Monday, March 12, 2012

"When a Nation Forgets God" (Erwin Lutzer)

First published at Booksaint on 5 Feb 2012.

TITLE: When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany
AUTHOR: Erwin W. Lutzer
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2010, (160 pages).

Erwin Lutzer is like a modern prophet speaking out against the deceptions of the world. In this book compilation of what looks like a series of sermons, Lutzer warns the modern world of the alarming similarities of the values in America now with the values that led to Nazi Germany. He leads the reader through seven trends that ought to wake us up. His key contention is this:

"I don't expect that America will ever gas millions of people because they belong to the wrong race; but the same values that destroyed Germany are being taught in many of our centers of learning today." (10)

#1 - "When God is Separated from Government, Judgment Follows"

Hitler slyly separated the Church from the government under the guise of freedom, tolerance, and what is best for the country. Systematically, Hitler proceeded to marginalize the Church, and eventually used the Church as a tool for his means. His point is, that the Church should confine itself only to church matters, and let Hitler take care of the rest. The point is: Church should let Hitler do what Hitler wants, as long as Hitler promises to 'take care' of the German people.

In modern America, if God is removed from government, this leads to a 'raw use of power,' 'eroticism,' 'arbitrary judicial rulings,' and pragmatism being the new moralism. Lutzer argues that the curtailment of the freedom of religion in America will ultimately lead to judgment. The crux of the matter is, such separation changes giving to Caesar what is Caesar's into a give to Caesar even those things that belongs to God.

#2 - It's Always the Economy

Economic concerns were the mainstay of German society at that time. With greater economic benefits, other things such as human rights are given a lower priority. The danger of modern America is that it is moving toward putting economic concerns as the key objective. When this happens, Scriptural warnings about debt accumulation are ignored. Bribes are accepted in the name of a better economic future for all. Stealing becomes justifiable, even from the rich.

#3 - That which is Legal Might Also Be Evil

Adolf Hitler created new laws to justify his persecution of the Jews. Being in power, the law courts are powerless against him. When God is separated from society, it slowly weakens the law structures. Firstly, in America, this is happening through a 'survival of the fittest' theory of evolution, where the one with the greatest power survives. Secondly, liberal theology continues to weaken the Christian influence in the traditional law. Thirdly, there is a sociological evolution where right and wrong are increasingly blurred and attributed to genes and physiological reasons. The founding fathers, who made laws based on their religious convictions are gradually seeing their laws being modified to suit a new generation's humanism ideals. Man has become god in lawmaking.

#4 - Propaganda Can Change a Nation

Hitler manipulated the media to his advantage to advance the Nazi cause. Look at modern America. Propaganda can manipulate facts based on mere feelings. It can cast uncritical support to movements they choose to support, like gay rights, without fairly representing other views. They use propaganda to wear out the opposition. By constantly appealing to popular emotional appeal, right and wrong are blurred, and eventually, propaganda can turn anything wrong into everything right.

#5 - Parents Not the State are Responsible for a Child's Training

Hitler ruled that public schooling is compulsory, which enables him to influence young minds to the Nazi cause. It is state-sponsored indoctrination at the highest degree. Instead of training young minds to think for themselves, the state indoctrinates minds to think the Nazi cause. In America, such a pattern is growing. Children are taught to suspect absolutes and to think more in relative terms. Psychological manipulation of kids to the humanistic doctrines are absolute. Increasingly, gay sexuality are promoted as a normal thing. The point Lutzer makes is that the responsibility of the child's upbringing remains very much at home.

#6 - Ordinary Heroes can make a difference

Here, Lutzer makes a more encouraging turn. Using Dietrich Bonhoeffer as an example, he points out that ordinary folks who practice costly grace can make a difference. He shares about Zakaria Botros, a Coptic priest who risks his life to share the gospel with Muslims. He talks about Corrie Ten Boom, whose power to forgive remains one of the most memorable. He highlights Charles Colson, whose life has blessed many in the Prison Fellowship. He points out Donnita Travis, an unknown, whose simple desire to want to help illiterate children leads to the setting up of a Hand Club for kids.

#7 - We Must Exalt the Cross in the Gathering Darkness

Christians cannot be afraid to suffer. They need to learn to resist temptations of physical healing as proof of Christ. The health and wealth gospel is more deception than truth. The use of gospel for sole material gains are to be rejected.  Subtly, one of the dangers in churches is the deception of community being more important than the cross.

Closing Thoughts

This is not a popular book for modern Christians to read. In fact, the cover of the book can be quite off-putting. Few people are willing to associate Nazi Germany with modern America. People will be easily upset about the thought of any attempt to equate them. Yet, I urge the reader to consider carefully the values behind the consequences. We know how evil the consequences are with regards to the Nazi regime. Yet, the remarkable similarities of the values Hitler tried to impose on Germany need to make us sit up and take notice about our modern society.

  • What about lobbying groups who are economic 'mercenaries' for the highest bidder?
  • What about the rising debt of the country being seen as a normal thing?
  • What if wrong is being justified as right? Without absolute values, anything wrong can become absolutely right.
After reading this book, I am more troubled than annoyed. I really hope that Lutzer is wrong about the increasing similarities of the Nazi societal values and of modern America. The trouble is, Lutzer's observations should make us sit up, take notice, and take action. Dismiss this book's warning at your own risk.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


No comments:

Post a Comment