Darrow Miller and Friends

The Power of Ideas for Good or Bad

  1. Book Burning: Nazi Version of Safe Spaces
  2. Nazis, 20th Century Postmoderns
  3. The Power of Ideas for Good or Bad

Most of our readers know that the Disciple Nations Alliance promotes a school of thought. In keeping with that, Darrow Miller and Friends is about the power of truth to transform culture, and, conversely, the power of lies to impoverish and enslave nations. The power of ideas can bless or curse a society.

We often write about Richard Weaver’s iconic phrase, Ideas have consequences! Recently we have written about how ideas have you.

Over the years we have written about the power of ideas. We have made the case that metaphysical capital is more significant for development than physical capital, i.e. money or natural resources. In this post we want to explore an example. In his book Nietzsche and the Nazis, Stephen Hicks speaks of the “intellectual muscle” of the Third Reich, a force he believes was more important than military might in World War 2.

Sixty million people perished during WW 2, a staggering three percent of the world’s population at the time. Hitler was directly responsible for the deaths of eleven million people considered “Lebensunwertes Leben” – life unworthy of life. These included six million Jews and five million other innocent civilians: Gypsies, the handicapped and mentally disabled, homosexuals. In other words, the Third Reich sought to eliminate imago Dei humans whose genetic makeup was deemed unfit for life and reproduction.

Hicks warns us not to assume another WW 2 could never happen. We need to learn from history to avert such a conflict at the stage of ideas rather than fight a war of bullets. His assessment is so important that I have chosen to quote him extensively.

The Nazis’ power of ideas drove everything else in the Third Reich

The philosophy of the Reich was abhorrent. But its intellectual muscle captivated the minds and hearts of millions. Because the German people, with few exceptions, were captured by these ideas, they created the parallel military muscle to challenge Europe and the world.

By the 1930s, the Nazis had the entire political and economic muscle of Germany at their disposal—but more important than that, they had intellectual muscle behind them and they had a set of philosophical ideals that motivated and energized millions of people. That intellectual and idealistic power more than anything made the Nazis an awesome force to be reckoned with. History has taught us that the philosophy and ideals the Nazis stood for were and are false and terribly destructive, but we do not do ourselves any favors by writing the Nazis off as madmen or as an historical oddity that will never happen again. The Nazis stood for philosophical and political principles that appealed to millions—that attracted some of the best minds of their generation—and that still command the minds and hearts of people in all parts of the world.[1]

The remarkable power of ideas

Many Christians dismiss the power of ideas. We do so at our own risk. We are enamored by Twitter and Facebook and are used to shallow thinking and “sound bites.” We are used to images rather than words, to feeling and emotions rather than reason and intellect. Hicks alerts us to the choice we face: either fight the ideas with better ideas, or with bullets in the streets.

But we have a choice: We either fight those ideas in theory or we fight them in practice. We either fight them in the intellectual realm or we fight them on the battlefield. It might still come to fighting them on the battlefield—but that is always the most terrible option, the most expensive in every possible way, and the one we should avoid if there is any other way to defeat them. So that means that defeating National Socialism intellectually is the strategy we should follow first. Defeating them intellectually means taking their positions seriously, understanding them, and knowing how to argue against them.

We need to defeat ideas intellectually, with words that translate into deeds. To do that we must take them seriously and ourselves seriously. We need to know who we are and know the nature and character of our opponents.

Europe as we have known it—the seat of Western Civilization—is dying. Europeans no longer know who they are or why they exist. They have cut themselves off from their historic roots in Judeo-Christian theism. As a result, they are not having babies at a rate that will support a national identity. In a word, Europe is committing cultural suicide.

Given the power of ideas, how do we resist evil?

The United States is not far behind. The nation is divided between those who have pride in their national heritage and those who do not. In a recent speech, New York City Governor Andrew Cuomo said that America “was never that great.” The mixture of applause and gasps from his audience reflects the national divide.

Hicks writes that to defeat an opponent we need to know your enemy and know yourself.

So that means that defeating National Socialism intellectually is the strategy we should follow first. Defeating them intellectually means taking their positions seriously, understanding them, and knowing how to argue against them.

The second rule of politics is: Know your enemy. The first rule of politics is: Know yourself. Know what you stand for and why. Know what matters to you fundamentally and what you are willing to do to achieve it—and, when necessary, to fight to defend it.

As we enter this postmodern era, with its rising tide of irrational thinking and its new fascist violence from the far left (Antifa) and the far right (white supremacists), we need to know the ideology of our opponents. But even more, we need to know who we are. We need to understand and appreciate the incredible legacy of Judeo-Christian theism and the Western Civilization that it built. We need to manifest both intellectual and moral muscle to emancipate the world from poverty and tyranny.

  • Darrow Miller


[1] All quotations from Nietzsche and the Nazis by Stephen R.C. Hicks, (Kindle Locations 1651-1659). Ockham’s Razor. Kindle Edition.

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).


  1. cam

    October 22, 2018 - 10:44 am

    This excellent piece serves as a real wake up call. That is, we can either vigorously pursue the war of ideas, or someone will be engaging in a war with guns.

    I don’t know that the good will prevail in the idea conflict, but it is essential that the attempt is made.

    • admin

      October 22, 2018 - 5:46 pm

      Thanks Cam

      Glad you found this helpful.


  2. Bob Evans

    October 22, 2018 - 2:08 pm

    Darrow – Yet another well thought and timely message. Indeed, we live in a time where we need to, as you say, “manifest both intellectual and moral muscle to emancipate the world from poverty and tyranny.” We also need to understand the times we live in and that God knew and told of them long ago.

    Yesterday, in my daily Bible reading I came across a verse I have read many times but didn’t really see until now. Daniel 8 is one of the great passages of eschatology. It is Daniel’s vision of the ram, goat and the little, boastful horn. “From one of them came a small horn. But it grew to be very big, …. It also acted arrogantly against the Prince of the army, from whom the daily sacrifice was removed and whose sanctuary was thrown down. The army was given over, along with the daily sacrifice, in the course of his sinful rebellion. It hurled truth to the ground and enjoyed success.” Dan 8:9-12 NET Bible.

    We do appear to be living in such a time where truth is hurled to the ground, God’s people are trampled on (as implied in Dan 8:13) and those who do so enjoy [some measure] of success. The encouragement is what the Bible says of our response and the final outcome. We are called to practice the Truth in Love (Eph 4:15) to build others up (not tear them down). We can continue in hope of God’s good end. The final words of the vision (Dan 8:13-14) let us know that this will only happened for a season then the sanctuary will be cleansed and restored.

    Thank you for continuing the good fight, speaking (and practicing) the Truth in Love, encouraging all of us to “grow up into Christ”

    Bob Evans