The street and the altar

The Lutheran pastor, Christian Führer, whose prayer meetings became a catalyst for the protests that overthrew Communism in East Germany died Monday at age 71.

I was struck by this quotation from him:  “It is not the throne and the altar, but the street and the altar that belong together.”  That’s an interesting version of the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms.   That concept is often taken to refer just to the relation of the church to earthly governments.  That’s part of it, but I think it applies more broadly to society and culture as a whole, where God is also active in vocation and in caring for His creation. [Read more...]

When the church “doesn’t really stand for anything”

Newsweek has an article about how Protestantism is dwindling in the land of Luther.  It shows, I think, the futility of the liberal theology that the state church has embraced, the notion that in order to reach people you need to change your teachings so as to conform to the dominant culture.  That’s a formula for making the church irrelevant.

The article also credits the Lutheran churches of East Germany, under great persecution under Communism, for its role in the anti-communist protests that brought down the Berlin Wall.  This reminds us that NOT following the path conforming to the dominant culture can have great power and that the church is at its best in times of cultural conflict. [Read more...]

Which friend informed on you?

Another in our series of posts about what it’s like to live without the freedoms that we Americans often take for granted (see also this and this.):

A story on why Germans are so upset about NSA eavesdropping gives some chilling details about what life was like under East German communism, with the secret police (STASI) paying one out of 50 citizens to inform on their friends and relatives, sending them to years of prison for remarks criticizing the government or expressing other forbidden thoughts.  To this day, ex-political prisoners sometimes run into their torturers in the grocery store.  It’s also possible to request your STASI file, which lets you see which friend or relative was reporting on you.

Notice how totalitarianism interferes with and corrupts the most basic human relationships.

[Read more...]


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