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The most famous Christian of the 20th century

11 May 2010

Here’s a little trivia question for you. Who was the most famous Christian of the 20th century?

SoMA Review – The Most Famous Christian of the 20th Century? – Robert Flynn:

Mother Teresa? Nope. Billy Graham? Nope. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Guess again. Albert Schweitzer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, any and all popes, any and all U.S. presidents…Nah, throw ‘em out.

The most famous Christian of the 20th century was Adolf Hitler.

Sure, we call Hitler infamous today. But before he started gobbling up European countries like they were little bratwurst sausages, Hitler was famous as a world leader with high moral values and a distinctly Christian vision.

And the rest of the article is worth reading too.

But if one is going to argue along those lines, then perhaps an even stronger case could be argued for Iosif Vissarionovich Djugashvili, better known by his alias “Stalin”. Unlike Hitler, he attended a theological seminary (an Orthodox one in his homeland of Georgia), so he probably had a better knowledge of the basics of the Christian faith than Hitler. One could also note that, unlike Hitler, he was a Caucasian.

In addition to being the most famous Christian of the 20th century, Stalin would probably qualify as being the most famous atheist of the 20th century too.

But, as the article begins, that is a trivia question.

To get to a mire important question, Stalin and Hitler probably tie for the title of the most infamous dictator of the 20th century, and that has little to do with either Christianity or atheism.

The main purpose of Robert Flynn’s article is to warn Christians in the present not to be seduced into admiring fascist political policies, and to point out that in the past some were seduced into admiring Hitler’s supposed “Christian” virtues. The fact that Hitler and Stalin were brought up in the Christian faith is trivial, because Christianity had little influence on their policies or their goals or the manner in which they ruled.

Yes, before their atrocities became widely known, some did admire their policies, and say that they were moral and Christian. And even after their atrocities became known, some said that even if we could not approve of their methods, we should at least admire their aims. Such, for example, was Hewlett Johnson, the “Red” Dean of Canterbury, whose The socialist sixth of the world was written between the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the beginning of the Second World War, and was reprinted numerous times before and after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. That was after Stalin had ordered the imprisonment and murder of several hundred thousand Christian clergy and monastics.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 May 2010 2:05 pm

    Interesting article by Robert Flynn in the link!

    As to Hewlett Johnson one must wonder why he wrote as he did, seemingly giving credence to Stalin’s office yet surely knowing that not all was right under the surface.

    He is certainly someone whose life and raison d’etre I would love to learn more about, be he a deluded idiot, a utiopian fool or a lackey of Stalin.

  2. 11 May 2010 4:41 pm

    One small comment.

    Stalin physically couldn’t neither imprison nor kill “several hundred thousands” of clergy and monastics. In 1914 (before Revolution) the total number of Orthodox clergy+monastics in the Empire was 112K clergy (of which 50K priests) and 95K monastics (12,000 men monastics, 17, 000 – women, rest are novices) so the sum is 207 thousands. Numbers for other Christian denominations were much-much smaller.

    In 1946 those numbers were diminished and estimated as around 15K (of those not imprisoned) for Orthodox. However, the country became smaller (Finland and Poland were lost), many of clergy were in emigration etc.

    So current estimates are that in between 1917 and 1951 about 130 thousands of clergy and monastics became victims of the regime.

    I’m not defending Stalin, I jsut like to clarify numbers🙂

    Christ is Risen!

  3. 12 May 2010 9:54 pm

    Who was the most famous atheist of the 20th Century? It had to be either Hitler or Stalin.

    If you can twist “Christian” to fit either of them, then it’s no difficult matter to apply the word “atheist” to them, either. Especially Stalin, of course. Hitler, too, fits that appellation at least as well as he does “Christian.” I would argue he fits it even better, but I think I can make my point without making that argument.

  4. 25 October 2010 7:32 am

    Too much for me to even think about – even if article well regarded!

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