I thought the following comment was particularly good in answering the absurd notion that Hitler was a Christian. I’ve talked about this before here. But this comment comes from a post titled, “Dinner with Hitler and Other Moral Issues.” The comment is a dialogue between “agnophilo” and the blog host, “rentafriend2000.”
Here are the salient points of Rentafriend’s response from the thread:
“You [agnophilo]: “On what planet does hitler constantly proclaiming his christian beliefs not in any way support the idea that he was christian? What in the world possibly could by that standard? Do we need to find some of his DNA and prove he had the christian gene or something?”
[Rentafriend2000]: I understand your point, and I can’t fault you for not knowing better, as the America church is barely literate enough to know better. This has been a major frustration for me for years, but I digress. Your point is a common one—you feel that being a Christian is no more than being a Cubs fan. You say, “Heck, I’ll root for this team,” and that’s all there is to it. But that is not at all what being a Christian is. That is, admittedly, all it takes to be a Lutheran, or a Methodist, or a Baptist. But choosing to attend a particular church doesn’t make one a Christian any more than going to Wrigley Field makes one a baseball player.
If you read the New testament, Jesus and the apostles make this very point. James 2:19 says “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Jesus himself makes the distinction between his true followers and those who play the part in public in Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus himself does not distinguish between “Believe in me” and “follow me” and even “Obey me.” But he DOES separate those from “You CLAIMED to be mine,” or “you used my name.”
In short, there is nothing in the New Testament which would accept mere name dropping as equivalent to being a real follower of Christ. It’s not an arbitrary label to slap on yourself. It’s an act of the will- a dedication of one’s entire being, much like being married. This is why the church is called the “Bride of Christ.” We’re not the girlfriend. We’re a committed, covenant people- promised and wedded, paid for and united as one with our Lord. That is the only kind of Christian who actually exists. A Christian in name only is NOT a Christian at all. No we do not have new DNA, but we have a new heart and a new spirit. The fruits of the spirit Paul lists in Galatians 5:22 are a DNA test for Christians. CS Lewis talks about this in Mere Christianity, and if you’ve not read that I HIGHLY recommend it. It delivers what the title promises.”
“….So even if Hitler truly considered himself to be a Christian, all you have to do is go to the teaching of Jesus to see that nothing could be further from the truth. To claim he was a Christian is merely absurd and indefensible. Jesus called the Jews his brothers, not a poison. Jesus taught to love your enemies, not to murder them. Jesus taught to turn the other cheek, not to use violence to conquer the world. When even the church organizations have done otherwise, they have NOT acted as Christians, and in many cases proved that they were NOT Christians. This is what Martin Luther said of many of the later Crusaders. He said, “They call themselves a Christian army when there is not but five real Christians among them.” This distinction is not one I made up or one of the modern church. It comes from Jesus and the apostles.” [END QUOTE]
Again, you can read the whole thing here. Rentafriend’s point is valid. It doesn’t matter what Hitler said if his actions contradicted Jesus’ teachings.
Quote-mining a sociopath proclaiming to be a Christian isn’t a valid argument against Christianity. And there’s no such thing as a cultural Christian either, according to Jesus (and Paul and the rest). In order to follow Christ you must engage in a transformational relationship with the Living Word, letting Him reveal the “true thoughts and secret motives” of your heart and progressively transforming them.
For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts. (Heb.4:12 TPT, emphasis added)
This painfully obvious truth may have escaped our notice in the confused post-modern West, but it’s a contradiction in terms to call Jesus “Lord” and not do what He says (Luke 6:46). And this has nothing to do with perfectly following Jesus but everything to do with progressively maturing in Christlikeness as you continue yielding your will to the transformational process (see Matt.5:48; Rom.12:1-2; Gal.4:19).
Finally, here’s a deep truth to ponder: you cannot rightly say you’re following Jesus if you’re not actually following Him. That’s religious self-deception (James 1:21-25), a duplicitous pretense that Jesus Himself rejects. As G.K. Chesterton rightly observed:
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”