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Saturday, December 28, 2013

† Church Attacked by the State ("The Salt of the Earth" by Pastor Niemöller, June 1937) †

The Salt of the Earth
by Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (14Jan1892–6Mar1984) who was a German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor.  He is best known for his statement "First they came ...". (Wikipedia)

     What follows are excerpts from a sermon Pastor Martin Niemöller delivered to his small congregation in Berlin-Dahlem just two weeks before being arrested by the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.  He was sent to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, and later to a similar facility at Dachau.  He survived eight years in these concentration camps before being liberated in 1945.
     At the time of this sermon (June 1937) Christian churches in Germany were under heavy persecution.  Church members were being arrested and machine-gun fire was increasing in the streets.  Young members of Hitler's Secret police were often ordered to attend church services in order to spy on members and clergy.
     With full knowledge of these occurrences, Pastor Niemöller delivered a courageous and inspiring message of Christian fidelity in the face of terrible adversity.

     You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5: 13-16)
     And now, dear brothers and sisters, tonight, in this hour of worship, we cannot help remembering those who belong to our congregation, to the company of Christ's disciples, and who cannot be here with us this evening.  We hear the names of those who, for the Gospel's sake, are hampered in their freedom or robbed of it.
     (Here follows a reading of the list of those who have been forbidden to speak, evicted or arrested.)
     Dear brethren, this list has now become shockingly long: it includes over seventy names of pastors and church members, men and women, young and old.  No one in Germany can say whether the number is complete.  Each of us has a foreboding that it may become larger still, as it has grown from day to day even this past week.
     What are these pastors and church members accused of?  During the last four years we have been taught to have an extremely bad opinion of church members who have been taken into custody.  God be praised and thanked: our brothers and sisters cannot be reproached with the slightest trace of any reprehensible behavior.
     On the contrary, these people have all been banished from their homes, condemned to be silent and thrown into prison, because they considered it their duty to denounce attacks against the Christian faith freely and publicly; and to condemn interference with Christian worship fearlessly.  There is not one among them against whom another reproach can be leveled.
     Our brothers and sisters can plead that they have been appointed by a higher power.  One who calls upon us through His Word to resist the propaganda of unbelief.  One who warns the church against defection, and bids them to make intercession for those who have fallen away from the faith.  One who has ordered us to take up an offering for the needs of the congregation.
     What is happening today to our brothers and sisters brings us up against three unequivocal questions, the first of which is: "Does the Church of Christ still have the right today which the Fuhrer has confirmed with his word, to allow us to defend ourselves against attacks on the Church?  Or are the people right who forbid us -- the Christian community -- to defend ourselves against unbelief, and cast us into prison?"
     Brothers and sisters, the second question is also quite simple: "Is the congregation to be allowed to learn who has left the church and may it be called upon to offer prayers of intercession for the deserters; or is that not allowed?"
     And the third question is this: "Does the Fuhrer's word still hold good?"  Has the Church the right -- which has been guaranteed it from ancient times -- to collect alms in the congregation, or can this right to bring offerings in accordance with the will of Christ be forbidden by the stroke of a pen?  No one has yet been imprisoned because of this ban, but a notice appeared in the newspaper the day before yesterday to the effect that collections may no longer be taken unless they are sanctioned by the church authorities set up by the state.
     Brothers and sisters, no-one knows today whether the Fuhrer's word still holds good, or whether the words of others, who order the opposite of what has been promised to the Church, hold good.  We cannot get away from this question.  And as long as one man is left in prison, as long as one person remains evicted, as long as one is forbidden to speak because he has replied to attacks against the Church, or because he has quite clearly called desertion of the faith desertion, or has been put in prison for collecting offerings, the question as to whether the word of the Fuhrer holds good is answered in the negative.
     Dear brethren, in this situation, of which we may well say that it could not possibly be darker or more insecure -- the remnant of our church leaders wander about Germany as homeless fugitives.  Frau Asmussen was cross-examined for hours today at the Alexanderplatz, after she waited for four hours for her trial, because she could not give information as to her husband's whereabouts; for they would like to put the rest of the members of the Prussian Council of Brethren under lock and key.  The Prussian Church is without a leader, the service rooms of the Prussian Church leaders are locked, the typewriters have been taken away from them and they have no money -- in such a situation these words strike us as rather peculiar: "You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world."
     When I read these words today, they became really new to me, and I had to go back and reread them.  I had a feeling of inward relief when I found the words which I knew preceded them: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven: for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you!"  And then it goes on: "You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world!" as though there were no gap between the persecution of the community of Jesus Christ and the "You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world," but as though they were directly connected.
     I must say that in this passage -- which I have known since I was a boy -- I today realized for the first time that the Lord Jesus Christ is telling His disciples: "You will be reviled and persecuted, you will be falsely slandered," and immediately He adds: "You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world."
     The Lord Jesus Christ draws our attention to this responsibility: "But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?"  Our responsibility is not how we shall pass on the salt, but we are to see that the salt really is, and continues to be, salt.  So that the Lord Jesus Christ -- who is, as one might say, the cook in charge of this great brew -- can utilize the salt for His purposes.
     The Christian community at this moment is in danger of being thrown into the same pot as the world: that is to say: it must keep itself distinct from the rest of the world by virtue of its "saltiness."  How does Christ's community differ from the world?
     We have come through a time of peril -- and we are not finished with it yet -- when we were told: "You really must suit your message to the world; you really must bring your creed into harmony with the present.  Then you will again become influential and powerful."
     Dear brethren, that means: The salt loses its saltiness.  It is not for us to worry about how the salt is employed, but to see that it does not lose its saltiness.  The Gospel must remain the Gospel and the Church must remain the Church.  And we must not  -- for Heaven's sake -- make a German Gospel out of the Gospel; we must not -- for Heaven's sake -- make a German Church out of Christ's Church!
     It is precisely when we bring the salt into accord and harmony with the world, that we make it impossible for the Lord Jesus Church, through His Church, to do anything in our nation.  But if the salt remains salt, we may trust Him with it.  He will use it in such a way that it becomes a blessing.
     And the other picture which the Lord Jesus Christ holds up to us: "You are the light of the world."  We hear these words and yet we worry about something that ceases to exist in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  What are we worrying about?  When I read out the names, a little while ago, did we not think: "Alas, will this wind, this storm, that is going through the world just now, not blow out the Gospel candle?  We must therefore take the message in, out of the storm, and put it in a safe nook."
     It is only during these days that I have understood what the Lord Jesus Christ means when He says: "Do not cover up the light!  I have not lit the candle for you to put it under a bowl, in order to protect it from the wind.  Away with the bowl!  The light should be placed upon a candlestick!  It is not your business to worry about whether the light is extinguished or not by the storm."  We are not to worry about that.  It is His concern.  We are only to see that the light is not hidden away -- hidden away perhaps with a noble intent, that we may bring it out again in calmer times -- NO!: "Let your light shine before men!"
     Brothers and sisters, that is the strange crossroads to which we have been brought today.  It has come to this: we are being accosted on all sides, by statesmen as well as by "the man in the street," who tell us: "For God's sake, do not speak so loudly or you will land in prison.  Do not speak so plainly: surely you can also say all that in a more obscure fashion!"
     Brothers and sisters, we are not allowed to put our light under a bowl.  If we do so, we are disobedient.  But we have received our commission from Him Who is the Light of the World.  He does not need us as wicks.  He can take other wicks as well, other believers on whom He can set up His light as on a candlestick.
     It is no business of ours whether the light is blown out or not.  "He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it."  And that is true of the life of the congregation exactly as it holds good for the life of the individual Christian. Surely the practical meaning of this is: I must speak once again today, for perhaps I shall no longer be able to do so next Sunday: I have to tell you that today, once again as plainly as I can, for who knows what next Sunday may bring forth?
     It is our duty to speak: on this charge of ours depends the promise, whether God will keep His word and keep alive the light; the "poor flickering candle of the Gospel" in our nation.  It all depends upon whether we are ready to do what we are bidden and to preach the message and to let the light shine forth.
     But the Lord Jesus Christ has given us still a third picture of the church.  "A city on a hill cannot be hidden."  And this image, which gleams through the text once, is intended to direct our attention away from the salt-shaker and the candlestick to the city on the hill. The salt disappears when it is sprinkled on anything.  The candle burns down.  Thus shall the Christian community be consumed in the service of its Lord.  But the city that is eternal is firmly founded upon a holy hill.  In the confusion and distress of our days this hope is held out to us: God's city is firmly established!
     Dear friends, it is in our efforts on behalf of the preaching of the Word that the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ is fulfilled to us.  We are the city on the hill which has been promised that even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
     The city of God cannot remain hidden.  Brothers and sisters, the city of God will not be blown down by the storm.  It will not be conquered even though the enemy take its outer walls.  The city of God will stand, because its strength comes from on high, because the Lamb is with it, and so it will remain firmly established.
     Perhaps we have reached the point today where, after four years of being guided and kept faithful to our beliefs, God is asking us for proof that we can also find the way alone now, that we have not allied ourselves with men, but with the one Lord Who is and ever will be the Chief Shepherd of His sheep.
     As the Word of God says, "Heaven and earth shall pass away -- but the Word of God will never pass away!"  Brothers and sisters, we will place our trust in that.  Happy is the one who accepts the sign of grace, who has learned to rely upon it, as one who stands fast and is firmly established, though the storms may roar and the waters rise.
     And may God help us all to learn this trust!

reposted from

Martin Niemöller, a German U-boat commander in WW I, studied theology after that war, was ordained and began ministering at a church in Berlin-Dahlem in 1931.  After WW II, he enjoyed a remarkable and distinguished career as a Christian spokesman and leader.  Born on 14 Jan 1892 in Lippstadt.

Oberleutnant zur See - (Crew 4/10).  (22 Mar 1916)
Died on 6 Mar 1984, Wiesbaden. Commands: 
UC 67 15 Jun 1918  -  29 Nov 1918
 Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller joined the U-boat fleet in 1915 and served on several U-boats.  He first trained on the U-3, then in February 1916 joined U-73 (Gustav Sieß) as second officer.  From Jan 1917 he served on the hugely successful boat U-39 (Walter Forstmann).  During the next 8 months Forstmann and his crew sank no less than 35 ships for over 90,000 tons of shipping.  Niemöller then became the first officer on the U-151 (Waldemar Kophamel) in August 1917.  U-151 undertook one of the most successful patrols of the war shortly after that.      Niemöller finally got his own boat, UC-67, on 15 June 1918 and sank 3 Allied ships before the armistice on 11 Nov 1918.
After the war he briefly became a farmer before studying Protestant theology from 1919 to 1923.  He was ordained in 1924 and became a pastor at Dahlem (suburb of Berlin) in 1931.  'From U-boat to PulpitBy Niemoller, Martin; 1936, W. Hodge, London; 217 pages in WW I, studied theology after that war, was ordained and began ministering at a church in Berlin-Dahlem in 1931.  Descripton: The commander of UC-67 describes his wartime and postwar career. - This book has been translated from another language

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and A Speaker GIF Image. Scots Wha Hae (bagpipes) by the 48th Highlanders of Canada (7MB, .mp3, 3m14s)
and A Speaker GIF Image. Scots Wha Hae, bagpipes solo (1.3MB, .mp3, 1m22s)
and A Speaker GIF Image. Scots Wha Hae (2.7MB, .mp3, 3m4s; 'The Corries' ["Battle songs of Scotland", sung by Ronnie Browne solo] & A Speaker GIF Image. Scots Wha Hae with pipes (4.3MB, .mp3, 4m29s)
Material published on Harrold's blog is collected from email forwards, public articles, and my opines or those submitted by users.  I try to avoid copyrighted material.  If anything on this site has been copyrighted by you, please contact me so it can be removed or give you credit. -- Robert Harrold small envelope • cite info:
"As a nation we have been asleep for years.  Lulled by affluence and self-indulgent apathy, our collective awareness has grown dim.  This has created an opening for our enemies, one that may ultimately prove fatal.  This is the truth and what we do, or don't do, will determine the consequences, for better or worse.  It is time to decide." --
The Manhattan Declaration

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About Me

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El Centro, California, United States
mailto: Robert Harrold formerly dba AERC, El Centro, CA, US 92243

Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta, ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.
Do me justice, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy; rescue me from the deceitful and unjust man.
- Psalm 43 KJV, 42 Douay Rheims  (

There are certain universal truths.  There is right and wrong.  Life is, choice Isn't.  The 2nd Amendment is for you and me, not the government.

"We failed to react appropriately to them and, instead, displayed weakness.  And, the weak are always beaten."  ~~ Vladimir Putin

"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." - George Orwell on a BBC broadcast, April 4, 1942

"An armed society is a polite society." -- Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer

Before you sign anything, ask an Indian first.
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