What would Hitler say to Jesus—and Jesus to Hitler? In The Lamb and the Führer, Ravi Zacharias imagines their conversation a few minutes after Hitler’s suicide. A bit further on, another famous man joins the dialogue, the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed for a failed assassination attempt. In the interchange of ideas and arguments, each defends his point of view and explains his philosophy.
Zacharias doesn’t really need to prove that Jesus’s message is a better one than Hitler’s; who’s going to argue with that? Hitler is viewed by the majority of the world today as the embodiment of human evil. But what he does expose is that Hitler’s actions are the natural result of a naturalistic (evolutionary) worldview. Darwin and Nietzche are mentioned as contributors to this worldview (interestingly, Hitler presented Nietzche’s works to Mussolini with pride).
Nazism is based on naturalism, while Christianity teaches that each human being is created in the image of God and is therefore valuable. If human life is created by a Person, it is sacred; if it is a grand biological accident, it isn’t. Simple as that.
Though the atrocity of Hitler’s actions is exposed in this conversation, I was also struck by his constant logical fallacies. For example, Hitler blames all the Jews for crucifying Christ but disclaims responsibility for murders carried out under his own regime, even going so far as to say he never personally walked into a concentration camp; he calls the Jews genetically inferior but claims they were able to plunder and profit from a superior race; and the list goes on and on.
Hitler’s tone in the dialogue is predictably abrupt, angry, and dogmatic. It’s frustrating to read his part of the conversation and observe his utter self-absorption and heartless cruelty. He simply can’t and won’t understand. Zacharias includes Hitler’s final statement made before he committed suicide, and words can’t even describe the man’s depravity. And yet at the heart of the book is the point that while we aren’t Hitlers, we have the same potential for darkness in our hearts and need a Savior just as much as any cruel dictator.
The exchanges between Hitler and Bonhoeffer aren’t as clear-cut as those between Hitler and Christ. Zacharias handles them well, but I think there are still some open questions about the biblical justification for Bonhoeffer’s actions. In the conversation, Hitler condemns Bonhoeffer’s assassination attempt as immoral, but this is entirely illogical given the fact that Hitler believed human life originated through natural causes and was not sacred. To even claim that human life is sacred is to borrow from the Judeo-Christian worldview.
I’ve actually read this slim little volume twice, not because it’s a hard read but because I really wanted to grasp the implications of the conversation. I also recently finished that wildly popular fictional story set during the Third Reich, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, and reading these two very different books close together enriched my perception of both.
The Lamb and the Führer is a readable and intelligent discussion of the moral issues surrounding this ugly part of our history, and I recommend it. No one dissects issues of worldview like Zacharias. ()