Robert A. Everett, "The Impact of the Holocaust on Christian Theology," Christian Jewish Relations 15:4 (December 1982) 3-11

Abstract by Jerry Darring


The Holocaust marks a new epoch in human history, and every year after 1942 should be termed AFS, After the Final Solution. "It was the total rebellion of man against morality and life in the name of death. It was the total restructuring of the universe dedicated to the demonic, to Ultimate Evil.... Ultimate Evil has ceased being an abstraction. It has built an empire for everyone to see and contemplate, and it was built with human hands" (4). We cannot make the Holocaust into simply another example of our inhumanity, ignoring "the profound ontological battle which was waged in the death camps. It was the ultimate battle between Life and Death" (5). And the shocking this is that it was all rational and reasonable, with neat blueprints, well educated perpetrators, careful calculations of cost effectiveness, an intricate train system that kept the death camps full of Jews.

The roots of this horror are to be found in the Church, for it was the church which turned normal neighborly tensions into the evil of antisemitism, it was the Church which charged the Jews with deicide, it was the Church which created a caricature of the Jew that was monstrous, it was the Church that declared the Jews rejected by God. We Christians must now stop telling lies about Jews: the lie that Jews killed Jesus, the lie that Judaism is a dead religion, the lie that Jews are cursed by God for their crime of deicide, the lie that Christianity has replaced Judaism in God's plan, and the lie that Jews must convert to Christianity. Christians must also stop reacting to evil events as the will of God, and they must re-examine their teachings about Jesus. Jesus was not the greatest example of Godforsakenness: the children who waited in line to be thrown into the flames of Auschwitz were much more Godforsaken. "The Christian has to come to remember that Jesus would have perished in the death camps had he lived in Nazi Europe, betrayed by the Christians, not by his people Israel" (10).

Christians must learn from Jews the value of the sacred time of Shabbat and the sacramental space of the Land. Repentance is the key to Christian theology after the Holocaust. We should not speak of crucifixion and resurrection in confronting the state of Israel, for "Israel's right to exist would be valid even if the Holocaust had never happened" (10-11). We must support Israel, and indeed, "Only those Christian voices which speak of solidarity with Israel and her right to exist are able to call themselves servants of Life" (11).

"Is not the time after the Holocaust a time for radical statements and change? I think it is" (11).