In 1979 George Steiner wrote a controversial work of fiction that ignited an international firestorm.
In The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H., Steiner created a scenario in which an aged Adolf Hitler was found and captured from his hiding place in the Amazon jungle— and then given the last word in a court of law.
Hitler is allowed to say with searing boldness that he got his idea of a master race from the Jewish ambition of a “chosen people.” Then he proceeds to accuse “the chosen” of haunting the world with an invisibly demanding God of gods— “with a terrible nearness. Spying on our every misdeed, searching out the heart of our heart for motive. A God of vengeance unto the thirtieth generation… A God of contracts and petty bargains, of indentures and bribes” (Job).
Steiner’s darkly eloquent A.H. goes on to portray the New Testament Jesus as a sequel to this Monster of monsters— “An intolerable rabbi who demands of a follower that he “leave mother and father behind, that he offer the other cheek when slapped, that he render good for evil, that he love his neighbor as himself, no, far better, for self-love is an evil thing to be overcome… Note the cunning of it. Demand of human beings more than they can give, demand that they give up their stained, selfish humanity in the name of a higher ideal, and you will make of them cripples, hypocrites, mendicants for salvation… men and women creatures of flesh he abandoned to the blackmail of hell, eternal punishment. What were our camps compared to that? Ask of man more than he is, hold before his tired eyes an image of altruism, of compassion, of self-denial which only the saint or the madman and touch, and you will stretch him on the rack. Till his soul bursts. What can be crueler than the Jew’s addiction to the ideal.”
In these imagined last words of A.H., the implications sound stunningly close to the truth, and portray a God— who creates without love, judges without mercy, and asks of his Creation what he himself is unwilling to give. It shows what happens when the truth is imagined— in part, without due notice of a surprise climax of plot that becomes The Final Solution to our sin-filled misperceptions of our God.
Steiner’s fictional storyline is too disturbing to be easily dismissed.
That may be one reason I keep coming back to Paul’s answer for people who had become known for more than they thought they knew.
Seeing an intoxication with partial truths that enabled his readers to misunderstand and ignore the life-changing implications of Jesus’s crucifixion, Paul offers a descriptive hint of something infinitely better than the pursuit of a temporary faith and hope in partial truths (1Cor 12:29-13:13).
Seeing beyond this present life, and implying that what a merciful God asks of us— is a taste of the love he has for us— Paul anticipates a day of a full understanding. Working from a Final Solution revealed in a Crucified Savior, Paul honors such love as being greater than either faith or hope saying, “Now I know in part; then I shall know (and love) fully, even as I am fully (and lovingly) known.” (1Cor 13:12-13).