Was Hitler really a Christian?

Article in Christian Today

The Hitler challenge: Wasn’t he a Christian?

I confess. In last week’s column I sinned, at least against the internet gods. Does Christianity Restrict Freedom? Apologetics 101 – no.17   I mentioned Adolf Hitler, thus triggering Godwin’s Law, which states that the minute anyone mentions Hitler in an argument they have lost.

It is astonishing how many times Hitler comes up in conversation. It’s not just that people have a seemingly endless fascination with him, it’s the way that the new fundamentalist atheists have adopted ‘Hitler was a Christian’ as one of their mantras. So how do we answer this one?

Certainly not just by saying, “No he wasn’t, he was an atheist.” Nor is it helpful to shrug one’s shoulders and walk away from the discussion, as though it did not matter. Because if Hitler was inspired by his Christianity to do what he did, there is a serious charge to answer.

As it happens I love being asked this question (as for example in this debate with Matt Dillahunty). Firstly because when I did my history degree at the University of Edinburgh my speciality was Weimar Germany and the Nazis. Secondly because it was partly through the question of evil raised by Auschwitz that I became a Christian.

If you are asking whether Hitler was a follower of Jesus Christ, the answer is absolutely no. If you mean, was he baptised as a Catholic and did he sometimes make positive references to Christianity in his public speeches, and did he try to get the Churches on his side, then yes.

But he was not a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word. He did not read the Bible, go to church, or follow Jesus. He hated God’s chosen people, the Jews. It is difficult to see how someone who hated the Jews could follow the greatest Jew of all. As his ideologue Martin Bormann put it: “National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable…National Socialism is based on scientific foundations… [it] must always, if it is to fulfil its job in the future, be organised according to the latest knowledge of scientific research.” The condemns “the concepts of Christianity, which in their essential points have been taken over from Jewry”.

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Hitler’s Table Talk makes it very clear what his views were.

“The only way of getting rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little”.

“In the long run, National Socialism and religion will no longer be able to exist together” (p 61).

“As far as we are concerned, we’ve succeeded in chasing the Jews from our midst and excluding Christianity from our political life” (p 394).

“There is something very unhealthy about Christianity” (p 418).

“When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let’s be the only people who are immunised against the disease” (p 145).

“We’ll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. We shall continue to preach the doctrine of National Socialism, and the young will no longer be taught anything but the truth” (p 62).

“When understanding of the universe has become widespread, when the majority of men know that the stars are not sources of light but worlds, perhaps inhabited worlds like ours, then the Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity” (p 69).

These are certainly not the comments of a Christian. They read far more like comments one can read every day on many atheist/secular comment pages.

On the other hand, there are lots of atheists who use the same quotes all the time to go that Hitler was a practising Christian. For example, Hitler’s statement that “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction.” Case closed. Hitler supported Christian schools because he wanted religious instruction. He must have been a Christian. But in quoting history, as in quoting scripture, the key question is always context. That quote is from April 26, 1933, a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat. It does not take a genius to work out why Hitler would speak in favour of Catholic schools (the vast majority of schools in Germany were either Catholic or Lutheran) when he was still trying to consolidate his power. Once you know the particular cultural and historical context of the quote it changes it considerably.

 

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Likewise with fact that the SS had Gott mit Uns (God with us) on their belt buckles. What they don’t realise is that this was the traditional motto of the German army and no more indicates Christian conviction than the fact that an American using a dollar note which says ‘In God we Trust’ proves a Christian conviction.

It’s not just reading quotes in context that helps; a wider reading of history does too. Formal quotes in political speeches or literature are not as valuable as private papers and memoirs. In my reading I came across a memoir from his personal secretary Traudl Junge, in which she gave the following fascinating testimony:

“Sometimes we also had interesting discussions about the Church and the development of the human race. Perhaps it’s going too far to call them discussions, because he would begin explaining his ideas when some question or remark from one of us had set them off, and we just listened. He was not a member of any Church, and thought the Christian religions were out-dated, hypocritical institutions that lured people into them. The laws of nature were his religion. He could reconcile his dogma of violence better with nature than with the Christian doctrine of loving your neighbour and your enemy. ‘Science isn’t yet clear about the origins of humanity,’ he once said. ‘We are probably the highest stage of development of some mammal which developed from reptiles and moved on to human beings, perhaps by way of the apes. We are a part of creation and children of nature, and the same laws apply to us as to all living creatures. And in nature the law of the struggle for survival has reigned from the first. Everything incapable of life, everything weak is eliminated. Only mankind and above all the church have made it their aim to keep alive the weak, those unfit to live, and people of an inferior kind,” (Until the Final Hour, p 108).

If Hitler was not a Christian, was he an atheist? The answer is we don’t know and nor does it really matter. What is far more important is what influence his anti-Christian views had on his policies. In the film Downfall, Hitler is quoted as saying before his suicide that he was going to be at peace. His lack of belief in God and the judgment of God meant that he thought he would not be accountable for his crimes and that therefore he could get away with them.

Atheists like to argue that atheism, being just a lack of belief, means that it cannot be held responsible for anything. But a reason people go to war might be the absence of belief. If, like Stalin or Hitler, you believe that there is no God to answer to, that might is right and that power comes from the barrel of a gun, you are much more likely to indulge your selfish genes and go to war to get what you want. It is also the case that Hitler clearly did not go to war because he believed in God or because he wanted to spread Christianity. He hated Christianity. On the other hand he did believe that religion was a virus and that the Jews especially were vermin who should be eradicated in order to better preserve the species.

It was all perfectly logical, Darwinian and godless. Perhaps the atheist zeitgeist has moved on. But meanwhile until it is proven otherwise, I would prefer to stick with the tried and tested morality of the Bible.

Speaking of which, what about the question of suffering? I have written about this before, Apologetics 101 – no. 6 – How Can We Believe in a God who Allows Evil and Suffering  but let me simply state that Auschwitz was for me one of the reasons I became a Christian. It proves the Bible’s teaching if human beings are left to our own devices we will make a mess and a hell of things. As Freddy Mercury, late of Queen, sang at the first Live Aid, “If there’s a God up above, a God of love, then what must he think, of the mess that we’ve made, of the world that he created?”

Two years ago I stood at the gates of Auschwitz in tears. It was not just the industrial scale of man’s inhumanity to man, but also the answer to how to deal with that, which overwhelmed me. Ultimately the atheist worldview has no answer to the problem of evil, as exemplified in the Holocaust. But Christianity does. And that answer is Christ. His life, love, teaching, death and atonement.

David Robertson is the moderator of the Free Church of Scotland and director of Solas CPC, Dundee. Follow him on Twitter @theweeflea.


54 thoughts on “Was Hitler really a Christian?

  1. Excellent and helpful article David. Reading ‘The evil that men do’ by Marcus K. Paul (Sacristy Press) at the moment. A helpful review of faith, history and the Church. He deals with WW2 and National Socialism in Ch 11, ‘Tyranny, Secularism and Dystopia’. Be interested in what you think of it if you have time.

  2. “They read far more like comments one can read every day on many atheist/secular comment pages… It does not take a genius to work out why Hitler would speak in favour of Catholic schools (the vast majority of schools in Germany were either Catholic or Lutheran) when he was still trying to consolidate his power.”

    Yes exactly so, ironically secularists are giving you an opportunity David to draw comparisons between their comments and that of Hitler with regard to the eradication of Christianity (as with other religions) in public life. As one leader of SSS shared with me, there is a fear within their leadership of being marinalised as a fringe atheist organisiation. They are plying to your strengths with you having studied this particular part of history and it is not wonder that they have fears about their existence given the similarity of comments and therefore likelihood of the same kind of outcome for the organisation. The best predictor for the future is the relevant past.

    Of course Hitler needed to be pally with the Christianity in order to gain power. With many Germans attending church the likelihood of him gaining and holding power without the support of the church was unlikely. Of course once he gained power, the swastika and “Mein Kampf” coexisted with the cross and the bible until in worldly power terms the latter two were subsumed by the former two.

    On might ask given that there is the saying that the only thing for evil to prosper is for good men to stand by and do nothing (and that sayings get to be sayings because there is wisdom in them) why did the church in Germany not stop Hitler?

    It seems, does it not, that times and issues change but the thing that stays the same is that the church can be influenced by world powers. Given the power elites of the media, academia and celebrity culture have certain values and not all of them good then this surely must represent challenges for both church and society lest there be evil prosper today.

  3. The second biggest selling Nazi book in Germany was The Myth of the Twentieth Century by Alfred Rosenberg. It represented the nearest thing to an official summary of Nazi ideology. To a large extent it is a diatribe against the Catholic Church but it also poses a positive German Christianity against what it calls Jewish Christianity. What it means is a belief in a divine power not trammeled by compassion for the weak or suffering and an Aryan Christ who was never crucified. We do not know to what extent Hitler subscribed to this view but there is no record of him repudiating it or of distancing himself from what was, after all, an official publication of the political party he led.

  4. That Dillahunty allowed you to get away with your disgraceful diatribe doesn’t make it any less reprehensible.

    Certainly, both the Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany and its allies were quite capable of reconciling fascism with Christianity.
    Every German regular army division had a “kriegspfarrer” or military chaplain that numbered nearly 500 by 1942.
    The German Waffen SS didn’t but non-German SS divisions such as the Croats did.

    In fact, it was in Croatia that the worst atrocities occurred under the brutal Ustase who were inexorably linked to the Catholic Church. Their brutality was almost beyond the belief of Himmler himself.
    The suffering in Jasenovac camp was as bad anything the Germans perpetrated in Dachau or Auschwitz.

    Here of course, we find your faith in God’s existence re-affirmed as only mankind’s sinful nature could be the cause of such suffering!
    Well if your definition of evil is the absence of God, where was God in the extermination camps? Seems he was more concerned with the free will choices of the executioners than the millions who suffered at their hands and had other things to do elsewhere.

    Alternatively, maybe he simply doesn’t exist.

    1. Dillahunty did not ‘allow’ me to get away with anything. He just couldn’t answer. And it looks like you have the same problem! If you want real answers to your questions (and you are not just making accusations) then you can read the article and then find the one on the apologetic of evil…that may help you…

    2. Hi Jon,
      you seem awfully angry that the Hitler-was-a-Christian argument isn’t going to work with an historian who specialised in the Weimar Republic and the Nazis. Never mind, Suetonius got away with saying that one of Nero’s good points was that he persecuted Christians. For Suetonius, a typically ‘bad’ thing about Nero, by way of contrast was that he appointed and rewarded professional applauders. Maybe soon the only charge it will be safe to bring against Hitler given the ill-advised pronouncements of certain politicians, will be that he was a Christian. Pity it’s not true in any meaningful sense.

      The appointment of military chaplains for the Croatian SS divisions when none were appointed for German divisions might mean nothing or it might indicate that South Slavs would eventually have been reclassified as Untermenschen when their usefulness was over. Strange, perhaps, that Hitler the putative Christian should protect his beloved SS from being contaminated by Christianity. Not so strange that Hitler the master of the big lie should expose expendable non-Aryans to whatever passed muster as Christianity for the chaplains without a qualm.

      What you say about Jasenovac camp appears to be well founded and Ante Pavelić – whatever we might think of his motives for forming a Croatian Orthodox Church – self-identified as a Christian. No matter that Evangelicals would protest [Matthew 7:20] ‘Thus you will recognize them by their fruits’ meaning that the works of Pavelić, like those of Hitler show no sign of grace; if Pavelić was a Christian then Hitler wasn’t. You have come up with a potentially more troublesome argument for Christian apologists but I doubt if we’re going to see any Pavelić-was-a-Christian protests replace the Reductio ad Hitlerum in atheist anti-christian jibes anytime soon.

      You are right that both German Catholics and German Protestants found it possible to accommodate Nazism and it is hardly more remarkable that other Christians chose to protest and die when what Nazism really was was more visible. What is remarkable is the degree of healing reconciliation that was achieved in some denominations after the War was over.

      You ask, ‘where was God in the extermination camps?’ and of course you are echoing the very famous remark of the survivor of Treblinka who is said to have wondered if God had gone on holiday. Why spoil the weight of your question with silly answers that don’t take the hurts seriously of those who ask the question seriously? What if God was in a meaningful sense, not there? How much of Man’s inhumanity to Man is prevented by God’s restraining grace and what does it signify if God should indeed absent himself from us?

      A Christian is by definition – Romans 10:9 – someone who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and believes in their heart that God has raised him from the dead. Hitler’s occasional claims to have been specially selected by ‘Providence’ deceived many but will hardly cut the mustard as a serious claim to be a Christian. Another statesman who laid claim to being specially selected by Providence – albeit with at least a little more evidence that for him, ‘Providence’ meant ‘The God who Provides’ – ended his parliamentary career with a speech that featured an anguished question of his own: ‘What are we to do if God becomes weary of mankind?’ Churchill would have taken no comfort in speculating that God ‘maybe simply doesn’t exist.’ Hitler certainly acted as though that was his belief. What about you, really?

      We worship ‘the God who is There.’ What if a day should come soon when he and his restraining influence are not here?

      Yours,
      John/.

  5. So are you saying that Hitler was not a Christian ?
    Only kidding !!!
    The more I dialogue with atheists or the new Hatetheists the more I realise when they use the term Christian or Jesus Christ we are talking about 2 completely different things.
    When an atheist says Hitler was a Christian the first thing I do is ask can you please define for me the word christian or what is a christian ?.
    The atheist answer not 99 but 100% of the time has nothing to do with the true definition of Christian.
    100% of the time their definition of a Christian or the person of Jesus Chirst is a redifined and distorted view which only exists in their own mind.
    So its always a golden opportunity to present the gospel and the real Jesus.
    When you, David debated Matt Dilahunty I noticed that Matt did not have a clue what a Christian was as he said we do not have a definition for Christian. I listened to a lecture by Bertrand Russell from 1929 called why I am not a Christian. After listening to it I thought – Heck this seemly intelligent soul had no idea what a Christian is ! Honestly he had no idea what it was to be a follower of Christ.
    That’s like me and you having a debate about chocolate – while Im thinking about real chocolate your thinking about strawberries – what’s the point.
    This is a serious problem that needs addressing everytime you dialogue with an atheist because when you say the word Jesus Christ or Christian to an atheist they do not have the same definition as you do.

    1. “because when you say the word Jesus Christ or Christian to an atheist they do not have the same definition as you do.”
      From my experience, the same can apply when talking to other so-called Christians! Terms need to be defined or, as you say, what’s the point when you’re coming from different starting points?

  6. Oh, and for the record, I concur I don’t really believe Hitler was a real Christian. But then neither was Luther or a great many who have made such a claim over the course of Christianity’s rather chequered history.

    It might be an interesting exercise, based on the biblical text you quote in your article, to explore who, of the many famous Christian ”personalities” was, In fact, a genuine Christian?
    A very good topic for you to write a piece on, perhaps?

    1. Luther was not a genuine Christian? On basis can you make that judgement? I don’t really need to write an article on it – I do it all the time because I teach the bible and it gives us the marks of the Christian…

      1. By all accounts he would today most definitely be considered an anti-Semite, even if he believed his diatribes and recommendations against them were theologically based and not racial.
        I have read on several occasions such antisemitism was used by the Church and others to persecute Jews through the ages.

        Although he stated no blame be leveled at them for the death of the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth,it was Luther’s frustration over their lack of conversion and his subsequent antisemitic invective that seems to have been in part responsible for them being called ”Christ killers” .

        If your criteria for Christian is merely belief in the character, Jesus of Nazareth being your god, ( a saviour raised from the dead after a rather nasty and unnecessary blood sacrifice, then fair enough, he was probably a Christian.
        However,on the basis of his attitude toward the Jews,his recommendations and the legacy he left then yes, I would say he was not a true Christian.
        Certainly, the character, Jesus of Nazareth would have seen little to commend in his somewhat repugnant behaviour.

      2. You clearly know as much about Christian theology as you do about history! you will not find a single question in this world who is not sinful – including Luther. But that is precisely what the Bible says. My sin does not mean that I am not a Christian – it just shows the truth of the Bible in claiming the universal sinfulness of all people.

  7. I am not doubting the doctrine of sin, I was stating that by em> today’s standards, Luther would definitely be considered antisemitic and the character Jesus if Nazareth, being a Jew himself would not consider his behaviour very ”Christian” at all. And his legacy in this regard is there for all to see
    This is the point you seem to have avoided addressing, as is the way of the Christian apologist, I guess.
    And I actually do know a little bit about Christian theology, as it happens, but probably mostly the bits you learned and decided to conveniently forget or not deal with.

    1. You clearly are having difficulty understanding the doctrine of sin. Of course Luther was anti-Semitic – and that was a sin. Doubtless he had many other sins as well. If your understanding of being Christian is someone who is perfect and little wonder that you will never find a Christian! Maybe you should try to find more than a little Christian theology, if you wish to comment with any degree of intelligence and understanding?

      1. Best we clear this up I think, don’t you?The doctrine of Original Sin is a Christian construct. It was never part of the Tanakh and was never taught by the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth.
        The doctrine of original sin is based, primarily, on Paul’s erroneous understanding of the opening chapters of Genesis, him believing sin derived from Adam. The doctrine was later refined by the likes of Augustine.
        As the Human Genome Project has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt, even taking into consideration ”Mitochondrial Eve”, that there never was an original couple as per the biblical tale this Christian doctrine falls away.

        I have not stated the definition of a Christian is someone who is perfect, nor even alluded t such, and that , sir is a scurrilous ad hominum.

        The general understanding of what it is to be a Christian is one who believes the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth is divine/a god/God and was raised from the dead. As per Paul’s statement.
        From there, things start to get fuzzy depending on which cult /denomination one adheres to, ie, saved by faith alone, grace and/or works. And of curse there are other more extreme/liberal interpretations. But the basics invlve confession and repentance and acknowledgement of the character, Jesus of Nazareth as a saviour.

        One also has to bear in mind that even the basic definition was hammered out over several centuries after Constantine took on board the Christian faith and Theodosius made it the Law of the land.
        There were several points the doctrine was ”tweaked” and refined and
        ensuring as many ”heretics”were liquidated along the way until a final canon and accompanying doctrine was given the Catholic Stamp of Approval.

        Again, you surprise me. For one who claims qualifications in history you seem to lack knowledge of the basic history of your faith, the history of your religion and its doctrine.

        Maybe you should read people like Origen and Eusebius in your spare time and see what they had to say?
        Or doyou adhere to a strict evangelical fundamentalist perspective of Christianity?
        For example, do you consider the tale of the Flood as literal or merely the retelling of a localized event?

      2. Oh dear – again that fundamentalist certainty! The doctrine of original sin was not a Christian construct from Augustine. I realise you have your (very limited) world view which you have to fit everything in to. But original sin is taught in the Bible and by Christ…all human beings are born in sin…

        And like all fundamentalists when your point is answered you change the subject. You said Luther was not a Christian….and then you give a definition of Christian which he would agree with…

        And again like all fundamentalists you have that arrogance which presupposes that people are not as clever as you and havn’t done the reading you have. I have read all of Origen and Eusebius and in fact read some of the church fathers every day. I suggest you take your smug superiority elsewhere!

      3. The Jewish perspective: As the Tanekh was written by Jews for Jews.

        “Saint Augustine (354-430) was the first theologian to teach that man is born into this world in a state of sin. The basis of his belief is from the Bible (Genesis 3:17-19) where Adam is described as having disobeyed G-d by eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. This, the first sin of man, became known as original sin…The doctrine of original sin is totally unacceptable to Jews… Jews believe that man enters the world free of sin, with a soul that is pure and innocent and untainted. While there were some Jewish teachers in Talmudic times who believed that death was a punishment brought upon mankind on account of Adam’s sin, the dominant view by far was that man sins because he is not a perfect being, and not, as Christianity teaches, because he is inherently sinful. ”

        Judaism’s Rejection of Original Sin

        http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Original_Sin.html

        Enjoy.

      4. It all depends which Jewish perspective you’re talking about? Today’s? Or the Judaism at the time of Christ? And by the way St Augustine was not the first theologian to teach that man is born into this world in a state of sin. but I guess you will keep trawling the Internet to find articles that agree with your already prejudged position?

      5. Really? have not come across a single Jewish scholarly source that suggests otherwise.
        Please could you offer me a link or the name of a Jewish sect that does uphold a perspective that is in line with the Christian POV. Thanks.
        Re: Augustine.
        Excellent, then as you do not ”trawl the internet” and have access to more academic literature, please tell me which theologian/s, according to your sources, promulgated an earlier version of the doctrine of Original Sin.
        Thanks.
        Thanks.

      6. I’m afraid what you have come across is not the be all and end all of knowledge. I suspect your knowledge of Jewish sects is as limited as your knowledge of Christian theology. as the theologians who taught original sin – try David, Paul and Jesus…. as well as most of the early church fathers. I suspect what you are trying to refer to is August’s doctrine and speculation about the transmission of original sin, but the idea of human beings being born as sinners is one that is at the very heart of Christianity.

      7. The Character, Jesus of Nazareth did not teach Original Sin , he was a Jew.

        The Old Testament states that humans will be judged by Yahweh individually by their actions.
        Surely you know chapter and verse?

        Truly, I think you need to re-examine your view of the religion you follow.

        In a nutshell, the Christian doctrine of Original Sin states that Adam was the first sinner and this is passed on to every human being. It was first expressed by Paul and was later refined by the likes of Augustine.

        Paul upheld the erroneous belief that Adam and Eve were genuine historical characters. Of course, we now know this is nonsense and the Human Genome Project has demonstrated this.

        I hope I have finally made my self clear on this point?

        I reiterate:
        The Human Genome

      8. Oh dear here we go again. This is becoming boring! So much ignorance and so little time!

        Jesus did teach original sin, as did Paul. Both were Jews.

        The new Testament also teaches that humans will be judged by God for their actions.

        The Human Genome Project has not demonstrated that Adam and Eve were not genuine historical characters. It seems as though your ignorance extends beyond history archaeology and and theology – and and now into science! As an aside, you are aware that the director of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, is a Christian?

        Of course you have made yourself clear. As clear as mud. Although the one thing that is clear is that it doesn’t matter what is said your faith and your emotions drive you to hate God and to oppose his people.

      9. Jesus did teach original sin, as did Paul. Both were Jews.

        You continue you to assert this, yet provide nothing to substantiate your claim. I would like, therefore, for you to provide a single instance in the gospels where he refers to it.
        Oh, and for what ii;s worth, Paul was the one who elected to take his form of Christianity to the gentiles.

        Yes the HGP has most definitely shown there was no original Adam and Eve.
        And of course I am aware who Collins is.
        Please don’t patronize me.
        For your enlightenment: here are two links that show you exactly
        where science stands in this regard.

        https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/adam-and-eve-the-ultimate-standoff-between-science-and-faith-and-a-contest/

        https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/paternal-mitochondria-are-destroyed-in-an-embryo/

        I do not hate gods. Not yours or anyone else’s. What a ridiculous thing to say!
        How on earth could I hate something for which I have no belief in?

      10. I’m afraid you are the one who keeps making assertions and then keeps changing the subject. Thanks for the evolution link, but again all the do is just display both your arrogance and your ignorance – you treat us as though we have never read anything like this before! We are all perfectly capable of googling the same as you do! as regards original sin Jesus believed and taught that all human beings were sinful, that none were good and that all were in need of salvation and redemption. People are not born righteous they are born with a sinful human nature – the bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

        But you are of course quite right. you have faith that there is no God, and therefore every single one of your comments is governed by that faith – it doesn’t matter what is said, you will just find something else to justify what you feel. It’s a bit like arguing with a conspiracy theorist, no matter what you say, it’s all part of the conspiracy!

        One day you will find out the truth of what you have been denying within yourself all along. My hope and prayer for you is that it is not on the day of judgement, but rather before then.

  8. Yes, Arkenaten is getting a bit boring. The Psalmist David (who was a Jew) seems to have had a pretty good understanding of the idea that we are ‘born in sin’ well before Paul or Augustine (Ps 51:5, 58:3), an understanding apparently shared by Job, the writer of Ecclesiastes and the prophet Jeremiah, who wrote about the natural wickedness and deception of the human heart. Yes, evidence from the Human Genome project points to common descendants in East Africa of around 10,000 but that doesn’t stop Adam and Eve from being historical characters or that the deductions being drawn from the Human Genome project are conclusive. Francis Collins, who headed the project has been a strong defender of the Christian faith and his book ‘The language of God’ contains some compelling arguments for the existence of God. Whilst accepting that humans may not be descended from just 2 individuals, he points to the fact that all humans share 99.9% common DNA and that every code needs a source of information. Francis Collins has done much to show that science is compatible with faith and founded BioLogos.org an interesting website for the genuine enquirer, which one hopes Arkenaten still is.

    Keep searching Arkenaten, Rather than talking rather scathingly of ‘the Character Jesus’ you would do well to study his life and teachings with an open mind and heart. You might just be surprised to find that the Jesus you think you know about now is replaced with the real Person of Jesus Christ, who turns the old water of Jewish ritual into the New wine of the Spirit; who is described as ‘living water’, the bread of life, ‘light of the world’, healer, shepherd, king, priest and sacrifice. Then there’s the empty tomb – go on Arkenaten, re-read John’s Gospel as you’ve never read it before because it was written so that we might believe … “and that by believing we might have life in His name.” (John 20:31).

    1. @Dogrose.

      If you follow the links I offered to weeflea to Jerry Coyne’s site he explains quite succinctly where science stands with regard the HGP, including Collins’ position and that of biologos.
      He also explains about mitochondrial Eve and why there never was a single human pair as per the biblical tale.

      I use the term ”character Jesus of Nazareth” simply because he is a narrative construct. Of course I am not dismissing the possibility that there was an itinerant Rabbi crucified by the Romans for sedition. Josephus mentions several Yeshuas’.

      Empty tomb? What empty tomb would this be, Dogrose? I was under the impression this was a complete unknown although several proposals have been put forward, not least the one pointed out to Constantine’s mother, Helena. How much stock you would pout in anything proposed by that woman will, I suppose depend largely on how credulous you are.

      If you have any evidence to support the historicity of the biblical character as depicted in the gospels then please, feel free to offer whatever you have.

      1. Oh dear again the only thing I can say about this, is its overwhelming smugness and arrogance combined with its prejudice and ignorance. I’m sorry but you do come across as this incredible noise all, has disdain for anyone else who doesn’t have your obvious brilliance and knowledge!

      2. Thanks Arkenaten, I had already seen the stuff by Jerry Coyne after I read Francis Collins’ own book ‘the language of God’ in which he provides some compelling arguments for the existence of God and for the harmony between God and science. In contrast to Coyne, he writes with humility and openness as well as having real credibility as head of the human genome project for many years. He and other Christian writers such as Tim Keller have argued that it is possible to believe that Adam and Eve were real, historical figures without having to believe that they are the only source of genetic material for the human race. Hopefully, Christians have open, enquiringly minds and are willing to change their understanding of Scripture in the light of science, which very often gets it wrong too of course… (Well, it’s practitioners do…)

        It’s a shame that you continue to use the term ‘The Character Jesus Christ’ in your posts. I’m sort of offended in the same way that I might be if you referred to my wife (or someone else I love) as a ‘literary construct’. Surely you must concede that this merely demonstrates a personal predudice as I’m sure you wouldn’t say that of other historical figures about which there is far less evidence. Whatever you personally think, you could at least show a bit of respect for the One who is perhaps the central character of human history and been the inspiration (at the very least) for millions. But I see your mind is already made up and I am genuinely sorry about that because it would be great to see your spiritual side (you have one somewhere Arkenatan) open up to new possibilities. It’s been good to read the points you raised (even the ‘old chestnuts’) and I hope you find what you are looking for…

      3. @Dogrose
        Thanks for the reply.

        First up
        I am not specifically arguing the merits of your god, Yahweh, in this thread, but rather the historicity of a literal Adam and Eve as per the biblical tale/description.

        The HGP has firmly established that an original couple as per Genesis is impossible and as you read the links you will have noted that theologians were called upon to formulate a response in an effort to harmonize the theology and the science. How they manager that will be very interesting, to say the least.
        It is also worth noting that, the Tanakh was written by Jews for Jews who in the main do not in any way regard Genesis as literal so I would ask, why would you consider there is anything literal about the biblical human creation story? (that is, of course if you do, in fact, reject evolution. If not I apologise)

        I use the term ‘The character, Jesus Christ’, simply because this is what I believe him to be.
        I am pretty sure you are not married to a narrative construct and any kids you may have should, by rights, confirm this! 🙂

        With regards other historical figures:
        No one , as far as I am aware, takes seriously any
        ancient claims of miracles attributed to them. Neither do we condemn children to Hell for not believing in them or consider them sinners for not believing in such characters’ divinity, something attributed to several such historical people, as I am sure you are aware?

        As mentioned before, I am quite prepared to accept there was an itinerant 1st century Rabbi who was crucified for sedition by the Romans, and this may be whom the biblical character was based upon, but the person described in the New Testament; the miracle – working, walk upon water, divine god-man … no, sorry, there is absolutely no verifiable supporting evidence whatsoever.
        You seem to have missed my question regarding the empty tomb?
        Do you have any more info on where the tomb is, because as far as I am aware this is just hearsay.and no archaeological confirmation has ever come to light.

        Let’s us be very honest with each other, everything you believe about this character is based primarily on faith.

        As an adult you are perfectly entitled to believe what you wish.

        I am curious, though, what it is you think I am looking for?

      4. I’m sorry Arkenaten, I really have no idea what you are looking for; perhaps it’s just your glasses, or maybe it’s meaning and purpose. I’ve been enjoying the recent radio series hosted by philosopher and broadcaster Will Self on Radio 4, ‘Self’s Search for Meaning’ and was intrigued with philosopher John Gray’s critique of secular progressives in which he said that, “meaning for them depends on an absence of truth”. Perhaps that’s where you are Arkenaten; at a point where absence of truth has become essential to your own sense of purpose. I think we all have an inbuilt desire for meaning, purpose and the transcendent but obviously I can’t know what it is that you are looking for (I have that U2 tune in my head now…) As you seem to be a thoughtful, questioning type of person with serious doubts about the historical Christian faith, then I suspect you are searching elsewhere, particularly as you seem to be going to a great deal of trouble to undermine key tenets of the Christian faith on this blog. Personally, I’ve quite enjoyed reading your exchanges with David (apart from the deeply objectionable way you refer to Jesus Christ) as none of the points you make undermine my own Christian faith, indeed they help to deepen and refine it. I don’t want to sound like a smug ‘know-it-all’ evangelical but I feel genuinely sad that the amazing, life-changing message of the Christian gospel is simply foolishness to you and would wish it were otherwise. Perhaps you’ll keep looking with an open mind.

        I think you have the wrong idea if you think all Christians are ‘young earth’, seven 24 hour day creationists. Even Professor Donald Macleod of the Free Church accepted the basic principles of evolutionary development and long time scales as perfectly compatible with the Genesis account. (A Faith to Live By – 1998 – P56-60). Personally, I have no difficulty with accepting evolutionary explanations where there is good scientific evidence but not as a complete explanation for the origins and purpose of life; that would require too much faith for me. I think Adam and Eve were almost certainly historical figures who were treated as representatives of the human race created in God’s image’. I don’t see that as incompatible with evolutionary development or that every human being is directly and genetically descended from those two individuals. Many other orthodox Christians agree.

        Yes, faith comes into it Arkenaten… but not just blind faith or a ‘leap in the dark’. I exercise faith because of the cumulative evidence in the same way that I exercise faith when i get on a train in the morning. I’ve read the timetable, I’ve heard the testimony of others, the rails run in the right direction so I exercise faith and get on board (unless it’s Southern rail). Same with my Christian faith; I’ve read the book, I’ve heard the testimony of others, I’ve gathered the evidence, I’ve had my misgivings but exercised that faith and stepped on board. The further I travel the more it all makes sense, the more the pieces come together and the amazing picture of grace and redemption emerges. So I’m not searching any more because I have put my faith in a Person, Jesus Christ and that faith gives my life worth, meaning and purpose. You aren’t the first to ‘stay on the platform’, questioning the authenticity of the timetable, the sanity of the passengers and the motives of the railway company but i would counsel you to quit the trainspotting and step on board.

      5. I exercise faith because of the cumulative evidence in the same way that I exercise faith when i get on a train in the morning.

        Perhaps, then ,as you state you are ”genuinely sad” (about my current non-faith predicament) you would care to share some of the” cumulative evidence” you consider backs your faith?
        For the sake of our discussion I am going to assume that, you had ”Faith First” or at least grew up in a Christian based environment,and thus, like me, was exposed to the Christian religion as opposed to Hindu or Muslim for example, as I am unaware of any Christian that converted or became born again solely based on rational evidence.

        For the record, there is no individual named Jesus Christ.
        The closest name the biblical character might have been named would have likely have been on the theme of Yeshua. The English language did not even have a J until 4-5oo years ago.

        Also, the term Christ, is not a name but a title. I’m sure you know what it means , yes?

      6. For the record there is no individual named Jesus Christ! Each time I post one of your comments they cannot get more arrogant or wrong. And each time you prove me wrong!

      7. ”Arrogant”? There you go again David,with the emotive terms.
        Seriously for one who has the history degree I am surprised you simply don’t fire back with historical data rather than getting hot under the collar and indulging in inflammatory rhetoric.

        So, you are saying there really was someone called ”Jesus Christ?”

        Fascinating! I always thought the word Christ comes from the Greek word, Christos/Chrestus which means anointed one.

        If there was any genuine surname attached to this character it would likely have been Pantera. However, as I believe this too was simply a spurious piece of nonsense I am prepared to disregard it.
        Or do you have a different meaning?

      8. My last comment to you. Yes there really was someone called Jesus Christ and your inability to recognise differences in languages is spectacular! You have no interest in historical data, so there is no point in my giving you any. The whole world seems determined by what you believe, evidence is clearly something that is secondary to you. Arrogant is actually a mild term. I think the arrogance that shines through in your posts is of a special kind! anyway as I said, we’re done. you carry on talking to yourself!

      9. Sorry Arkenaten, I’ve been away travelling to earn a crust! yes, I am genuinely sad for you but no wish to be smug or patronising of course. Just praying you have an open mind to the rational arguments but also that your spiritual eyes would be opened. I know you don’t accept it but I believe we are body and spirit, so there’s a whole spiritual side to you that I think you are trying to suppress by trying to rationalise everything (not that we are irrational of course). You ask for the evidence, knowing that its hard for me to summarise all that on a blog … I think ‘Reasonable Faith’ do a good job providing a number of rational arguments both for the existence of God and for the existence and resurrection of Jesus ‘the anointed One’ (Yeshua if you like, but please don’t refer to him as a ‘literary construct’), along with a vast range of historical, philosophical and theological literature that testify both to the historicity and impact of Jesus; His teachings, claims and impact on the world. Actually, David Robertson, whose blog you are on, wrote, ‘Magnificent Obsession – Why Jesus is great’ which is a good read – perhaps you have already devoured it? So, what evidence are you after? For the existence of God, all the classic arguments. For Jesus I am actually pretty convinced by the Gospels, which I believe to be remarkable records of the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth that we can have a great deal of confidence in. They are worth reading through again Arkenaten, this time with an open mind; particularly John’s Gospel, which seems to be written for skeptics and selects a number of key ‘signs’ to convince us of who Jesus really is. My old (late) friend Carsten Peter Thiede, who was a highly respected German Papyrologist, argued convincingly for a much earlier dating of all the Gospels than scholars had previously thought and especially the re-dating of P60 a fragment of Mattew’s Gospel to the 60s of the first century. I recommend ‘Jesus, Life or Legend?’ by Carsten Thiede if you can get hold of a copy for a pretty thorough evaluation of the evidence for Jesus.

        I’m sorry you haven’t met anyone who became a Christian through examination of rational argument. I do know a few for whom that was an important stage in their spiritual journey but as you say, perhaps was not enough in itself for them to be ‘born again’. But being ‘born again’ is a spiritual transformation as you well know; so yes, there is another step which involves the exercise of faith and acting on something you are pretty convinced is true. I was thinking this week (work related) that its a bit like building up an intelligence picture… (yes, intelligence; I didn’t say i was intelligent!) So, good intelligence is built up like a jigsaw with all sorts of pieces that come from a huge variety of sources: Contextual background, geographical, written evidence, observation, cultural norms, HUMINT (personal testimony, eyewitnesses accounts) all graded, cross-checked and fused. To all this is often added a conviction based on accumulated knowledge of the enemy’s mind and intent. Sometimes they get it spectacularly wrong but that’s usually when someone wants it to be so… (Iraq?) So my Christian faith is not blind, irrational faith (in the face of the evidence) but is based on the cumulative, fused evidence of the centuries (eyewitness accounts, personal testimony, written records, archaeology, history, culture, impact, changed lives, spiritual transformation, the Church). Then there’s the spiritual bit, the inexplicable ‘falling in love’ with a Person; a joy, a message of hope and comfort and a spiritual reconciliation with God. Some of that might be deemed irrational by a reductionist but love often feels somewhat irrational…

        So (it pains me to say this) Arkenaten but I would suggest you re-read the Gospels with an open mind and see if you are drawn to your ‘literary construct’ first of all. Then maybe, as you are captivated by the Person of Jesus there described, you might come to believe it is true, that He is real and worth trusting. I hope so.

      10. Sorry Arkenaten, I’ve been away travelling to earn a crust! yes, I am genuinely sad for you but no wish to be smug or patronising of course. Just praying you have an open mind to the rational arguments but also that your spiritual eyes would be opened.

        I am not sure if David will let this comment fly as I have a feeling he may have banned me. We’ll see.
        For a kick off, praying is a complete waste of time and demonstrably so (PEW research for one). Rather put your hands to work doing something actively useful.

        I know you don’t accept it but I believe we are body and spirit, so there’s a whole spiritual side to you that I think you are trying to suppress by trying to rationalise everything (not that we are irrational of course).

        Suppress? *Smile* If your Canaanite god wants to talk to me all he has to do is call out, right? Isn’t this how it works: ‘’Oi, Ark, you damn Heathen. Pay attention or you are going to burn in Hell.’’

        You ask for the evidence, knowing that its hard for me to summarise all that on a blog … I think ‘Reasonable Faith’ do a good job …. Etc.

        Reasonable faith? Isn’t this the sight run by William Lane Craig? Seriously, you refer WLC to me? A biblical inerrantist. If this is the case I wonder if you are aware this man supports Divine Command Theory? Oh, well, I have to admire your resilience.
        I read everything with an open mind … at first … which is why I am not religious, do not consider myself a ‘’sinner’’, do not believe a narrative construct called Jesus of Nazareth is a god and do not believe I need to swear allegiance to any mythological deity to ensure I get into a make-believe place called Heaven. You do, and I am okay with this.
        It might interest you that I read (bits and pieces) of the gospel on a semi-regular basis; usually when cross-checking research. I cannot think of a single reason why on earth reading the gospels on a more regular basis would change my view. I reiterate, every single foundational tenet of your faith has no evidence to back its veracity. None.
        Furthermore, there is not a shred of secular evidence either.
        The day you are able to present some verifiable evidence for anything you believe in then I feel sure I will likely reconsider my point of view. Until then …
        But dont give up. You might stumble across something noone else has uncovered.

  9. @weeflea

    Actually, you are simply behaving like a typical Evangelical. I offer you scientific back up for my claims and you dismiss them.

    This suggests you have little or no genuine desire to actually explore or even research anything that might contradict your – I suspect – innerantist perspective.
    You dismiss archaeologists such as Dever and Finkelstein and then offer Kitchen and Hoffmeier, both biblical literalists understand, and certainly Kitchen.

    You continue to use the term ”God” yet seem reluctant to use this god’s proper name, Yahweh, and refuse to acknowledge this was a Canaanite deity adopted by the Israelites, who were themselves derived from Canaanite stock.

    Archaeological evidence backs this to the hilt., and the majority of Jewish academics today in all fields acknowledge this. Why don’t you?

    How can one reason when you dismiss scientific and archaeological evidence and put blind faith above everything else, even when it contradicts that faith?

    1. this is actually becoming quite boring – you do the very thing that you condemn others from doing. You asked me to name an archaeologist who supported the biblical perspective. I name one. And you dismiss them because they believe in the Bible. You continually engage in the ultimate circular arguments. And you continue to portray this incredible smugness. You of course know the real name of God and the real origin of the Israelites! It is indeed very difficult to reason with someone who is so prejudiced, and seems to have blind faith in their own intellectual capacity and superiority over others.

      1. I m not prejudiced at all, I simply have an aversion to religious ideology whose tenets have no basis in historical veracity.

        Yes, you will side with an Egyptologist such as Kitchen, but he has no standing with regard his belief about the Exodus with any mainstream archaeologist or even modern Jewish scholarship.

        If one were to countenance his adherence to the biblical tale then one would have to accept figures such as the approx number of Israelites as 2.5 million people, the parting of the Red Sea ( as written, which is a mistranlation as well you ought to know) and every other miraculous event as described, including the accounts of genocide and conquest for which there has never been found a single scrap of evidence no matter what time frame you wish to place these events.The hard evidence shows how settlement was largely internal and by all accounts relatively peaceful.
        For a scientist to be taken seriously, such a stance by Kitchen is utterly ridiculous and this is one of the reasons he is not held in any regard on this issue.

        Furthermore, you have not offered a single positive argument against the lack of evidence for occupation of Kadesh Barnea and neither to my knowledge has Kitchen.

        You simply refuse to even acknowledge the evidence of a complete alternate history of the Israelites and the entire Settlement Pattern as proposed because it contradicts your biblical story .And you leave in moderation any comment that you have no genuine rebuttal for, allowing only those comments you can insult and disparage.

        Like Kitchen, and other biblical innerantists, you are unable to offer a scrap of evidence to back your claims and merely hand-wave away almost the entire corpus of the scientific and an archaeological community, who, while not all minimalist, certainly do not accept the hokum as described in the bible.
        This is where the true smugness and arrogance is witnessed: by your dismissal of the lifework of hundreds and hundreds of dedicated men and women, a great many of whom are Jewish and /or were once devout Christians.

        It would demonstrate a higher level of integrity if you simply acknowledged that what you believe is based on faith, and primarily faith. This I can accept.

        But if you wish to stick to your guns and claim evidence then at least show you have a proper understanding of the subject matter and outline the evidence you have that flatly refutes the scientific and archaeological evidence already produced.

        Can you do that?

      2. That’s hilarious! You begin by stating that you are not prejudiced at all and then give a post which is full of prejudice. I’m not sure that there is much that I can do to help you. Kitchen offered a whole book of evidence – on the reliability of the old Testament. Also his book the Bible and archaeology today. what you mean is, not that he did not offer any evidence, but that he did not agree with you. This is the extent of your prejudice. You offer no evidence, other than a series of articles which agree with your already prejudged position. And then you discount any evidence which disagrees with your prejudice. By your own definition any one who disagrees with you must be an idiot. That’s why this conversation is pointless. That’s why I will be wasting anymore time on it. And that’s why, if you wish to post on here again you’re going to have to show some degree of rationality, humility and ability to actually engage with the arguments.

  10. People are not born righteous they are born with a sinful human nature – the bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

    Maybe you will recognize these verses from the bible, as claimed to have been spoken by the character, Jesus of Nazareth?.

    “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 18:3
    “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

    “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them and blessed them.” Mark 10:13-16

    “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” Luke 18:16-17

    Mark 10:16 says: “And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

    Do you still assert that Jesus claimed these kids were sinners?

    1. Yes of course. These verses do not say otherwise. They fit perfectly well with the teaching of Jesus that no human being is good and that all human beings need redemption. What’s your problem?

  11. @weeeflea

    This is one of the comments that is in moderation that you may missed.

    That’s hilarious! You begin by stating that you are not prejudiced at all and then give a post which is full of prejudice.

    I am going to presume by prejudice you lean toward this definition:

    a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge
    b : an instance of such judgment or opinion
    c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

    I have stated numerous times my view is based solely on evidence provided by the relevant experts in the field.
    I have asked you numerous times to offer any sort of verified evidence or simply peer-reviewed evidence that refutes the overwhelming mainstream scientific, archaeological and scholarly consensus.
    You have provided absolutely nothing that falls within these parameters. Not a damn thing.

    Kitchen has not produced a single scrap of verifiable evidence to back his claims of a biblical exodus or genocidal conquest of Canaan.
    You have hand -waved away every scientific claim , dismissed people likr Dever and Finkelstein; you disregard Coyne and by that almost every other scientist who recognizes the facts behind evolution and the HGP.

    I have tried to discuss the internal settlement pattern, as discovered by Finkelstein and acknowledged by others and you have not even deigned to engage on this topic.

    I raise the topic of Kadesh Barnea where the Israelites supposedly spent spent 38 years where there is not a shred of evidence and you refuse point blank to even mention it.
    Likewise the fact the entire area was under Egyptian control during the period of the supposed biblical exodus, and these are points Kitchen ignores as well.

    Please give one good reason why an evangelical Christian such as yourself, who stands on the fringe of your religion with regard such issues and is considered as somewhat extreme by modern day Christian standards who believes that one individual, Kitchen, a biblical literalist,who has produced no hard evidence whatsoever for the topic at hand should be given credence over and above almost the entire corpus of mainstream archaeology, science and biblical scholarship?

    1. “I have stated numerous times my view is based solely on evidence provided by the relevant experts in the field.” – wonderful! You may have stated numerous times but merely stating it doesn’t make it true. Your posts continually exemplify the prejudice and arrogance of those who think that they alone know the truth, and that anyone who disagrees with them cannot be an expert. What you call ‘relevant experts’ are just those who agree with you. You automatically dismiss people like Kitchen who is an expert in the subject that you pontificate about, without knowledge. you even have the gall to tell me that I stand on the fringe of my religion, which you clearly understand better than me! I’m sorry, but this is becoming really boring and I am reluctant to let you continue to display your arrogance and ignorance on my personal blog. Please feel free to do so on your own, were doubtless many people will want to admire your superior knowledge!

      1. Wrong again.
        The relevant experts are the huge corpus of scientists, archaeologists. biblical scholars etc etc who, through years and years of work and study have reached these conclusions and is thus, regarded as the consensus view.

        If Kitchen’s literalist view is correct it also means accepting the miraculous events as described in the bible ( parting of the Red Sea, plus/minus 2.5 million former slaves, 30 odd years at Kadesh Barnea, genocidal campaigns. etc etc.
        Yet there is no evidence whatsoever for any of this. Not a thing.
        And it isn’t just one or two archaeologists/scientists/scholars who find these tales without any factual or historical substance but almost the entire corpus of those involved in such studies.
        So please, don;t shoot the messenger ( me), as it were, your real fight is with the scientific and archaeological community and, I might add, a large part of your own religious ”family”..

      2. Your problem is that your presuppositions do not allow for the possibility of miracles at all. Therefore you cannot accept any evidence for them and you will always self select those who back up your presuppositions.

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