Gary discusses a new book by Eric Metaxas that makes the point that the social and political climate in America today resembles early 20th century Germany.

“I will protect the German people, Hitler shouted. You take care of the church. You pastors should worry about getting people to heaven and leave this world to me.”[1] Adolf Hitler’s angry response was directed at Martin Niemöller, a decorated World War I submarine commander, an uncompromising nationalist, and a minister of the gospel. Niemöller had written From U-Boat to Pulpit in 1933, showing that “the fourteen years of the [Weimar] Republic had been ‘years of darkness.’ In a final word inserted at the end of the book he added that Hitler’s triumph at last brought light to Germany.”[2] He soon learned that the flickering light of the Reich was an incendiary bomb that would destroy the hopes and freedoms of the German people. That light would be used to ignite gas ovens in the extermination of millions of Jews and other “undesirables.” By 1935, “Niemöller had become completely disillusioned.”[3]

Niemöller became a public critic of Hitler and his policies, “protesting against the anti-Christian tendencies of the regime, denouncing the government’s anti-Semitism and demanding an end to the state’s interference in the churches.”[4] Not everyone followed Niemöller’s lead. Numerous pastors swore a personal oath of allegiance and obedience to Adolf Hitler. Other pastors were sent to concentration camps for their defiance. Niemöller was imprisoned for his defiance.

Why did many in the church comply with Hitler’s policies? Hitler understood the theology of the churches of his day. Hermann Rauschning, a Hitler confidant, relates what he heard Hitler say about the clergy:

“The Protestants haven’t the faintest conception of a church,” I heard Hitler saying. “You can do anything you like to them—they will submit. They’re used to cares and worries. . . . They are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them.”[5]

For many church-going Germans, their heavenly citizenship obligated them blindly to accept the prevailing civil requirements of citizenship and to remain silent no matter what atrocities might be committed. “In no country except with the exception of Czarist Russia did the clergy become by tradition so completely servile to the political authority of the State.”[6] Niemöller tried in vain to awaken the church against Hitler’s plans: “‘We have no more thought of using our own powers to escape the arm of the authorities than had the Apostles of old. No more are we ready to keep silent at man’s behest when God commands us to speak. For it is, and must remain, the case that we must obey God rather than man.’”[7] A Christian’s heavenly citizenship, Niemöller concluded, must have an impact in the world in which he lives.

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths

Christianity's failure to show itself practical in the past 150 years has guaranteed the success of secularism and militant Islam, both of which are doing incalculable harm at home and abroad. The rejection of any type of ‘this-worldly’ application of the Bible has resulted in the proliferation of man-centered worldviews that have steadily drained the life out of our world and left behind a spiritual vacuum.

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Gary discusses a new book by Eric Metaxas that makes the point that the social and political climate in America today resembles early 20th century Germany. Pastors were not unified and preaching against the concerning actions by the post WWI German government which ultimately led to the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party. Modern Christians are being taught much the same message and facing a similar tyranny.

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[1] Quoted in Charles Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987), 140.

[2] William L. Shirer, The Nightmare Years: 1930–1940 (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1984), 152.

[3] Shirer, The Nightmare Years, 152.

[4] Shirer, The Nightmare Years, 153.

[5] Hermann Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940), 54.

[6] William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 236.

[7] Quoted in Shirer, The Nightmare Years, 154.