If Hitler was a Christian, I’m the Queen of England

Occasionally you’ll bump into someone who is convinced that the Holocaust was a result of Christianity.

Now, I could dismiss this and laugh it off (no pearls before the swine). But then you would never know if it was true, and if you were searching for reasons to abandon your Christian belief then my reaction would seem cowardly. So let us discuss the matter.

Was Adolf Hitler a Christian? And, if so, is Christianity to blame for the Holocaust?

Let’s first consider a simple truth. You cannot judge an idea by the actions of those who claim to follow the idea but yet do not. If those who claim the idea are actually following it, then you can judge the idea by their actions. If they are not, then you have no right to judge in this manner.

Here is an illustration. A man tells you that he is vegan. He then goes and devours a live lamb. Is this the fruit of veganism? Is veganism responsible for the devouring of live lambs? The man’s actions go against the teaching he espouses, so the act can not be blamed on the teaching. Even if you say that the man is still a vegan—a vegan who at this point chose to devour a live lamb—you cannot say that his act stemmed from his belief. And if the man continually devours meat, then you cannot say that he is a true vegan. He just preaches veganism.

If someone claims to follow a teaching and does not, and he commits actions that are contrary to that teaching, then you cannot blame his actions on the teaching, whether he attributes them to the teaching or not.

If you do not understand this, you are a fool. I don’t care where you graduated from, or who you know.

Now, I will admit that many Christians have tried to deny that Adolf Hitler claimed any kind of Christianity. From the earliest formation of the Nazi party it is true that Hitler expressed Christian rhetoric to his soldiers and devotees. But he also expressed rhetoric that is anti-Christian in nature. Much of it was hate-driven, fear-mongering political talk, which is detestable to Jesus.

Of course American media and education will neglect to mention that Nazi Germany was promoted through Christian rhetoric. This is sometimes done out of fear by those who do not know how to accept and handle this truth. Sometimes it is merely out of ignorance.

You can promote any agenda using God’s words if you a) do not take them as the whole and/or b)pervert them with the words of something that is not of God. If you mix clear water with poison, it is not the water that killed a man, but the poison you placed inside it.

FACT: Hitler was baptized as a Roman Catholic.
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: Baptism doesn’t guarantee you will adhere to the teachings of Christianity your whole life.  It is meant to be a symbol of you putting on Christ and desiring to follow those teachings your whole life, but scores and scores of people have been known to be baptized merely to have the label “Christian” placed on their shoulders, or to look good for a certain segment of society.  Or they were baptized as children, and grow up to have no interest in pursuing the faith.

FACT: Hitler attended a monastary where he first saw the swastika symbol.
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: The swastika is a symbol that had multiple and diverse meanings long before the Nazi movement. Rudyard Kipling would even put them in his books because they were a spiritual symbol in India. When Hitler rose to power, Kipling removed as many of these as he could for fear that he would be associated with Hitler.
Hence, the swastika is an illustration of how a symbol can have a meaning that can be abused by someone who becomes transfixed with it. A thousand of years from now, if WWII is no longer so heavy on the minds of historians, the swastika, like many other symbols in history, may arise again in certain communities with meanings completely different from Nazi Germany. Hitler abused the swastika to his own ends, much like how he abused the cross.

The swastika is a simple pattern found in many cultures and carrying different meanings. Hitler did not invent it, and it ties no more to the cross than any other symbol made of criss-crossing lines.  [Note: The “Christian” swastika, for example, is virtually non-existent in Christianity outside of fringe “Christian identity” and Nazi groups that taint the teachings of Christ with racist and nationalist teachings.]

 

FACT: Hitler was never excommunicated or condemned by the Catholic Church in his life, to our knowledge. The Popes gave Hitler veto power over whom the pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany.
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: Catholic tradition has advanced an amalgamation of church and state that has been a thorn in the side of Christ. I am not downplaying here the good that has been done through Catholic people and institutions, but the Catholic heirarchy is a continual attempt to institutionalize Christianity so that it functions like a human government, something Jesus never would have wanted. Even if many Christian bodies failed to condemn Hitler’s ideology and actions, some did, and Jesus would have too.

FACT: Hitler wrote in a speech about an alliance between “the church” and Nazi Germany. He said, “The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germans means the acknowledgment of the National Socialist state by the Catholic Church. This treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that [Nazism] is hostile to religion is a lie.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: Well, Hitler lied. His theory and praxis of Nazism is contrary to the words of Jesus. It doesn’t matter what he said. Nazism is hostile to pure and undefiled religion. Jesus said to minister to the downtrodden and needy. Hitler burned handicapped people in ovens.
I can sit here and torture a 5-year-old all day, but just because I have a letter from the Catholic pope telling me that it’s okay because I convinced him that the baby is possessed by the devil doesn’t mean that the teaching and life of Jesus are the cause of my actions.

FACT: There is evidence that the Catholic church absorbed Nazi ideals and preached them, and likewise Hitler placed some Catholic teachings in public education.
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: Well, shame on the Catholic church for making that deal. Another reason why Christianity was not meant to be in an unholy marriage with the state. The origins of Christianity are based on the sayings and actions of a man who would have condemned this systematized calamity apparently done in his name.

FACT: Hitler killed homosexuals for being homosexual, killed Jews for being Jews.
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: And what does that have to do with Jesus? Nothing. This is in contrast with how Jesus lived his life and wished his people to live their lives.  Jesus was killed for being king of the Jews.  And when he looked down from the cross on both Romans and Jews, he asked God to forgive them.

FACT: Hitler declared the following: “The National Socialist State professes its allegiance to positive Christianity. It will be its honest endeavor to protect both the great Christian Confessions in their rights, to secure them from interference with their doctrines, and in their duties to constitute a harmony with the views and the exigencies of the State of today”
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: It doesn’t matter if you profess allegiance to something. If you abandon the allegiance by your actions you are the one held responsible, not the ideal you pledged allegiance to. “I declare allegiance to Jesus, who asked God to forgive those who killed him. And now I will wage carnal war on the race that I hold responsible for killing Jesus.” Sorry, Adolf, but you are not loyal to Jesus.

FACT: Austria/German education held that Jews were inferior to Aryan Christians.
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: Jesus taught “We are neither Greek, nor Jew.” Therefore, Hitler’s teaching was un-Christian. It was nationalistic, jingoistic, racist, inhumane, and irrational. Hitler was an admirer of Martin Luther, who wrote a pamphlet that encouraged the hatred of Jews. Well, if Hitler got his hatred of Jews from the Bible, there would be evidence of that. Instead, there is only evidence of Hitler getting his hatred of the Jews from a so-called “Christian” tradition begun by a man who, although having much good work for Christianity otherwise, held a deep-seated hatred that was un-Christian.

FACT: Hitler drew up a charter for Germany that promoted Christianity.
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: In name only. Christianity in name only. You cannot promote something, then carry out something contrary to it, and still call yourself an adherent to that thing without being a liar and a hypocrite.

FACT: The Nazi regime began to control schooling, forcing that Christianity be taught.
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: But we must ask whether authentic Christianity was being taught. a) If you leave out parts, then you are not teaching the actual thing. b) If you add parts to it, then you are not teaching the actual thing. c) If you do either of these, and/or if you encourage attitudes, beliefs, and practices contrary to that teaching, you have nullified that teaching. This is what Hitler did.

FACT: The Nazi regime included anti-Semitic Christian writings in textbooks and they were not removed from Christian doctrines until 1961.
THE BIGGER PICTURE CALLED TRUTH: Anti-Semitism was directly preached against by Jesus long before Hitler was born. Jesus was a Jew. It doesn’t matter what regime incorporates Christian teaching with anti-Semitism. It did not come from Jesus.

Compare Hitler’s words with those of true Christianity:

Hitler- “National Socialism is not a cult-movement– a movement for worship; it is exclusively a ‘volkic’ political doctrine based upon racial principles.”
(rhetorical) Jesus- “My kingdom is not of this world.” Therefore, Christ was not advancing a conventionally political movement, but one that transcendent politics.

Hitler- “We thus serve the maintenance of a divine work and fulfill a divine will.”
Jesus- “Hitler, you did not do my will. I know you not. To Hell with your lies.”

Hitler- “We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement.”
Jesus- “Just because you’re against atheism does not mean I accept you as my follower. You have merely used one ungodly ‘ism’ to combat another ungodly ‘ism’.”

Hitler- “My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth!”
Jesus- “At what point did I ever summon men to fight a physical war against the Jews? On the contrary—if you read my word you would know that I begged God to forgive all those who had a hand in my crucifixion, for they did not truly know the magnitude of the deed. To Hell with you and your lies.”

Hitler- “The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew.”
Jesus- “You didn’t get that from me. I was a Jew.  And by the way, I revealed to John that a nation too big for its pants, like Rome (and Nazi Germany), is likened unto the devil.”

Hitler- Any violence which does not spring from a firm, spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain.”
Jesus- “Blessed are the peacemakers. If someone strikes at you, turn your other cheek and let them strike it also. Put down your sword. Put down your sword. Put down your sword.”

Hitler- “The anti-Semitism of the new movement [Christian Social movement] was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.” [remember in another quote he said it was based on racial principles]
Jesus- “So what if you don’t think you’re a racist? So what if you claim this is religiously motivated? You didn’t get these ideas from me. I never told my followers to go killing people for not believing in me or to fix the economy. That is not part of the Christian covenant.”

Hitler was a politically minded man who, in a time of desperation, warped Christian rhetoric into his political schemes in order to gain support from those around him who called themselves Christian. Let this be a warning to any generation. To approve of a marriage of church and state is to render unto Caesar what belongs to God. To warp the Christian doctrine to gather support for political agendas is contrary to the will of God. The teachings of Christ were meant to remain pure, to be passed down amongst the people, not fooled with by a hierarchical committee and melded with jingoistic nationalism.

HItler- “Hate is more lasting than dislike.”
Jesus- “I tell me people to love their enemies.  I’ve lasted longer than you, and I was born before you.  I am love.

Hitler- “Any alliance whose purpose is not the intention to wage war is senseless and useless.”
Jesus- “Once again, I bless the peacemakers. My followers are told to live at peace with all men to the best of their ability. I want them to beat their swords into scythes.”

As Hitler said, if you tell a lie often enough people will begin to believe it. Hitler was a liar. He convinced people that his agenda was Christian in nature. It is one of the most terrible lies ever told.

Hitler was a Christian, to the extent that he claimed to be one; to the extend that Hitler faithfully followed Christian teaching, Hitler was in no way a Christian. If we admit to calling him a Christian, we must also admit that he was a terrible one, having deviated from God’s plan quite obtusely. If he is a Christian, he is one of the most un-Christian Christians to ever live.

The followers of Christ are imperfect people. We slip up a lot. If I hold to the teachings of Christ, though I slip and fall at times, I remain Christian, even in those moments when I stumble.

But if I adopt a philosophical agenda that is un-Christian and I preach it, think it, and live it, I am no longer truly Christian. I am only wielding a flag in order to gather followers under an abominable campaign.

Adolf Hitler is one of History’s most blatant examples of this contamination of Christianity with insane political agendas contrary to the teachings of Christ.  He’s not a lesson against Christ; he’s a lesson against contaminating Christ with Caesar.

Hitler a Christian? Then I’m the Queen of England.

7 responses to “If Hitler was a Christian, I’m the Queen of England

  1. “…Martin Luther, who wrote a pamphlet that encouraged the hatred of Jews.”[Citation needed]

    Though Hitler had connections to the Roman Catholic Church, his promotion of “Christianity” was not Catholicism. (I’m not accusing; I know you didn’t say this.) I recently found that Hitler started his own church in Germany. When Nazism fell, so did this church.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reich_Church

  2. How strange in 1543, Luther speaks so well of Jews saying that they should be shown kindness and love and to not slander the Jews, then in 1544, Luther speaks so horribly of the Jews wishing them to come to utter ruin and wishing to do them harm. How strange!

  3. Luther had written a tract in 1523 called “Jesus Christ was Born a Jew” to refute some haters who were claiming he did not believe in the virgin birth. In this tract–which was as virulent a piece of anti-Catholicism as anything he ever wrote–he actually said that if he’d been born a Jew in a place under the sway of the papacy, he’d have stayed a Jew. His words: “If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian. They have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings; they have done little else than deride them and seize their property.” Luther wrote at that point with a deep degree of sympathy for the Jews. In a Table Talk from the same period, Luther decided that since the Jews and his burgeoning sect had a common enemy in the Catholics, he would try the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” play. “Popedom, with its abominations and profanities,” he wrote “has given to the Jews infinite offence. I am persuaded if the Jews heard our preaching, and how we handle the Old Testament, many of them might be won.” This was not to be the case. Luther was over-enthusiastic in believing that with a little kindness and some “better” preaching, a 1500-year-old rift could be easily sewn up. By 1536, frustrated at the lack of Jewish responsiveness to his overtures, he announced that he would no longer dialogue with Jews. He held true to this, when in the following year, he refused to intercede on for safe passage on behalf of Jews with his benefactor John Frederick. Around this time Luther began to hear rumors of Jewish plots to assassinate him. Sometimes these were woven into pretty elaborate conspiracy theories that also implicated the Pope. Anyway, the primary impetuses for Luther’s anti-Semitic bent later in life seem to have been a mixture of frustrated expectations, conspiracy theories, and sheer tribalism.

  4. Caleb: I think that the rift between Luther and the Jews can help us better appreciate the rift between church and synagogue begins in our New Testament and obtains–sometimes widening–in most of Christian history. I also would argue that Luther’s response to his controversies with his Jewish neighbors provides a template for what the church ought NOT to do. Luther more or less got hurt by frustrated expectations about mass Jewish conversions. Rather than trusting if God was to be his God, he had to allow him to be the God of Jews as well, Luther took his frustrations out on them by using his civic connections to deny them access to safe travel. His reasoning? “[M]y opinion was, and still is, that one should treat the Jews in a kindly manner, that God may perhaps look graciously upon them and bring them to their Messiah—but not so that through my good will and influence they might be strengthened in their error and become still more bothersome.” Ah ha. Perhaps he was trying cover his personal grievance under a patina of theological legitimacy, having in mind 2 John 1.10: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” In other words by NOT appealing to his donor John Frederick to allow safe passage to Jews, he was essentially telling them, “You are not welcome in my house, nor do I wish you God speed.” Whatever the case, Luther’s logic sounds suspiciously similar to what you hear from the more tribalistic elements among the Religious Right.

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