Where Was God When This Happened? Part 10

The scandal of divine negligence

Christianity is totalitarian monotheism: God is watching carefully.

Nothing we do escapes his notice: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

Moreover, prayer works because God can even read our minds. Christians believe in, love, worship, and sing songs to this God who pays such close attention to every human being.


If God is so attentive—actually, so intrusive—then he cannot evade responsibility for our wellbeing. How can he just watch so many of the really horrible things that happen? Wouldn’t he want to do something? 


Tim Sledge has called it correctly:


“Decent parents protect their kids from danger. If your toddler grabs the liquid Drano container, you don’t watch in silence. But that is exactly what God the Heavenly Father has done through the ages. He just watches, invisible and silent.” ·


Clichés about God working in mysterious ways and free will do not apply.

Here is an excerpt from Laurence Rees’ book, The Holocaust: A New History, pp. 301-303:


“Almost all of the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto were sent to the death camp at Treblinka. This, the last specialized death camp to be constructed, was the largest and most deadly. Around 850,000 peoplesome estimates say over 900,000were murdered here between summer 1942 and autumn 1943. And within that timeframe, the most murderous period was from the end of July until the end of August 1942 when an estimated 312,500 people were killedaround a quarter of a million of them from the Warsaw ghetto. 


“The SS achieved this appalling killing record in part because Treblinka had been built with a railway spur leading directly into the camp. This was of great assistance to the SS, who were able to speed up the unloading of the Jews and their transportation to the gas chambers. As for the internal layout of the camp, it was similar to Bełz˙ec and Sobibór. There was an arrival area and an extermination area containing the gas chambers, with the two connected via a narrow pathway or ‘tube’, plus separate sections for the guards’ and Sonderkommandos’ accommodation. 


“Another reason for the astonishing scale of the murders at Treblinka in the summer of 1942 was not technical, but personalthe ambition of thirty-one-year-old Dr Irmfried Eberl, the commandant of Treblinka and the only medical doctor ever to run an extermination camp. Dr Eberl has already featured in this history, when he was the director of the euthanasia killing centre at Brandenburg. He thus had plenty of experience in mass murder before starting work at Treblinka. And just as he showed every sign of liking his work at Brandenburg, so he appeared to relish the opportunity to murder Jews. In June 1942, while preparing the extermination camp for the arrival of the first transport from Warsaw, he wrote to his wife, Ruth, that his life was ‘very busy’ and that he ‘enjoyed it’. In another letter to her at the end of July, shortly after the Jews had started arriving, he said: ‘I know that I haven’t written much lately, but I couldn’t help that, as the last ‘Warsaw weeks’ have gone by in an unimaginable rush.’ He said that even if the day had ‘a hundred hours’ it would not be ‘quite enough’ for him to complete his work, and that in the pursuit of his duties he had managed to gain ‘nerves of steel’. He was also, he claimed, able to get his staff to ‘go along’ with him and he was ‘glad and proud of this achievement’.  


“The key to operating an efficient death camp, the SS had learnt from experience, was subterfuge. So Treblinka was disguised as a transit camp, with the new arrivals hurried through the killing process as swiftly as possibletowards the ‘showers’ in the ‘disinfecting’ block. An obvious precondition for this deception was that the presence of large numbers of dead bodies was hidden from the arriving Jews. This was accomplished not just by seeking to bury the corpses as quickly as possible but also by weaving dead branches into the wire fences that divided different areas within the camp in order to hide what was happening.”



Here are the links to Where Was God When This Happened?  Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6   Part 7  Part 8   Part 9

Posted by David Madison, PhD Biblical Studies


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