Colonial Slaveholders, Nazi Lutherans, and Modern Evangelicals

The church has made some terrible choices throughout history for which it has paid dearly. American Christians choosing economics (slavery) over human rights, and the German Lutheran church choosing to elevate nationalism (Hitler) over the Word of God are two examples.

To us, in retrospect, it borders on the ridiculous. How could anyone who calls themselves a Christian support enslaving human beings on the basis of their race? How could anyone who claimed to be a follower of Jesus agree to adopt the Aryan Paragraph, prohibiting anyone of Jewish descent from serving as a pastor of a church?

These choices were not without cost historically, even apart from the obvious and immediate suffering of the victims of such policies. In Germany the church is still paying the price for its poor choice with its loss of credibility, and in America, we are still grappling with the curse of racism 150 years after the end of slavery. A curse does not alight without a cause (Proverbs 26:2), and when the group that is supposed to be the moral light for a nation and in communion with God endorses the systematic dehumanization and enslavement of an entire race of people, there is no shortage of cause for curse.

The good news is there have been those who saw clearly while others followed the crowd. William Lloyd Garrison and William Wilberforce had the mind of Jesus on the issue of slavery, and Deitrich Bonhoeffer rightly opposed the Nazification of the Lutheran church. These were a remnant, a marker for those in the future to point to to say, “There were those who were truly following Jesus.”

As blatantly wrong as these church choices appear to us now, we are as blind today to a choice being made as they were then, and that is on the issue of asserting religious objections to COVID vaccines. The church will pay a price presently and prospectively for doing so.

Think about it. The experts in the field and WHO, the CDC, even your physician tell you the COVID vaccines are safe and you should get vaccinated, but you choose to believe someone who posted a video on Youtube. You then use that as a reason not to get vaccinated, thereby endangering those around you with a deadly virus and perpetuating the pandemic. In the future, people will look back and wonder how the church could be so stupid and selfish. Or maybe they will be kinder; maybe they will just wonder how the church could be so naive. GS

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