The Modern Revival of an Evil Culture

The Karlsschrein (Shrine of Charlemagne) is pictured in the Aachen Cathedral.
Oliver Berg/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

The Modern Revival of an Evil Culture

The culture in the heart of Europe has been completely misunderstood.

The European Commission is trying to revive interest in the culture of the Holy Roman Empire. In 2018, during the European Year of Cultural Heritage, over 6.2 million people took part in more than 11,700 organized events across 37 countries. By the end of 2019, Europe will have hosted thousands of such events. Europe is possibly seeing its largest cultural revival yet. But history and Bible prophecy show that there is a danger in reviving this culture—a danger that few people understand.

The culture of the Holy Roman Empire has not only served as a unifying factor, it has also served as the inspiration of many conquests, religious wars and crusades. Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Maximilian i, Napoleon Bonaparte, Fredrick the Great, Adolf Hitler and many other European leaders have had two things in common: their love for culture and their love for conquest.

For most people, culture is defined by music, food, art and architecture. Culture defines different nationalities. But the culture in the midst of Europe goes beyond that. It transcends national borders and is predominantly shaped by the Roman Catholic Church.

But the culture of the Holy Roman Empire has inspired evil. Every cultural resurgence in Europe has been accompanied by war and bloodshed.

Historians see it as an utter paradox. Some believe it to be an inexplicable contradiction. How can Europe’s most cultured emperors have caused history’s greatest bloodshed? Some believe that these evil dictators abused a wonderful culture for their purposes. The truth is more shocking, but plain for anyone willing to see.

If you understand the culture of the Holy Roman Empire, you will understand why it always brings unparalleled brutality and has led dozens of emperors into a fanatic desire to rule the world. This is well-recorded history with profound implications for today.

One man in particular claimed to be the founder of Christian Europe and culture: Charlemagne. Although he ruled more than 1,200 years ago, his legacy is unforgotten and the central theme of many cultural celebrations.

Charlemagne’s Vision

When Charlemagne was crowned king of the Franks in a.d. 771, he knew he needed to ally with the Roman Catholic Church to achieve his goal of building an empire. His role model at the time was Roman Emperor Constantine, the first so-called “Christian” emperor.

But because Christianity didn’t have many supporters in Europe at the time, Charlemagne had to establish the religion.

He sincerely believed in the superiority of Roman culture and the doctrines of the Catholic Church. His biographer, Einhard, recounted that the emperor devoted much time to listening to readings of the books of St. Augustine. His favorite book was The City of God. This book, more than any other, motivated Charlemagne’s vision of conquests. He sought to create an empire with “one God, one emperor, one pope, one city of God.”

Pursuing this goal, he spared no expense of violence. After conquering the Germanic tribes and brutally butchering rebels, Charlemagne established Christian cultural institutions. The spread of Roman-inspired literature, culture and art became known as the Carolingian Renaissance.

Charlemagne didn’t just want conquered territories to submit to his rule; he wanted them to convert to Catholicism and live by it for the rest of their lives, teaching it to their children and future generations. To this day, Europe is predominately Catholic.

Convinced that he was doing God’s will, Charlemagne used some of the bloodiest, torturous methods imaginable to further his cause. “The violent methods by which this missionary task was carried out had been unknown to the earlier Middle Ages, and the sanguinary [bloody] punishment meted out to those who broke canon law or continued to engage in pagan practices called forth criticism in Charles’s own circle,” Encyclopedia Britannica recounts. In Saxony, this process lasted 30 years. A whole generation grew up under Charlemagne’s tyranny before the people accepted their new religion.

Charlemagne could have compromised and allowed the Saxons to practice their own religion within his larger empire. But he didn’t because it wasn’t just about uniting the empire. Previous empires allowed a considerable amount of religious freedom. But Charlemagne had a greater vision than a unified empire.

One example of this is his throne in Aachen Chapel. The chapel later expanded to the Aachen Cathedral, which is today praised as one of Europe’s greatest symbols of cultural heritage. While most of the chapel was constructed with materials from various parts of Europe, Charlemagne’s throne was built from materials from Jerusalem. “[I]t was all about the symbolism; the chapel of Charlemagne was like the new Jerusalem and the imperial throne of Charlemagne the throne of the anointed one,” explains. Instead of the “anointed one” referring to Jesus Christ, Charlemagne claimed to rule in the place of Christ.

Charlemagne’s love for culture was a fanatic desire to establish “God’s Kingdom” on Earth and rule the world in Christ’s stead. In this kingdom, Charlemagne saw no room for pagans.

There is no contradiction in Charlemagne’s love for culture and his desire to subjugate the world. The one motivated the other.

Many emperors of the Holy Roman Empire have followed Charlemagne’s footsteps.

But this isn’t just early history. Less than a century ago, another ruler was motivated by the same religious beliefs of Charlemagne. He also wanted to establish God’s rule on Earth. Today, this man is mostly remembered for the evil he brought to this world, but few remember his motivation.

Hitler: A True Culture-Lover

At the time of Hitler’s dictatorship, his cultural program impacted almost everything he did. Hitler’s pursuit to revive European culture is vividly documented in Hitler’s Holy Relics, by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick.

Hitler was a passionate lover of culture. Before he became a brutal dictator, he studied art. His famous work Mein Kampf was edited by a Catholic priest. Religion and culture were always on his mind. After he ascended to power in Germany and became a mass murder, his passion for culture continued. In fact, it motivated him to do what he did.

Before burning down villages, Nazi soldiers were told to save famous artifacts from various churches and bring them to Germany. Thus the Nazis learned to appreciate artifacts more than human life. Hitler also shaped the arts and architecture of the empire and spared no expense to set up universities, museums and other cultural institutions.

Jewish artists were banned and persecuted, while Nazi artwork was promoted. All paintings were required to portray Aryan families and European tradition. City renovations followed the Nazi empire’s design. Music and movies were used to rally nationalism.

Hitler’s favorite composer was Richard Wagner; his favorite artist, Adolf Ziegler; his favorite architect, Albert Speer. Hitler used the works of these three men to spread his ideology and motivate millions to follow his tyranny.

But culture was not only a political tool to Hitler. He saw it as his divine duty to finish what Charlemagne started.

In 1938, Hitler brought the famous crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire back to Nuremberg, the city where prior emperors swore to keep them forever. Their return to the city was a massive cultural event. The centerpiece of these crown jewels is today known as Charlemagne’s crown.

Everyone in Nuremberg and beyond knew about Hitler’s love for these medieval treasures. Hitler celebrated their return to the city with a large-scale ceremony. SS soldiers, dressed in black uniforms, stood at attention. Trumpeters played from the balcony in medieval costumes. Nuremberg’s choral society sang the “Awake” chorus from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, as Hitler entered the sanctuary.

At the ceremony, he is recorded as saying: “In no other German city is there as strong a connection between the past and present … as in Nuremberg, the old and new imperial city. This city, which the German Reich deemed fit to defend the regalia behind its walls, has regained ownership of these symbols, which testifies to the power and the strength of the old Reich … and is manifestation of German power and greatness in a new German Reich.”

As Hitler stretched forth his hand to touch the crown, he said: “The German people have declared themselves the bearers of the 1,000-year crown.”

Hitler’s fascination with the Holy Roman Empire spread rapidly through Germany. Millions of Germans traveled to Nuremberg to view the holy relics. In his vision, Hitler saw Nuremberg as the center of his resurrected empire. He wanted to establish the city as a shining light of cultural glory.

The only difference between Hitler’s ambition and that of Charlemagne is that Hitler had tanks to execute his dreams but was stopped before ever reaching his goal.

Today, Hitler is mostly known for starting World War ii and exterminating 6 million Jews. His efforts to resurrect the culture of the Holy Roman Empire are forgotten. And yet he is one of the best examples of where a fanatic love for the culture of the Holy Roman Empire leads.

Europeans today like to refer to Europe’s culture as a “Judeo-Christian” or based on “Judeo-Christian” traditions. By using such phrasing, politicians are attempting to distance themselves from what Hitler did and what neo-Nazis are doing today. But using such languages is dangerously misleading.

The Modern Revival of an Evil Culture

Europe’s “cultural heritage is not only about the past, it is key in building a cohesive, resilient Europe for the future,” EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics said in December 2018.

Putting this statement into its historical context should give every reader chills. But such language is used by multiple European leaders today and celebrated by millions.

Hitler said there is a strong “connection between the past and present.” More than anything else, this strong connection is Europe’s cultural heritage.

Why would anyone want to revive this heritage?

Europe’s goals in creating a cultural empire don’t differ much from the past. Europe’s cultural heritage still consists of thousands of Christian churches, castles, monuments, kings, emperors and popes who have shaped that culture. Resurrecting awareness of this heritage is intended to unify Europe’s citizens.

Just as in the lead-up to World War ii, the Holy Roman Empire is being celebrated today.

Last September, Aachen, Germany, hosted a weeklong celebration of the Aachen Cathedral, featuring its founder, Charlemagne. Brussels, under the direction of Austria, set up a mini-museum depicting European arts and featuring the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. Austria has continued that theme by celebrating the late Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian i with countless events in 2019.

These seemingly peaceful cultural celebrations are deceptive. The Bible talks about such an illusion. Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Europe’s cultural revival may look beautiful on the outside, but don’t be deceived. History shows that the fruits of this empire are grotesque, and no matter how much the Holy Roman Empire tries to portray itself as beautiful, the fruits remain the same. Evil can never produce good.

As striking as the warning signs from this empire’s history are, Bible prophecy gives an even more striking warning. In The Proof of the Bible, late theologian Herbert W. Armstrong explained how the Bible prophesied the rise of four world-ruling empires that precede the return of Jesus Christ to this Earth. The fourth empire is identified by historians as the Roman Empire. The Bible shows that this empire would experience 10 successive resurrections, the last seven of which would be led by the Roman Catholic Church.

“And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space” (Revelation 17:10). God revealed the meaning of this prophecy to Mr. Armstrong during the time of Adolf Hitler. Hitler led the sixth resurrection of this empire, identified by the phrase “and one is.” But as the prophecy makes clear, there is one yet to come.

The final resurrection of this Holy Roman Empire will continue only a short space. Jesus Christ will return and put an end to its deceit—once and for all.

Every time this empire is resurrected, the first visible sign is the reemergence of the culture of the Holy Roman Empire. That’s exactly what we are seeing today. The promotion of this unifying culture always ends in bloodshed. The Bible reveals that the worst is yet to come.

But the God who prophesied of this evil empire’s rise is also doing a marvelous work preparing for the return of Christ. This work has been prophesied in Malachi 4:5-6, Matthew 17:10-11, Revelation 10:11, as well as various other prophecies. You can learn more about how God prepares to establish true and wholesome culture in this world and in the entire universe by requesting a free copy of The New Throne of David, by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.

Why is God allowing the Holy Roman Empire to rise today? Because mankind has turned his back on God. The rise of the Holy Roman Empire should cause men to turn to God in fear. Thankfully, God will intervene and restore hope to this world and fulfill His various promises of a better world to come.

Read the “The Holy Roman Empire Goes Public—Big Time!” by Gerald Flurry to learn more about the rise of this empire and what God does to prepare for a better world to come. For in-depth analysis of the Holy Roman Empire throughout the centuries, read The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy. Understanding this history is crucial in understanding what is rapidly taking place today.