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What sort of God would allow mass murder-the systematic extermination of at least six million Jews and millions of others-to happen?
For those of us who have ever visited the remains of what once were Nazi extermination (or even concentration) camps, the images of guard towers, long wooden barracks and photos of survivors (and images of those not so fortunate) will remain etched in our minds for life.
I briefly paid another visit to the notorious concentration camp of Dachau (outside Munich, Germany) just after Christmas, which also happened to be the time when the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp sixty years ago in Poland was starting to be commemorated.
Internationally syndicated American columnist Richard Cohen 1 is one journalist who recently posed deeply philosophical questions about Auschwitz, even sixty years later, such as: what sort of God would allow mass murder—the systematic extermination of at least six million Jews and millions of others—to happen?
Cohen admitted that the Holocaust “is an immense bump in the road in our belief in a good God.”
Did God turn His back on these people?While the Holocaust was a series of deliberate, murderous actions at the hand of man, the tsunami that struck some countries along the Indian Ocean, noted Cohen, was a geologic event, which took the lives of at least 170,000 people. Did God turn His back on these people, too, Cohen asked?
Now we have another major news story that is capturing the public’s attention worldwide, which on the surface appears to have little connection to the Holocaust or a devastating tsunami. It’s the upcoming trial of a suspected pedophile, a court case which will probably so grip the world’s attention when it begins that the famous O.J. Simpson murder trial in the ’90s may pale in comparison.2
Popular singer Michael Jackson, who has been charged with child molestation, has his attorneys busy in California right now with the jury-selection process. Of course, we don’t presume any guilt on his part at this point, but we note that this trial will probably be a distraction (perhaps even a “welcome” one) for many people who have been extremely uncomfortable with the horrible, violent images of devastation (e.g., the tsunami), recalling the Holocaust or showcasing the ongoing violence in places like Iraq and Sudan (and previously massacre-scarred Rwanda 3) that occasionally flicker across their television screens.
The trial of Michael Jackson, however, does prompt a serious question, one that is similar to that being legitimately asked whenever people consider the question—one that all of us ask at one time or another: why are there death camps, civil wars, natural disasters and other events that lead to suffering or death? Again, without presuming Jackson’s guilt, some people are now asking: why would a loving God permit “innocent” children to be abused?
AiG tackles the question of why a loving God allows pain, suffering and death through an eye-opening witnessing booklet that has been used effectively by tens of thousands of people around the world (including by a New York City church near Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11). It’s called Why is there death and suffering? In fact, as I write this, I have just returned from a funeral where I shared a number of these booklets with a grieving daughter who had just lost her mother; as a Christian, she (and her husband) will be using these witnessing tools to reach unsaved family and friends with the reassuring gospel message.
This booklet presents the answers in Genesis (e.g., Genesis 3:15) as to why horrible things happen in this world. We live in a fallen, cursed world, which is not of God’s doing but of man’s (through the sin of Adam), and that’s why terrible suffering and death occur.
We encourage you to read it and then electronically send it to others who no doubt struggle over this question. It’s available at no charge. 4 In addition, read our articles about the tsunami devastation: “Waves of sadness,” and “‘Lost’ without Genesis.”
During these challenging times, and when America and the world will be transfixed with yet another sensational court case, you have an opportunity to share your faith with others as you explain to them why the world is in the shape it’s in. Genesis has the answer!