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It was exactly one month before my wife and I were married.
I cannot sum up adequately what he has meant to the Evangelical world, but what I can do is offer my little slice of perspective. I have been involved with the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization for almost a decade now, and John Stott was instrumental in that organization.
In 1974, Billy Graham convened the first-ever Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. Though he was the visionary for this Congress—possibly the greatest Evangelical gathering of missionary leaders in history up to that point in time—John Stott was the chief author of the Lausanne Covenant, the document which came out of that conference.
Have you ever wondered what it means to be an Evangelical Christian? The word ‘Evangelical’ is so nebulous that it has been used in all manners of caricature, even by Evangelicals ourselves. Well, a lot of people think that a good definition of “Evangelical” is if you can affirm the Lausanne Covenant. Countless churches and mission organizations use the Lausanne Covenant as their litmus test for Evangelical faithfulness and orthodoxy. Basically, if you agree with the Lausanne Covenant, you are an Evangelical.
Alfred Rosenburg was a early and influential member of the Nazi power. One of his roles was to create a new religion in Germany. He developed a thirty-point program for the National Reich Church. Among the points were:
13. The National Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible in Germany.
18. The National Church will clear away from its altars all crucifixes, Bible and pictures of saints.
19. On the altars there must be nothing but Mein Kampf (to the German nation and therefore to God the most sacred book) and to the left of the altar a sword.
Hitler‘s attitude toward Christianity was that it was a great heap of mystical out-of -date nonsense. But what annoyed Hitler was not that it was nonsense, but it was nonsense that did not help him get ahead. According to Hitler, Christianity preached “meekness and flabbiness,” and this was simply not useful to the National Socialist ideology, which preached “ruthlessness and strength,” I time, he felt that the churches would change their ideology, He would see to it.
O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray and gather my thoughts to you, I cannot do it alone.
In me it is dark, but with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not desert me;
My courage fails me, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace;
in me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me.
Father in Heaven praise and thanks be to you for the night
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A prayer written in Tegel prison, Berlin
I have seen it before but I am watching the first part right now again.
It is a helpful in understanding how Hitler came into power and how he lost it.