Alice L. Eckardt, "Post-Holocaust Theology: A Journey Out of the Kingdom of Night" Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 1:2 (1986) 229-240

Abstract by Jerry Darring


Eckardt makes five opening points: the Holocaust was unique in world and Jewish history; it could not have happened without the centuries of Christian demonization of Jews; as an absolute event, it must have absolute significance for our faiths; it must become a turning point in Christian history; it challenges the faithful of both Christianity and Judaism at fundamental levels. She then calls attention to some terrible examples of Christian complicity and indifference during the Holocaust, and says: "Until Christian theologians are ready to create a theology free of any anti-Jewish proclivities, the church will remain in the impossible situation it has always been in: on the one hand denouncing prejudice, hatred and acts that flow from such feelings, while on the other hand providing the theological and liturgical foundation for that very antipathy that can break out in antisemitic violence" (231).

A restructured and revitalized theology would include the following points. 1) The church must put an end to all teachings of superiority and claims to exclusive possession of the means of salvation. 2) Christians must face up to the negation of Judaism in our scriptures and tradition and write a new theology of Christian-Jewish relationship. 3) We must stop presenting the Jewish people as enemies of God and Christ-killers. 4) We must stop asserting that the cross constitutes the ultimate in human suffering. Moreover, the cross must never again be used against the Jewish people in any way. 5) The Holocaust revealed the shallowness of the church's devotion to its own ethic. 6) We must affirm that it is through the Jew Jesus that we Gentiles have been brought into the original Covenant of God and Israel.

Eckardt asserts that the affirmation of the Resurrection is so overlaid with Christian triumphalism that it is hard to see how we can make that affirmation without at the same time continuing the displacement theology of the church. She also calls on Christianity to stop exalting suffering and sacrifice.