31 December 2015

"None of their business"?

I am indebted to David Schutz for an article in an American magazine, apparently Jewish, called Tabletmag. The author is a Rabbi David Berger, who teaches in a Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University. It is highly intelligent, and an intelligent person will enjoy finding thought-provoking things in it with which creatively to disagree or even agree. (Notebook: Vatican II at 50: Assessing the impact of 'Nostra aetate' on Jewish Christian relations. December 15, 2015.)

Berger deprecates "the inappropriate dictation to others of what their own religion must teach", and goes on: " ... Jews active in interfaith affairs have not infrequently denounced the Christian belief that the entire world will recognise Jesus as the divine Messiah at the end of days. This, in my view, is none of our business, especially in light of the corresponding Jewish belief strikingly expressed in the High Holiday liturgy and the Aleinu prayer". (That particular "Christian belief" is of course precisely what S Paul teaches in Romans 11:25-26, and what Pope Benedict in 2008 took as the theme of his newly-composed Good Friday Prayer. Rabbi Jacob Neusner made a very similar point to Berger's some years ago in one of his own elegant defences of Joseph Ratzinger.)

He also reminds us that Maimonides, cited sometimes 'ecumenically' as a witness to a positive Jewish attitude towards the existence of Christianity, only saw it in a positive light as one step in the direction of the conversion of the whole world to Judaism, after which Christianity would be destroyed.

And, if I understand aright one of his faintly elliptic remarks, he delicately suggests that Christians who are anxious to describe Judaism as possessing a still salvific Covenant may accidentally be saying something rather embarrassing about the large numbers of Jews who do not live according to the Torah which expresses that Covenant (cfr. Ed Sanders' Covenantal Nomism). Had that thought occurred to you?

Berger thinks outside very many boxes!

As far as I can make out, none of the German or English bishops appears to have been in touch with Berger to explain to him how upset and confused he is by the Latin Prayer for the Jews used on Good Friday in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.


Anonymous said...

Father. This is very helpful.
If contemporary (Orthodox) Judaism defines itself (itselves - who speaks for all of Judaism after all?) as anti-Christian i.e. "we knowingly reject Christ and the New Covenant because of our understanding of the Old and our fidelity to it" then for the Catholic we are firmly in the area described by St Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 3: their understanding has been 'veiled'.
I'm not sure that St Paul himself continued preaching the Gospel to such people. He seems to suggest that he turns his attention elsewhere and leaves them 'veiled'. (Interesting perspective, then, on whether prosyletism is thus able to bear any fruit in such a case.)
Remains, though, as you say, the salvific graces that remain in post-Christ Judaism.
After last week's distinction between Faith and Religion it might be useful to be mindful of the distinction between Living Faith and Dead Faith - a belief unanimated by Divine Charity: those in Mortal Sin, for example, or in a different way (a way proper to their fallen angelic nature and not open to the content of the Divine Mysteries of Christ) the demons.
In some ways it would be easier to say that ALL Jews after Christ live their Old Testament Faith in a way unanimated by the life-giving grace of Christ. Their Faith is not animated by salvific, life-giving Charity.
Setting to one side the question of whether this is the position of the contemporay ordinary (and therefore fallible) magisterium of the Church in recent decades - there is a more prevailing question: Does someone who holds fast to the Old Testament receive a (pre-eminent) praeambula fidei that diposes to an act of Faith in Christ? Could it even be an implicit Faith (pace St Thomas Aquinas) that might allow for salvation? Do Jews who convert to Christ today speak of a veil that falls from their understanding? After all: ALL of the Old Testament is on view to the coming of Christ. It seems odd to say that after His coming, Jews still can't come to Him via the Old Testament and their belief that it is true and their Faith in it.
That is just DIFFERENT to those who come to Christ from Hinduism, Islam and other religions or none, precisely because
1. The Old Testament REMAINS the Living Word of God.
2. The Church chose to include the Old Testament, rather than the Marcionite view - which, is an error towards which we can easily tend when we see and hear the explicit rejection of Christ that comes from some Jewish quarters. They do so with verve and exactitude, not lazy ideology. After all, they retain the gifts that God does not revoke. Amongst which I'd include the qualities you evoke: intelligent out-of-the-box thinking. It goes some way to explaining the disproportionately huge numbers of Nobel Prize winners from a Jewish background....

But they still lack Christ.

OreamnosAmericanus said...

Although I have not practiced Catholicism for several decades, it dominated --I used the word factually and without any animus-- my life for my first forty years on earth. Despite my departure from the fold, I realize that, unsurprisingly, I retain some very highly Catholic attitudes, especially since this old altar boy was in his teens before VaticanII erupted. I remember in my bones when it was The One True Church, something I believe that few Catholics now living have any sense of . Anyway, despite whatever bad behavior Catholics have engaged in over two very human millennia, to me The Church has remained functionally eternal. As I said to a Lutheran friend, I may be an apostate Roman but at least I am no Protestant.

What has shaken my assumption is reviewing the last 50 years in light of what I can only call the antics of the incumbent Pope, whose gift for confusion is unparalleled.
I am not ignorant of Church history, but I cannot recall a previous period in which the Church seemed so willing, eager even, to divest itself of its identifying marks in order to please a surrounding culture that defines itself by its loathing of Christianity. The cultured despisers that Schliermacher knew were polite by comparison to our contemporaries.

And one of those hostile elements is the Jews. Rome seems to forget that in the real world, the vast majority of Jews (the dominant Ashkenazim anyway) have abandoned their ancient religion in favor of various forms of this-worldly leftist utopianism. If you can find an organization or movement committed to unraveling the Western world’s traditional cultures that is not over-represented with secular Jews, please let me know.

So the placating attitude of the formerly One True Church toward a people whose identity is now based upon an alienated sense of outrage and an almost genetic hatred of Christianity makes me wonder if in fact the Church of Rome really is just one more religious empire that will eventually fade away into history.

And lest anyone have a fainting spell about the phantom sin of “anti-Semitism,” I use the embarrassing RC-Jewish dance as just one example. The Pope's apparent support of the bizarre desire of a dying German church to please the divorced-remarried by altering the structure of marriage is another…and of the Church’s treasonous cheerleading for filling Europe with alien Muslims and Africans I will not speak, lest I dig myself deeper into perdition.

It is profoundly shocking even to an old reprobate like me, that the West’s post-colonial collapse of self-confidence should have now infected the institution that for 1500 years was our backbone and soul.