Thomas Schirrmacher
Relevant ProMundis Blogposts

IIRF publishes the videos of the release of “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World,” Geneva, 28th of June, 2011

20. Januar 2015 von · Leave a Comment 

The International Institute for Religious Freedom published the whole launch session plus several interviews with key players in its YouTube Channel.

Youtube Overview

On June 28, 2011, in Geneva, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council on Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID), the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), together representing most of Christian­ity, for the first time ever released a joint document, “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct.” It discusses the ethics of mission, stating that Christian mission never can violate the human rights of others. This historic document is the result of a five-year collaboration among the WEA, the WCC and the Vatican. The document meanwhile has been accepted by the same group of churches in many countries of the world.

The series of YouTube-films contains:

 

Links:

  • Bonn Profiles No 172 (18/2011): A new Page of History is Written: “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct” published

350,000 Christians also endangered – the Death Penalty for Blasphemy in Kuwait

10. Januar 2015 von · Leave a Comment 

Even though it was published in my German already in 2012, I here offer an English translation of a comment relating to blasphemy – in the light of the terroristic attack in Paris.

Secretly and quietly, and in the middle of the Arabellion, a law similar to that in Pakistan has been passed in State of Kuwait. Up until now, Kuwait has been a rather moderate Islamic state when compared to Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan. The law only has to be countersigned by the Emir of Kuwait in order for the death penalty to be prescribed for defaming God (Allah), the Koran, any Islamic prophet, or one of Mohammed’s wives. 41 members of Parliament voted in favor of the addition to the penal code, while 7 voted against it. According to the Kuwait news agency, Shiite representatives were among those voting against the measure. The Justice Minister and the Minister of Religious Affairs (what a convenient combination!) welcomed the decision.

This is the case, although the Constitution of the State of Kuwait proclaims “absolute freedom” of religion and the freedom to exercise religion. The starting point for this change was a semi-free parliamentary election in February, in which Islamist groups claimed a majority of the seats. Demands for the limitation on the number of Christian churches and the official introduction of Islamic Sharia are included in the parliamentary majority’s policy program. It is natural that the way for the law was paved by a list of legal opinions (“fatwas”) by Islamic scholars.

Up until now, there has been a prison sentence for this offense, whereby the judge has had a lot of leeway in each individual case. In April, the columnist Mohammed Al-Mulaifi was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment and what amounted to €13,600 in fines because he allegedly slandered the Shiite minority. According to Gulf News, the official grounds for the tightening were widespread critical remarks about Mohammed in March.

Even Iran has until now not dared include the death penalty for blasphemy and apostasy in the penal code and has rather resorted to having the respective culprits simply disappear. A pursuant law was indeed passed by Parliament, but the Iranian Guardian Council did not countersign it. Only Saudi Arabia and Pakistan actually have the death penalty included as a part of the penal code.

Even if all the Christians who live in Kuwait are foreigners and, with 350,000 adherents, make up around 6% of the population, and even if they are almost automatically assumed to malign God, the Koran, and Mohammed if they as much as compare Christianity and Islam, the main victims are as always Muslims themselves. This is the case even if one does not completely believe the provision that non-Muslims should not be killed for the same offense but rather given 10-year prison sentences. It also does not help anything that first-time offenders can do penance during the court proceedings and then only receive a 5-year prison sentence and a fine of $36,000.

And as usual, Europe is silent when it comes to such appalling criminal law provisions in Islamic countries. This is the case although, when it comes to the death penalty for drug dealers, Europe has mobilized the entire world of the media and diplomacy for the benefit of drug dealers. Even Amnesty International, which is otherwise always (and correctly so) on the forefront opposing the death penalty (just recently I was a speaker at an AI event), is traditionally silent when it comes to a religion having to be criticized in concrete terms.

Commendable exceptions in their reporting are:

My Experience as a Representative for the World Evangelical Alliance at the 2013 General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan

19. Dezember 2014 von · Leave a Comment 

Cooperation

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Plenary speech by Thomas Schirrmacher

It was obvious that the World Council of Churches went out of its way to respond to the Evangelical movement in a welcoming and friendly manner, to inquire about our points of views on issues, and to include them in the General Assembly in Busan. This was evident in that the representatives of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) were able to contribute to various commissions and, where appropriate, to openly present WEA’s reservations.

Their gracious invitation to attend also included the appointment of Rolf Hille, a WEA representative as a member of its Program Committee. As well they invited a member of WEA’s Mission Commission to be a part of their Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME). I was asked be on the Public Issues Committee, which compiled the General Assembly’s declarations and I was made chairman of the drafting committee which wrote a declaration against religious violence and for religious freedom. This declaration also included draft wording against the persecution of Christians, which was later adopted by the General Assembly.

We were impressed how cordially we were welcomed in Busan and how much space was given for us to present our mutual and divergent viewpoints. Through a number of workshops and short presentations in other workshops, we were free to express our views in our remarks and within the commissions. This occurred with a broad agreement of delegates and member churches of the WCC. We were even given two spots within the official program for WEA representatives to discuss among themselves our positioning. In addition in the exhibition hall, significant floor space was made available for WEA’s International Institute for Religious Freedom. Many visited out site. Joseph Yakubu and Christof Sauer spent 10 hours each day, meeting and speaking with some 1,000 delegates.

WEA was clear in its thanks to the World Council of Churches for its outstretched hand, making it possible for us to introduce our views on any items we deemed it important. The WCC sees the fruit in our joint undertakings concerning human rights. They have been helpful and cooperative in a number of forums and initiatives. These include the Global Christian Forum, the Conference of the Secretaries of Christian World Communions and the five-year process in which the Vatican, the WCC and the WEA wrote a joint document entitled “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World.“

As chairman of the sub-committee on religious violence and religious freedom, I observed the development of the General Assembly’s declaration against religious violence from close range, especially in their cooperation with Oriental bishops from the Islamic world. It became clear that the WEA’s efforts in the cause of persecuted churches is changing ecumenical relationships and bringing Evangelicals together with member churches of the WCC who have mostly been outside our sphere of interest. Consistent with this, in this past year I met with numerous Patriarchs of Eastern churches, along with the Coptic Pope, the head of most global Evangelical groups, a number of cardinals and the Pope. The many positive reactions to my plenary address in Busan (in consent with our Secretary General Geoff Tunnicliffe) demonstrate shifts taking place on the global denominational church landscape. These are more than we have seen for over 50 years.

Missions Paper

In making a final analysis, it appears to me that the texts adopted at the General Assembly of the WCC are without exception, unobjectionable and supportable.

Their mission paper and, more specifically, its Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) document – titled Together Towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes –was adopted September 5, 2012 by the Central Committee of the WCC, a year prior to the 2013 General Assembly. Some Evangelicals in Germany expressed strong reservations about it. But I find that the WEA’s view of missions is expressed in a number of the paragraphs co-formulated by the WEA and Evangelical theologians on the verbal transmission of the gospel. In addition the long document lists many goals we principally share even though we would not have necessarily mentioned them in connection with the keyword ’missions.’ Rather, we would have cited them as what is just and good for the world. These goals correspond to long sections of the 2010 Cape Town Declaration, which was co-drafted by the Lausanne’s Movement theological Working Group and the Theological Commission of the WEA. It is regrettable, however, that neither the plenary assembly on missions or mission’s paper emphasized a holistic approach. I should note that remarks made by a Catholic speaker that the Holy Spirit is the origin of all religions was not representative and reactions to his presentation demonstrated this. That he referred to Pope Benedict XVI, of all people, as proof for his assertion, had a certain comic element.

Syncretism

What was particularly striking was that elements Evangelicals or Orthodox churches re critical of the World Council of Churches at this General Assembly were missing. There were no non-Christian religious ceremonies during the official program. In the plenary events, there was not a single time when – as was commonly the case before 1990 – ceremonies of other religions were performed. There were scattered brief words of greeting from representatives of other religions. Only the Jewish representative spoke somewhat longer.

Homosexuality

It is apparent that the World Council of Churches is increasingly silent on some moral topics, which are intensively disputed among churches. The topic of homosexuality, a topic dangerous for global ecumenical relationships, practically did not rise, apart from a clear statement by the Russian Orthodox Metropolite Hilarion, made in a closed business session. This was in spite of repeated inquiries made to the WCC and leadership. They refused to offer any positive opinion on homosexuality, something which seemed to irritated member churches and lobbying groups who had traveled there, it seems, for this purpose. Despite this, all leaders successfully stayed the course.

Demonstrators

The WEA consciously distanced itself from the confrontations and statements made by some radical Evangelicals grouped outside of the General Assembly and conducted discussions with the World Council of Churches in direct talks and not via the media.

On behalf of the WEA and its General Secretary in Busan, I conspicuously distanced myself from the demonstrators. They acted most irresponsibly and it was evident they represented only a fractional part of the Evangelicals in Korea. Posters included such slogans as, “Death to the World Council of Churches.” The General Secretary of the WCC was maligned (as was I) as the anti-Christ. Also on site of the Assembly often there were disturbingly loud megaphones. Police efforts served to remove intruders who were distributing despicable flyers, and excrement was smeared on a stage while a worship service was being conducted in the church of the chairman of the host committee. What happened in South Korea was incomparably more shame laden than what we experience here at home in Germany. This has nothing to do with theological disputes. Rather, everything to do with politics, and I must say, with violence. This is no way in which the WEA wants to discuss theological differences.

The three main content-based charges made from the side of the demonstrators were without consequence.

The charge of syncretism made against the WCC by demonstrators was rebutted by the General Assembly itself. As has been said, there was not a single time in the official program, and above all in the plenary events, that ceremonies of other religions were conducted as had earlier been commonplace.

The charge made relating to being public in speaking up for homosexuality – as we saw – did not correspond to reality. The demonstrators would have known that there are churches in the WCC who argue the case for homosexuality but that there are member churches, such as Orthodox and Evangelical who hold homosexuality to be incompatible with the will of God.

The charge made against the WCC that it defends and promotes communisms as well as the charge that they are controlled by some communist countries comes from the period of the Cold War. The Cold War is something, which somehow continues in Korea till the presenr, but it has nothing to do with the WCC of today.

Speech by Thomas Schirrmacher in Busan

The World Evangelical Alliance greets the Assembly of the World Council of Churches

Greetings

Thank you very much for the invitation to bring greetings to the plenary session of the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches and its many member churches from around the globe represented here – on behalf of the World Evangelical Alliance representing churches with some 600 million Christians worldwide. I do this on behalf of our Secretary General, Geoff Tunnicliffe, the Director of Ecumenical Affairs, Rolf Hille, who is among us, as well as on behalf of the International Council, the Theological Commission, the Religious Liberty Commission, and the Mission Commission which are all represented at this Assembly.

„Christian Witness in a multicultural World”

When the Evangelical Alliance was established in 1846 it sought to work in four primary areas of concern:

Christian unity

Human rights, and in particular at that time the abolition of slavery

World Evangelism

Religious freedom for all

One hundred and sixty years later these are still primary commitments of the World Evangelical Alliance.

Those four areas never were combined more clearly than in the first-ever joint document signed by the Vatican, the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance, entitled “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct”. The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches already emphasized its historic importance in his report to the General Assembly. The document speaks clearly against any kind of unethical way of doing mission. Witnessing to the gospel should never be done in a way that overrules the human dignity and the human rights of others. This is a document that fulfills all four of the historic concerns of the WEA: Christian unity, human rights, a positive outlook on mission and evangelism, and a major step towards religious freedom. Having been involved in the process for five years myself, I was amazed about the agreement found in the first sentence:

„Mission belongs to the very being of the church. Therefore proclaiming the word of God and witnessing to the world is essential for every Christian. However it is necessary to do so according to gospel principles, with full respect and love for all human beings.”

We are grateful to the World Council of Churches for its flexibility in including the World Evangelical Alliance in this project and keeping the process going for several years. Finally, the World Evangelical Alliance became a full partner in the drafting, with the result that our members in 128 nations agreed to the text. This has resulted in a historic document in which for the first time the three large global Christian bodies representing the majority of world Christianity have spoken with one voice. Presently the document goes from one country to the next and furthers Christian unity on a very broad base.

Global Christian Forum

Thus, the WCC and WEA have a common experience in giving Christian unity worldwide a higher priority than furthering their own organizations. One well developed example – again together with the Roman Catholic Church – is the Global Christian Forum, which the World Evangelical Alliance fully endorses on a global and on a regional level. This open platform makes it obvious that our organizations are no longer the main focus, but the unity of Christians itself. And it reaches out to those churches and Christians who for some reason or the other are still outside any global ecumenical community. The Global Christian Forum can become a useful resource in helping resolve some of the ongoing conflicts within the Christian family. In particular I mention the situation in the Middle East and Holy Land.

Holistic mission

“Evangelical” is a broad term that can be used to designate all kind of groups. Definitions vary. So we ask you not to mix what so called “Evangelicals” do and say and what the World Evangelical Alliance stands for. We want to take responsibility for what we as a global community say and do, but we cannot influence what happens outside our membership. Often enough we are ourselves the goal of attacks by others.

Evangelism is the proclamation in word, deed and Christian character of the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross and through the resurrection. He alone overcame sin and can forgive and overcome sin. Yes, evangelism lies at the core of the identity of being evangelical. Our churches are committed to seeing the gospel proclaimed and demonstrated in all nations of the world. The WEA stands for what we call holistic evangelism or integral mission. We emphasize the connection between both proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ in word and practicing it in our actions. Both are necessary for the integrity of the gospel. Furthermore, personal conversion must result in the growth of Christian character and witness. There have been times when mistakes have been made and evangelicals have struggled to link the proclamation of the gospel with acts of justice and peace. Yet in our history there have been many strong voices and lives that exemplify the holistic nature of evangelism and – by God’s grace – are on a good path to recover this aspect of witness to the gospel in the world.

Further, I would add that the WEA is deeply committed to biblical engagement. While there are more Bibles available in our world than ever before we find growing biblical illiteracy. Given the reality that our work and mission in the church is built on the authority of the Scriptures we must emphasize a recommitment to not only reading but following the Holy Scripture. This also is the necessary backing for holistic mission, as it is the Bible that also calls us to feed the hungry, help the poor, speak for the oppressed and utter our prophetic voice against structural evils in societies such as corruption or racism.

Religious Freedom /Korea

As mentioned,  religious freedom was a central focus of the WEA already as early as the mid-19th century, as was the fight for freedom and human rights, at that time especially in the fight against slavery. Our International Institute for Religious Freedom is offering a workshop and a Madang exhibition stand in Busan.

I cannot finish my greetings without mentioning our lovely host country. We join others in working towards the reunification of Korea. Coming from Germany I can understand the feelings accompanying this, even though the situation of the two divided countries is very different in detail. But as in Germany we believe that human rights and freedom, including religious freedom, is the real goal, and reunification can be the result or even the means to achieve this, not the other way round. South Korea has a good history progressing from dictatorship to a functioning democracy. Receiving many shocking reports about the situation in North Korea, we want to work and pray for a day when the people in North Korea will experience freedom including religious freedom, and Christians in the North and South can unite in worshiping the Saviour.

Blessing

Thus we ask God’s blessing on all the ongoing work of the Assembly of the WCC. May God the Father give us all the strength to work on behalf of his creation. May Jesus Christ, Son of God, who saved us from sin and death, be our example willing to give his live for the good of others. And may the Holy Spirit keep us all from evil ways and unjust thoughts and lead us into the growing truth promised to his church on earth.

Downloads:

All People are Sinners, part 4

24. November 2014 von · Leave a Comment 

A foundation for democracy

In the last blog we saw that the statement “all people are sinners” has eminent socio-political and political significance. The statement that all people are sinners also constitutes a significant foundation for democracy and is among the reasons why almost all countries which formerly were Christian countries are today democracies (see my essay “Demokratie und christliche Ethik“  [Translation of the tile: “Democracy and Christian Ethics”] in Politik und Zeitgeschichte 14/2009 (March 30, 2009): 21-26).

Christianity by its very nature is self-critical (whether that has always been the case in reality is another story) as well as being mistrustful. This is due to the fact that everyone – beginning with him or herself – and not only on a rare occasion – allows oneself one blunder or another. Our everyday life is marked by this characteristic, acting as an egoist to do damage to ourselves and to others. And this stain on human nature shapes our understanding of politics and the dangers it presents.

In 1532 Niccolò Machiavelli wrote The Prince as an instruction manual for power-hungry rulers. What is always decisive is the final result. His view was that the masses always support the winner and, with the benefit of hindsight, they revere all the means which brought him there.

It is as correct that the winner always writes history as it is morally objectionable when the powerful only rule in order to possess power and to benefit themselves. Addressing this problem, the German oath of office (Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, Articles 56 and 64) for the Federal Government reads: “I swear that I will dedicate my efforts to the well-being of the German people, promote their welfare, protect them from harm …  and do justice to all. So help me God.”

In order to prevent the abuse of power, a separation of powers has been anchored in the United States Constitution, known as “checks and balances,” as well as via other mechanisms, for instance the limitation on the term in office for the President to no more than two terms of four years each. These checks and balances refer to mutual controls (checks) on constitutional organs of a state in order to produce a system oriented toward the success of the whole through a partial balance of power. It is, above all, put into place in order to guard against dictatorship. It has less to do with a strict separation of powers and more to do with mutual avenues for intervention, control, and accountability, for which reason the interlacing of powers is a significant aspect of the separation of powers.

Democracy has a lot to do with the question of how potential dictators can be removed and how one can get rid of lousy politicians and politicians who misuse their power.

Sir Karl Popper formulated this appropriately in 1960:

“Who should rule? This question, which begs for an authoritarian answer, such as ‘the best’ or ‘the wisest,’ or ‘the people,’ or ‘the majority’. … It should be replaced by a completely different question, such as: ‘How can we organize our political institutions so that bad or incompetent rulers (whom we should try not to get but whom we so easily might get all the same) cannot do too much damage?’” (“Erkenntnis ohne Autorität” [English translation: “Knowledge without Authority”], pp. 26-39 in Karl Popper. Lesebuch. Tübingen: Mohr, 2000, p. 32).

In 1989 in “Freiheit und intellektuelle Verantwortung” (English version: “Freedom and Intellectual Responsibility”), Popper discussed this in more detail (Karl P. Popper. Alles leben ist Problemlösen [English version: All Life is Problem Solving], pp. 239-254; additional articles on democracy pp. 207-238; a good excerpt is “Wer soll herrschen” [English title: “Who should rule?“], actually from Karl P. Popper. Alle Menschen sind Philosophen [English translation of the title: Everyone is a Philosopher] München: Piper, 2002, pp. 211-218; see also “Worauf es in der Demokratie ankommt,“ [English translation of the title: “What matters in Democracy,”] pp. 219-227). Popper understands democracy to be less “rule by the people” than it is “people’s court.” Democracy is not a way to find the best rulers, and it is also no guarantee of good decisions (“A dictatorship of the majority can be horrible for the minority”). Rather, it is the answer to the question “How can we so mold the constitution of the state so that the government can be disposed of without the shedding of blood?”

Initially, if not so completely clearly, Popper presented these thoughts in 1944 in his criticism of Plato in a section entitled “The Principle of Leadership” (Karl R. Popper. Der Zauber Platons. Die offene Gesellschaft und ihre Feinde, Vol. 1. Bern: Francke, 1957, pp. 169-174; [English Version: The Spell of Plato. The Open Society and Its Enemies]; first English version 1944; composed 1938-1943). According to Popper, the question is not who should rule. Rather, in addition to limiting power, the question which leads to democracy is how one can peacefully dispose of bad rulers (ibid., pp. 170-173).

 “…  then we must ask whether political thought should not face from the beginning the possibility of bad government … it forces us to replace the question: Who should rule? with the new question: How can we organize political institutions so that bad or incompetent rulers can be prevented from doing too much damage?“ (p. 170, German version). “I am inclined to think that rulers have rarely been above the average, either morally or intellectually, and often below it. And I think that it is reasonable to adopt, in politics, the principle of preparing as well as we can for the worst, though we should, of course, at the same time try to get the best“ (p. 172, German version).

“Thus, a paradox of democracy is the question of what one should do if the people want to elect a tyrant” (p. 173, German version).

The thought of democracy is thus inseparably linked with the thought that there can be bad rulers who plan and do evil. The experience of history teaches that democracy, better than any other form of government, can better prevent tyranny, human rights violations, and too great an abuse of power. Christians always assume the tendency of people to commit evil and for that reason consider it wise for no individual to achieve too great a concentration of power.

The separation of power in a democracy is a consequence of the Christian viewpoint that all people tend towards evil, and, for that reason, it is not a rare occasion when rulers and politicians use their power for evil. Rather, the probability is very great, indeed almost inevitable, when there are no limits and controls. This does not mean that one has to be a Christian in order to advocate a separation of power (otherwise, I would certainly not have cited Popper). However, viewed historically, this is simply the origin of the idea. And it is, for instance, one of the reasons why Islamic states, for the most part, have not established a democratic separation of power. This is the case even though a separation of power is just as simple to install in the constitution of a Muslim state as anywhere else. Yet Islam has a very optimistic view of humankind and sees evil only in unbelief and with non-believers and not in oneself. This is the case, even if in principle democracy is just as able to be practiced there; they lack the idea that politicians with good intentions might end up doing the opposite.

If humans were so good and noble, as many make them out to be, we would not need parliamentary controls, no constitutional courts to control the government, no investigating committees, and no critical press.

Again: It is not the case that only Christians are able to justify a separation of power or able to implement it. However, whoever believes only in the goodness of humankind does not actually require a separation of power. Democracy is the form of government which most soberly and naturally takes evil into account and does not want to give anyone so much power that his or her susceptibility to temptation and to evil planning and action could single-handedly drag many or even everyone into the abyss.

The financial markets show what happens when the inclination towards evil is not soberly taken into account and curbed by a separation of powers and control mechanisms. A single greedy chief executive officer can nowadays bring the world to the edge of the abyss. It is astonishing how few people make a connection to the question of evil in humankind, and even less with respect to themselves individually, in spite of all the terror it causes.

All people are sinners, part 3

20. November 2014 von · Leave a Comment 

A Basis for fighting social and structural evil

In my last two blog entries, I addressed the statement “all people are sinners.” This statement also has noteworthy sociopolitical and political significance.

The statement means that we, as Christians, do not see all sorts of social problems only as structural problems which can solely be combated with enlightenment, (re-) education, and political programs.

Behind torture, racism, hyper-capitalism, the oppression of women, and child sexual abuse – to name only a few social problems – lies the reality of sin, and as much as we might want to battle the consequences of sin locally, as much as we also want to address structural evil politically and from an overall societal standpoint, behind this is an eerie commonality which – even if it is in a suppressed form – forces its way into public view. Too many people intentionally do not use the possible ways whereby we could all do better. Rather, they attempt to obtain an advantage for themselves, even if they have to sometimes act as if they are concerned for the common good. (In Luke 22:25 Jesus said, “… and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.”)

Forms of evil such as envy, greed, hatred, and Schadenfreude (pleasure from the misfortune of others) repeatedly show their hideous face in greater and lesser matters. Without a view of the entire picture, every individual who champions sociopolitical causes remains unrealistic in his estimation of the opportunities. We have to soberly realize that the root of great social maladies is evil, i.e., sin – which dwells within many individuals as well as within social structures.

Without hatred, envy, pride, and lies, there is no racism. Without greed, addiction, and deceit, there is no exploitation. Without a lust for power and a lack of self-control, there is no abuse and sexual violence.

It is as Jesus said: It is not that which comes from without which makes us evil. Rather, it is that which comes from within us (Matthew 15:18–20, Mark 7:18–23). (Naturally, the evil which comes out of us is then malice for others that does come from outside. We are also affected by evil coming out from others individually or as structural, socially solidified sin from without.) It is not only people living after Sigmund Freud who know what sort of abyss can open up within themselves.

It is not only the claim that all people are made by God in his image that provides the foundation for public policies founded on the basis of a Christian idea of humankind. Rather, it also includes the idea that every individual can fall into temptation. Every person has to deal with the possibility that a person can surprisingly and suddenly fall from heights into severe depths. Exemplary politicians can suddenly be bribed, peaceful citizens can suddenly turn to violence, or they convert and become religious terrorists.

Christians should never say: “I would never have thought that was possible,” or “That could never have happened to me.” Indeed, everything is possible, and good politics takes this into account and makes provisions for it in order to prevent the worst. The church, using good New Testament judgment, knows that their own leaders can become a danger (e.g., Acts 20:30)! Everyone is capable of misusing power, priests with the power they hold over children, parents with the power they have over their sweet little ones, and anti-corruption agents with the power they have over their co-workers.

There are people who want to utilize radioactive materials against others. One does not have to wait until there is a reasonable concrete suspicion or discuss whether this or that individual will really strike. Rather, one has to plan now and make provisions. This is due to the fact that the evil which one can think and plan can also be carried out. Where the misjudgment led that thought Hitler would not act as evilly as he spoke and wrote is visible for all to see (comp. the introduction to my book Hitler’s _Kriegsreligion [English title translation of the title: Hitler’s War Religion]).

To be continued …

Thomas Schirrmacher