Hitler’s Cross and The Temptation to Compromise: Meet Erwin Lutzer
Erwin Lutzer is the retired senior pastor of the historic Moody Memorial Church in downtown Chicago, and the author of numerous best-selling books over the years. In 1995 he wrote one of my favorites, Hitler’s Cross: The Revealing Story of How the Cross of Christ Was Used as a Symbol of the Nazi Agenda. It is a compelling argument about the ever-present danger of compromise when it comes to following Jesus as Lord.
Lutzer offers us an interesting, insightful, and historical account about the role of the confessing Church during the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. Lutzer draws on eyewitness accounts, historical documents, and media archives to expose and explain the sometimes painful response of the Protestant church to the Nazi regime.
This is a painful picture of a horrific time in the world. Sadly, much of the German church during World War II was swept up in the fervor and enthusiasm of a charismatic political figure determined to lead Germany in a hegemonic vision to dominate Europe. As Christians caved into Hitler’s demands and pastors signed pledges of support to the Third Reich, the swastika began to replace the cross in many pulpits across Germany. By the time the horrors of Hitler’s demonic programs became known, the church had already been steamrolled by the war machine.
Sadly, many church leaders cowered and bowed instead of raising their voices in opposition. Their silence was shameful. But there were, however, a few voices of protest. Out of the gathering storm emerged men like Deitrich Bonhoffer, a pastor and theologian who opposed the Third Reich. His impassioned pleas and protests emboldened some to resist and speak out against the spirit of antichrist. He was faithful and true until he was executed by the Germans at the end of the war.
There are clear and obvious lessons to take away from this for Bible-believing Christians today. The church needs to stand apart from political agenda, from charismatic politicians, and from being used to further party goals. This is a painful lesson that Billy Graham learned with Richard Nixon. Instead, the role of the Church is to advance the gospel, to be the hands and feet of Christ upon the Earth, and to sometimes confront cultural evil when it manifests itself. Lutzer’s book offers a compelling reminder of the need to stand up for Jesus and to be soldiers of His cross.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor
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