After buying a new phone you open the instruction manual and read up on product care, then find a few pages on how to ruin the product. Both have incredibly useful information to ensure that your product receives a long life as promised on the packaging, so you read both and notice a little paragraph about what happens when it is submerged in water, and promptly dismiss the warning.
Weeks later you leave your phone in your pocket and load the washing machine, after calling your phone a few times from the home phone you shed a tear as the washing machine plays your ringtone for 5 seconds before leaving you in silence and despair.
Warnings are valuable and overlooked, as we think that the chances of danger are slim but history repeats itself because we fail to acknowledge the warnings. Much like Noah in Genesis, who spent years warning the people of a flood that he was building an ark for, the people mocked him and were ultimately wiped off the face of the earth. In more recent times, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who fought for religious freedoms against the Nazi party until his death at the end of the war.
Years before the Nazi’s gained power, a German Theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, had seen the threat that the Nazi party had posed to the Church and religious freedom, immediately he sounded the alarm. In 1933, the Church election was announced for the people to elect a National Church leader and with the Nazi’s in power it was easy to see who would win.
Nevertheless, Bonhoeffer and his students searched for a worthy candidate of their own to rival the Nazi’s but were overwhelmingly defeated. Soon Hitler would use the position as head of the Church to reinvent Christianity in Germany to line up with Nazi beliefs. The Church was compromised and many pastors accepted the new religion in fear of the Nazis.
The Church was weak and lacked an active faith, most members simply went to Church to avoid being frowned upon in a country that prides itself on a Christian heritage. Turning up to Church to be seen by others is the equivalent of a participation medal today which requires no effort other than to be present.
The Nazi ideology was not the first evil in history to attack from within, the Church and God’s people, and they won’t be the last. Not only did the Nazi’s seize control of the Church but also the media. Nazi propaganda could saturate the airwaves, streets and newspapers to convince the public that what they were doing was good and justified. Makes you wonder what warning signs slip past our attention in modern media outlets and social media.
Silence in the Face of evil
Dietrich Bonhoeffer's outspokenness was not out of self-righteousness or self-glorification but out of spiritual discernment. In this day and age of political correctness and snow flake emotions most people are afraid to speak out or turn against the grain in fear of being vilified and instead pretend that their values aren’t at risk.
In Eric Metaxas' biography, Bonhoeffer, Metaxas sites Bonhoeffer’s frustrations with other Christians, “As would happen so often in the future, he was deeply disappointed in the inability of his fellow Christians to take a definite stand. They always erred on the side of conceding too much, of trying too hard to ingratiate themselves with their opponents.” The warning signs were not only visible to Bonhoeffer but to most people in the Church, though still, others ignored them and later suffered the consequences of their ignorance.
James chapter 4 verse 17 says: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” One of Bonhoeffer's most famous quotes mirror’s this verse in his own way of explaining: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Martin Luther King JR is quoted as saying: “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?” As Christians we should find ourselves asking this often, but also think about what are we doing for the future generations? Will they have to suffer for our ignorance and silence? Or will we see the warning signs and speak out against evil so as to not be evil ourselves?
Jesse Moore draws from the Bible and classical literature for insight into life’s tough questions. He is currently studying at university to become a film-maker.
Jesse Moore’s previous articles can be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jesse-moore.html