The other day I was searching the internet for a quote from an agnostic about the absence or perceived absence of God. I didn’t find quite what I was looking for, but I did find this quote which will be fodder for this blog for awhile. The quote is by Matthew Quick, the writer, I assume:
“Why would god allow the Holocaust to happen? If god made everything, why did he invent sin to trick us and then hold our sins against us? Why are there so many religions in the world if god created the world and wants us to be Christian? Why does god allow people to fight wars over him? What if you were born in a different culture and never even heard of Jesus Christ—would god send you to hell for not being Christian? And if so, do you believe that’s fair? Why are men always the leaders in your church? Aren’t women capable of leading too? Isn’t such a patriarchal system sexist in this day and age? Why do so many babies die? Why are there so many poor people in the world? Did Jesus visit any other planets in distant unknown universes?”
In this entry, I would like to try to tackle why God would allow the Holocaust. In fairness to other people groups. Genocidal attacks are not new nor limited to the Holocaust even in recent memory. The Rohinga, Tutsis, Armenians and several tribal groups in Sudan can claim such extreme persecution. The Holocaust is something a little different than the others, though, because of the prolonged nature of anti-semitism and the severity and nature of how the Nazis pursued their genocidal campaign beyond their borders.
Why would God allow it? The question is really asking, “If God exists, why would he allow it?” To the author the Holocaust is antithetical to the existence of God. First, there is a false assumption inherent in this question and questions like it. The question assumes that God takes absolute control over the actions of mankind. After all, that is what God does. This assumption does not understand what God has said about His involvement in a world that is altered by sin and under His curse. Because of human rejection of God and because of Satan’s presence in this world, God allows human events to go much further than they would if we really wanted God to be our God.
As the world is now, Satan is only modestly restricted. He hates mankind and is enraged because he knows he has lost the war, because of Jesus. I think the Holocaust is specifically prophesied in the Bible. Revelation 12 says,
When the dragon (Satan) saw that he had been hurled to earth (because of Jesus), he pursued the woman (the Jews) who had given birth to the male child (Jesus). The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert for a time, times and a half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed from his mouth. The the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring–those who obey God commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
The woman, dragon and child are clearly identified earlier in the chapter. Apocalyptic literature like Revelation is always difficult if not impossible to understand without help from God. This isn’t that hard, however. Nothing in Jewish history fits with the underlined section quite like the Holocaust and how the Allies defeated (swallowed up) this effort. The bad news is the Satan is not finished.
Why does God allow this, again? We don’t know the rules of engagement between God and Satan. They can only be inferred to a point. We are given the ultimate motive of the Holocaust (Satan’s hatred). We know the means (the Nazis). We know the means by which it was ended (the Allies). We don’t know why God didn’t just swoop in and kill the Nazi movement while still in the nest, but we can infer that it is connected to human rebellion and the curse.
What people need to avoid is the assumption that this world will be safe and fair if God exists. That is not the message of the Bible. In fact, it is quite the opposite. But the Bible gives the promise, the means by which this troubled world will end, and how we can be saved for a world without sin, Satan, the curse and all that goes with it. That means is Jesus.