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Success as Judgment

There were no good guys on WWII’s Eastern European front. In a war between Communism and Fascism, Hitler and Stalin (who split Poland between them), no one was remotely close to fighting on the side of righteousness and truth. Hitler butchered Jews, among others; Stalin butchered everyone.

But Russia earned Anglo-American sympathies because of two principles: (1) “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” ; (2) Hitler was the aggressor, and everyone sympathizes with someone defending their mother, even if that mother is a whorish hammer and sickle.

In a recent piece there’s an illustration of a third principle that turned the war Russia’s way:

“Kiev,” Stahel concurs, “was uniquely Hitler’s triumph.” His strategy had been bitterly opposed by his senior generals before the event. But he had been aided and abetted by the intransigence of Stalin, whose dismissal of his own senior generals and insistence on defense [of Kiev] at all costs made a major contribution to the German victory [thought at the time to be a near-guarantee of German success in the war against Russia].
The two dictators drew opposite conclusions from the outcome of the battle. Stalin belatedly recognized that it would in the future be wiser to leave matters largely to his generals. Hitler saw his triumph as a vindication of his own strategic genius, brushing his generals aside with ever-growing, ever more thinly veiled contempt. Yet as Stahel notes, the victory was Pyrrhic, the triumph illusory.
Here’s the principle: sometimes success is not a reward, but God’s way of making us more in love with ourselves, so that we possess an even greater commitment to our own folly for our destruction. God’s justice is profound: it leads him to shatter the proud with the wrecking ball of their erstwhile glory.
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Jason is a graduate of Rhodes College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Highland Theological College and the University of Aberdeen. Jason works as Scholar-in-Residence and director of Christ College Residency Program at Christ UMC. He's trying to figure out the twitter thing, twitter.com/jasonbhood.