Act 1: A Common Apologetics Scenario
Atheist: [Condescendingly] Hitler was a Christian.
Christian: [Unfazed] No, he wasn’t. At least not according to the Bible’s definition of what a Christian is.
Atheist: [Smugly.] He called himself a Christian. He was baptized as a Roman Catholic. He was a Christian.
Christian: [Sighingly] That doesn’t mean he was a Christian. Calling yourself a Christian, but then believing and living in opposition to the Christian faith pretty much proves you are not a Christian.
Atheist: [Mockingly] So I guess he wasn’t a “real” Christian, huh?
Christian: Nope. Hitler was most certainly NOT a Christian.
Act 2: The Scotsman Arrives
Atheist: [Scornfully] You know you just committed the No True Scotsman fallacy, right?
Christian: How so?
Atheist: Well, when I proved from historical facts that he was a Christian, you went on to state that he was not a Christian because he failed to meet certain criteria you seem to have pulled outta thin air.
Christian: [Annoyedly] I didn’t pull the criteria out of thin air. I can show you the Scriptures’ teac –
Atheist: [Mockingly] The Scriptures’ teaching? Really? According to whose interpretation? Yours? The Roman Catholics? The Jehovah’s Witnesses? What is the teaching of the Bible? What you say it is? Who defines what it means to be a Christian? You? C’mon.
Christian: The Bible is actually really clear about who is and is not a Christian.
Atheist: [Looking down his nose] The Bible isn’t clear about anything, you fool. It is a mess of contradictions. You can interpret it any way you want.
Christian: [Confusedly] Really? You think tha –
Act 3: Nobody is a Christian & Hitler’s Religion Doesn’t Matter, AKA The Boomerang
Christian: [Curiously] I’m confused.
Atheist: You would be.
Christian: [Annoyedly] Seriously. I’m confused.
Atheist: Okay. Fine. What is confusing to you about the fact that Hitler was a Christian?
Christian: Well, that would be a bad thing for me, wouldn’t it? If Hitler were a Christian…right?
Atheist: Yes. Don’t you think so? You are a Christian, are you not?
Christian: Well, that’s the thing. If what you’re saying is true, then I don’t know if I am.
Christian: I’m just thinking through the logical implications of what you said.
Atheist: [Derisively] Logic. Right. Tell me about your great findings in logic. I’m all ears.
Christian: Alright, sure.
Atheist: Fine. Go on.
Christian: Well you said that the Bible is not clear about anything.
Atheist: It obvisouly is NOT.
Christian: And you said that anyone can interpret it however he or she wants…
Atheist: Common sense 101: Books don’t interpret themselves. Where’s this great logical treasure you promised? hmmm?
Christian: Relax. I’m getting there.
Atheist: pfffffffffffffff. whatever. Go on.
Christian: Well, if the Bible does not speak clear about any doctrine, then there is no correct definition of what Christianity is, nor is there a correct definition of what a Christian is. And if Christianity is, according to you, in the eye of the beholder, then anything can be called Christian. Not only this, but anyone can be called a Christian. This means that calling a system of beliefs “Christian” is meaningless, seeing as no one can define what Christianity is –
Atheist: BUT –
Christian: Please, let me finish. As I was saying, on your view that Christianity is whatever people make it out to be, and that a Christian is whatever anyone says a Christian is – identifying Hitler as Christian is not an objective fact but a subjective opinion. Not only this, but it ultimately doesn’t matter. It has no sting, since Hitler’s beliefs cannot be representative of the Christian faith, seeing as there is no representative set of doctrines we can call the doctrines of the Christian faith.
So if Hitler shouted “I AM A CHRISTIAN!” this would be completely irrelevant, seeing as there is nothing you can point to and say “That is Christianity.” All of his morally atrocious behaviors, moreover, can be ascribed to his “Christian” faith and that would be irrelevant, for there would be no “Christian faith” to which it corresponded other than the one he subjectively concocted.
Not only this, but he could be the vile, racist murderer he was, call himself a Christian, be identified as a Christian by you and others, and even this would be irrelevant, since he would not be acting in contradiction to what the Bible objectively teaches about how a Christian should behave.
Christian: No, no, no. Please, let me finish. See, if you insist on calling Hitler a Christian, and insist on doing so in order to make some sort of moral critique of the Christian faith, then this implies that you have a definite understanding of what Christianity is. But from what you’ve said, any claim that “Christianity is X” or “Christianity teaches X” is subjective.
So given your own assertions about Christianity and what it means to be Christian – namely that all of these things are subjectively defined – I can say, with your heartfelt agreement, that Hitler was most certainly NOT a Christian.