As Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, “the Holocaust did not begin with Auschwitz. The Holocaust began with words.” And too many of those impactful words were written or spoken by Christians — church leaders, theologians, preachers, teachers, and ordinary Christians — for close two thousand years. Words, obviously, have consequences, intended and unintended, especially when they lead to action, which can be for good or evil.
In 1933, less than a month after he was elected chancellor, Hitler used the pretext of a fire in the Reichstag building to suspend constitutional law in Germany, aggregating unlimited judicial authority in his government to himself. After the fire, he proclaimed: “We have to provide certain temporary measures to stem this tide of terrorism.” And who were the terrorists? Communists and Jews, of course. The communists were scapegoated for starting the fire. Accordingly several laws were quickly passed —…..
In 1936 Franz Jägerstätter wrote to his godchild: “I can say from my own experience how painful life often is when one lives as a halfway Christian; it is more like vegetating than living…Since the death of Christ, almost every century has seen the persecution of Christians; there have always been heroes and martyrs who gave their lives — often in horrible ways — for Christ and their faith. If we hope to reach our goal some day, then we,…..