'We are going down precisely the same path'
About 3,000 of the approximately 18,000 Protestant pastors in Germany in the 1930s openly supported Adolf Hitler, and about the same number ended up opposing his tyrannical rule.
But it was the vast majority of ministers, about 12,000, who chose to remain silent – arguing it wasn't their place to engage in politics – who enabled the Nazis to "crush the heroic 3,000" who stood up against the dictator, points out Eric Metaxas in his new book "Letter to the American Church."
"That is the nightmare – that they thought it would be safe," Metaxas said in an interview with James Robison on the "LIFE Today" television program.
The pastors, Metaxas said, decided: "We won't take a position. We don't want to be political. We'll just keep our nose down, preach our little stuff on Sunday morning, and when we leave this building, we're going to bow to the authority of the state."
Metaxas contends the American church today mirrors the silence of the German church before the Holocaust.
If church leaders, he said, don't learn the lesson of the 1930s, "we are going down precisely the same path."
"And people say, 'I can't believe it, I can't believe it.' Trust me when I say that the Germans didn't believe that that future was even possible. But it happened, and we are no different than the Germans," he said.