The Autumn 2005 issue of the Wilson Quarterly discusses “The Rise and Decline of Christian Militarism in Prussia-Germany from Hegel to Bonhoeffer: The End Effect of the Fallacy of Sacred Violence” by John A. Moses, in War and Society (May 2005):
G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831) formulated what became virtually Prussia’s official philosophy. Systematizing Luther’s theology of state power, he portrayed the state as the instrument of God’s will on earth. And in the Hegelian view, observes Moses, a state had to be able “not only to defend itself but to expand at the expense of less powerful neighbors. By the very fact of being weaker, they had no justification to continue to exist and therefore, rightly, ought to be absorbed into the greater power.”
Beginning with Otto von Bismarck’s chancellorship of the Reich he founded under Prussian leadership in 1871, many Germans “came to believe that Germany was the ‘World Historical Nation,’ chosen by Almighty God to exert preeminence in the world.” Not even defeat in World War I disabused them of this notion.
Hegel’s philosophy, giving divine sanction to the state’s power politics and warfare, “underlay not only the discipline of history but also Protestant theology in German universities,” writes Moses. German Protestant theology “endorsed emphatically the notion of a warrior God.”
Curiously, an important basis for the development of ideologies of sacred violence in Christianity are the efforts by early Christian leaders to Christianize the Germanic tribes. No longer able to rely on traditional Roman power for support and protection, Christian leaders hoped to incorporate the Germans into their religious sphere of influence; unfortunately, Germanic culture at the time relied heavily on warrior virtues which were incompatible Christian doctrines.
So, the Christians compromised: they allowed Germans to portray Jesus, God, and the disciples as warriors in the Germanic tradition and Christians thereby gained influence over the German warriors. This ultimately changed Christianity forever, with the consequences till being felt down through today.