How can wicked people like Hitler be saved?
Regular columnist James Knight explains that no sinner is beyond God’s forgiveness.
There is one often-cited question by unbelievers which gets to the heart of what's so perplexing about Christian grace: "How can wicked people like Hitler ever be saved?"
Christians are not usually so perplexed, because their faith is based on two fundamental truths that contain the answer to this question:
1) As much as we like to think otherwise, we humans are all capable of the most wretched sins, and we are all equal in the extent to which we fall short of the glory of God, which makes all of us as much in need of grace as Hitler.
2) Anyone who recognises their sins and Christ as their saviour is saved, because salvation is not based on our moral deeds, it is a free gift given because of God's love and grace on the cross.
Not only is it the case that salvation is gift-based not merit-based, it's also the case that even some of God's greatest spokespeople had notoriously tarnished pasts. Take three of the most famous - Moses, David and St Paul: Moses killed an Egyptian to defend a Hebrew; David, after sleeping with Uriah's wife Bathsheba, gave military instruction that he knew would cause the execution of Uriah, freeing up him to marry Bathsheba; and St Paul (when he was Saul, before his conversion) persecuted Christians to their death.
If some of the Bible's most roguish characters can be not just saved, but be chosen as key exponents of the Divine truths, then it's unsurprising that there's an ease with which all repentant sinners can be forgiven and have salvation, even people generally perceived to be the worst in human history.
Perhaps the best way to think of it is to consider the love and grace involved in a man dying for another man - perhaps in the form of paying a price that the other man couldn't pay, or showing an act of courage. If Pete goes into a burning house, saves Fred, but dies himself, that would be tragic, but also quite moving.
With God, the earth is full of forgiven sinners, where Christ dies on the cross so we are all saved. In essence, He goes into a burning house to rescue us all, knowing He will die in the process. In resurrection He shows that we will all be included in Divine grace. The beautiful thing about Divine grace is that if the world only consisted of just you, or just me, He would have still gone to the cross for us.
James Knight is a long term contributor to the Network Norwich & Norfolk website and a local government officer based in Norwich. He is also a writer for the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.
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