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More from Steadfast Lutherans — today, a few sentences from a sermon which the late Revd Martin Niemöller preached in Berlin in 1936.

Pastor Mark Schroeder explains that Pastor Niemöller had already received threats from

Nazi-controlled Church authorities. Earlier, Niemöller had a face-to-face confrontation with Adolf Hitler regarding freedom of religion.

In the sermon, there was five minutes’ reading of the intercessory list, that is of those who have been forbidden to speak, or evicted or arrested by the Nazi authorities.

Much online debate takes place about the influence the Nazis had on the Church and how complicit clergy were, not to mention that ‘Hitler was a Catholic’. Much misinformation floats about, a lot of it circulated by those secularists who hate Christianity. Hitler might have been brought up a Catholic, but in adulthood he embraced paganism. One could also say that Stalin was a seminarian, which he was for a time. He did not continue in Russian Orthodoxy. However, those are subjects for another day.

These brief excerpts from Niemöller will become increasingly relevant as our churches — ‘established’ (national) or otherwise — suffer the onslaught of imposed legislation in dictating worship and ceremonial obligations. This is no different from what happened in Nazi Germany (and in Soviet Russia with her ‘show churches’ run by Communist officials). Emphases in the original below — purple highlights mine:

The problem with which we have to deal is how to save the Christian community at this moment from the danger of being thrown into the same pot as the world: that is to say: it must keep itself distinct from the rest of the world by virtue of its “saltiness.” How does Christ’s community differ from the world?

We have come through a time of peril – and we are not finished with it yet – when we were told: “Everything will be quite different when you as a Church cease to have such an entirely different flavor – when you cease to practice preaching which is the opposite of what the world around you preaches. You really must suit your message to the world; you really must bring your creed into harmony with the present. Then you will again become influential and powerful.”

Dear brethren, that means: The salt loses its savor. It is not for us to worry about how the salt is employed, but to see that it does not lose its savor

That is our responsibility- “Ye are the salt of the earth.” It is precisely when we bring the salt into accord and harmony with the world that we make it impossible for the Lord Jesus Christ, through His Church, to do anything in our nation. But if the salt remains salt, we may trust Him with it: He will use it in such a way that it becomes a blessing.

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