Book Review: When A Nation Forgets God

When A Nation Forgets God:  7 Lessons We Must Learn From Nazi Germany, by Erwin W. Lutzer

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

This book lives up to its title, and is likely to be the sort of book that leads its readers into some dark reflections.  I must say that I found the book to be gloomy but also very appropriate for the times in which we live.  Although this book was particularly dark, though, it was not the sort of book that was designed to write about the culture wars and serve as red meat for partisans of virtue, but rather this is a book that encourages its readers to align themselves with Bonhoeffer and others whose principled opposition to Nazi Germany and to the power of the totalitarian humanistic state put them in grave personal peril [1].  This is not a book that is likely to appeal to those who want their best life now, but rather a book for those who realize that remaining loyal to God’s ways–all of them, even the unpopular ones–is likely to have a heavy price in the future and are determined to remain loyal to God come what may.

This short book of 140 pages with no fluff is focused on telling seven lessons that contemporary American Christians can learn from the horrors of Nazi Germany.  After briefly discussing the purpose and context of the book, the author begins by pointing out that when God and government are separated, judgment follows.  Then the author points out how most people, then and now, care mostly about the state of the economy rather than the state of their spiritual lives.  The author then reminds the reader, if that were necessary, that what is evil is not necessarily illegal.  The author then reminds the reader that propaganda can change a nation, generally for the worse.  Then the author points out that it is the job of parents–not the state–to be responsible for training and raising up and educating children.  The book closes with reminders that ordinary heroes can make a difference–heroes like Corrie Ten Bloom and others like her–and with the reminder that we must exalt the cross in the gathering darkness.  With that, the book is done, having delivered an ultimately hopeful but also somewhat ominous message to its readers.

What makes this particular book so remarkable and so worthwhile is the way that the author draws sober and reflective lessons from history and manages to encourage without the triumphalism that is common in such writing.  This writer manages to strike a delicate and difficult balance, avoiding the pietism that leads to a withdrawal of Christians from speaking on or writing about difficult subjects while also avoiding the sort of political grandstanding that substitutes salvation for victory in elections.  The author manages to demonstrate a firm and deep knowledge of Christianity during Hitler’s regime and the way that our own age has some rather striking and dark similarities with Hitler’s regime.  The author manages to discuss this without painting the present as darker than it is, pointing out to readers, most of whom appear to have lived without an understanding of the historical context of Christianity, that our times, as evil as they are, give believers far more freedom than has been the case through the majority of human history.  This is a book that deserves a wide and appreciative audience, even if its message is a bit more downbeat than the sort of message that is most popular.

[1] It happens that Bonhoeffer is a personal hero of mine.  See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christianity, History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Book Review: When A Nation Forgets God

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Saving A Sick America | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Cat And Mouse | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: America: Turning A Nation To God | Edge Induced Cohesion

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