of Bologna, then part of the Papal States, heard after-the-fact that a Catholic woman had secretly baptized the infant son of Jewish parents who had employed her as a servant. The laws of the Papal States prohibited the raising of Catholics by members of other faiths, so 6-year-old Edgardo Mortara was taken from his family by the police at the instigation of Pius IX. The boy was brought to the Vatican’s Esquiline Palace and his upbringing was personally managed by the pope. When Edgardo’s frantic parents finally discovered where their son was located, the pope allowed them to occasionally visit, but only under close supervision.

The abduction became a cause célèbre throughout the Western world. The international OUTRAGE was tremendous. But the pope, claiming “the blessed Virgin (was) on (his) side,” refused to return the child to his family. However, the pope soon had even bigger fish to fry. To Pius’ great chagrin, the upstart Kingdom of Italy began annexing territory belonging to the Papal States via military means, beginning in 1859 and ending in 1870 when the city of Rome fell to the “Risorgimento” forces. Public sentiment had turned decidedly against the pope partially due to the indignation over the infamous “Mortara Case.” In reaction to the rebellion, Pius issued his declaration, “Syllabus Errorum” (The Syllabus of Errors), in 1864, which condemned freedom of religion and all forms of democratic government. In 1869, Pius convened the First Vatican Council in order to define the infallible doctrine of papal infallibility.* The defiant “libertines” may have absconded with the 16,000 square miles that comprised the Papal States, but pope Pius IX made sure everyone knew HE still stood supreme in all spiritual matters.

But what of the young Jewish boy stolen from his parents and raised in the Vatican? Edgardo was eventually ordained a priest at the age of 21 and died in Belgium in 1940 at the age of 88. Both Steven Spielberg and Harvey Weinstein are currently developing separate films based on the infamous “Mortara Case.”

But this ex-Catholic saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone has a few questions regarding this sorry chapter in papal history:

  1. Did pope Pius IX do the morally correct thing by abducting the Jewish child as well as encouraging the abductions of other Jewish children in similar cases? Obviously not. I certainly realize the “ex cathedra” clause doesn’t pertain in this example, but can’t we assume that the Holy Spirit would have done a much better job of guiding Pius IX in this scandalous child abduction issue if he actually had been the “Vicar of Christ”?
  2. When Pius IX absolutely condemned freedom of religion and all democratic forms of government in “The Syllabus of Errors,” was he speaking ex cathedra/infallibly or was the declaration his own personal opinion, and who decides?
  3. Pope Pius IX stood up to defiant Italian nationalists by having himself declared infallible in all teachings regarding faith and morals. But it’s puzzling that Pius, like all other popes up until 2016, taught that no remarried divorcees could receive holy communion, while, Francis, the current infallible pope, has declared that remarried divorcees are able to receive communion. Who is right? And if Francis is right, what about all the remarried divorcees who committed mortal sins by receiving communion prior to the publication of “Amoris Laetitia” in 2016 and died? Do they all receive a “Get out of Hell Free” card?

*Catholics boast that only their church is led by an infallible pope, but are hard pressed to cite examples of infallible teaching. Catholic theologians can only agree that the papal declarations on Mary’s immaculate conception (1854), papal infallibility (1870), and Mary’s assumption (1950) are unequivocally infallible.

An evangelical writes to “Your Holiness,” the pope

In yesterday’s Weekend Roundup, I briefly commented that President Trump’s evangelical advisory board had requested an urgent meeting with pope Francis to discuss the recent, Vatican-approved article in the La Civilta Cattolica journal, which had severely criticized the collaboration of right-wing, Trump-supporting “Catholic Integralists” and “Evangelical Fundamentalists” as being an “ecumenism of hate.” The article also made reference to Trump’s religious supporters as Christian “jihadists.”

Yesterday evening, I came across a couple of articles that shed more light on the controversy (see links far below).

Johnnie Moore, the former vice president of communications for Liberty University and former assistant to university president, Jerry Falwell, Jr., penned the letter to Francis on behalf of the other members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board. He begins the letter by addressing the pope as “Your Holiness.” He then tells Francis that evangelicals “have looked upon your appointment with great gratitude to God and with great optimism for the new spirit that you have brought to the Catholic Church.” He further flatters the pope by writing that Francis’ “efforts to build bridges and to spread the doctrine of mercy around the world have been a light and hope to us all.” Moore then gets down to business by requesting a meeting to discuss the troubling article. He ends the letter by claiming “God put it on [his] heart” to write the pope and concludes with the following: “With all the respect in the world and with love for Christ’s Church and every corner of it, I’ll earnestly await your reply.”

Moore’s letter to the pope is a sad commentary on the current state of evangelicalism. The pope heads a 1.2 billion-member religious institution, which propagates a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit and yet Moore addresses him as a fellow believer and a great Christian leader. Obviously, Moore has no understanding of comparative theology and has no clue what happened during the Reformation. But like many politically-focused, conservative evangelicals, Moore is more concerned with preserving “Judeo-Christian” moral values in this country than with correct doctrine and reaching conservative (and liberal) Catholics with the Gospel.

Commenting on Moore’s letter, Mike Gendron, ex-Catholic and director of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries, a Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics, said:

“Moore’s attempt to unite Evangelicals and Catholics is playing into the pope’s agenda to rebuild the religious tower of Babel. Our sovereign and omnipotent Lord does not need the help of unbelievers to fight the social and cultural wars. There is something much more important at stake and that is the purity and exclusivity of the Gospel. More than ever we need to contend for the faith because divine division in truth is far better than satanic unity in error.”

Accommodation and cooperation with religious error and compromise and betrayal of the Gospel are rampant in the church today.


Former Liberty University VP Raises Concern After Calling for Meeting With ‘Your Holiness’ to Unite Evangelicals, Catholics
https://christiannews.net/2017/08/11/former-liberty-university-vp-raises-concern-after-calling-for-meeting-with-your-holiness-to-unite-evangelicals-catholics/

Dear Pope Francis: An Evangelical Christian’s letter to the Holy Father
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/08/09/dear-pope-francis-evangelical-christians-letter-to-holy-father.html

Taras Bulba – The movie

…and speaking of Polish history! Hats off to brother Wally for motivating me to dig deep into the files for this one.


Taras Bulba
Directed by J. Lee Thompson and featuring Tony Curtis, Yul Brynner, and Christine Kaufmann
United Artists, 1962, 122 minutes

“Taras Bulba” is the entertaining film adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s famous 1835 historical novella. The story is loosely based on the revolt of the Zaporozhian Cossacks against their Polish overlords, which began in the early 17th century.

Plot

The Cossacks of the Pontic-Caspian Steppes live under Polish rule but pine for their independence. Cossack leader, Taras Bulba (Brynner), desires that his sons, Andriy (Curtis) and Ostap, receive an education so he sends them to the Polish-controlled city of Kiev where Andriy falls head-over-heels for a beautiful Polish damsel (Kaufmann). The Polish nobility of Kiev don’t appreciate a Cossack peasant making overtures to one of their young ladies and the brothers are forced to flee the city.

Bulba leads a revolt against the Polish magnates, besieging the fortified city of Dubno. When Andriy realizes his love interest is behind the walls, he sneaks into the city and switches his allegiance to the Poles. With all of the city’s food gone and the population facing starvation, the Polish knights stage a last-ditch, desperate sally against the Cossack forces. Bulba confronts his disloyal son and kills him. The Cossacks occupy Dubno and Ukrainian peace and benevolence reign supreme.

Commentary

Yul Brynner is simply outstanding as the Cossack hetman (military and political governor). He was born for the part. Tony Curtis is a bit stiff as the son who turns against his father and his people for a Polish

TBM
Tony Curtis and Yul Brynner help Christine Kaufmann celebrate her 17th birthday on the set of “Taras Bulba.”

damsel. A Ukrainian Cossack with a thick Bronx accent? Ridiculous. German actress, Christine Kaufmann, plays the love interest, Polish noblewoman, Natalia Dubrov. In real life, 37-year-old Curtis divorced his wife, actress Janet Leigh, to marry his 17-year-old co-star. Oy vey!

Director J. Lee Thompson does a decent job on this film, one of those Hollywood blockbuster historical epics of the late-50’s and early 60’s. The scene where Brynner breaks into song is a bit annoying but par for the course for Hollywood films at that time. Another scene, where Curtis and a rival Cossack jump their horses over a narrow chasm in an equestrian duel, is an absolute hoot.

This movie was one of my favorites growing up in the 60’s. I wouldn’t miss it whenever it came on television. But, being Polish-American, I was a bit annoyed that the Poles were cast as the bad guys.

Like most films based on historical events, “Taras Bulba” takes some liberties. The Ukrainian conquerors enter the Polish city of Dubno at the end of the movie promising a reign of magnanimity and liberty for all. However, history records that the Zaporozhian Cossacks slaughtered 100,000 Jewish men, women, and children during the most famous of the revolts, the Chmielnicki (Ukrainian: Khmelnytsky) Uprising (1648-1654). A large number of Jews had worked as agents of the Polish magnates and were deeply resented by the Ukrainian peasantry.

For the Polish perspective on the Chmielnicki Uprising, read “With Fire and Sword” by Henryk Sienkiewicz or see the same-titled 1999 Polish film, available on DVD starring Michal Zebrowski and Izabella Scorupco.

Additional thoughts from a believer

The centuries-old conflict between Poles and Cossacks/Ukrainians was not just about ethnicity and self-determination, it was also about religion. Poles were Roman Catholic while Cossacks were Eastern Orthodox. The Cossacks resented being ruled by Romanists. But just as with the Poles, religion for the Orthodox Ukrainians meant participation in the sacraments and much ritual and ceremony. Their religion did not teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Poland: An unconventional nation

Poland: The First Thousand Years
By Patrice M. Dabrowski
Northern Illinois University Press, 2016, 506 pages

After I walked away from the Lord for a long “prodigal” season, I had to fill the vacuum with something so I turned to studying my Polish heritage. I’m 50% Polish from my father’s side and 38% German/12% Irish from my mother. Growing up during the Polish joke era in the late 60s and early 70s, I was frequently the target of “dumb Polak” humor. I quickly reached a point where I wished I could be anything but Polish. People poke fun at political correctness but I’m glad ethnic and racial intolerance are increasingly less acceptable. Anyway, in a complete turnaround, I embraced my Polish ethnicity back around 2002 and read everything I could get my hands on about Polish history and culture for the next twelve years.

When I returned to the Lord in 2014, just about all of my reading material reverted back to Christian topics. But last year I spotted “Poland: The First Thousand Years” at Barnes and Noble and picked it up for old time’s sake and finally got around to reading it.

Poland has a very strange history that most people are not aware of. Sandwiched between two extremely aggressive neighbors, Prussia/Germany and Russia, the country didn’t have much of a chance and in many ways contributed to its own subjugation.

Writing a general national history is a difficult undertaking and Dabrowski does a very good job. She outlines the major historical currents and provides enough human detail to keep the book from becoming just a dry exercise of dates and wars.

Poland began as a nation with the reign of Mieszko I (960-992). His conversion to Catholicism in 966, as in the case of many pagan monarchs, was due more to political expediency than personal conviction. As Poland grew in strength, the Piasts gave way to the Jagiellonian dynasty and an alliance with Lithuania. Poland-Lithuania was the largest state in Europe and, given its diverse population, was remarkably tolerant of all religious beliefs and ethnicities compared to its neighbors. The Reformation gained many converts to Christ among the nobility in Poland, but the Jesuits countered by establishing many schools throughout the country, resulting in the children of Christian parents choosing Catholicism.

The power of the Polish magnates and nobility grew in comparison to the elected monarchs. Every nobleman was empowered with the ability to invoke the liberum veto, the power to block any new law or reform put forward by the king or parliament. Neighboring countries took advantage of Poland’s deepening political impotence. The country was partitioned three times in the late 18th century by Prussia, Russia, and Austria, essentially removing Poland from the map of Europe.

Poles attempted to resurrect their nation by enlisting in Napoleon’s military campaigns and through various insurrections. During these years of complete political subjugation, the Polish Catholic church took on the role of repository of Polish nationalism.

With Russia, Germany, and Austria in complete disarray following World War I, the Western Allies re-established Poland as a nation. The interwar years were difficult for the fledgling country given the international economic depression. During this time, Poland became increasingly intolerant of non-ethnic Poles and non-Catholics.

Nazi Germany invaded Western Poland in 1939 to start World War II, followed by Soviet Russia’s land grab of Eastern Poland. The country was completely partitioned once again. Most of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust perished in Poland at the hands of the Nazi occupiers. The Red Army advanced westward as the Germans retreated, eventually occupying all Polish territory. Arbitrary postwar border shifts and wholesale population resettlements left Poland a largely homogeneous country, both ethnically and religiously.

Poles endured Soviet military and political domination from 1945 through 1989, until escalating strikes and protests over economic conditions and political freedoms forced the Polish communist government to negotiate its own demise. Poland has slowly begun to claim its place among European nations, joining NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. Citizens are still extremely wary of their German and Russian neighbors and given their history and the unpredictability of Vladimir Putin, who can blame them? Poland is still one of the most Catholic countries in Europe, meaning most of its citizens have never heard the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Many Americans mix religion with patriotism and nationalism but Poles take it to a whole different level. In the understanding of most, you cannot be a true Pole unless you are Roman Catholic.

I enjoyed this general history very much and I recommend it highly to anyone who is interested in an overview of the unconventional history of Poland. No other Western nation experienced the oppression and devastation that Poland endured between the years 1772 and 1989.

A 2000-year-old testimony to God’s truths (now in brilliant virtual color)

Our youngest son, Steve, has served in the Air Force for sixteen-years and has been all over the world. My wife and I had the opportunity to visit him when he was stationed in Aviano, Italy back around 2004. Aviano is about sixty-miles north of Venice in the northern part of the country. After a few days in Aviano/Pordenone, we took a train excursion to Venice and Rome. The highlight of our short stay in Rome was walking through the Colosseum and the nearby Roman Forum. On the east end of the Forum, on the Via Sacra, standing fifty-feet tall, is the Arch of Titus, erected in 81 A.D. to commemorate the military success of the Roman general (later emperor), Titus, during the First Jewish War (66-74 A.D.). Titus had ransacked and completely destroyed the Temple complex in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Historians say the spoils of the Jewish Wars helped finance the construction of the Colosseum, where many of the early Roman Christians were martyred.

There’s a carved relief panel under the Titus arch which depicts Roman soldiers carrying the confiscated treasures of the Temple, including the table of showbread and the lampstand/menorah, through the streets of Rome. Even though I was not walking with the Lord at that time, I was still AWESTRUCK to stand underneath the arch and gaze at this panel, a two-thousand-year-old testimony to the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy:

“And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.'” – Matthew 24:2

Last night, I was reading the latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, which featured the cover story, “True Colors: Digital Reconstruction Restores Original Brilliance to the Arch of Titus.” We mistakenly assume ancient Roman buildings originally appeared as plain stone edifices as we see them today, but recent research reveals building and monument exteriors were often decorated with vibrant colors. A team of scientists examined the victory parade panel in the Arch of Titus and discovered traces of yellow pigment on the menorah, indicating the entire panel had been painted. Using computer enhancement, the team was able to digitally restore the panel as it may have originally appeared (see photo). Being somewhat of a history nerd and a Christian, stuff like this absolutely fascinates me.

For the past two millenia, Jewish visitors to the Forum have bitterly resented the Titus Arch and its victory procession panel. When Jews visit the arch, they have been known to proclaim something along the lines of, “Titus, you’re gone, but we’re still here. Am Yisrael Chai! The people of Israel lives!” Israel was re-established as a nation in 1948, one-thousand, eight-hundred, and sixty-seven years after the death of Titus.

“He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” – Isaiah 11:12

The Lord doesn’t hit the people of the world over the head to show them He’s there, but He’s given us remarkable signs if we would pay attention.

“The Zookeeper’s Wife”: A Short Review

 

A couple of Fridays ago, I posted some information on a new film that was out, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” (see here), and this past Saturday my wife and I went to the theater to see it. Here’s a short review:

The Zookeepers Wife
Directed by Nick Caro and featuring Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, and Daniel Bruhl
Focus Features, 2017, 126 minutes

Plot (Spoiler alert!)

Dr. Jan Zabinski (Heldenbergh) and his wife, Antonina (Chastain), are the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo in Poland in 1939. Germany invades Western Poland on September 1st and the Nazi authorities take direct control of the zoo. The more-valuable animals are shipped to Berlin while those left behind are shot. Jan convinces the German overseer, Dr. Heck (Bruhl), to preserve the zoo as a breeding facility for pigs. The Nazis quarantine all Jews in the area to the Warsaw ghetto, which Jan visits regularly to obtain scraps for the pigs while also managing to smuggle Jews back to the zoo where they are hidden. Heck has a bit of a crush on Antonina and she accepts his personal advances in an effort to win his confidence and allay his suspicions.

The Nazis deport all of the Jews living in the ghetto to extermination camps in 1942-43 and Jan is wounded in the uprising of the Polish underground army in 1944. Antonina visits Heck and pleads for information about her husband but instead the Nazi official finally becomes convinced that the Zabinskis are harboring Jews. Antonina rushes back to the zoo, helping the Jews to escape. Heck arrives with his men, surveying the Jews’ former hiding places, but decides to show clemency to Antonina and her son. As Soviet forces advance into Warsaw, Antonina flees with other refugees but eventually returns back to the zoo where she is reunited with some of the surviving Jews and Jan.

Commentary

This is an excellent movie and I highly recommend it. My wife wanted to leave during the early scenes when the Nazis were killing the zoo’s animals but I talked her out of it and she was glad I did. Jessica Chastain is excellent. The Zabinskis as well as thousands of other rescuers showed great courage and compassion in harboring Jews during the Holocaust. In reality some Poles were antagonistic towards the Jews but this myth-defying truth was avoided in the film.

Additional thoughts from a believer

Many will watch a movie like this and wonder how the Nazis could have been so inhumane? “I could never be a part of something like that,” they will claim. But God’s Word rightly says we are all sinners and we are all capable of the vilest of thoughts and behaviors.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders” – Mark 7:21

We all need to come to Jesus Christ and accept Him as our Savior by faith alone. All of us are guilty and deserve eternal punishment. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me from the eternity of hell that I deserve.

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” and complicated Polish-Jewish relations

ZKPR

 

I see that the film, “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” based upon the 2007 same-titled book by Diane Ackerman, will be opening at theaters today. The movie follows the true-life story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, a husband and wife team who ran the Warsaw Zoo and bravely hid hundreds of Jews from the Nazis during the German occupation of Poland.

When I walked away from the Lord for a very long “season,” I needed something to fill the void so I immersed myself in Polish and Polish-American history and culture (I’m 50% Polish, 38% German, and 12% Irish by ethnicity). I read a ton of books, joined some local and national organizations, and actually became pretty knowledgeable on the subject. After several years I became increasingly drawn to the controversial sub-topic of Polish-Jewish relations. If you’re even somewhat aware of Polish history and culture you know that relations between Poles and Jews are very strained with recriminations coming from both sides. I’ll try to very briefly give you some of the basics of this tense relationship.

Poland in the Middle Ages was an extreme example of feudalism. There was the nobility, the clergy, the peasantry and nobody else. The merchant/artisan class was springing up in other countries but Poland lagged behind. When the Jews were expelled from Western European nations in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Polish nobility invited them to immigrate to Poland to fill the void. Eventually, half of Europe’s Jews ended up residing in Poland. The Polish nobility relied on the Jews for their acumen in mercantilism and finance but the peasantry increasingly resented these “foreigners” who were often appointed as middlemen landlords and agents. The Roman Catholic clergy often incited resentment against the “Christ-killers.”

Beginning in the late-18th century, Poland was carved up by Prussia, Austro-Hungaria, and Russia and erased from the map, only to emerge again following World War I. Inter-war Poland was marked by increasing anti-Semitism. A severe brand of Catholic ethno-nationalism began sweeping the country to the point that Polish national leaders were exploring the possibilities of expulsing the Jews. The Polish ambassador to Germany met with Hitler in 1938 and promised the Fuhrer a monument in Warsaw if he could help resolve Poland’s “Jewish Question.”

But animosities were put on hold in September 1939 when Germany and Communist Russia staged a joint invasion of Poland and split the country in two. All Poles in the Western part of the country suffered under Nazi rule but the Jews would be targeted for total annihilation. In the East, some Jews who had become radicalized in response to Polish Catholic oppression welcomed the invading Red Army as liberators. In the minds of many Poles, all Jews subsequently became hated traitors. The myth of “Zhydo-kommuna,” Jewish communism, was born. When the German army drove the Soviets out of Eastern Poland in 1941, ethnic Poles began a bloody campaign of revenge against Jews, whether they had collaborated with the Soviets or not.

When Polish Jews were shipped en masse to the death camps by the Germans in 1942-43, most Catholic Poles kept a low profile but there were some who actively assisted the Nazis in rounding up Jews. Some capitalized on the Jews’ precarious circumstances via blackmail. But there were also some brave Poles who hid Jews from the Nazis, such as the Zabinskis, sometimes paying with their lives. The rescuers often feared their Polish-Catholic neighbors as much as they feared the Nazis.

Deeply ingrained in Polish national culture is the mythos of Poland as the “Christ of Europe,” mistreated by its aggressive neighbors but always noble and honorable itself. Tales of the rescuers as examples of Polish Catholic benevolence and sacrifice receive great publicity throughout the country and in the diaspora. But relatively recent research (Gross, Grabowski, Polonsky, etc.), which examines the virulent anti-Semitism of inter-war, wartime, and post-war Poland, is understandably less well received. Poles become extremely offended by any historical research that conflicts with their beloved mythos. Although there are very few Jews currently living in Poland, Jews in Israel and America are still resentful of how Jews were treated by Poles. Meanwhile, Poles still harbor negative feelings towards Jews for “Zhydo-kommuna.”

I’m looking forward to seeing “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and we should remember the Zabinskis, the other 6700 Poles recognized as rescuers by Yad Veshem, and all others who sacrificially rescued Jews during the Holocaust. But we are in the midst of another war; a spiritual war. As Christians, we need to reach out to a lost and dying world with the hope of the “Good News!” of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to be rescuers as well!

Rescue the Perishing by Fanny J. Crosby

Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one,
Lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.

Chorus
Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying;
Jesus is merciful,
Jesus will save.

Though they are slighting Him,
Still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly,
Plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.

Down in the human heart,
Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart,
Wakened by kindness,
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more.

Rescue the perishing,
Duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way,
Patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.

Here’s some additional books that explore Polish-Jewish relations if anyone is interested:

  • Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew From 1880 to the Present by Joanna B. Michlic
  • Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland by Jan Gross
  • Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz by Jan Gross
  • Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust by Jan Gross
  • Rethinking Poles and Jews: Troubled Past, Brighter Future by Robert Cherry
  • When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in Nineteenth-Century Poland by Brian Porter
  • The Populist Radical Right in Poland: The Patriots by Rafal Pankowski
  • The Catholic Church and Antisemitism: Poland, 1933-1939 by Ronald E. Modras
  • Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland by Robert Blobaum
  • The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland by Genevieve Zubrzycki
  • No Way Out: The Politics of Polish Jewry, 1935-1939 by Emanuel Melzer
  • Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland: A Beleaguered Church in the Post-Reformation Era by Magda Teter
  • Imaginary Neighbors: Mediating Polish-Jewish Relations after the Holocaust by Dorota Glowacka
  • The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy Over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland by Antony Polonsky
  • Contested Memories: Poles and Jews during the Holocaust and Its Aftermath by Joshua D. Zimmerman
  • Secret City: The Hidden Jews of Warsaw, 1940-1945 by Gunnar S. Paulsson
  • Shtetl by Eva Hoffman
  • Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust by Michael C. Steinlauf
  • My Brother’s Keeper: Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust by Antony Polonsky
  • Polish-Jewish Relations During the Second World War by Emanuel Ringelblum
  • On the Edge of Destruction: Jews of Poland Between the Two World Wars by Celia Stopnicka Heller
  • The Convent at Auschwitz by Wladyslaw Bartoszewski
  • The Jews in Poland by Chimen Abramsky
  • Forced Out: The Fate of Polish Jewry in Communist Poland by Arthur J. Wolak
  • The Jews in Polish Culture by Aleksander Hertz
  • Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland by Brian Porter
  • Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation by Magda Teter
  • From Assimilation to Anitsemitism: The “Jewish Question” in Poland, 1850-1914 by Theodore R. Weeks
  • The Jews of Poland Between Two World Wars by Yisrael Gutman
  • Economic origins of Antisemitism: Poland and Its Jews in the Early Modern Period by Hillel Levine
  • Memory Offended: The Auschwitz Convent Controversy by John K. Roth
  • In the Shadow of the Polish Eagle: The Poles, the Holocaust, and Beyond by Leo Cooper
  • Difficult Questions in Polish-Jewish Dialogue by Jacek Santorski
  • The Jews in Poland and Russia: Volume III: 1914 to 2008 by Antony Polonsky
  • Polish Politics in Transition: The Camp of National Unity and the Struggle for Power, 1935-1939 by Edward D. Wynot
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Poles on Jedwabne edited by William Brand
  • Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in Twentieth-Century Poland by Mikolaj Stanislaw Kunicki
  • There Once Was A World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok by Yaffa Eliach
  • Symbiosis and Ambivalence: Poles and Jews in a Small Galacian Town by Rosa Lehmann
  • Holocaust and Memory by Barbara Engelking
  • Bystanders, Blackmailers, and Perpetrators: Polish Complicity During the Holocaust by Jacob A. Flaws
  • Studies on Polish Jewry, 1919-1939: The interplay of social, economic, and political factors in the struggle of a minority for its existence by Joshua A. Fishman
  • The House at Ujazdowskie 16: Jewish Families in Warsaw after the Holocaust by Karen Auerbach
  • Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German Occupied Poland by Jan Grabowski