Randy and Katy Smelser

Americans living in Germany but citizens of heaven

The Case of Pastor Latzel

In January a pastor in an Evangelical Lutheran State Church in Bremen caused a stir. The District Attorney is considering taking him to court for Volksverhetzung “incitement of the people” (a term used for someone who stirs up the population to hate and mob action against a person or group). He is being called a “Hate Preacher” and “Spiritual Arson”. He is being accused by politicians as “calling for religious battles” and some are saying that he and/or his church should be thrown out of the State Church. Even some leading Evangelical voices in Germany are saying that his words were “hurtful and insulting” (ideaSpektrum 6.2015). It also interesting that while most Lutheran churches in Northern Germany average 10-20 on Sundays, he has 300.

So what did this “terrible” pastor do to cause such a ruckus? He preached from Judges 6:25-32 where Gideon is told to clear his house and the town of gods. He said that the first of the 10 Commandments is that there should be no other gods besides God. He said Christians should start at home and clean their houses of Buddha statues and good luck charms. He said that we as Christians cannot worship together with Muslims because we worship God and not Allah. He used Luther as an example against the Catholic Church and their relics. He also said that while we reject the religions we should still love the people and help them. He also said that Jesus claimed to be the only way and we as Christians have to follow him and the Bible alone. He never said we should go out and do acts of violence against anyone or any religion.

He has gone against the Zeitgeist (the philosophy of the times) and stepped on everyone’s toes. The State Church is wanting to build “Houses of One” where Islam, Judaism and Christianity all worship together. The State Church keeps having services with Muslims and praying with them. The politicians keep saying that Islam belongs to Germany and it is all the same God. And everyone is marching along admiring the “Emperor’s new clothes” until this pastor comes along.

The scary thing is, I agree with pastor Latzel. He preached the Word and God’s call for us to be holy. And that means that many of my sermons, if found by certain people, could also be used to try to force me out of the country or close down the church. This supposedly “tolerant” society is often very anti-Christian. The people who cry the loudest for tolerance seem to be the ones who are most intolerant to Christianity. Their immediate and angry reactions remind me of the Pharisees reaction to Jesus and anyone who dared defend listening to all that he had to say (Nicodemus John 7:50) or against preachers of Jesus (Stephen Acts 6:8-15; Paul Acts 22:21-23).

Although something similar might take place in the USA, there is still a culture of open discussion and separation of Church and State and there are lots of preachers still preaching that. In Germany the State Church is still mighty and politics and religion still mix. And preachers preaching Jesus alone are far and few between.

If you know German and what to hear the sermon (it is worth listening to) go to YouTube and look under “Latzel”. It is only audio.