Positive Christianity

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Positive Christianity is a brand of Christianity that was overtly fashioned after the beliefs of National Socialism. Nazi Germany, though it was politically secular, sought to appeal to the largely religious populace by means of constructing churches, establishing concordats, and having Hitler's birthday celebrated in every church. Steigmann-Gall argues that Hitler and many leading Nazis embraced Positive Christianity as a way to bridge the confessional divide in Germany.

It was primarily the brainchild of Adolf Hitler whose relationship to Christianity was complex. He was raised Catholic and even thought of becoming a priest at one point[citation needed], but later came to despise the Roman Catholic Church. The ideology and rituals of the party were quasi-religious and in some senses a competitor with Christianity. Nevertheless, practical politics made it desirable for him to make his "peace" with Christianity and specifically with the Catholic Church. The primary appeal of the Nazis was to conservative/populist middle and lower middle class Germans and Austrians, who also tended to be observant Christians; for example, over half of the Waffen-SS were Catholics. It should be noted that the only Nazi to be formally excommunicated from the church was Joseph Goebbels -- on the basis that he had married a Protestant, Magda Goebbels.[1]

Accounts of what Hitler and the Nazis believed about Christianity are contradictory and confusing. That may be because the Nazis were confused about Christianity and contradicted themselves/each other. It may also be due to the fact that misleading comments about Nazi beliefs are often made deliberately to associate or dissociate specific groups or beliefs with Nazism (see Godwin's Law or quote mining).

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[edit] Hitler and Christianity

Whether Hitler was a "true" Christian is disputed.[2] He claimed Jesus was a fighter and imagined Jesus saw Jews as vipers and adders, leading to Jesus' driving the Jews out of the temple. Hitler claimed that Jesus waged a terrific fight against what he said was the "Jewish poison." Hitler maintained his perverted fight was a Christian fight for truth and justice, and claimed he had a Christian duty to fight for his "Aryan" people. This conveniently overlooks that Jesus himself was a Jew. In some Nazis' view, however, Jesus was created by God as an Aryan.[3]

Hitler believed further that Jews were involved only with “this world,” and were without a spirit (this is untrue of Judaism). Hitler felt the political parties of his time were humiliating themselves by "begging for Jewish votes," while Jesus let Himself be nailed to a cross, rather than compromise with Jews.[4]

Some of the time Hitler and the Nazis may have been appealing to traditional German Christian values and restating these values in a way that supported Nazism. Hitler certainly was deceitful when he wrote treaties and later broke them. It is unclear whether Hitler believed the version of Christianity above. Certainly Christianity did not protect the world from Nazism; nor, despite Hitler's insistence that God was on his side, did it protect Nazism from being crushed in the Second World War.

Nazism included elements that are incompatible with Christianity as it is usually taught, and included elements from other religions.

[edit] Positive Christianity today

Somewhat surprisingly, "Positive Christianity" did not die with Hitler and the Nazi party but still exists today. Complete with assertions that Hitler was right and replete with biblical justifications and explanations.[5]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Sources

  • Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-82371-5.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. NNDB's "Goebbels" entry
  2. Was Hitler a Christian?, The Straight Dope
  3. Heschel, S., The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany, Princeton University Press, USA, 2008.
  4. http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Hitler%27s_views_had_many_influences
  5. Positive Christianity today
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