This is from an online discussion about the current Presidential campaign:
“We are witnessing a repetition of history. Will American churches fail – as German churches did – to bear witness to the Kingdom of God amidst political upheaval?”
It’s scary to hear references to the Nazi era in Germany. I don’t know if we’re really in a similar place, but we seem to be getting closer all the time.
In 1932, shortly after Hitler came to power, a young German professor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke about that on Berlin radio. He talked about the place of Christ in our Christian faith, but then referred directly to Hitler:
“Everyone who misappropriates the eternal law and concedes responsibility to a Superman will in the end be destroyed by him.”
His speech was cut off before he finished. And his life was cut off by that “Superman” about 15 years later. By then Germany and Europe had truly been “destroyed by him” (the Superman).
These two quotations bring us a warning. We don’t know that any of our current Presidential candidates would, if in power, pursue truly fascist or Nazi-like policies. But more than one of them talk like it.
Christians need to be clear – we must not choose a Superman, not even an American Superman, over Christ, or over the ethical teachings Jesus gives us.
We as followers of Christ are not free. We are not free to encourage or practice random violence against fellow Americans, nor against those who come here to escape the violence in their own lands. We are not free to lie about individuals or groups based on their skin color, their ethnicity, their national origin, their politics, or their religion – or for any other reason. We are not free to support those who publicly threaten to punish any and all who disagree with them.
Jesus, remember, requires that his disciples love their neighbors – even if, by the disciples’ standards, the neighbors have bad religious practices or a different ethnicity, like a Samaritan. He taught very bluntly that Samaritan lives matter.
He even requires that we love our enemies, whoever they are, and pray for them.
We have to practice our Christianity, and try to avoid voting for persons who would deliberately despise and reject the most basic teachings of Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Hitler referred to “my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” But he did not listen to Jesus. We have to listen.
An ancient disciple summed it all up pretty well (1 Peter 4:7-10):
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Seriously. That’s what we’ve got to be doing, no matter how they try to scare us away from it.
(FBC, Hastings Newsletter Article for Mar 2016. Bonhoeffer quote is from Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by Charles Marsh, p160))