For today’s feedback Friday, we encounter a VERY common claim among the less educated skeptics on the Internet- the idea that Hitler was a Christian, and along with it the idea that we have no reason to reject his claim that he was a Christian. As my reply begins with referring to the comment as a “novelette,” you should get the idea that is was a HUGE amount of words, even if not a lot of logical thought. Welcome to the internet.
So I chose to focus on this one key point, and to my faithful reader, I said;
Greetings once again!
This novelette has far too much for me to reply to right now, but there were a couple of points which I won’t be able to sleep until I address, and here is the most important:
You: “On what planet does hitler constantly proclaiming his christian beliefs not in any way support the idea that he was christian? What in the world possibly could by that standard? Do we need to find some of his DNA and prove he had the christian gene or something?”
I understand your point, and I can’t fault you for not knowing better, as the America church is barely literate enough to know better. This has been a major frustration of mine for years, but I digress. Your point is a common one- you feel that being a Christian is no more than being a Cubs fan. You say, “Heck, I’ll root for this team,” and that’s all there is to it. I say I’m a Cubs fan and that makes me a Cubs fan. Case closed.
But that is not at all what being a Christian is. That is, admittedly, all it takes to be a Lutheran, or a Methodist, or a Baptist. But choosing to attend a particular church doesn’t make one a Christian any more than going to Wrigley Field makes one a baseball player. Or as we used to say in the 1980’s:
Standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car!
If you read the New testament, Jesus and the apostles make this very point. James 2:19 says “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”
Jesus himself makes the distinction between his true followers and those who play the part in public in Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus himself does not distinguish between “Believe in me” and “follow me” and even “Obey me.” But he DOES separate those from “You CLAIMED to be mine,” or “you used my name.” Jesus says this in Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
This is yet again distinguished in 1 John 2:19 where it says of “former believers”
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
In short, there is nothing in the New Testament which would accept mere name dropping as equivalent to being a real follower of Christ. It’s not an arbitrary label to slap on yourself. It’s an act of the will- a dedication of one’s entire being, much like being married. This is why the church is called the “Bride of Christ.” We’re not the girlfriend. We’re a committed, covenant people- promised and wedded, paid for and united as one with our Lord.
That is the only kind of Christian who actually exists.
A Christian in name only is NOT a Christian at all. No we do not have new DNA, but we have a new heart and a new spirit. The fruits of the spirit Paul lists in Galatians 5:22 are a DNA test for Christians. CS Lewis talks about this in Mere Christianity, and if you’ve not read that I HIGHLY recommend it. It delivers what the title promises.
And of course, since Jesus taught very clearly about his will and what it means to follow him, then that is the standard for being a Christian. Just as I cannot say, “I’ve rejected the teachings of Mohammed and the Koran, but I still consider myself a Muslim” (For what sense would that make?) one cannot reject the teachings of Jesus and consider himself (with any reason) a Christian. So even if Hitler truly considered himself to be a Christian, all you have to do is go to the teaching of Jesus to see that nothing could be further from the truth. To claim he was a Christian is merely absurd and indefensible.
Jesus called the Jews his brothers, not a poison.
Jesus taught to love your enemies, not to murder them.
Jesus taught to turn the other cheek, not to use violence to conquer the world.
When even the church organizations have done otherwise, they have NOT acted as Christians, and in many cases proved that they were NOT Christians. This is what Martin Luther said of many of the later Crusaders. He said, “They call themselves a Christian army when there is not but five real Christians among them.” This distinction is not one I made up or one of the modern church. It comes from Jesus and the apostles. A Christian in name only is NOT a Christian.
You make what you do not realize is a closely related point here: “This is why entire groups of people have only ever been converted by force, whereas no one had to mass-murder everyone who didn’t accept that the earth was round for the idea to gain acceptance. Because it’s objectively true.”
This is the by product of modern American disinformation.
You believe all religions to be the same, and since Islam spread by the sword, all the rest must as well? It simply isn’t true. The fact is, the Christian church has ALWAYS grown the fastest and the strongest under the greatest persecution. You live in America where the church is dying a fast food death of comfort and selfishness. The Christian Church has been growing the fastest in places like China, North Korea, and Iran, where it is illegal and being Christian or even merely owning a Bible can bring prison or the death penalty. Christianity doesn’t spread by the sword because it is not a religion. It spreads by the love of Jesus and his people, and it always has. Yet, to counter your point, communist nations have inflicted atheism at gunpoint for a century. What does that say of your belief if it needs to be forced on the people by violence?
Let me wrap up with the main point of my original post:
No matter what Hitler said, his actions are in line and completely compatible with Atheistic Darwinism. If you are an atheist as you claim, then you have no moral basis on which to condemn the Nazis for slaughtering millions and attempting to do far more. There is NO sin you can condemn, because on your view there is no sin. How can anything be WRONG on atheism? (For more on Hitler and those living our Darwinism like him, watch this: http://youtu.be/FmemCYs9sLk)
But you KNOW that rape, murder, genocide, theft, lies, betrayal, etc. are wrong- if not by your actions then by your reactions when you or those you love are the victim. You KNOW there is good and evil. I do not need to convince you of that. You already know. But if atheism cannot account for the mere existence of Good and Evil, then the conclusion, while perhaps uncomfortable to you, is inevitable. You are not an atheist. If you were, you would not believe that ANYTHING was right or wrong. It makes no sense. You claim we “evolved” empathy, etc. But so what? Some animals evolved cannibalistic habits. Others force themselves sexually on their peers. If you want to look to nature to explain your own morals, you will again find them baseless and ungrounded.
Here are some things you already know, which I don’t need to convince you of: there is right and wrong. There are shouldn’ts and shoulds. No one is perfect. Justice means punishing the guilty in accordance with their crime. Mercy means paying someone else’s debt. You and I are liars and thieves, we’ve lusted and lied, stolen and hurt, been selfish and hateful. We have a debt we cannot pay. These ideas are common to everyone in history, from Hammurabi to Moses, Socrates to Confucius.
Here is what Christianity teaches which NO other religion, philosophy, or marketing scheme in history has ever taught:
God so LOVED us, that he sent his only Son, that whoever believes in HIM, shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Had Hitler repented, Jesus would have forgiven him, as there is no one so bad that Jesus can’t save them, and no one so good that they don’t need to be saved. Wherever you may land when compared to Hitler, you fall short when compared to the righteousness of God- we all do.
And for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23).
Jesus is different because in Jesus you find the one thing everyone is searching for but no one can really offer- forgiveness. Jesus will forgive you as well, and give you a new heart if you only ask.