Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hitler's Cross by Erwin Lutzer

Why did Valkyrie and so many other plans to assassinate Hitler fail?  Was it because Satan had the upper hand over God? Was God powerless to stop it?  "When Mr. Clinton was elected president in 1992, I heard a Christian preacher say, 'God had nothing to do with the election of this president, the people made the choice!'  I found that statement incredible for several reasons.  First, I wonder what that teacher would have said if a president had been elected who was distinctively Christian and consciously committed to ruling with biblical principles.  Would he have said that that president had been raised up by God for this hour of American history?  To put it differently: Is God only involved when righteous leaders are installed and uninvolved when a leader is something less than distinctively Christian, or even evil?"  Of course, the answer to this is that God is always involved, otherwise He is not God.  This is something I like about Lutzer's book Hitler's Cross.  He reminds us that Hitler's ascension to power was not an accident, was not outside of God's power.  Lutzer reminds us of Romans 13: "...there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God."   Satan himself is not outside the realm of God's sovereignty, every move he makes is in perfect harmony with God's plan.  To quote Lutzer, Satan will always prove to be an "eternal loser".  It's the same with Hitler, Hitler could not make a move without God's allowing him to do so.  Speaking of God's sovereignty in even evil things that take place, the author comments:"Some prefer to call it His 'permissive will,' but it is His will nevertheless.  He directs all things to their appointed end." Lutzer comments: "Those Christians in Nazi Germany who believed that evil was triumphing because God was too weak to stem the tide could find no hope in their distress."  Lutzer also points out that Hitler seemed to be one of Satan's candidates for being the Antichrist.  Hitler  "boasted that just as Christ's birth had changed the calendar so his victory over the Jews would be the beginning of a new age.  'What Christ began,' he said, 'I will complete.'  In a speech just days after becoming chancellor, he parodied the Lord's prayer, promising that under him a new 'kingdom would come on earth and that his would be 'the power and the glory.  Amen.' …..."When he predicted that the Third Reich would last a thousand years, it was a typical instance of how Satan often overreaches; he cannot predict the future with accuracy because he cannot control it."

It was fascinating to me what the Nazis did to try to gain over the professing Christians in Germany.   At first  Hitler tried to pass himself off as a good Catholic, and even worked against some of his colleagues who were trying destroy the church too soon.  Much of Germany was religious at the time, the Lutheran church was connected with the state, obeying one's ruler and his rules was very much a matter of course, even a matter of religion.  This seems to have been one of the professing Christians excuses for why they did not go against Nazi ideals.  Instead of wiping out the church, the plan was to infiltrate Christianity,  politicize it (more than it already was), change it's doctrines bit by bit until true Christianity vanished altogether.  The Aryan Paragraph required Christian Jews to worship separately from Christian Aryans, Pastors were eventually required to swear an oath to Hitler, Nazis even planned that Hitler's Mein Kampf would take the place of the Bible in the churches.   The official church in Germany  became the 'Reich church' .

Reich Bishop Ludwig Muller
Lutzer points out that there were Christians who were against and who worked against the Nazification of Christianity, even at the cost of being sent to consecration camps and thence death.  Refusing to take the oath of loyalty to as the head of the Pastors, they declared that  God's word was their authority, and they also declaring that Jews and Christians are one in Christ, therefore there should be no racial discrimination in the church of God. By separating themselves from the official church(now the Reich church) and the so called 'German Christians' they were not apostatizing from the church, rather they were declaring the political Reich church apostate. These were Christians who had already been practicing dying to self in lesser things "If we can't be loyal to Christ in the small decisions, how can we expect to be loyal when our faith might cost us something very precious? Only when we see value in the lesser sacrifice will we be willing to be faithful in the greater one."  Some of these Christians went so far as to join the attempts to assassinate Hitler and set up a new government. 

Lutzer sees that there are parallels between what led to Germanys being Nazified and things in America today.   After world war I the Germans had a short lived Republic, they gave up this Republic for a dictator because the economy under the Republic was very bad.  Under Hitler's regime "Workers now had job security, a health service, cheap holiday schemes; if freedom meant starvation, then slavery was preferable."  They gave up freedom for temporary safety.  Which is something that America may be headed toward if we do not hold to our constitution.  Lutzer makes us think, what will we do if things become like they were in Nazi Germany, what are we doing now?  What decisions are we making now in our Christian life, what do we truly hold as valuable? 

I'll end with one of my favorite quotes from Lutzer's book:"Conscientious objectors have for centuries disobeyed the state, believing that no Christian can participate in killing, even in a time of war.  Every Christian must draw that line in accordance with his or her own convictions.  But if we say that we will always obey the state, the state becomes our God.  We can render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's only when we have rendered every thing we have to God." 

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