Responding to the False Claim
Certainly, throughout the writings of Hitler, one can find statements which speak favourably about Christianity and God. A couple of examples:
"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and co-operation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." (Adolf Hitler, My New Order. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 144, speaking in March 23, 1933)
"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." (Hitler, Adolf, Mein Kampf. Trans. Ralph Manheim. New York: Mariner Books, 1999, p. 65).
The Nazis also adopted some Christian symbolism in their iconography and uniform. An example of this can be seen in the often cited fact that the Nazis had the words: ‘Got Mitt Uns’ (God With Us) on their belt buckles (although this was actually inherited by the Nazis from the Prussian army and was a part of standard German military attire before Hitler‘s regime).
But, on the other hand, there are also statements from Hitler that speak negatively of Christianity. Again, a couple of statements below to illustrate this:
"National Socialism and religion cannot exist together...The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity....Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things." (Hitler quoted on 11 July 1941, in H.R. Trevor-Roper, Hitler's Secret Conversations 1941-1944, pp. 6-7).
"Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer...The decisive falsification of Jesus' doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work... for the purposes of personal exploitation...Didn't the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, faggots? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it's in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea." (Ibid., pp. 63-65).
So what are we to make of these positive and negative statements by Hitler with regards to Christianity? I think a couple of quotations from ancient authors sums the situation up pretty well:
"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side." (Aristotle).
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." (Seneca the Younger).
Hitler knew that Christianity held an element of sway in his day and wanted to appease Church leaders for his own ends in rising to power. 2 Timothy 3:13 sums Hitler up pretty well: ‘…evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.’ Like the unscrupulous and sophisticated politician he was, he knew how to use and manipulate those around him for his own agenda. Even atheist, Richard Dawkins stated:
“It could be argued that, despite his own words and those of his associates, Hitler was not really religious but just cynically exploiting the religiosity of his audience.” (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 2006, p. 313).
Hitler used what he could of Christianity but actually despised much of what it stood for and sought to eventually replace it with a new Nazi religion.
All of this was recently confirmed when some secret Nazi documents came to light which exposes plans to eradicate Christianity and replace it with a new religion. BBC News reported on theses documents:
‘Rare documents used as evidence in the Nuremberg war crimes trials are being made available to the public for the first time via the internet...The first instalment, entitled "The Nazi Master Plan; The Persecution of Christian Churches", shows how the Nazis planned to supplant Christianity with a religion based on racial superiority.
The report, prepared by the Office of Strategic Services - a forerunner of the CIA - says: "Important leaders of the National Socialist party would have liked... complete extirpation of Christianity and the substitution of a purely racial religion." (Nazi trial documents made public, BBC News, Friday, 11 January, 2002).
A scanned PDF version of these documents can be accessed here: July 6, 1945 - "The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches".
Hitler’s pro and con statements regarding Christianity have fuelled much debate but one of the most straightforward ways of determining whether Hitler and the Nazis were Christians or not is to simply consult the New Testament. Anyone reading the New Testament should be able to discern that Hitler’s teachings, ideologies, and actions were totally at odds with what the Christian Scriptures teach.
Clearly, Hitler's murderous war crimes were totally inconsistent with the model that Christ set for Christians and what the wider New Testament teaches. Those who claim to be Christian and kill others are simply not Christian, despite them labelling themselves as such. You can dress a pig up in a suit and spray perfume on it but it’s still a pig. Genuine Christianity does not seek to harm its neighbour, but rather seeks to obey Christ who exhorted in such ways as: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:31) and even "...love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44). Could we really imagine Hitler and the Nazis not only loving their neighbours but their enemies as well, even praying for them? Certainly, these basic Christian virtues are far removed from the track record of the Nazis. You can call yourself a Christian until you are blue in the face but what do your actions show? True Christians have had a life changing experience with Jesus Christ and would certainly seek to distance themselves from all violence, hate, and persecution of others.
At this juncture, some people will cry “No true Scotsman fallacy!” at the mere mention of true verses false Christians. However, this simply won’t do as the New Testament is full of prior warnings that false Christians will come and attempt to bring shame upon the Church (e.g. 2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 11:13, 26; Galatians 2:4; 1 John 3:15). The fact of Scripture is that there are indeed true and false Christians.
Jesus Himself warns us in advance that false prophets will come, looking good on the outside, but being wicked on the inside. He also gives us a test so we can discern exactly who is a true follower of Christ and who is false:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-20).
What is the “fruit” Jesus is speaking of here? It is the good spiritual fruit of the Holy Spirit which comes from individuals who genuinely have a relationship with Him (see Matt. 7:23). The fruit of the Spirit is listed in the book of Galatians and contrasted with the works of the flesh. As you consider this list, honestly ask yourself which category you think Hitler and the Nazis fit into:
‘The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.’ (Galatians 5:19-26).
The New Testament is full of exhortations for Christian living that couldn’t be any more poles apart with the horrendous acts and propaganda of the Nazi regime. Just a few more examples (again, as you read these, ask yourself honestly if you think that they are in any way compatible with the Nazi regime):
'Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.' (Romans 13:10).
'Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.' (Ephesians 4:29-32).
'Let your gentleness be evident to all.' (Philippians 4:5).
'But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.' (Colossians 3:8).
'And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.' (2 Timothy 2:24).
Now although Hitler's evils were most certainly inconsistent with even the basic teachings of Christianity this can't be said for other aspects of his beliefs and philosophies. Hitler was also influenced by: Darwinian theory, Friedrich Nietzsche, eugenics, the occult, etc., all of which have no real objective moral values or duties to anyone! If one really immerses themselves in any of these teachings and philosophies it soon becomes quite easy to abandon moral absolutes.
What About Martin Luther?
Sometimes the German reformer Martin Luther is cited as evidence that the Nazis were Christian. One can find some pretty negative statements about the Jews in some of Luther’s writings. The Nazi’s seized upon this and used it as justification for propaganda purposes.
Although it is true that Luther appeared to have some anti-semitic sentiments these seem to have developed after some illness during the end of his life.
Eric Metaxas cites the famous German theologian, Dietrich Bonheoffer on Luther:
‘The troubles started in 1523 when, after a large meal of kosher food, he [Luther] suffered a shattering attack of diarrhoea. He concluded that the Jews had tried to poison him. By that time he was making enemies everywhere. In his last decade, his list of ailments ballooned to include gallstones, kidney stones, arthritis, abscesses on his legs, and uremic poisoning. How his nastiness would hit its stride.” (Eric Metaxas, The Biography of Dietrich Bonheoffer, p. 93).
Metaxas goes on to outline Luther’s tirade against the Jews from this time and these were the writings unearthed by the Nazi’s to continue the campaign against them. It is possible, therefore, that Luther’s paranoia and anti-Semitism could have been on account of dementia which can be brought on from the many diseases he suffered.
God uses imperfect people despite their faults. All Christians fail. For example, even though the apostle Peter was an incredibly changed man used by God to see many come to salvation in Christ (Acts 2:14-36) he was later hesitant to preach to the Gentiles because of his prejudice against them (Galatians 2:11-21).
Regardless of the many genuine characteristics that Luther and the apostle Peter displayed in their lives, the record also shows some glaring and embarrassing prejudices. These, however, do not make these failings right in any way when measured against the examples of the New Testament teachings we have briefly cited here.
In conclusion it can be said that although Hitler and the Nazis started off by paying a loose lip service to the popular surrounding Christian culture of the day, the reality was that the plan was to eventually eradicate the established churches and replace them with a new Nazi religion. Evidence for this has come out most notably in the recently discovered document: "The Nazi Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches" (see link below). Furthermore, despite some superficial outward manifestations of allegiance to Christian religion (displayed in some imagery, public displays of false piety, etc.) Hitler and the Nazis clearly identified themselves as being in direct opposition to many biblical principles (such as love, mercy, forgiveness, etc.). The brutal and murderous actions of the Hitler and the Nazis consistently demonstrated that these people were most certainly not Christian by any biblical measure of the word.
Was Hitler a Christian?
True Free Thinker: Was Adolf Hitler a Christian?
The Truth About Hitler.
The Utter Failure of the 19th/20th Century Atheistic Icons. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900).
Darwinism and the Nazi Race Holocaust.
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