Hitler's Cross

I first heard of this book while listening to a radio talk show last year.  It was late in the Presidential campaign season and the talk show host was expressing concerns for a possible win by Barrack Obama.  He compared the economic, political and culture climate of this country to pre-Hitler Germany and found many disturbing similarities.  Intrigued, I quickly ordered a copy and began reading. 

Erwin Lutzer, the author, is senior pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.  I am familiar with Pastor Lutzer from the John Ankerberg Show that I used to watch.   He wrote this book in 1995 and states in the introduction that while visiting a museum in Berlin, that

“…pictures that caught my attention were those of Protestant pastors and Catholic priests giving the Nazi salute.  I was even more surprised at the pictures of swasticka banners that adorned the Christian churches–swastika banners with the cross of Christ in the center!”   pg. 12

Pastor Lutzer, then, determined to “..study how Hitler had captured the Christian church…” pg. 12.   In this book he examines the questions

“What clues were there in the history of Germany that prepared the country (and its churches) for such a mass seduction?  Could it happen again?  More to the point, is it happening now, even in America, albeit in a different way?  What signs should have alerted the church to Hitler’s real agenda?   pg. 12

Stepping back to 1920, Lutzer begins by setting the stage in Germany after the First World War for a new leader.   The proud, German people were devistated after the war and

“yearned for a leader who would do for them what democracy could not.” 

“Winston Churchill observed Hitler in 1937 and said that his accomplishments were “among the most remarkable in the whole history of the world.”  pg. 17

Hitler, apparently, was off to a positive start, however, the philosophies of the time strongly influenced him and his henchmen.  Georg Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Hinduism all had twisted ideas of God and man that swayed Hitler’s worldview and guided his decisions and policies.   In chapter three, ‘The Religion of the Third Reich: Then and Now’, Lutzer touches on spiritual mentors of Hitler who led him into occult practices which included sexual perversion and his desire to create a new religion that 

“would be “a joyous message that liberated men from the things that burdened their life.  We should no longer have any fear of death and a bad conscience.”  pg.62

Lutzer theorizes that these evil philosophies also influenced Christians and while being 

“Seduced by the Satanic majesty of The Fuhrer, church leaders throughout Germany allowed the Swastika a prominent place alongside the Christian cross in their sanctuaries.  Nationalistic pride replaced the call of God to purity, and with few exceptions the German church looked away while Adolph Hitler implemented his “Final Solution” to his Jewish problem.”  from the back cover

The chapters of this book thoroughly examine the religion of the Third Reich, Anti-Semitism, the Church struggling to stand for Truth and ‘The Cost of Discipleship’ (with an interesting perspective on Dietrich Bonhoeffer).   Lutzer finishes his writings by suggesting that America has its own ‘hidden cross’.  He warns that

“Despite the differences, the American church, like that of Nazi Germany, is in danger of wrapping the cross of Christ in some alien flag.  There is evidence, I am sorry to say, that we evangelicals have lost our confidence in the gospel as “the power of God unto salvation.”  pg. 191

“…if the German church has taught us the dangers of blind obedience to government, we must eschew the mindless philosophy “My country, right or wrong.”  pg. 204

May I propose that in the fourteen years since this book was written, the American church has failed to heed these warnings.  With mainline denominations teaching another gospel, the Emergent Church leading the way into New Age thinking, ‘Christian’ leaders who aren’t willing to stand for or teach Truth, and many looking to America for their salvation, true believers today must be ever vigilant to discern the times. 

“And in the final conflict,…Christ will set the record straight.  Those who were faithful to Him and His cross will be rewarded with “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”  All rival crosses will be exposed and judged, and every knee shall bow and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”   pg. 207