From such happen, especially when He is revered

From
persecutions to mass shootings, there is always something evil going
on the world. And in those times believers often question God about
why He is letting all of such happen, especially when He is revered
as being all mighty and good. While the doctrine of theodicy tries to
offer an answer to this, it became relevant only after one of the
most tragic events in the history of the earth, the Holocaust, when
theologians started to seek answers to how and why it happened;
therefore, Holocaust theology was introduced.
The
advent of Holocaust theology and the correlations with theodicy are
not often welcomed in the church, especially since both discuss about
negative events and any message of hope is implicit and possibly hard
to explain to the audience. Also, some Christians do not share the
same viewpoint of the Jews, complicating matters. Because of such,
the church often prefers to avoid dealing with the Holocaust or
similar tragedies, and mostly focus on the positives in order to
deliver their message of hope. While positive thinking is good,
avoiding the issue is not: in fact, the Holocaust is a deep subject
that sparkled discussion among theologians, and the church should not
just ignore it on the basis of being extremely unpleasant or because
of the Jews being the main subject, but rather, be prepared to
discuss about the Holocaust from a true and real perspective, in
order to address an audience that seeks an answer for such tragedy.

To
start, theodicy does provide a concrete explanation, but not everyone
is fond of thinking about God in such way. Still, it is important to
remind that the church does talk about passages in the Bible, and
several passages also relate with theodicy: for example, James
Crenshaw lists that “undeserved
suffering, chaotic events that fail to demonstrate control, natural
calamities, the prosperity of the wicked, anticipated eternal
punishment, apparent divine malice, and intellectual bafflement”1
are all issues found in scriptures and would also make someone to
question God. If the church already discusses about such passages in
order to deliver an explanation to the evil in the world, introducing
Holocaust theology and the messages of hope within in the sermons
would not be something new, and it would make the church more willing
to deal with the problems of the past to ensure a brighter future
rather than moving along.
Next,
one of the most known Holocaust theologians, Jürgen
Moltmann, managed to bring out something positive from the tragedy in
his work, and most of his contributions defined the bulk of Holocaust
theology; yet he was quickly criticized, with one of the main reasons
being that he was a German and not a Jew, and that he did not
personally witness what was happening in the concentration camps.
Regardless of Moltmann’s status, one cannot deny that he had plenty
of knowledge and insight on the matter and that he worked
relentlessly to find an answer. Such persons deserve to be
acknowledged by the church rather than ostracized. In fact, if not
for Moltmann’s work, Holocaust theology might possibly never have
been seen as a message of hope, or the very message of how God is
still good after all the happenings.
Other
theologians would eventually compare and contrast their work on
Moltmann’s to further refine Holocaust theology. Roy Eckardt is one
of the many example of a theologian that has analyzed Moltmann’s
work. He came to understand that Moltmann was not well received
because at the time the latter’s point of view of Christianity
greatly differed from what was the common perception of the Christian
religion, everything being good and being bad would result in
punishment. In light of such, Roy
argues that
Moltmann’s representation of Christian faith should be approached
from his personal foundation rather than being criticized by others
taking an arbitrary and different point of view .2
As matter of fact, some would take for granted that the
past animosity between Christian and Jews has driven God to allow the
Holocaust rather than debate on the issue and consider the event from
another point of view.
Because
of this implication, theologian Stephen Hayes emphasizes that
“Christians
cannot miss their opportunity to acknowledge and learn from their
anti-Jewish past, nor can they allow this past to overwhelm them or
convince them to relinquish a prophetic Christian voice which speaks
to all people.”3
In order to understand the Holocaust, the church must be open to Jews
and their perspective, and not segregate itself to a single Christian
view. Given all the denominations going around this day, it is
certainly not an easy task for the churches to incorporate such view
in their programs; however, no matter which personal beliefs churches
have, it is imperative that the church as a whole put their
differences aside to reflect on the Holocaust.
Moving
on, by switching sides, a Jew could argue that a Christian cannot
fully comprehend the true suffering during the Holocaust, and that
discussions in the church will serve no purpose without a Jew
speaker. Regardless of which religion group, it is clear to all that
the Holocaust was of tragic proportions, God did not prevent it, and
both sides attempted to explain it via theodicy or questioned and
gave up their faith. Therefore, just like how Christians learn not to
be prejudiced from their past, the Jews have to learn the Christian
perspective of the situation in order to grasp a full understanding
of the Holocaust. After all, both religions share similar historical
roots. Surviving Jews sought to find their identity back after
witnessing the horrors in the camps, and find once more their
connection to God. Still, they could easily relate with how
Christians were persecuted throughout history and therefore find
common ground in order to discuss about a God that seemingly
abandoned both of them. Theologian Mark Krell offers insight on how
Jews and Christian might reconcile, concluding that:

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The
reconstruction of a decentered Jewish identity enables Jews to enter
into dialogue with Christians based on a realistic understanding of
their historical interconnectedness, one that takes into account the
dialectic between anti-Christian polemics and the reception of
Christian influence. Once
they recognize their dialectical interdependence, Jews and
Christians can become more aware of the development of their
identities by truly learning about the role each has played in the
identity-construction
of the other.. 4

Indeed,
by understand how both of them are connected to each other,
understanding the importance of the Holocaust and why it should
matter to the church becomes clearer.

Still,
there is no use in introducing Holocaust discussions if there is no
understanding of it. Even by understanding theodicy, one would miss
the crucial points found in Holocaust theology; and teaching about
such tragedy is not easy, as Conyers points out: “The
Holocaust cannot be taught adequately without reference, at some
point, to the theological questions it raises. That is to say, any
attempt to do so without a theological point of reference leaves
interpreters to deal with what is nothing
less than a historical “black hole” in the midst of western
civilization.”5Based
of that, there needs to be a basic understanding of theology as a
whole before moving onto the main issue. And the church has to
include this basic possibly

understanding
to better deliver a speech about the Holocaust; otherwise, it will
only confuse and

alienate
anyone who would have benefited from understanding the tragedy.

Speaking
of the audience who would benefit from understanding the Holocaust,
the church must first pay attention to correctly address the issue of
prayer and human suffering, for it is dubious how someone could still
worship God in midst of such tragedy. Regardless of the situation,
prayer has always played a pivotal role in keeping hopes up,
especially when something tragic happens. Robert Eisen points out
that in such context, prayer does no longer become a means to declare
God as an omniscient being and ask for Him assistance, especially
when prayer only yields doubt and lack of confidence; even so, people
should still praise God, because this time is He who needs help, and
such words of praise are what empowers Him and ultimately make Him
the God that He is.6

Even
so, an argument could be made that not everyone would be willing to
pray, especially if they know that they would get no consolation from
it. In such cases, it is necessary to understand that human suffering
is not something bad, but rather something that will give hope and
drive humanity to work together for a better outcome. As a matter of
fact, Werner Jeanrond, explains that when humans suffer, God suffers
as well, and in the midst of all the suffering between humanity and
God, one can look towards the positives, just like how Jesus suffered
but resurrected after, because, for any amount of suffering God
receives, His love is stronger and will always overcomes it; still,
Werner adds, in this case human suffering is not undone by God’s
love, but rather a new perspective emerges, one in which the
suffering is included into God’s own history.7

Moving
on, even someone being angry at God for failing to intervene during
the Holocaust would provide something positive, and the church should
account the individual’s anger rather than dismiss it as a rant.
Katherine Snyder concludes that expressing pain and anger at God is
like being a honest prayer, not holding anything back, and by doing
such, no matter how much anger one is giving to God, He does not get
offended by it; instead, He loves them for the entirety of what they
are, good or bad, for His love is unconditional.8

Based
on these explanations, the church would benefit from delivering an
answer to those in need, and it does not need to ignore the issue
just because there is no good answer, for this instance the bad
answer turns out to be the good answer. Just because the church
avoids certain questionable passages in the Bible is no excuse to
avoid the Holocaust. Instead, the church should be aware of both and
address both, and be prepared to say something that is unpleasant but
more than often a real issue.

Next,
there is Elie
Wiesel and his book Night,
which shares the personal story of the writer while being in the
concentration camps along with his father. His book is one of the
most prominent works in Holocaust theology, but it is also criticized
because the author claims throughout the book that God abandoned
everyone and died.

While
it is understandable that the author’s thinking process was one of a
teenager boy and that theologians could better understand what was
going on inside the camps and why the author said such, the church
and other believers see the book being the story of someone who lost
faith, and therefore they probably do not recommend it for readings.
Still, just like how to understand God one must accept the suffering
and the anger, the church should acknowledge the importance of the
book in theological studies. However, Night
must not be taken at face value, since it does not address the
entirety of the Holocaust. In fact, Peter Manseau states that
“Auschwitz for Wiesel comes to stand for the mystery of darkness,
Kabbalah, the mystery of light. To create such a schema, though, is
to fit the Holocaust into a rather tidy cosmology. Whatever this says
for the skills and imagination of a writer, it does little service to
history.” 9

In
short, Night
is an fundamental piece of text that helps understanding the theology
in the Holocaust, but it should not be considered the most truthful
source for it.

Another
reason of why there is little interest in discussing about the
Holocaust is because it something in the past, and most of the times
there is no purpose on dwelling in the past. It is a common argument,
to look towards the future and bury the past, but learning from the
past to avoid mistakes it is also another common argument. In light
of such the church should discuss about the Holocaust just like how
they should discuss events, dating from the Christian persecutions
during the Roman Empire to the current modern mass shooting in the
States.

After
all, all these tragedies bring the best out of the people, as they
are compelled to act for the greater good. In fact, there were people
who did much in the wake of the Holocaust; one of the most notable
people are Andre and Magda Trocme, a Christian couple that did
everything in their power to ensure that the persecuted Jews were
safe. Professor
Carole Lambert explains the importance of remembering those who
helped during the tragedy: “The
Holocaust is now history, but the choices to compassionately involve
oneself in the plight of others suffering for freedom and justice,
plus to expose the truth that will insure that these entities remain,
still abide.” 10
It is essential to remember that even during the darkest period of
history, some people are willing to give everything in order to
become heroes and saviors. It is very possible that these kind of
people are the ones God chose to sent in order to assist the needy, a
sign that God did not abandon humanity, even when humanity questions
Him. The church needs to remind its audience that in the same way
people rose up to the call to action when a natural disaster strikes
is no different that the ones who stood up against the victims of the
Holocaust.

Lastly,
Holocaust theology is not perfect. Just like any other theologies, it
started small before becoming big and known to the world, and as time
passed, more findings revealed more information, and more theologians
shared their voice in the subject. In fact, Werner points out that
the very first theologians that dealt with the Holocaust were those
living during the Nazi regime, and while their theological insight
was far from being successful, their thoughts eventually spread from
Germany to all over the world.11
Nevertheless, an event of such magnitude along with an
ever-increasing desire to find an answer should not be ignored by the
church, and hence why it should consider integrating Holocaust
theology in its program.

To
conclude, this paper argues that the church should be willing to
accept the discussion of Holocaust theology as it is important to
either give an answer to those who seek one, or comfort those in
need. It is also fundamental to acknowledge that the church and the
audience must both be prepared to face the reality of the situation
in order to find common understanding between each other, since
Holocaust theology is not a light subject: only with a good
understanding of said theology along with an understanding of prayer
and suffering, the church will be able to deliver an answer. People
such as Moltmann and Wiesel set the wheels of Holocaust theology in
motion, and now it falls upon to the church to deliver their intended
message.

1.
James L. Crenshaw Defending
God.
(New York, Oxford University Press, 2005), 17.

2.
A. Roy, Eckardt “Jürgen Moltmann, the Jewish People, and the
Holocaust.” Journal
of the American Academy of Religion
44, no. 4 (1976): 690.

3.
Stephen R., Hanyes. “Christian Holocaust Theology: A Critical
Reassessment.” Journal
Of The American Academy Of Religion
62, no. 2 (1994): 578.

4.
Marc A., Krell. “Eliezer Berkovits’s post-Holocaust theology: a
dialectic between polemics and reception.” Journal
Of Ecumenical Studies
37, no. 1 (2000): 44.

5.
A J., Conyers. “Teaching the Holocaust: the role of theology.”
Perspectives In
Religious Studies 8,
no. 2 (1981): 128-129.

6.
Robert, Eisen. “Midrash in Emil Fackenheim’s Holocaust
Theology.” The
Harvard Theological Review
96, no. 3 (2003): 385

7.
Werner G., Jeanrond. “From Resistance to Liberation Theology:
German Theologians and the Non/ Resistance to the National Socialist
Regime.” The
Journal of Modern History
64 (1992): 197.

8.
Katherine A., Snyder “A post-Holocaust theology of suffering
and spiritual grieving: staying attached to God in loss.” The
Journal Of Pastoral Counseling
43, (2008): 75.

9
Peter, Manseau. “Revising Night: Elie Wiesel and the hazards of
Holocaust theology.” Cross
Currents 56, no. 3
(2006): 397.

10.
Carole J., Lambert Against
Indifference.
(New York, Peter Lang Publishing, 2015), 161.

11.
Jeanrond, “From Resistance to Liberation Theology,”: 202