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When Evil Screams at Silence

nooseIn September of 2000, Dr. Laurence White, the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, delivered a stirring, prophetic warning to the pastors gathered at Midwestern Theological Seminary entitled, “The Sin of Silence: A Defining Moment.” In his message he demonstrated the tragic results that were allowed to take place in Nazi Germany largely because pastors and the people they lead were passive and silent in the face of growing tyranny and outright evil.

Reverend White writes,

In 1940 Nazi Germany was near her zenith, the nation’s power, prestige, prosperity unparalleled in history, her armies invincible on every front. The Jews had been systematically excluded from the life of the nation, deprived of the protection of the law and citizenship, gradually disappearing into a spreading network of concentration camps.

In that year 1940, at the height of Hitler’s power and popularity, a courageous young pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer denounced the church’s failure to speak out against the evil. In 1940 that lonely voice of truth proclaimed,

“We the Church must confess that we have not proclaimed often or clearly enough the message of the one God, who has revealed Himself for all time in Christ Jesus and Who will tolerate no other gods beside Himself. She must confess her timidity, her cowardice, her evasiveness and her dangerous concessions. She was silent when she should have cried out, because the blood of the innocent was crying aloud to heaven. The Church must confess that she has witnessed the lawless application of brutal force, the physical and spiritual suffering of countless innocent people, oppression, hatred, and murder, and that she has not raised her voice on behalf of the victims and has not found ways to hasten to their aid. The Church is guilty of the deaths of the weakest and most defenseless brothers of Jesus Christ. The Church must confess that she has desired security and peace, quiet, possessions and honor, to which she has no right. She has not borne witness to the truth of God. And by her silence, she has rendered herself guilty because of her unwillingness to suffer for what she knows to be right.”

White further adds, “Bonhoeffer’s warning went unheeded. He was dismissed by most of his colleagues as a single-issue fanatic. In less than 5 years, he was dead, hung naked from a piano-wire noose in Flossenberg concentration camp. Germany lay in ruins, her great cities bombed out of existence, cathedrals that had stood for a thousand years reduced to piles of broken brick and rubble.”

It doesn’t take an exceptional amount of discernment to recognize the same symptoms in the American pulpit and church today. Instead of courageously bearing witness to “the Truth,” we have become intoxicated with “security, peace, quiet, possessions and honor.” We need to be absolutely clear about one thing: If we fail to suffer for what we know is right, we will eventually suffer under the evil that will inevitably overwhelm us.

As we pause this Thanksgiving holiday to give thanks to God for His goodness and faithfulness, let’s examine our hearts to make sure we love Him and His Truth more than we love the blessings we currently enjoy. Our forefathers gave their lives in the service of Truth; we must be willing to do the same.

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