“People have often asked, and we’ve asked ourselves—how could Nazi Germany participate in the Holocaust? How can you take entire segments of your society, Jews as well as Gypsies as well as dissenting pastors, and round them up, and exterminate them in the millions?” Brock Thoene says, “Germany was widely regarded as the most advanced, the most civilized, most cultured nation in Europe of that era. It seems almost imponderable. How can you reconcile those things?”
As a renowned author of historical fiction, Brock Thoene has spent his entire career searching for the answers to these questions—and presenting the public with answers in the form of historical fiction.
There are very few authors who can lay claim to a resume as impressive as that of husband-wife writing team Brock and Bodie Thoene—they’ve produced over 65 superbly researched and beautifully written works of historical fiction, garnering eight Gold Medallion Awards from the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association. These works, including the much acclaimed Zion Covenant Series (detailing the lead-up to the creation of the State of Israel), the Zion Chronicles Series (following the events leading up to the outbreak of World War II), and the Shiloh Legacy Series (set in the USA during the Great Depression), have been published in twenty languages and sold more than 35 million copies.
Bodie, a successful journalist before turning to fiction writing, has been acclaimed by none less than actor John Wayne, who called her “a writer with talent that captures the people and the times.” Brock, a historian, is largely responsible for ensuring that the people and the times have been depicted accurately—and as a result, both the Zion Covenant and the Zion Chronicles series have been “recognized by the American Library Association, as well as Zionist libraries around the world, as classic historical novels and are used to teach history in college classrooms.”
Speaking on the phone from his office, Brock Thoene offers his own theories on the questions he has just posed to me. First, he notes, the Nazi regime demonized the Jews and other dissenters as the root of Germany’s economic problems. However, one of his theories touches rather shockingly on a very controversial issue: Abortion.
“There’s the other thing that’s often overlooked,” Thoene notes, “In the year before Hitler came to power, 1932 in Germany, there were one million abortions. Germany was not even that populous a nation—I don’t know what the German population was in 1932, but a million! A million is a significant number. If you don’t have regard for the segment of your society that is least able to defend itself, that being the unborn, then why do you accord protection to anybody else?”
This, of course, is a controversial point to say the least—but one that demands attention. Once the concept of “personhood” is separated the status of being a human being, it becomes an arbitrary label to be bestowed or rescinded by the state. Historical circumstances surrounding the denial of personhood, of course, differ widely—with one brutally evident similarity: in each case where personhood was denied to human beings—Jews, African Americans, Native Americans, and now the pre-born, the youngest members of our species—atrocities resulted. Or, in the case of abortion, are still ongoing.
To Brock Thoene, the logical progression from killing one subset of human beings into killing another is almost inevitable. “The only people who can protect the unborn are folks…who have the ability to stand up for themselves,” Thoene tells me, “Once you’ve made that decision that as a society you don’t extend the protections of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness to the unborn, it’s not really much of an issue then to say, the elderly are a drain on society, so whether they live or die is up to the state. The physically handicapped are a drain on society, so whether they live or die is up to the state. The mentally challenged, the mentally ill, all of these groups—and then it’s really not much of a stretch, it’s just one more step to say, ‘Well, the Jews…’ or whoever you want to target, Christian pastors, dissenting politicians, and so on. They are a drain on society because they are in opposition to what we know is progress.”
An uncomfortable truth, but one that the long and bloody history of man’s inhumanity to man has unfortunately borne out. The evidence of the barbarism abortion inflicts on tiny human beings is an undisputable matter of fact—yet one that everyone, including large swathes of the Christian community, seems intent on studiously ignoring. This, says Thoene, is a problem in desperate need of fixing.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a poll that ranked on how people voted and why they voted, but I suspect pro-life is way down on the scale of issues,” he says. “That is really sad, and goes to widespread moral corruption—why isn’t this issue number one? When you’re choosing a candidate, why don’t you look at that first? And that goes to a failure of leadership. Why aren’t Christian leaders saying, ‘How can you?’”
As long as Christians continue to ignore the issue of abortion, says Thoene, it will become “more and more submerged. You can’t expect a secular media to make that point—but you should be able to expect Christian pastors to make that point, and when they don’t, they have abdicated their responsibility.”
Every generation has had their struggles to deal with, and Brock Thoene believes we should be standing up to confront ours, regardless of how difficult it may be. “We look back at my [parents] and Bodie’s parents, the ones that grew up through the Great Depression and the ones that successfully fought the Second World War, and we quite rightfully say they are the Greatest Generation,” he says, “Look at the fortitude they showed, look at how they persevered through all those difficult times. I suspect, however, that if you had spoken to them while that was going on, they’d say, ‘We’d rather not have this challenge, we’d rather not have to deal with it.’”
Will things change? Brock Thoene’s answer to that question is more of a challenge: “When people will take their faith seriously and speak out unafraid regardless of the consequences, great changes happen.”
He is perhaps unconsciously repeating the words he and his wife wrote in The Key to Zion: “Being brave…is not always being unafraid. Maybe it’s more like doing what you know is right even when you’re too tired. Or scared. It’s going on and doing anyway…even when you think you can’t take one more step.”
And we have many more steps to take.