July 9, 2010


If we lose the battle: Our runner-up for book of the year was written by Eric Metaxas (Marvin Olasky, 7/08/10, World)

Bonhoeffer felt secure in the love of his parents and God, but few of his countrymen did. The "higher criticism" that originated in Germany in the 19th century had eaten up most of the land's seminaries and churches by the 1920s. The liberal theology proclaimed from pulpits left both war veterans and the younger generation searching for a different savior.

Bonhoeffer in 1933, at age 26, understood these holes in souls and gave a radio talk on the problem only two days after Germans elected Hitler to be their chancellor. He said, "Whereas earlier leadership was expressed in the form of the teacher, the statesman, the father . . . now the Leader has become an independent figure. The Leader is completely divorced from any office; he is essentially and only 'the Leader.'"

Bonhoeffer continued his critique of the Führer principle: "If he does not continually tell his followers quite clearly of the limited nature of his task and of their own responsibility . . . then the image of the Leader will pass over into the image of the mis-leader, and he will be acting in a criminal way not only towards those he leads, but also towards himself. The true Leader . . . has to lead the individual into his own maturity. . . . He must let himself be controlled, ordered, restricted."

And that, of course, is what Hitler refused to do: He demanded worship. As Metaxas skillfully shows, he manipulated weak churchmen for his own purposes and had his prime propagandist, Alfred Rosenberg, create a plan for a "National Reich Church." Metaxas quotes Rosenberg's plan: "The National Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible in Germany. . . . The National Church declares that to it, and therefore to the German nation, it has been decided that the Führer's Mein Kampf is the greatest of all documents. . . . On the altars there must be nothing but Mein Kampf."

Bonhoeffer vehemently opposed such plans and those of the "German Christian" movement, as enunciated in 1933 by Reinhold Krause: Get rid of the Old Testament "with its Jewish money morality and its tales of cattle merchants and pimps." Rewrite the New Testament so it presents a Jesus "corresponding entirely with the demands of National Socialism" and removes the depressing "emphasis on the crucified Christ."

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 9, 2010 1:30 PM
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