As I’ve been reading through Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer, I’ve been increasingly intrigued by the “mob mentality” that seemed to be sweeping through Germany shortly after Hitler was made Führer (a German concept for supreme leader). Hitler’s ambition was to eventually rid Germany of religion (i.e., Christianity), but some of his underlings formulated a plan to go from removing the church to replacing the church. How could the Nazi’s keep the “unity” of the people and yet increase the Nazi’s power over that people? Simple: restructure the church away from biblical Christianity and have it focus on Nazi principles.
Therefore, Alfred Rosenberg, the notorious Nazi war criminal who was later hanged at Nuremberg, came up with a 30 point program for the National Reich Church. Before we lay out the five that Metaxas lists in his biography, we need to understand more on Rosenberg.
Rosenberg was a pagan. Not a pagan in the sense of simply being an unbeliever. No, Rosenberg was a pagan in the sense of Nordic religion and polytheism. He was seeking to introduce these pagan views into the official church of the Third Reich. In order to do so, he put together his 30 point program, which included the following:
13. The National Reich Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible in Germany…
14. The National Reich Church has to take severe measures in order to prevent the Bible and other christian publications being imported into Germany.\
18. The National Reich Church will clear away from its altars all crucifixes, Bibles and pictures of Saints.
19. On the altars there must be nothing but “Mein Kampf”, which is to the German nation and therefore to God the most sacred book, and to the left of the altar a sword.
30. On the day of its foundation, the Christian cross must be removed from all churches, cathedrals and chapels within the Reich and its colonies and it must be superseded by the only unconquerable symbol of Germany the “Hakenkreuz” (swastika).
So the Nazi “church” would remove the Bible and the cross, thus removing the two items that ensure that an organization is the Church. Thus, Bonhoeffer would eventually take part in standing against this concept of “church.”
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.