Skip to comments.Can The Holocaust Be Forgiven?
Posted on 04/15/2019 5:52:50 AM PDT by Kaslin
Last week, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, created a firestorm of controversy when he said to a group of evangelical leaders that the Holocaust could be forgiven but not forgotten. But in response to an uproar from the Jewish community in Israel, he claimed that his remarks had been misinterpreted.
As he explained, Forgiveness is something personal, my speech was never meant to be used in a historical context, especially one where millions of innocent people were murdered in a cruel genocide.
Is there a difference, then, between forgiving and forgetting? And is there a difference of opinion between Judaism and Christianity when it comes to these important (and difficult) subjects?
This past Thursday, in a meeting with evangelical pastors, Bolsonaro said (with reference to the Holocaust), We can forgive, but we cannot forget. Those who forget their past are sentenced not to have a future.
So, it would seem that he felt it important to emphasize the importance of keeping the horrific memory of the Holocaust alive while at the same time allowing for the possibility of forgiveness.
In response, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweeted (but without specifically referencing Bolsonaro), We will never extend our hand to those who deny the truth or attempt to erase it. Not individuals or organizations, not heads of parties and not heads of states. We will never forgive and never forget. No one will order the Jewish people's forgiveness and no interest will buy it.
And Yad Vashem, from the Holocaust memorial museum in Israel, said in a statement that, We disagree with the Brazilian president's statement that the Holocaust can be forgiven. It is not in anyone's position to determine who and if Holocaust crimes can be forgiven.
What should we make of these statements?
Do they reflect Jewish thought regarding the possibility of repentance? And do they mirror Christian thought?
I can certainly understand the swift response from Israel, as if the gentile, Christian president of Brazil can decide to pronounce forgiveness for the Nazis and their partners in crime.
To say this is to trivialize, to speak for the victims and their families, to minimize the enormity of the guilt.
Yes, it was very bad, but we can forgive and move on. Lets just be sure it doesnt happen again.
But is that was Bolsonaro was saying? And, if there is true repentance, is there still no possibility of forgiveness?
First, I understand that the Brazilian presidents point was this: We do not hold this against Germany for all time. We are willing to forgive when we see contrition and repentance. But we must never forget this horrific evil, lest something like it happen again in our day.
Second, I dont believe Bolsonaro was claiming to speak for God in terms of the fate of Hitler and his henchmen. He was not saying, We pronounce those evil men forgiven. Certainly not.
Third, Israel has forgiven Germany as a nation for its crimes, establishing excellent relations with their former tormentors.
As noted on the Israel Project website (dated January 25, 2012), The German-Israeli relationship has been shaped by the memory of the Holocaust and the strong desire on the part of the German people to help ensure that the suffering endured by the Jewish people between 1933 and 1945 will never recur.
Germany and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1965. Since then, these ties have been characterized by overall friendship between the two nations but also by frequent crises that bring to light the delicate nature of the relations and their emotional fragility.
Isnt this what Bolsonaro was saying?
Fourth, the Bible records that God accepted the repentance of two of the most wicked leaders in the history of Israel and Judah, Ahab and Manasseh, delaying the judgment they were due (see 1 Kings 21:27-29; 2 Chronicles 33:10-17). They were responsible for many deaths, yet God postponed their punishment.
In Gods own words, as recorded by the prophet Ezekiel, Is it my desire that a wicked person shall die?says the Lord GOD. It is rather that he shall turn back from his ways and live (Ezekiel 18:23).
This would mean that, if a Nazi murderer who had escaped justice for many years came forward, confessed his crimes, and demonstrated true repentance, he should be forgiven. (If God, who is infinitely holy and perfectly righteous can forgive, shouldnt we follow His example?) He would still need to pay for his crimes, including lifelong imprisonment or even death, but he would die a forgiven man.
And this, of course, leads to the message of the gospel, namely, that through Jesus, God can forgive and redeem the worst of sinners. This would include Saul of Tarsus (better known as Paul the apostle), who once killed Jews who believed in Jesus, only to receive grace and mercy from God (see 1 Timothy 1:12-16).
Thats how Corrie Ten-Boom could forgive the prison guard the cruel prison guard who tormented her and her sister when they were imprisoned during the Holocaust for protecting Jews. (If youve never read the account, take a moment and read it now. Its worth it! Corries sister died while imprisoned.)
o be sure, the Holocaust itself cannot be forgiven, nor do any of us have the power to pronounce forgiveness on a past generation. In that sense, I concur with the statements from Israel. But we can recognize true repentance when we see it, we can forgive as the Lord forgave us (for followers of Jesus, this is especially relevant), and we can leave vengeance and final judgment to God.
Certainly, I understand why the reaction from Israel was so swift and strong, especially in light of the never-ending attempts to deny the Holocaust (or, at the least, to minimize it).
But there is truth to Bolsonaros words, and as a friend of Israel, he should not be misunderstood.
Who is there left to forgive?
We must forgive as if we hold onto anger we are only harming ourselves.
However, forgiveness does not mean that we become stupid and vulnerable to allowing the experience to happen again.
Didn’t God forgive Israel of its sins when he allowed them to return to Jerusalem after the exile?
If we lived by the rule of an “Eye for an Eye,” pretty soon the entire world would be blind.
“Those who forget their past are sentenced to having no future”
Yes, exactly, and OUR past is now being obliterated, right as we’re being invaded.
22 trillion in debt
Over 3,000 invaders cross our border EVERY night
Do we really need an Iranian War, a war belonging to a sandy country half way across the globe..?
We would finish up like the UK at the end of WW2; bankrupt, bereft of international influence, totally filled up with foreigners, barely able to defend herself, to say nothing of tilting at windmills.
They are putting the pieces in place.
NEVER FORGET applies to US, too, ya know.
Israel wants us to start a war with Iran like Churchill wanted us to fight Hitler.
There WAS a clear winner in Gulf War 1 and 2.
And it was NOT the USA.
People will make the case that it was Iran, and that’s a pretty good case.
But there was an even BIGGER winner and boy, they ain’t stupid, that’s for sure.
And any politician perpetrating genocide in fact, shall be banished from the face of this earth.
Forgiveness would eventually allow genocide to happen repeatedly.
Or gushingly feted on Twitter, as long as the victims are honkies.
Yep - forgiveness is an internal device that keeps us from stewing in the bile of continued antipathy....
Like the lady who had her friend helping her with a guest list for a party she was throwing. Her friend looked the list over and exclaimed, "I see Jane is on your list, she needs to be dropped because of what she did to you a few years ago. Her name here must be a mistake."
The lady said, "Jane stays on the list - it wasn't an oversight or mistake that she's there."
Her friend said, But, don't you remember what she did to you?"
The lady said, "Of course I remember it. I also distinctly remember forgetting it."
"Forgetting" isn't always forgetting as part of the forgiveness process..it is a conscious decision to allow one to get on with life...if one is ma mature enough adult to pull it off.
Murder by definition cannot be forgiven in human terms. The victim isn’t alive any more to extend forgiveness.
If we lived by the rule of an Eye for an Eye, pretty soon the entire world would be blind.
Boy, talk about not getting it. Eye for an eye was a limitation on punishment. No more than an eye for an eye. No more than a tooth for a tooth. Dont knock out teeth or poke out eyes and youve got nothing to worry about.
If you read the 2 chapters in total, it becomes a lot more clear what delayed punishment meant. They were both in fact judged for their actions.
In a rational world, forgiveness must be earned. Is there a sincere apology with restitution to the victims? Does the guilty party demonstrate through word and deed that he understands the roots of his immoral behavior and accept full responsibility, and that his character is reformed enough to guarantee that he will never repeat the offenses?
True, except Hitler was at least making the public charade of a desire to live and get along with the rest of the world to at least try to convince the sheep that is what he wanted even as he prepared to conquer everyone. Fortunately for us, Chuchill wasn’t a sheep (like Chamberlain) and saw right through it.
Iran makes no such pretense, no dog and pony show. Hitler didn’t have his people in the streets shouting “Death to England! Death to America!”
And while many people still had little notion in 1936 of what it would be like to live under a Nazi regime, one doesn’t have to dig too hard to figure out what life under a Caliphate would look like for the rest of the world.
I don’t doubt for a second Israel wants us to start a war with Iran. Surrounded by their enemies, they see the writing on the wall. They know that eventually it is going to come down to the Muslims or the Jews over there in Israel.
Dunno?....can we forgive the Mongols?
.....the Assyrians on a per capital basis beat the Nazis!
We seem to be doing alright forgiving the Chinese Mao piled up more bodies then Hitler!
How about the Cambodians? Again on a per capital basis they beat Hitler? ...
The Russians...there was that Stalin guy!
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