Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Hitler? A Christian? You're Kidding, Right?

May I kindly point out that this discussion of whether Hitler was a Christian invariably gets weird. What kind of Christianity is it that allows you to hate, persecute, and kill people in virtue of being racially Jewish??? I know Christians have treated Jews poorly in their history because they failed to accept their Messiah, but at the very least, if you accept the Messiah, you are OK. But if you hate Jews because they are racially Jewish, this has, uh, er, some pretty serious Christological consequences, doesn't it?

This is from Timothy Snyder, who recently wrote a book on Hitler. 

Timothy Snyder: So what Hitler does is he inverts; he reverses the whole way we think about ethics, and for that matter the whole way we think about science. What Hitler says is that abstract thought—whether it’s normative or whether it’s scientific—is inherently Jewish. There is in fact no way of thinking about the world, says Hitler, which allows us to see human beings as human beings. Any idea which allows us to see each other as human beings—whether it’s a social contract; whether it’s a legal contract; whether it’s working-class solidarity; whether it’s Christianity—all these ideas come from Jews. And so for people to be people, for people to return to their essence, for them to represent their race, as Hitler sees things, you have to strip away all those ideas. And the only way to strip away all those ideas is to eradicate the Jews. And if you eradicate the Jews, then the world snaps back into what Hitler sees as its primeval, correct state: Races struggles against each other, kill each other, starve each other to death, and try and take land.


Starhopper said...

Hitler denied the divinity of Christ. Once you know that, it matters not what his behavior was - whether he murdered 12 million people, or whether he ran into burning buildings to save puppy dogs. Irrelevant. Unless you accept the divinity of Christ, you are no Christian. End of story, full stop.

Victor Reppert said...

And he has to, because otherwise he has to believe that a Jewish man was God incarnate.

Jimmy S. M. said...

"What kind of Christianity is it that allows you to hate, persecute, and kill people in virtue of being racially Jewish???"

Martin Luther's kind???

John B. Moore said...

OK, I agree with Mortal. Let's suppose there are a few basic ideas you need to affirm in order to be a Christian, and let's suppose the divinity of Christ is one of them. In that case, I agree that Hitler couldn't be a Christian.

The more interesting part of Mortal's comment is about behavior being irrelevant. So you can't ask questions like "What kind of Christianity is it that allows you to hate, persecute, and kill people ..." A person's Christianity just depends on their affirmation of the basic tenets. Behavior is irrelevant.

Or do you guys claim that affirmation of the basic tenets of Christianity makes it impossible (or even less likely) that a person will commit evil atrocities?

Starhopper said...

John, I'm afraid I did not express myself clearly, so you're excused for getting my comment backwards.

I did not intend for it to mean that character and behavior were irrelevant, but that they were subsequent to faith in the defining process. Kind of like when you define an animal by genus and species, the genus coming first. So the first question one should ask when determining whether a person is a Christian is "Does he acknowledge the divinity of Christ?" If the answer is no, then it's Game Over. If the answer is yes, you move on to subsequent refinement (such as behavior).

John B. Moore said...

OK, I think I understand. The problem with behavior, though, is that it's much harder to define and clearly delineate. If you just stick to a few basic tenets, that's easy, but when you bring behavior into it, you need to specify somehow which behavior is allowed and which isn't. And that might depend on motives, circumstances, consequences etc.

oozzielionel said...


The Bible tends to link behavior and belief quite regularly and fairly specifically.