How many times a day is Hitler referenced on social media, do you suppose? (I defy anyone to read an on-line political fight—past 3 paragraphs—without finding a mention of Hitler, fascism, or Nazism.)
So I thought I’d finally join the chorus!
Just kidding (sort of).
I want to talk about something much more important: The church.
The odious truth is, “Hitler was an opportunist who was quite happy to use the church for his own ends.” 1
This is the truth but not the odious part. We expect politicians to try to exploit the church.
The odious thing is this: the church, by and large, was quite happy to be used by Hitler.
In general, Protestants in Germany found a way to be both believers in Christianity and supporters of Nazism.2
While this was appallingly generally true, thankfully it was not universally true.
One detractor was theologian and pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Someone asked Bonhoeffer if it would be wise to participate in the “German Christians” party and try to work within the system towards a good end (a kind of “lesser of two evils” approach…sound familiar?).
He famously replied: “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.”
Bonhoeffer causes me to think of my own nation and how it seems to be headed off the rails. In my estimation, politics in America is a runaway train and has been for a long time.
Most of my adult life I rode the rails with my fellow travelers as we culture-warred against anyone and everyone too stupid to be in our particular car. It never occurred to me that my “enemies” and I were on the same train, going inexorably in the same direction—away from Christ and His Kingdom.
In Hitler’s Germany, most churches went along with the Nazis. Some did so reluctantly but many were enthusiastic. . . . Bonhoeffer reminds us that there are people of conscience and moral courage everywhere—there are just too few of them.3
My prayer is that more and more American Christians will open their eyes, exit the train, and walk with Jesus.