Robert S. Frey, Nancy Thompson-Frey, "The Holocaust, Christianity and Personal Response," Christian Jewish Relations 17:4 (December 1984) 33-41

Abstract by Jerry Darring


The Holocaust deserves special emphasis because it was carried out by a legally instated, legitimate government with the assistance of thousands of minor civil servants and bureaucrats; the Jews of Europe were the prototype of state-defined superfluous and undesirable people; and finally, the Holocaust "resulted from thought patterns and institutions regarded as the best in the Western world, including rational thinking and scietific mentality" (p. 34).

The Holocaust merits special Christian attention and response because the history of Christian antipathy towards Jews and Judaism was a necessary condition for public acceptance of Nazi ideology and practice, and also because there was direct Christian involvement in the extermination process.

Even though organized religion failed to prevent the Holocaust, "precisely those values religion in its organized form claims to espouse are the ones most needed after the Holocaust" (p. 36). We need to re-evaluate our relationship with God, for the Holocaust shows that God will not necessarily intervene directly in human history when conditions get too bad on earth for people to handle on their own. There seems to be divine restraint in the face of evil, and "temporal history after Auschwitz may best be considered as not synonymous with God's desires for mankind" (p. 37). God seems to be sustaining human effort in a direction that humans chart for themselves.

Christians will have to rethink their approach to the resurrection and to Jesus as Messiah because social responsibility and human co-creatorship will need to be accentuated. Auschwitz demonstrated the importance of individual and collective actions and beliefs upon the moral fabric of society as well as the need for God-centered values.