The Watchman On The Wall

The Watchman On The Wall
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Verse 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nazi Syncronization of the Church Has Come To America

Larry Johnson wrote this article.
“This court has no jurisdiction over me, I am a German,” insisted Herman Goring as he stood with other Nazi war criminals in 1946 before an international military tribunal in Nuremburg, Germany. But Robert Jackson, chief counsel for the United States, responded that “…there was a ‘law above the law’ that stood in judgment of all men in all countries and societies.”[1] These contrasting views of the source of laws by which men should be judged continue to be at the heart of the cultural conflict in America—is the ultimate source of law to be God or man? Modern America and the American church face the same dilemma as faced by Germany and the German church of the 1930s.
We have previously quoted Eric Metaxas with regard to the dramatic changes in German life following the democratic election of Adolf Hitler on January 30, 1933. In less than two months the democratically elected Reichstag (parliament) succumbed to pressure from the Nazi political machine and placed the whole power of the government under Hitler’s control. Thus began a series of radical changes to conform all of German life to Nazi rule. Metaxas’ eloquent assessment of events bears repeating.
With the tools of democracy, democracy was murdered and lawlessness made “legal.” Raw power ruled, and its only real goal was to destroy all other powers besides itself…In the First months of Nazi rule, the speed and scope of what the Nazis intended and had begun executing throughout German society were staggering. Under what was called theGleichschaltung (synchronization), the country would be thoroughly reordered along National Socialist lines. No one dreamed how quickly and dramatically things would change.[2] (emphasis added)
Herman Goring, the second most powerful man in Germany and founder of the Gestapo, called this dramatic reordering of society merely an “administrative change.”[3] “Everything must now be synchronized under the Fuhrer’s leadership and under the idea of Gleichschaltung—and the church must lead the way.”[4] The synchronization of the church began with a series of regulations and laws that effectively wed the church to the state and compromised the very biblical principles upon which their faith rested. These laws and regulations initially dealt with the “Jewish question” and included restrictions on Jews from serving in professions such as the law, medicine, teaching, literature, the arts, theater, and film. Christians of Jewish blood were also prohibited from serving in the ministry.[5]
Casting aside two millennia of Christian orthodoxy, the majority of the German churches willingly allowed themselves to be synchronized with the prevailing German political and social goals instead of the teachings of Jesus Christ. They wanted a strong state-oriented church, a “positive Christianity” that was “very aggressive in attacking those who didn’t agree with them and generally caused much confusion and division in the church.”[6] Eventually, the German church of the 1930s separated into three groups: the large apostate German Christian church, the Confessing church which initially opposed Hitler but became the silent church of appeasement, and a small but faithful remnant that became the uncompromising and suffering church. We see much the same divisions between churches in twenty-first century America, only the dividing factor is now centered on humanism which Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “the most severe enemy” that Christianity ever had.[7]
Bonhoeffer was a leader in in opposition to the Nazis and the German apostate church. Bonhoeffer preached that the purpose of the state was to make possible law and order as opposed to lawlessness and disorder, and it was the church’s role to “continually ask” whether the state’s actions could be justified as legitimate. But Bonhoeffer also recognized that the state could not only fail by in the provision of law and order but could also harm society with the imposition of “excessive law and order.”[8] Metaxas quotes Bonhoeffer’s indictment of the Nazi regime.
And if on the other hand, the state is creating an atmosphere of “excessive law and order,” it’s the job of the church to draw the state’s attention to that too. If the state is creating “excessive law and order,” then “the state develops its power to such an extent that it deprives Christian preaching and Christian faith…of their rights.” Bonhoeffer called this a “grotesque situation.” “The church,” he said, “must reject this encroachment of the order of the state precisely because of its better knowledge of the state and of the limitations of its action. The state which endangers the Christian proclamation negates itself.”[9]
An excess of law and order makes it difficult if not impossible for the church to question the state regarding the legitimacy of its actions. By questioning the state’s excessive laws and order imposed on its citizens, the church may violate the very laws to which it objects. The inability of the church to question the state with regard to its actions is particularly relevant to the twenty-first century American church which finds itself at the same point of decision as faced by the German Church in 1933. Here we return to our initial observation that essence of the modern struggle in America is to determine whether man’s law supersedes God’s law. Put another way, is man’s law above God’s law as implied by Herman Goring and much of the humanistic leadership in American society? Two immediate examples expose theseriousness and immediacy of the challenge to the church.
Annise Parker is the left-leaning and openly gay mayor of Houston, Texas, America’s fourth largest City. In May she imposed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance which prohibits businesses from discriminating against gay and transgender residents. The ordinance became known as the “bathroom bill” because one of the provisions allows transgender individuals to use either a male or female public restroom facility. Opposition to the ordinance began growing during the summer as pastors and various religious leadersgathered signatures for a referendum to be placed on the November ballot which would repeal the ordinance if passed. To prevent the referendum, the city attorney subsequently rejected thousands of signatures he believed did not qualify.[10]
Under the guidance of the mayor and city attorney, both still smarting from the significant efforts of the religious community to repeal the human rights ordinance, five pastors were subpoenaed and ordered to turn over to their sermons, text messages, photographs, electronic files, calendars, and emails and virtually all communication with members of their congregations on topics such as homosexuality and gender identity. The pastors face fines and possible incarceration if they fail to do so. The obvious goal of the mayor and city attorney is intimidation. However, one pastor responded, “We’re not intimidated at all. We’re not going to yield our First Amendment rights—even if it ends in fines, confinement, or both.”[11] With opposition growing to the mayor’s effort to silence the church, Houston City Attorney Feldman remained unfazed and warned the pastors that, “The fact that you happen to be a pastor and you happen to be at a church doesn’t provide you with protection.”[12] ButTexas Attorney General Greg Abbott had a different interpretation for Feldman contained in an official letter to the city, “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment. The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government. Nothing short of an immediate reversal by your office will provide that security.”[13] [emphasis added]
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is a lot smaller (about 46,000) and a long way from America’s fourth largest city. But for the liberals and other advocates of the homosexual agenda, no place is too small to be overlooked when rooting out any perceived violation of human rights. Ministers Don and Evelyn Knapp who have been marrying couples for twenty-five years at their Hitching Post Wedding Chapel recently discovered this when the city told them that they would go straight to jail if they refused to “marry” same-sex couples (180 days in jail and fines up to $1,000 per day for every day the ministers refuse to perform the ceremony). Unlike the Colorado cake baker’s business, the Knapp’s chapel is a religious corporation. But this makes little difference to the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender mafia as they trample religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment under the guise of achieving their perverted definition of human rights.[14]
Albert Einstein was exiled from Germany because he was a Jew. Although he did not believe in a personal God, he was not an atheist. He described himself as somewhere between an agnostic and belief in a pantheistic god in which nature is the totality of everything and is identical with divinity. Yet, even though he was not a believer in Christianity, the suffering church had a profound impact on his life.
Being a lover of freedom, when the (Nazi) revolution came I looked to the universities to defend it…the universities took refuge in silence. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers…but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few weeks. I then addressed myself to the authors…They are, in turn, very dumb. Only the church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.[15]
As it was for the German church in 1933, it is decision time for the American church of today. We must ask ourselves: At what point do we have to become lawbreakers rather than betray our faith? The Houston pastors have given their answer.
Larry G. Johnson

[1] Erwin W. Lutzer, When a Nation Forgets God, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2010), pp. 60-61.
[2] Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2010), pp. 149-150.
[3] Ibid., p. 157.
[4] Ibid., p 176.
[5] Ibid., pp. 150-151, 156-157, 160.
[6] Ibid., p. 151.
[7] Ibid., p. 85.
[8] Ibid., pp. 153-154.
[9] Ibid., p. 153.
[10] Josh Sanburn, “Houston Pastors Outraged After City Subpoenas Sermons Over Transgender Bill,” Time, October 17, 2014. (accessed October 21, 2014).
[11] Tony Perkins, “Houstunned: Pastors Vow to Fight Mayor’s Sermon Grab,” Tony Perkins’ Washington Update, October 15, 2014. (accessed October 21, 2014).
[12] Tony Perkins, “A Subpoena for Your Thoughts…”, Tony Perkins Washington Update, October 17, 2014. (accessed October 21, 2014).
[13] Tony Perkins, “Pulpit Friction: Texas Leaders Rally to Pastors’ Defense,” Tony Perkins’ Washington Update, October 16, 2014. (accessed October 21, 2014).
[14] Tony Perkins, “Natural Marriage in Idaho: Give it Arrest,” Tony Perkins’ Washington Update, October 20, 2014. (accessed October 21, 2014).
[15] Lutzer, p. 89-90.

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