Holocaust Apologetics: Toward A Case For The Existence Of God -- By: Barry R. Leventhal
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Toward A Case For The Existence Of God
From time to time those of us in Jewish missions have had the same bitter reaction from of our Jewish family members or friends. In our sincere attempt at presenting the biblical case for the messiahship of Yeshua, we are abruptly interrupted with the angry response: “There is no way that I want to investigate whether Jesus is the Messiah. I don’t even believe in God! Since the Holocaust, it is impossible for a Jew to believe in God!” And so it goes. In the light of the trauma of the Holocaust, God’s very existence is vehemently denied or painfully doubted by many, dare we say most, of our Jewish people. Jewish atheism has become a viable option in the post-Holocaust era.
Of course, the most well known of the so-called Jewish atheistic theologians is Richard Rubenstein. His words bear painful testimony to his struggle over the very existence of the God of Israel, traditionally ascribed to the Jewish Scriptures:
No man can really say that God is dead. How can we know that? Nevertheless, I am compelled to say that we live in the time of the “death of God. “.. . When I say we live in the time of the death of God, I mean that the thread uniting God and man, heaven and earth, has been broken. We stand in a cold, silent, unfeeling cosmos, unaided by any purposeful power beyond our own resources. After Auschwitz, what else can a Jew say about God?1
In another place Rubenstein is even more forceful, “Of one thing I am convinced: more than the bodies of my people went up in smoke at Auschwitz. The God of the covenant died there.”2 He further concludes, “in the final analysis, omnipotent Nothingness is Lord of all creation.”3
Radical Jewish theologians like Rubenstein are not alone in their struggle with the covenant- keeping God described in the Hebrew Bible. Even an Orthodox rabbi like Irving Greenberg is constrained to wrestle with the so-called loving and caring God of traditional Judaism, “To talk of love and of a God who cares in the presence of the burning children is obscene and incredible; to
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leap in and pull a child out of a pit, to clean its face and heal its body, is to make the most powerful statement--the only statement that counts.”4
Although most Christian theologians and missionaries have chosen virtually to ignore this most obvious Jewish agony, we who love Israel ...
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