Where Was God When This Happened? Part 7

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.” ·


Clich├ęs about God working in mysterious ways and free will do not apply.


This is an excerpt from Laurence Rees’ book, The Holocaust: A New HistoryKindle, pp. 207-209:


“On 25 June 1941, the day after the Germans had arrived in Kaunas, locals turned on Lithuanian Jews in a series of bloody murders outside a garage in the centre of the city. A group of civilians, wearing armbands and armed with rifles, forced between forty and fifty Jews on to the forecourt of the garage. Wilhelm Gunzilius, a member of a German air force reconnaissance unit, witnessed what happened next. ‘This man pulled someone out of the crowd [of Jews] and used his crowbar, “Whack!” And he went down. The victim received another blow when he was on the tarmac.’ 


“Each of the Jews was killed in the same way: ‘one man was led up to him at a time and with one or more blows on the nape of the neck he killed each one.’ Gunzilius photographed the slaughter, and his pictures show the killings taking place in front of a large group of civilians and members of the German armed forces. ‘The conduct of the civilians,’ he says, ‘among whom there were women and children, was unbelievable. After every blow of the iron bar they applauded…’  

“Viera Silkinaite, a sixteen-year-old Lithuanian, also witnessed the killings, and remembers how some of the crowd shouted, ‘Beat those Jews!’ as the murderer smashed their heads open. One man even lifted up his child so that he could see better. ‘What kind of person would he [that child] be when he grew up?’ asks Viera. ‘If, of course, he could understand what he had seen. And what could you expect of the person who was shouting [encouragement]? It was as if he was going to step into that garage and join the beating.’ 


“Appalled at what she had seen, Viera ran off into a nearby cemetery. ‘I was ashamed,’ she says. ‘When I went to the cemetery, I sat down and I thought: “God Almighty, I heard before that there were [Jewish] windows broken or something like that done, that was still conceivable, but such an atrocity, to beat a helpless man… it was too much.”’ 


Back at the garage, once all the Jews had been killed, the man who had smashed their heads open climbed on top of their bodies and played the Lithuanian national anthem on an accordion.”


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


Posted by David Madison, PhD Biblical Studies