He draws some significant parallels between what is happening in America with developments in the German Lutheran churches just prior or WW2, which significantly enabled Adolf Hitler and his minions to execute six million (6,000,000) Jews, not to mention hundreds of thousands of others deemed “deficient” by the Nazi regime. These “others” included anyone not of “Aryan stock” such as Blacks, Latinos and Asians, as well as those they considered deviant, such as homosexuals, drug addicts, thieves and gamblers.
Lining up Critical Race Theory, Cancel Culture, Transgenderism and Abortion as the current sins of America, he points out the moral superiority claimed by those espousing these views. “Part of what makes them so wicked is that they smilingly pretend to share the biblical values that champions the underdog against the oppressor.” These were the same claims of Stalin, Hitler and Mao who butchered millions in the name of “fighting for the people.”
Further, he points out that while these issues are political, there is sufficient overlap with Gospel themes and Biblical values that any church that refuses to address them is tragically mistaken. These “politics” are as demonically inspired as Hitler’s answer to “the Jewish Question,” and must be met by a Christ-honoring church that believes the Gospel touches on all areas of human life. He challenges churches that feel we should mind our own business of spiritual matters, “as though the truth of God were a parochial, subjective idea that has no bearing on anything beyond our private prayer times and church meetings.”
This, he warns, was what paralyzed the German Church as Hitler pretended that he was with them, all the while quietly working to co-opt and undermine them. Privately he actually despised the Church and Christianity generally, though he could not say so openly. Just as the Three-Self-Churches of China today cannot preach the entire truth of Scripture without being shut down, Hitler’s program was to create a “Reich Church” subservient to the Nazi political agenda. Enacting sweeping “emergency decrees” suddenly allowed Hitler to do things without the approval of the German Parliament… think “pandemic measures” to control the American population. John Kerry, at last year’s World Economic Forum, noted that this could be an excellent model for enacting economic measures to control many national money streams.
“The Nazis controlled the media narrative and instantly whipped up a hysterical fear of… their opponents.” Perhaps you have followed how mainstream media has been complicit with government agencies to further the fears of our population and fix on stories that support the “official” views of government and health agencies.
Many churches hung Nazi banners and flags outside their buildings and even inside their sanctuaries… It may be plausibly compared to well-meaning churches today displaying rainbow banners and BLM flags… They only wish to show that they are not like those other rigid and narrow-minded churches and that they are inclusive and generally mean no harm. They don’t seem to know that the forces behind those banners are only smiling at them in order to deceive them; as soon as they have the cultural and political power, they will show their dedicatedly atheist colors, and will show clearly what they think of Christian virtues such as mercy and humility and love of one’s enemies.
Even a cursory reading of the Gospels will show that “Jesus was certainly not the nonjudgmental caricature that so many have made him to be.” Did you know that the swastika that is now so despised in the west was actually borrowed from Hinduism, signifying “svas to’ ke,” meaning “conducive to wellness”?
There is a “Spiral of Silence” political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann described that asserts when one does not speak against an evil they witness, they are contributing to the success of that thing they refuse to name and condemn. As people of conscience fail to speak against an evident evil, the price for speaking against it rises, i.e., eventually an entire nation or culture becomes silenced for fear of speaking.
This was in Chuck Colson’s mind as he helped frame The Manhattan Declaration in 2009. Bolstered by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s stance against Naziism in 1932, the declaration calls on Christ-followers to be clear and vocal in their opposition to the idea that Christians should be “apolitical” and stick to “issues of faith.” This, Metaxas says, is the mistake the German Lutherans made due to overcompensation against legalism that Martin Luther decried. He specifies Luther’s avoidance of the letter of James in the Bible which clearly teaches that what one believes will affect the actions one takes. Bonhoeffer called Luther’s stance on this “cheap grace,” an easy religion that avoids controversy and does not address the nuances of what it means to fully live out our faith. He asks, “Does how I live show God that I actually believe that I claim to believe? Or does how I live show God that actually I do not believe what I claim to believe.?” Just as we cannot get to Heaven by doing good works, we cannot get to Heaven without good works, because if we have faith that will take us to Heaven, it will be a faith that is lived out inevitably in good works.
As recently as this book was published in 2022, Metaxas asks, “Shall we arrest the downward spiral, or will we go along with it until we can say nothing about anything? Are we already very close to that?”
Of course, there is some truth in every lie that will make it believable, and Metaxas does not shy away from the fact that many Christians and their organizations have been “over-political.” This thinking puts our hopes in a national policy, a particular candidate or party, or in legislation or courts, that if we can just get this law passed or that ruling overturned, everything will be all right. This thinking, he says, makes an idol of politics rather than a mechanism by which Christians can share their good intentions and the love of Jesus.
Near the end of his text, he lays out the entire books premise: “Truth is truth. All truth is God’s truth, and sometimes it is those who are not bound up and crippled by entangling and confused ‘religious’ views who can see most clearly… Being a Christian is not about avoiding sin, but about passionately and courageously serving God.”
This is a book for every Christ-follower, pastor and church leader that will challenge you to reconsider, What is the Church? Watch this 11 minute video of Francis Chan addressing this question: