God didn’t tell you to do that!

People have done bad things in the name of God. But that doesn’t mean that they were instructed by God to do such things. My God, for example, would not approve of the Crusades, the Inquisition, all the burning at the stakes, blowing up abortion clinics, protesting at the funerals of gay people, etc.

So just because someone says he is acting in the Name of God, that doesn’t mean that his license to kill came from the Almighty. It may surprise you, but even Hitler thought he was acting in the service of God. His words about the importance of religious beliefs are famous:

“This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief. The great masses of a nation are not composed of philosophers. For the masses of the people, especially faith is absolutely the only basis of a moral outlook on life. The various substitutes that have been offered have not shown any results that might warrant us in thinking that they might usefully replace the existing denominations. …There may be a few hundreds of thousands of superior men who can live wisely and intelligently without depending on the general standards that prevail in everyday life, but the millions of others cannot do so.”

  • Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 10

This, however, does not mean that Hitler was a Christian, as many have claimed. His actions definitely didn’t illustrate the teachings of Christ. But if he was not a Christian, what was he? I think he was simply someone who used religion to advance his political causes. He was not deranged. He was very conscious of what he was doing. He was not crazy, he was crazy with power.

And that is one way to test one’s religious claims, isn’t it? How do them stack against the teachings of the founder? Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. That means that anyone who hates anyone is not advancing God’s causes.

Christ loved the last, the least, the lost of this world. He was a friend of the poor, the sick, the tax collectors and prostitutes. That means that anyone who hates the poor and is not reaching out to the destitute is not on God’s side. In fact, the book of Proverbs says, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31).

Yes, Jesus said “go and sin no more” to the woman caught in adultery, but many Christians seem to say “sin no more, then go.” I think the order is important. Jesus didn’t expect perfection before he releases us into the world. That is a huge difference and one that probably assumes many bumps on the road. But I am glad that Jesus also lay down what the standard to live by.

Maybe I should write about great things people have done in God’s name. The list is also endless. We will see what comes next.

Ivanildo C. Trindade