"A fatal but sure sign" : moral theology and Jewish suffering / by Mark Edward Gammon.
The trend in self-styled post-Holocaust Christian theology has been to adjust doctrine to serve practical ethical agreement and the needs of interreligious dialogue. Such adjustments typically include the development of "low" christologies in an effort to deemphasize the essential theological sticking point between Jews and Christians. With this approach, Christian doctrine is utilized to support independently determined ethical ends, rather than serving as a moral authority itself. This trend is unfortunate given the proven resources for political discernment in the highly christological theology of Karl Barth and his school during the Nazi regime. Taking Barth as a guide, we can reconsider key doctrinal assumptions while taking seriously the history of Jewish suffering and the religious motivations of Christian rescuers. The doctrine of election should be reconsidered to emphasize its evangelical rather than ontological meanings. Election is a function of witness, not an evaluation of soteriological status. This approach allows Christians to understand Jews as witnessing to a different aspect of God's character and intentions towards humanity, and the Christian's understanding of his own election is relativized in relation to ethical behavior. Atonement creates a problem for post-Holocaust theology because of the idea of redemptive suffering. A reassessment of scripture allows for an understanding of "objective atonement" that emphasizes Christ's justifying activity rather than subjective "belief" in it. Thus the Jew's subjective refusal of faith ceases to have soteriological implications, and soteriology is distanced from the need for suffering. Considering Barth, along with René Girard's socio-political interpretation of scripture, Christ's death has import beyond atonement as the narrative foundation of sanctification. When ecclesiology is reconsidered in light of these propositions, the church is the event of the free response to God's redemptive action, a vision more hospitable to its relationship with Israel than in typical ecclesiologies. Barth's christological interpretation of God's freedom resists cultural accommodation while promoting reconciliation between church and Israel. While the Holocaust demands a serious reassessment of all doctrine, a Barthian model offers a good basic framework for post-Holocaust moral theology.
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