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When Germany truly needed a savior, Adolf Hitler falsely assumed the role. He directed his countrymen to a cross, but he bent and hammered the true cross into a horrific substitute: a swastika.
Where was the church through all of this? With a few exceptions, the German church looked away while Hitler inflicted his "Final Solution" upon the Jews. Hitler's Cross is a chilling historical account of what happens when evil meets a silent, shrinking church, and an intriguing and convicting exposé of modern America's own hidden crosses.
Erwin W. Lutzer extracts a number of lessons from this dark chapter in world history, such as:
- The dangers of confusing church and state
- The role of God in human tragedy
- The parameters of Satan's freedom
Number of Pages: 272
Vendor: Moody Publishers
Publication Date: 2016
|Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 X 0.6 (inches)|
The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A MemoirRichard B. EberhartTyndale House / 2015 / Trade Paperback$9.99 Retail:
$15.99Save 38% ($6.00)
No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and StateFritz Stern, Elisabeth SiftonNew York Review Books / 2013 / Hardcover$8.79 Retail:
$19.95Save 56% ($11.16)
Preaching in Hitler's Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third ReichEdited by Dean G. StroudWm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2013 / Trade Paperback$13.99 Retail:
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"I heard Erwin Lutzer's sermons on this book a long time ago and what he said about this topic is as relevant now as it is today. In taking the first amendment of the Constitution of the US and interpreting it as the freedom FROM religion, we have allowed our religious freedoms to be gutted. When Hitler came into power in Germany, he gutted the religious freedoms in the same way. As long as people followed in lock-step with his ideals, they were left alone; but if they pushed back in any capacity, they were singled out for his particular brand of torture and punishment.
Our government has made it so that any religion EXCEPT Christianity is acceptable, and is actually preferable. With the ACLU hunting for any sign of Christianity in public places and the interpretations of the laws being skewed against the Christians, we are entering an age very similar to the one that brought Hitler into power. Our political parties are all about what will gain the most for themselves instead of what is best for the people.
Lutzer makes the point that we, as Christians, have to stand up, put God first--above all other considerations, and take back the rights that are being dealt away like so many cards in a deck. As I read this today, I prayed that I would be found worthy to God, that I would be able to stand up despite any repercussions in my own life.
This is a FIVE STAR book that needs to be read by every student of history, by every Christian who truly wants to live for God, and by anyone who values the freedom to worship.
My thanks to Moody Publishers for allowing me to read and review this book."
Reviewed by Becky Guinn, NetGalley, Dec 3, 2015
SnickerdoodleSarahGender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Fascinating and soberingOctober 19, 2017SnickerdoodleSarahGender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4Why and how did Hitler ever come into power? Was it because Satan had the upper hand over God? Was God powerless to stop it? As Mr. Lutzer asks, "Is God only involved when righteous leaders are installed and uninvolved when a leader is something less than distinctively Christian, or even evil?" Of course, the answer to this is that God is always involved, otherwise He is not God. This is something that I really like about Lutzer's book Hitler's Cross. He reminds us that Hitler's ascension to power was not an accident, it was not outside of God's power. Lutzer reminds us of Romans 13: "...there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." Satan himself is not outside the realm of God's sovereignty, every move he makes works perfectly into God's plan. Speaking of God's sovereignty in even evil things that take place, the author comments: "Some prefer to call it His 'permissive will,' but it is His will nevertheless. He directs all things to their appointed end." and again: "Those Christians in Nazi Germany who believed that evil was triumphing because God was too weak to stem the tide could find no hope in their distress." This is comforting to we who are Christians, nothing, even evil, is stronger than God, and nothing can take place without His will!
It was fascinating to me how Hitler used religion to gain over professing Christians in Germany. Much of Germany was religious at the time, the Lutheran church was connected with the state. Instead of wiping out the church, the plan was to infiltrate Christianity, politicize it (more than it already was) and change its doctrines bit by bit until true Christianity vanished altogether. Christian Jews ended up being required to worship separately from Christian Aryans, Pastors were eventually required to swear an oath to Hitler, Nazis even planned that Hitler's Mein Kampf would take the place of the Bible in the churches. The official church in Germany became the 'Reich church' .
Lutzer points out that there were Christians who were against the Nazification of Christianity, even at the cost of being sent to consecration camps and/or death. Refusing to take the oath of loyalty to Hitler as the head of the Pastors, they declared that God's word was their authority, and they also declaring that Jews and Christians are one in Christ, therefore there should be no ethnic discrimination in the church of God. By separating themselves from the official church(now the Reich church) and the so called 'German Christians' they were not apostatizing from the church, rather they were declaring the political Reich church apostate.
Lutzer sees that there are parallels between what led to Germanys being Nazified and things in America today. After world war I the Germans had a short lived Republic, they gave up this Republic for a dictator because the economy was very bad. Under Hitler's regime "Workers now had job security, a health service, cheap holiday schemes; if freedom meant starvation, then slavery was preferable." They gave up freedom for temporary safety. Which is something that America may be headed toward. Lutzer makes us ask questions: what will we do if things become like they were in Nazi Germany. What are we doing now? What decisions are we making now in our Christian life, what do we truly hold as valuable?
I've read this book before, several years ago. I remembered having really liked it at the time and recently decided that it would be nice to read it again. My perspective has changed over the years, and though I still like the book, I've noticed statements in the book that I don't seem to have noticed before. For instance, Lutzer uses Matthew 25:35-36 (I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drinketc.)to say that when the Jews were persecuted, it was the Lord Jesus Christ who was suffering and therefore Christians should have focused on helping them. But I'm pretty sure that Lutzer is using that passage incorrectly, it clarifies that "..Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these MY BRETHREN, even these least, ye did it unto me."(vs. 40 ASV - emphasis added by myself). Who are Christ's brothers and sisters? Christ Himself says, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother."(Mat 12:48-50 ASV) And in Luke 8:21 He says,"But he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these that hear the word of God, and do it (ASV).This would seem to indicate that Christ's brethren are Christians, His followers. And Christ also says that this is how the world will know that we are His disciples,"if you have love for one another". The whole New Testament seems to emphasize focusing on Christians loving and caring for other Christians and meeting their needs more than it does meeting the material needs of unbelievers.
Perhaps I sound absolutely horrible in saying that! I sound strange to myself! But Im NOT saying that Christian shouldn't have helped the Jews. What I'm getting at is this: if they didn't go out and actively seek Jews to hide or help, were they being disobedient to the Word of God? That is one of the questions I'm struggling with. Yes they should have stood up to the law that no Christian of Jewish descent could become a pastor, yes they should have stood against the politicization of the church and establishment of Hitler as its head. But what if, besides dealing with those issues that directly affected their brethren, they did not focus on primarily helping unbelieving Jews in need, but focused mainly on helping their fellow Christians in need (both Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Christ as their Savior and Messiah?). What if they mainly fed and clothed their fellow saints, took them in and visited them in prison over and above helping non-believers? Would they be sinning if they did this? Would they be turning their back on Christ if they focused on serving their fellow Christians over and above serving non-Christians? Will Christ say that He never knew people who focused their lives on serving their spiritual brethren who do the will of God?
To apply this to the present day: What if we Christians don't focus on ending abortion (the killing of little babies in the womb)? Yes, we absolutely want it stopped, but how much of our lives ought we to biblically devote to stopping it? How far should we go? Should we kidnap any pregnant woman who says that she will have an abortion and free her when her baby is born alive? Are we sinning if we don't go out every year and picket abortion clinics? What if we don't devote some of our lives to ending slavery in the world? Or ending child abuse, spouse abuse or human trafficking? What if we focus the majority of our lives on loving our fellow saints? Will Christ say that He never knew us?
Of course, we Christians will help unbelievers, if we have opportunities to help them, materially and spiritually. We are to walk with wisdom and have gracious speech toward "outsiders' (Col 4:5), keeping our behavior pure,to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us, showing hospitality and are told,"as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone" and yet even that statement is qualified by the next:"and especially to those who are of the household of faith."(Gal 6:10 ASV). I just can't get over the strong emphasis of the New Testament on helping one's fellow believers.
Again, I am not saying that the Christians in Germany should not have helped Jews who came their way. I'm simply saying that I'm starting to think that Lutzer goes too far in his implications that the church in our day needs to focus on stopping the practical evils of our day: abortion, slavery, child abuseetc. And that it needs to focus more on helping the unbelieving world. I think that biblically, the church in our day needs to focus more on loving our fellow believers. Christ says "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."(Joh 13:35) And I'm not sure that that is the reputation of the church in our day, which I suspect has more of a reputation for its love for unbelievers than its love for believers.
I don't want to sound nit-picky, I just felt like I needed to say something about that. There were some other things as well, but I won't bring them up here. But I still like the book overall. it is a fascinating recounting of the heavy influence of Nazi Germany on the 'Christian' worldview of many of the Germans at that time, and how the churches reacted or didn't react to it. Many churches of that day proved that their focus was temporal, while others were willing to suffer for the truth of the Gospel. It really makes you think about how we would react in our day. Are we willing to suffer and lose everything in this life for the sake of Christ? Will we panic if another 'Hitler' arises in our day and becomes the President of the United States of America? Or will we realize that God is still in perfect control and be willing to suffer persecution for doing what is right? The sovereignty of God over all the affairs of this world is something that we Christians need to come to realize now, and then we won't have to wrestle later with fears and doubts about His power and about whether or not all things are working together for our good (Rom 8:28-29).
Many thanks to the folks at MPNewsroom (Moody Publishers) for sending me a free review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable)!
Zoe @ Blessed and Bewildered5 Stars Out Of 5Hitler's Cross is a must read book!June 15, 2017Zoe @ Blessed and BewilderedQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Hitlers Cross is fascinating, enlightening, and downright terrifying. It is a book that I was meant to read. Erwin W. Lutzer covers an extremely dark subject matter in a clear, concise, and compassionate manner. I believe that the state of humanity is such that burying or hiding from our history is dangerous. Instead, truthful evaluation and personal introspection are imperative in order to avoid repetition of humankinds greatest atrocities. We must not forget the atrocities committed nor can we forget the unfortunate fear, lack of faith, and lack of response that was exhibited by the Christian church during WWII. Hitlers Cross is an excellent resource for the church to use in understanding this period in our history.
As a follower of Christ, it is so challenging to wrap my mind around the level of deception and depravity that we can be brought down to. But as I have grown in my faith I have gained a clearer picture of the Christian church as a whole. We are solely dependent on Gods grace, mercy, and personal sacrifice to save us from falling into the pit. It is far too easy for us to remove our eyes from Christ and submit ourselves to the will of the world. It is possible that we would respond to a similar situation in much the same manner today I sure pray not. I specifically pray that I will always have my focus upon Christ so that I do not fall into the same trap, which when I am honest with myself would be far too easy to do.
This biblical study of one of the church and humanities greatest failings is truly valuable. We are a depraved people. As I read I realized that the degradation of human life and its intrinsic value induced by Hitler and those that inspired him is something altogether deeper and darker than I could have ever imagined. There is value in the backstory which Hitlers Cross provides. Lutzer provides background information on Hitlers insidious rise to power which I found extremely helpful towards gaining an understanding of the Christian lack of response.
Hitlers atrocities are just one chapter in a very sad story that has been written over and over again since Satan first deceived Adam and Eve. Fortunately, Lutzer doesnt leave us flailing in the dark subject matter this portion of our history is dark indeed but God provides us with one bright shining light of forgiveness and redemption in His Son Jesus Christ. His conquering light comes shining forth in spite of Hitlers attempts to annihilate it through his regime of hate and pride.
In addition, amidst all of the important historical information, Lutzer provides one of the best responses to atheism that I have seen. He writes:
"We have met those who tell us that no God could see the atrocities of this world (eg. the Holocaust) and not intervene. We must be sensitive to such a reaction as it is difficult to understand how a good God could permit (and hence ordain) such evil. But atheism is very unsatisfying; it affirms not only that we have horrific injustice in the world, but also that justice will never triumph.
I have a Jewish friend who does not believe in a personal God precisely because of the Holocaust. But he seemed perturbed when I reminded him one day that according to his view, Hitler and his henchmen would never be judged for what they did. In an atheistic world not only is this world unjust, but there can be no justice. Atheism teaches that our cry for justice will never be satisfied.
If you wonder
-how Hitler gained such prominence with such radical ideas
-why the Christian church didn't object before it was too late
-why the Christian church was silent overall
-what hidden "crosses" exist in modern America
read Hitler's Cross!
As a reviewer for MP Newsroom, I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. My thanks to the author and publisher.
Review by Zoe at the blessed and bewildered blog (you can find all of my reviews by searching for blessedandbewildered)
HeidiMarie3 Stars Out Of 5Hitler's CrossMay 4, 2017HeidiMarieQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4Hitler's Cross, written by Erwin W. Lutzer, outlines the ways in which, during the Second World War, Adolf Hitler used and twisted both the cross and Christianity to promote himself and further the Nazi agenda. This book seeks to explain "the 'hows' and 'whys' and 'what ifs' of this tragedy". The primary focus of this book is to teach readers how Hitler crushed the church in Germany during his time of power, and to explain where God was in the middle of all of this.
First of all, it is important to understand that nothing happens without God's consent. Therefore, He allowed the Holocaust to happen. Trust me, I know how hard this is to accept and understand. Lutzer explains that God uses even things He hates to direct the world to an appointed end. Satan does have an influence in this world, but only to the extent that God allows.
Secondly, this book describes in great detail Hitler's personal religious beliefs and how they influenced the church in Germany. I had thought all along that Hitler considered himself to be Christian and thought that the church was important in Germany. However, Lutzer explains how Hitler was deeply involved in occultism, and actually tried to destroy the church in Germany. Pastors preached about Hitler, crosses were actually removed and replaced with swastikas on the altars, Mein Kampf took the place of the Bible, and the people were encouraged to "be German, not Christian". Hitler actually took Jesus' place as the one to follow and live by and many parallels were drawn between the two. Jesus' blood was shed to save us, and the Jews' blood also had to be shed to save Germany and the Aryan race. Also, he explained that the idea of Aryan superiority is a very old concept, as is the blaming of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus. Many Christians have believed that the persecution of Jews is punishment from God for His Son's death.
Satan definitely had a hand in the Holocaust and the power given to Hitler, and Lutzer explains why. Satan wants to exterminate the Jews so God will be unable to fulfill His promise that the Jews will flourish in the end. Satan wants God to be proven a liar. However, we know that Satan does not have the power to undermine God, and nothing will get in the way of God's plan. The "final solution" was not final.
I learned so much from this book about how Hitler gained his power, why he wasn't stopped, and how he had such an influence over the church. I realized that many things I thought I understood were wrong. I also really enjoyed explanations of how loving God is despite the horrible things that happen, and that He can never be defeated.
The only thing that bothered me about the book is that the author would go off on tangents and get off topic quite a bit about modern day issues, such as abortion and gay rights, which were very out of place within the rest of the information.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and recommend it. I gave it 3.5/5 stars.
*I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Amy CVAAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Hitler's CrossNovember 3, 2015Amy CVAAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Hitler's Cross is quite an interesting and thought provoking read.