Thursday, April 30, 2009

Death of Christ and Camps of Death



Mia and I have started or will talking about this book for the first time tomorrow. While reading the Introduction, I came across something very interesting, Although I have read this book before, I probably skipped the Introduction and went straight for Chapter one. Who reads the intro? Why did I? Mia told me to! :) Thanks Mia..

So, while I was reading… I came across something very very interesting. So the next couple paragraphs are from the hand of John Piper.

It is a tragedy that the story of Christ’s death has produced anti-Semitism against Jews and crusading violence against Muslims. We Christians are ashamed of many of our ancestors who did not act in the spirit of Christ. But true Christianity- which is radically different from Western Culture, and may not be found in many Christian churches- renounces the advance of religion by means of violence. Christians are called to die, not kill, in order to show the world how they are loved by Christ.

The death of Jesus Christ is the most important event in history, and the most explosive political and personal issue of the twenty first century. The denial that Christ was crucified is like the denial of the Holocaust. For some it is simply too horrific to affirm. For others its an elaborate conspiracy to coerce religious sympathy. But the deniers live in a historical dreamworld.

(**Stay with me, it gets better**)

I am not the first to link Calvary and the concentration camps- the suffering of Jesus Christ and the suffering of Jewish people.  Elie Weisel tells of his experience as a teenager with his father in the concentration camps. There are always the threat of “the selection” the taking away of the weak to be killed and burned in the ovens.

Akiba Dumer, a victim of the selection. Told everyone of this weakness: “I cant go on” “It’s all over” He would not listen to the encouraging words, but talked about how he could no longer keep up with the struggle. He had no strength or faith. Suddenly his eyes would become blank, nothing but two open wounds, two pits of terror.

Then Weisel make this provocative statement: “Poor Akiba Dumer, if he could have gone on believing God in this Calvary, he would not have been taken by the selection.”

Why the link between Calvary- the place where Jesus died- and the concentration Camp?

When I ask this question, I am not thinking of cause or blame. I am thinking of meaning and hope. Is there a way that Jewish suffering may find, not its cause, but its final meaning in the suffering of Jesus Christ? Is it possible to think, not of Christ’s death leading to Aushwitz, but if Aushwitz leading to an understanding of Christ’s death? Is the link between Calvary and the camps a link of unfathomable empathy? Perhaps only Jesus, in the end can know what happened during the “one long night” of Jewish suffering. And perhaps a generation of Jewish people whose grandparents endured their own noxious crucifixion, will be able, as no others, to grasp what happened to the Son of God at Calvary. I leave it as a question.  I do not know.

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