Monday, December 14, 2015

"The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable"

St. Paul wrote, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed." 

(Galatians 1:8-9 RSV.)

Keeping in mind St. Paul's double anathema, read what he wrote about the salvation of Jews:

We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, 16 yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.
(Galatians 2:15-16 RSV.)



The Bear thought he would provide some quotes from the new document on relations between the Church and Jews. You will learn that it's all very complicated, but Jews are already kind of part of the Church, and Jesus saves them even if they don't believe in Him.

The Bear is not sure where they're going with the following quote. But there seems to be a persistent notion of the Church being a some sort of Jewish-Christian entity.
It is and remains a qualitative definition of the Church of the New Covenant that it consists of Jews and Gentiles, even if the quantitative proportions of Jewish and Gentile Christians may initially give a different impression.
We're still trying to reconcile salvation through Jesus Christ and how God has never revoked his covenant with Israel. It's "the mystery of God's work." Seriously, we don't have a clue, but we know that missionary activity is unnecessary. We will be united. Indeed we will be united with all people when God wants. Interesting, that one, says the Bear.
Another focus for Catholics must continue to be the highly complex [I'll say.]  theological question of how Christian belief in the universal salvific significance of Jesus Christ can be combined in a coherent way with the equally clear statement of faith in the never-revoked covenant of God with Israel. It is the belief of the Church that Christ is the Saviour for all. There cannot be two ways of salvation, therefore, since Christ is also the Redeemer of the Jews in addition to the Gentiles. Here we confront the mystery [Hey, it's a mystery. Leave us alone.] of God’s work, which is not a matter of missionary efforts to convert Jews, but rather the expectation [based on what?]  that the Lord will bring about the hour when we will all be united, "when all peoples will call on God with one voice and ‘serve him shoulder to shoulder’ " ["All peoples?" Who needs missionaries at all? Let God do all the heavy lifting.]
"From the Christian confession" Jesus is the only path to salvation. But that doesn't mean Jews are excluded from salvation just because they don't believe in Him. Please don't make us explain this.
From the Christian confession that there can be only one path to salvation, however, it does not in any way follow that the Jews are excluded from God’s salvation because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God. [Actually, it does kind of follow.]
But we're not taking anything away from Jesus. Despite what we just said, it's One Way as they used to say. Except there are, like, two lanes on the highway to salvation. No, strike that. One way. Seriously. Anyway, the Bear thinks this makes sense.
The theory that there may be two different paths to salvation, the Jewish path without Christ and the path with the Christ, whom Christians believe is Jesus of Nazareth, would in fact endanger the foundations of Christian faith. [Thank you for realizing that in theory.]
Since Jews are maybe already in the Church and are anyway just fine as they are, and since Jesus Christ is the one path of salvation, and it's all a big mystery anyway, the Church is done with converting Jews. It's too complicated, and besides, it's bad PR. We can't ask Jews to convert without suggesting they're doing something wrong. That's a no-go zone today. Individual Catholics may seek conversion, if they insist, but for Heaven's sake don't start off talking about the Holocaust.
In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews. [We'd rather have the good PR in this world than save your souls.] While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah.
This is obviously a compromise document, as one would expect. The Bear thinks there is a lot of theological hand-waving going on here. The take-away point is that since Jews do not need to convert, the Church has no mission to them. Interesting ecclesiology, too, as far as one can make it out, don't you think?

It says a lot that they think they have to warn Catholics not to bring up the, you know.

This is a non-magisterial document, but clearly reflects the Church's thinking. You would think they would have come up with better theology given 2000 years to work on it. Unless they weren't working on this theology until the last fifty years.

11 comments:

  1. Your blog commentary is an invaluable spiritual service. In particular this one. Light for dark times.

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  2. The scriptural typology of the older and younger brothers is clearly demonstrable and inescapable. It is unmentionable because of a demonic cocktail of middle eastern power politics, shoah-shaming and homemade evangelical eschatologies.

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    1. Yes, and moreover, as I am sure you know, it is all over the Bible, especially the "substitutionary" parables of Jesus.

      And they never came close to resolving the paradox between Jesus Christ as universal savior and Judaism benefitting from a non-revocable salvific covenant from God. Covenants can be broken by one party, arguably by the Jews, although I would not say that out loud. But surely we must concede this at least in theory? Covenants can also be overtaken by events, e.g. be fulfilled. That also has arguably been fulfilled. Besides, which covenant are they talking about? It would add tremendously to clarity if they would lay their makers down.

      Another thing they said (there wasn't room for everything) was that Jesus as "Word" is encountered by Jews in the Torah.

      The really strange thing is the insistence on this novel (for all the Bear knows) idea of Jews qua Jews (Judaism?) being an essential element of the Church, sort of a Jew-Church combination of equals where Jews and Christians magically become one. (Who said "God is not a magician?") (They also said Christians did not split from the synagogue until after the 4th century.)

      In the New Church, the past is just erased. Like the Ministry of Truth.

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  3. Here we confront the mystery of God’s work, which is not a matter of missionary efforts to convert Jews, but rather the expectation that the Lord will bring about the hour when we will all be united, "when all peoples will call on God with one voice and ‘serve him shoulder to shoulder’"

    This sounds very Calvinist to me, as if they are saying Jews are predestined.

    Mr. E. Michael Jones has an interesting viewpoint on the Jewish question that I really like and seems to make sense. He posits that the meaning of the term "Jew" changes in the New Testament from Semitic ethnicity to Semite who rejects Christ as the Messiah. So, Jew becomes a theological construct of a Semite who has rejected Christ.

    This is how St. Paul is able to say of the Jews in 1 Thess 2:14-16:
    [14] ... the Jews, [15] Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and the prophets, and have persecuted us, and please not God, and are adversaries to all men;

    [16] Prohibiting us to speak to the Gentiles, that they may be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath of God is come upon them to the end.


    How St. Paul, a Jew mind you, can write of the Jews in Titus 1 that they subvert whole houses teaching things they ought not for filthy lucre's sake, then exhorts not to give heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men.

    Otherwise, how would it make sense that the Jewish Apostle St. John would be able to write that the Jewish disciples and apostles "ran for fear of the Jews"? (John 7:13; 19:38; 20:19)


    Protestants have created a protected class among the Jews, supporting the State of Israel as if it were the rebirth of the ancient Davidic Kingdom. It almost seems as if the hierarchy is laying the groundwork for that anti-Christ religion--Judaism--to be melded into Catholicism (as it already has deep inroads into Protestant sects). As you probably know, tradition holds that the Antichrist himself will be a Jew of the tribe of Dan.

    My thoughts on the matter.

    -Daniel Brooks

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    1. Interesting comment, thank you. No one was more concerned about his fellow Jews than the super-Jew Paul, although he was the apostle to the gentile. I have a whole post of proof-texts from Paul, but you can't read St. Paul and conclude that he was content for the Jews of his time to remain Jews and rely on the works of the law instead of putting their faith in Jesus. They have made stuff up out of whole cloth to get this document out.

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    2. I should have said, made it up out of whole cloth to get this document out, secure that they will not be challenged by anyone in the Church.

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  4. You might find this interesting, Bear, from Unam Sanctam Catholicam today: The Holocaust and Its Shaping of Catholic Ecclesiology

    Is not the contemporary Church's refusal to say anything remotely challenging to the Jews an example of doctrinal content being molded in response to the Holocaust? Indeed, it is the elephant in the room; because of some kind of collective guilt over the Holocaust, the Catholic Church has lost the ability - or rather the will - to tell them they need to convert to Christ. Instead of proclaiming the timeless truth of Christ to a modern audience, we are allowing our "response" to the horrors of the 20th century to alter the truth.

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    1. I couldn't help but notice that they managed to get "the shoah" in, supposedly warning individual Catholics not to talk about it in their proselytization. (You can't make this stuff up.) The Jewish establishment has created an amazing apparatus for advancing the interests of their people. Certainly the Holocaust is central, but they can also pull out of history persecution by the Christians. But I think even without the Holocaust, the Church would still be doing everything possible to be agreeable to the Jews and incorporate them somehow into the Church, while allowing them to maintain their own salvation scheme.

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    2. That is a good article and shows how this has been percolating for the previous two papacies at least, and expressly linked to the Holocaust. In an infallible Church, how do you decide which era's proclamations to believe? The Bear would tend to distrust an era infested with Modernism, such as our own. When they start expressly revoking specific bulls, encyclicals and council documents from days of yore, then they would at least have the virtue of clarity. Of course they can't do that, so the Bear shall eschew novelties in "the interior forum of his conscience."

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  5. And Jesus said, "I am the way , the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father except by me----but an exception shall be made for all those practicing the pagan religions mentioned in Nostra Aetate.

    Seattle Kim

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