Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Review: Hitler's Cross by Erwin Lutzer

"No one can serve two master...," Matthew 6:24a.

      Hitler's Cross is a tidy little explanation of what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930's with special attention given to the church.  Erwin Lutzer, Pastor of Moody Bible Church in Chicago is a man who spends much time studying Germany's history and here he focused his attention on the bewitching influence and dominance of the Austrian madman.
      Lutzer concisely explains how Germany lost its soul in the decades running up to Hitler's ascension.  Germany was a defeated country that had an uncontrollable lust to return to greatness through any means possible.  Into this void, predicted by Nietzsche, arose a superman, Hitler, to start a master race that would dominate the lesser peoples of the world.  Perhaps Lutzer's most interesting observation is that he believed there was a supernatural element at work here.  Lutzer stated, "Hitler was thoroughly demonized being whose body was but the shell for the spirit that inhabited him."  There are a lot of bizarre stories surrounding Hitler's life that seem to corroborate what the author stated here but to go into too much depth would help ruin the read of a relatively short book that is well worth the time.
      A majority of this book is written depicting the battle between two masters and two saviors: between the Church of God and Hitler's church.  Obviously, we know he is victorious in the short run.  Lutzer depicts well the weakness of the Church against the Nazi onslaught.  Even the brave hero and pastor, Martin Niemoller had Swastika banners hanging in his church and his congregants gave the Nazi salute to its political leaders.  Yet, the best chapters are about the bravery of men like Niemoller and theologian/pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  These men suffered greatly against the evil regime and for the glory of Christ, as well as many others did and Lutzer offers their sacrificial faith as an example for all Christians to aspire.
     Even though Lutzer spares no criticism of a weak, faithless and feckless German church, he does end the book by illustrating how the church was the only real bulwark against the evil of Hitler.  I highly recommend this book, written in 1995, for its clear understanding of evil, God's sovereign rule and the importance of His church as a witness in a dark and evil world.  Lutzer underscores how we must guard against this in the U.S. and it is easy to see how an evil like Hitler could dominate in this country as well.  He insists that the church must be about the gospel and not nationalism, prosperity or any other idol that we allow to distract our worship of the Savior.  I leave you with this quote from Einstein on the church in Germany, "Only the church(not the universities or newspapers) 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 and moral freedom.  I am forced to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly."
     Learn, live and love the glorious gospel!

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