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A.S.K 29 – Why Did God Make Hitler?

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BIBLE READING: Ezekiel 18

TEXT: The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. (Ezekiel 18:20)

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 Christianity to do what he did, there is a serious charge to answer.

(This clip below is Matt Dillahunty attempting and failing to blame Christianity for Hitler!)

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 (Nazism) 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.”

He condemns “the concepts of Christianity, which in their essential points have been taken over from Jewry”.

But the fact that Hitler was not a Christian does not answer our question. Why did God make Hitler? The question itself is a bit strange – because God does not make people out of a mould, and programme them to do all the good or evil they do. In addition we should be enormously thankful that Hitler and the Nazis were ultimately defeated. Is it not a bit inconsistent for people to blame God for Hitler but not to thank him for Hitler’s defeat?

If the questioner is suggesting that God should not permit anyone to be born who would do evil – then would that not eradicate most if not all of us? We are really back to the age-old question of suffering – except this time on a massive scale. The most we can say is that God let the German people and the European nations go their own way. They decided to reject God and Christianity and become a ‘modern’ ‘advanced’ nation. As a result they ended up with Hitler. And remember that Hitler was just one individual, a figurehead for an evil that was to do with far more than he.

The question I asked when I was a teenager (and I read loads of books about Hitler, Weimar Germany and the Nazis – I even went to the University of Edinburgh to study that subject), was how could this happen? How could the most advanced, sophisticated and cultured nation in the world end up being led by someone like Hitler?

The answer for me was frightening – there is a heart of darkness within every human being – including me. And yet out of the evil came hope. 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?”

A couple of 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. If Hitler and the German people had followed Christ, there would have been no holocaust. The fact that they did not do so is not God’s fault. As our text says – we are responsible for our own sin.

CONSIDER: Why do you think Hitler and the Nazis were able to gain power? Why was there such a hatred of the Jews? What do you think will happen to humanity if God just leaves us to get on with things?

RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING: Hitler’s Religion – The Twisted Beliefs that Drove the Third Reich – Richard Weikart

PRAYER: Lord God. How the nations rage? How they mock and scorn and oppress your people. We cry, how long O Lord, how long? We long to be delivered from evil. Deliver us from the evil within and the evil without. Keep us from the evil one and break the strength of wicked men. In Jesus name. Amen.

Was Hitler a Christian?

Was Hitler really a Christian?

A.S.K 28 – Does Your Religion Depend On Where You Were Born?

You can still order A.S.K in time for Christmas!

amazon UK, US or Australia

Or better still go into your local bookshop and order it….there are bulk discounts as well from Ten of Those 

If you have read the book and would like to review it – can I encourage you to do so on Amazon.  The more the merrier….

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21 comments

  1. The question becomes so much clearer and easier to answer if you remove your god from the equation.
    Hitler was a product of Mr and Mrs Hitler – or evolution if you prefer.
    His warped ideology was simply that —– warped.

  2. If Christianity and Jesus are the answer to the problem of evil — as exemplified in the Shoah — then why haven’t more of “God’s chosen people” converted?

    1. There is a lot packed into your question, Chris,
      and there’s no way to answer it briefly without raising other questions such as: ‘Why does God allow “the god of this world” to blind the minds of unbelievers?’ [c.f. 2 Cor. 4:4.] It needs to be said that there are probably many more converted Jews worshipping Jesus as Messiah than you think but that begs the question: ‘Why not all?’
      There is a mystery here that we cannot penetrate and ought to recognise. The boundary is marked both by a paradox and by a contradiction. The paradox is that Christians give off the aroma of Christ but it it is the fragrance of ‘life unto life’ for the Believer and the stench of ‘death unto death’ for the Unbeliever. [c.f. 2 Cor. 2:15f..] The contradiction is that God is Sovereign and Man is Responsible, but because this use of ‘contradiction’ is not the rigid use in formal logic — where a contradiction negates the argument — we have to use the more technical term of ‘antinomy’ to label it in formally logical terms. There is a full analysis of what is to be expected from the eventual conversion of ‘all Israel’ in Romans 9-11.
      Incidentally, the fact that Jews could not escape the Shoah by feigning convertion demonstrates that the Nazi hatred of the Jew was racial rather than religious.
      Yours,
      John/.

  3. How is Christianity an answer to the Holocaust?

    The answer seems to be – sorry, you’ll have to go through this hell on Earth (even though I, your loving god, could stop it) but once you’re dead there is a chance you may go to heaven.

    Is that an answer?

      1. Ok – I was genuinely seeking what you meant and proposed a very simple stating of how Christianity may be the answer.

        How does Christianity provide an answer to the Holocaust?

      2. However, it would correct to suggest that Christians generally believe that, Jews will not be going to Heaven.
        This is the straightforwards Christian answer.

      3. Actually its not. Jesus, Paul, Peter, Mary, Luke, James etc were all Jews who have gone to heaven. In fact Christians believe the all Israel will be saved….not for the first time you are somewhat out in your understanding…

      4. How do you know this is true?
        Can you at least provide the source of this assertion and provide evidence to verify it. Thanks.

  4. “It is astonishing how many times Hitler comes up in conversation”

    I think that the reason he is so often referred to is that he is now a foundational part of the Western origin myth. A secular replacement of the devil. A replacement of evil and the mirror of good.

  5. Clearer and easier?…
    If by ‘warped’ you mean evil, then can I ask where you get an actual objective and meaningful concept of evil from? Alternatively if you mean it to be irrational then how do you reliably ground your standard of rationality given our minds have been shaped by an apparently unguided process, which does nothing more than bring about ends in accordance with an organisms ability to survive and reproduce, rather than determine truth? Thanks Arkenaten.

    1. Ah that old chestnut – the “unguided process” means you can’t possibly determine the truth of anything mumbo jumbo.

      Is there anything you can point to about how a brain operates that indicates it was fashioned by a god and that this is what enables you to determine the truth? Or is this – (oh of course it is you silly boy) – just a statement you make which can’t possibly be proven?

      It’s strange that your god made a brain from entirely natural elements and made one that is so incredibly vulnerable to injury and disease. Why on earth would he have done that?

      Do you mean to suggest that evolution is a process guided by a god? If so – why would a god indulge in the folly of millions of years of a process to finally produce the being made in his image that he wished to create all along – why wouldn’t he just produce mankind instantly?

      1. John,
        recent discoveries in genetics and neuroscience add to the evidence which has always been there that the world and everything in it was created for Mankind. The newly-observable functioning and indeed pathology and self-repair of the brain indicate that mind is more than just the firing off of electrical signals in a complex array. Similarly, a comparison of the phylogenetically-close-related genomes of Man and Chimp indicate that there is no merely genetic reason for man’s vastly increased intelligence among other things.
        Genome comparisons may yet prove to be the death knell of phyletic gradualism since both they and the fossil record seem rather to suggest some sort of punctuated equilibrium instead. Punctuated Equilibrium adds credance to the Evolutionary Creationist/Biologos concept of a largely unguided evolutionary process but with divine intervention at key points and that is preferable to the Deistic notion of God setting the ball rolling, so to speak, and then leaving Nature to its own devices.
        A more theologically-informed view is that because God is God the processes need no intervention having been started and sustained with a Word, viz‘God said, “Let there be light.” and there was light.’ Furthermore, God being God, he has no need to create processes at their projected point of origin, so — for example — the creation of our expanding universe took place not at the point of origin of that expansion but at a time when the universe was nearly as large as it is now. To paraphrase Prof. Brian Cox: If we have the numbers for it, it isn’t mumbo jumbo; so it is perfectly reasonable to believe that God created the world in six days as the Bible tells us he did.
        Yours,
        John/.

  6. Thanks for your incites John Kirkpatrick – very interesting. Btw John 1, I wasn’t reasoning from design so I don’t know why you’ve brought up that ‘old chestnut’. I was merely questioning how in the absence of a transcendent source of rationality and objective moral values you are able to ‘easily and clearly’ ground (ontologically) these concepts. If we leave aside your critique of the design argument, you’ve said nothing so far to suggest this can be done convincingly through simple evolutionary naturalism which seems to be the only mechanism at your disposal.

    1. “Alternatively if you mean it to be irrational then how do you reliably ground your standard of rationality given our minds have been shaped by an apparently unguided process, which does nothing more than bring about ends in accordance with an organisms ability to survive and reproduce, rather than determine truth?”

      What else is this statement but a paraphrase of the well worn argument that because the brain is a product of an unguided evolutionary process how can it possibly be trusted as a means to determine reality.

      “Evolutionary naturalism” isn’t the means by which we come to moral values; that is means by which our brains have come to exist and it is that which is used to apprehend morality.

      Before you can declare that the morals we live by are based on “a transcendent source of rationality and objective moral values ” there has to be evidence of that source actually existing.

    2. My apologies for butting in, Ltrevo,
      but I couldn’t work out what ‘old chestnut’ John was referring to and I didn’t want to let the opportunity go to mention that the recent advances in the study of comparative genomics and of brain function are movements of the very foundations of the mountain of anthropological evidence that ‘God exists and rewards those who seek him.’
      However, when it comes to evidences, we ought never forget that when the Bible itself raises the question of ‘What is man, that God is mindful of us?’ the answer given points to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ [Ps. 8; Heb. 2]. The beginning place for investigation of the veracity of Scripture must always be to look at the ungainsayable nature of the eyewitness accounts of encounters with the Risen Christ. The desperation of Unbelief to avoid doing so is the epitome of tragicomic human frailty.
      Yours,
      John/.

      1. Exactly how recent discoveries in neuroscience could possibly be considered as evidence for a god is beyond me.

        I’d love an explanation of how observing the brain functions constitutes evidence for a god, but suspect that what we have is just another rather silly case of confirmation bias.

        Could also be handy if you outline what these new discoveries are, who made them and what neuroscientists conclude they indicate about the existence of a god.

        Cheers.

      2. If nothing else, John,
        the neurologial discoveries made since the US President anticipated a ‘Decade of the Brain’ for 1990-1999 have rendered the regnant view — that ‘The human brain is a machine which alone accounts for all our actions …’ [Prof. Colin Blakemore] — an obsolete piece of confirmation bias. Since this regnant view has been used to deny bot the responsibility of man and the existence of God its refutation counts as evidence for both.

        2. Evidence is cumulative, and, as the discovery of the Higgs Boson demonstrates, substantiation often follows theorisation by some distance. In Christian theology the evidences for the place of mankind in the scheme of things is central because in Christ God became a man.

        3. We have a tendency to rule out as evidence anything that we take for granted. We are unaware of the mountain we stand on simply because we have always stood on it. More so now than ever we often become aware of the mountain of evidence only because someone denies that it is evidence. It is my belief that feeling the mountain move underfoot — so to speak — will separate the true sceptic, who will consequently review the evidence, from the pseudo-sceptic, who won’t.

        4. One neuroscientist who saw the mountain of evidence clearly before it had its decade-of-the-brain and beyond shift was Donald M. MacKay. (You can read a brief but helpful introduction at https://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1992/PSCF3-92Thorson.html .) MacKay died in 1987 and was working on Behind the Eye right up until his death; which makes his work the ideal baseline study against which the subsequent shift in thinking can be examined.

        5. As your suspicion — ‘that what we have is just another rather silly case of confirmation bias’ — indicates, it can be counter-productive to cite an ‘expert’ who also happens to be evangelical because attention seems invariably to switch from the case to the person. James Le Fanu, though, is not a creationist so he is as things stand, less liable to a gratuitous, ad hominem, ‘confirmation bias’ accusation than any evangelical would be. He says — in Why Us? How Science rediscovered the mystery of ourselves., pp225-227 —

        Standing back, it is possible to see how the (unanticipated) legacy of the Decade of the Brain has brought to our attention five cardinal mysteries of the mind that taken together offer the profoundest of insights into our understanding of ourselves — … | (i) The Mystery of Subjective Awareness … | (ii) The Mystery of Free Will … | (iii) The Mystery of the Richness and Accessibility of Memory … | (iv) The Mystery of Human Reason and Imagination … | (v) The Mystery of the Self …

        Le Fanu’s point is that scientism fails to explain away the constituent parts of the soul of Man but it is perfectly obvious that the same reasoning nulifies the scientistic fallacy that axiomatically there can be no God because Science cannot comprehend spirituality.

        6. These recent findings in neuroscience support the recent psychological discovery that personal memories of life changing events — e.g. the Apostles seeing the Risen Christ — intensify over time.

        7. The proof of the pudding is in the eating so the acid tests of life are applied to the experience of personal salvation in Jesus Christ.

        Yours,
        John/.

  7. Why did God make Liberals? So the publication ‘Christianity Today’ could editorially play God and judge Trump?

  8. “What else is this statement but a paraphrase of the well worn argument that because the brain is a product of an unguided evolutionary process how can it possibly be trusted as a means to determine reality.”

    The argument I used here was intended to show the difficulty of rationally affirming evolutionary naturalism. This is because as EN suggests our faculties have evolved not in accordance with their ability to help us determine truth but survive and reproduce..these are the integral components which have shaped it without God. I was merely using it to further question the clarity or ease of discussing this article in any objectively meaningful way without such a transcendent source.

    You noted that “before you can declare that the morals we live by are based on “a transcendent source of rationality and objective moral values ” there has to be evidence of that source actually existing. But this seems to miss the point of the moral argument John. Arguably the existence of objective moral values and duties which the vast majority of people affirm are themselves evidence for the existence for the transcendent source, otherwise how can they be objectively grounded?!? You’ve explained how we are able to apprehend them, yes but can I ask why it is objectively right or wrong to do certain things? based on your worldview. What authority are you appealing to, to ground such sentiments? You might appeal to the fact that some actions bring about a greater level of human flourishing..but without a God who has invested in us intrinsic value and worth, why think our flourishing is any more valuable than that of any other organism. You might appeal to subjective factors like our ‘higher’ evolutionary development, but isn’t this merely a description of the way things are (At least on your worldview), not necessarily the way thing’s ought to be!. I’m sorry but evolutionary naturalism appears redundant when it comes to explaining the actual being or ontology of such moral entities.

    It seems to me that our apprehension of objective moral values and duties and our rational apprehension of the way the world actually is, fits better with a worldview whereby we have been created in the image of a personal rational being who functions as the source or paradigm of moral goodness.

    Lastly I wasn’t going to mention design but seen as though you did first, I will wrap up with this…the fact that we live in a vastly improbable life permitting universe which just so happens to be rationally intelligible and just so happens to consist of an objective dimension of moral values and duties does seem to fit better with the notion of foresight and intelligence not mindless chance and/or necessity.

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