I once heard a speaker, who I do not know, say that Nazism in Germany rose because that society’s loss of belief in hell. The lost not merely belief in God but belief in the Holy God of the Bible. His thesis is correct. Belief in the judgment of God deters evil. Many, however, hold to the contrary point. Belief in a God of justice and vengeance leads to atrocities carried in the name of religion, just look at the terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam. But this lumps Christianity in with Islam, as though the religion were not radically different. Christians do believe that God is wrathful against his enemies and that is because he is holy. Yet do we find Christians being vengeful against their Islamic persecutors? To the contrary, we find Christians throughout the world withholding vengeance, because they have given the cause of justice over to God as they are commanded:
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:19-21).
What about the assumption that a god of vengeance creates vengeful people? Yale Theologian, Miraslov Volf, puts the lie to this idea arguing that a lack of belief in divine vengeance “secretly nourishes violence.” That is, if divine vengeance is gone, human vengeance will arise. Volf is arguing against those who deny divine vengeance against injustice, deception and violence. Essentially this is view of God espoused in liberal Christianity. On this view, non-violence is the result of believing in and worshipping a non-violent god. But says Volf “[But] it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human non- violence [results from the belief in] God’s refusal to judge. In a sun- scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die…[with] other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.”
There are many decisive arguments against theological liberalism. I would encourage you to read the little book Christianity and Liberalism by Gresham Machen. Yet the most decisive argument against this view is the reality of injustice. Holy vengeance does not create evil, rather evil evokes just vengeance from the Holy One.
Thank You O God, the you will vindicate your Holy and Just name. The God of all the earth will do what is right. Thank that you have sent Christ to bear your holy vengeance against the sins of many. Amen.