Was Hitler a Christian?

Was Hitler a Christian?

Was Hitler a Christian?

Today, May 8th, is V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day). On this day in 1945, the Nazis surrendered to the Allied Powers who had been systematically demolishing Hitler’s stranglehold on mainland Europe since June 6th, D-Day, of the previous year. Now this day’s significance can’t be comprehensively without resorting to speculation; however, I want to consider something else: Was Hitler a Christian?

Now, it doesn’t take much acumen to realize that Christians don’t want to be saddled with Hitler any more than atheists want to be saddled with Stalin or Muslims with suicide bombers. Unfortunately, it’s a common claim in college history classes, from internet trolls, and from the local atheist that Hitler was a Christian. This claim is often used as ammunition against the Christian as the nonbeliever intimates that Christianity is somehow responsible for the horrors of the Holocaust. So, was Hitler a Christian? Is Christianity culpable for the sins of Nazi Germany?

The claim that Hitler was a Christian initially seems to have a few things going for it. Often the person making this claim will trot out a few choice quotes from Hitler, who was raised Catholic, and claim that he was a Christian. Or, they’ll claim that Hitler maintained a working relationship with the Catholic Church throughout his time in power.[1] Now, these claims have all been disputed,[2] and I am not in a position to adjudicate between the two positions. So, let’s assume, ad argumentum, that the atheist is correct. Let’s assume that Hitler did respect the Catholic faith, that he did have a multitude of positive things to say about Christianity, and that he maintained a close working relationship with the Vatican. What would this prove? Well, not much actually.

One simple question will show why the atheist’s argument is an abject failure from the outset: What does it take to be a Christian? See, the atheist is operating under the assumption that if someone makes statements in favor of Christianity, is raised in a Christian setting, and has a nominal relationship with the Church, then they must be a Christian. But is this a biblical definition of what Christian faith is? Obviously not!

Consider what just one among a litany of passages from the Bible, the one book which has the right to authoritatively define what Christian faith is, has to say about what it takes to be a Christian. In Jesus’s famous Sermon on the Mount, He says:

“By their fruit you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”[3]

What Jesus means by this is that what makes a person a Christian is not what they say. According to Jesus, the litmus test for being a Christian is whether or not a person does the will of the Father. Thus, according to Jesus, it really doesn’t matter what Hitler had to say about Christianity or if Hitler had a working relationship with the Roman Church. According to Jesus, what matters is whether or not Hitler lived a life that was committed to doing the will of the Father. So, the question is not whether Hitler made pro-Christian comments, the Christian can concede that he did without fear; the real question is whether or not Hitler did the will of God.

To answer this final question, we must consider what God’s will is. God’s will is revealed most clearly within the Bible and the teachings of Christ. Thus, if Hitler’s actions line up with biblical ethics, then Hitler was a Christian. However, if Hitler’s actions cannot be reconciled with biblical ethics, a fact which anyone who has read Jesus’s teachings on morality can easily see, then he cannot rightly be called a Christian. There is simply no room within Christianity for the type of actions that made Hitler so infamous. If you doubt this, then go read Matthew chapters five through seven (Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount). Hitler’s actions do not line up with Christian ethics; therefore, he cannot be called a Christian per biblical definitions.

Since the test for being a Christian is ultimately doing God’s will, the person who claims that Hitler was a Christian on the basis of quotes or ties to the Vatican is showing that they have fundamentally misunderstand Christianity. If a few choice quotes from Hitler qualifies him for being a Christian, then swimming in the ocean qualifies me for being a shark.

Subscribe for Updates

Notes & Sources

[1] These claims, and many others, can be found at: “Hitler Was A Christian,” Church and State, accessed May 6, 2017, http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/04/hitler-was-a-christian/.

[2] “Was Hitler a Christian?,” Got Questions?, accessed May 6, 2017, https://www.gotquestions.org/was-Hitler-a-Christian.html.

[3] Matthew 7.20-23, NIV.

One Comment

Commenting has been turned off.