7 January 2021

An Exciting Year (2)

Going on pilgrimage to Abraham offers PF the most wonderful evangelistic possibilities. 

Abraham was the Man of Sacrifice.  When, like Mary, he accepted obediently the command of YHWH, he went from his own country and was first at Shechem, where "he built an altar to YHWH who had appeared to him". Between Bethel and Ai, "he built an altar to YHWH and called on the Name of YHWH". And, when he came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, he built an altar to YHWH. Then there was the mysterious Sacrifice of the Covenant, when the flaming torch passed between the sacrificial offerings. And his Offering made to the Divine Three. And the Sacrifice upon the Mount of Moriah, where, generations later, another Sacrifice was to be made, the Sacrifice which is at the centre of all places and of all times; the source of all Atonement; the Mercy Seat.

For a Bishop of Rome to stand in the land of Abraham and to summon all men and women to the one Sacrifice, to the one Faith, to the sacrificial outpoured Blood of the One Redeemer, would be a truly marvellous exercise of the Petrine Ministry.  "Come to Jesus" would echo round the world and down the years.

In recent years, we have sometimes heard of "the Three Great Abrahamic Faiths". That is all nonsense. Or, if you dislike short words and sentences, I put it to you that, as a taxonomical exercise, it is unacceptable because, at least by implication, it has a strong momentum towards levelling (a factor which might not have been a matter of indifference to some of those who devised it and sponsor it). Of the three 'religions' which such people have in mind, only the one they call "Christianity" offers sacrifice to YHWH; a pure Offering; from the rising of the sun unto its setting. Rabbinic synagogue Judaism has known no sacrifice since the Fall of the Temple. Abraham would search in vain for an Altar of Sacrifice in any synagogie. Although, I believe, some vestiges of sacrificial activity survive in some parts of the Islamic world, no-one could say that Islam itself is a fundamentally sacrificial religion, so that in every mosque Abraham would recognise the Altar of Sacrifice at the heart of that worshipping community.

Abraham was and is our Patriarch. He sacrificed in the Faith he had been given, the Faith of the LORD who called him. His sacrifices pointed to (and are taken into) the One Sacrifice; the Oblation which the Lamb offers perpetually before His Father. To this immense and glorious Mystery all men and women are called.

I pray that God will preserve PF from the temptation to turn his Abrahamic Pilgrimage into some sort of syncretistic gesture towards our friends in 'other faiths'. I pray that he will turn from syncretism, because "Come to Jesus" would be a message heard by the simplest and by he most erudite. "Come to Jesus Now" would be a summons worth more than any number of carefully phrased ecumenical 'statements' for academics to study and argue over. Peter himself would be speaking. What better call could the vive-gerent of the Household of YHWH utter?

The Eternal Truth and the Spotless Sacrifice must not be cut down to being a mere Religion. 

Even giving it a name ... "Christianity" ... risks turning it into one religion among others.

It is nothing of the sort.


Dom Bede Rowe said...

This Abrahamic stuff is strangely suspect. What about the Mandaeans? They're Abrahamic. I was never particularly taken by the Baha'i being Abrahamic, but it could be argued. Rastafarians? They could be. I'm in Glastonbury, we have Gnostic Cathars, worshippers of the Norse Gods, two covens of witches... bound to have some new branch of Abrahamic followers around here. 'Adamic' would be better, then we could have everyone join in (including my worshippers of the Norse Gods) - the imprecise Abrahamic Religions (including the Mandaeans of course) is so excluive and sloppy!
And surely God becoming man trumps a prophet? It is all so tricky nowadays...

Grant Milburn said...

Yep, come Idul Adha, the roadsides here in Jakarta will fill up with cows and goats as a cheerful reminder that in ancient times a good priest had to be a qualified butcher as much as anything else. (Working through the first half of Leviticus in Hebrew has brought that home to me.)

Apart from that, Islam has no altar, no priest and no sacrifice. Present-day Judaism has no altar, no priest and no sacrifice. Ditto Protestantism. Only Catholics and Orthodox have these three things - in common with the religion of Israel before AD 70.

Grant Milburn said...

Interestingly, the Idul Adha offering in Indonesian is known as the korban. Cf Leviticus 1:2 -
When any man of you bringeth an offering unto the LORD...
Adam ki yaqriv mikkem qorban la-ADONAI...

E sapelion said...

Grant Milburn - Present day Orthodox Judaism takes careful note of direct male descent from the Aaronic priesthood, still refers to these man as priests and will ask them to impart the Aaronic Blessing at the end of a synagogue service. So do some other strands of Judaism, some indeed will ask the daughter of a priest to impart the Blessing

Banshee said...

The Samaritans offer sacrifices of lambs on Mount Gerizim on Passover, but it's not exactly where and how that's supposed to happen.

Islam has a bunch of sacrifices, and not just on their sacrifice feast. Technically, all the halal meats are arguably sacrificed animals, as I understand it, but some say it doesn't count.

Anyhoo, the official sacrifices are at Eid-ul-Adha, after the birth of a child (aqiqah), and on Haj or in lieu of the Haj (hajiy).

Banshee said...

Yes, qurban is one of the Arabic words for sacrificial offering, and probably comes from Aramaic like a lot of the Quran.

I forgot to say that Muslims popularly sacrifice animals on any kind of great occasion, like launching a ship or flying an airplane on a long journey, visiting a saint's tomb, building a house, atoning for omissions of Islamic law/practice, asking for a good harvest or an end to a plague, at sea for a safe voyage, during eclipses, taking solemn oaths, and so on. You get different customs in different schools of Islam. I've been told about people sacrificing goats at the end of a runway for some occasion, by people in our air force who were helping out at bases in Saudi.

Peter said...

In the book “Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms, Journeys into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East” by Gerard Russell, Sheikh Sattar describes the Mandaeans. They “believed in Adam, he said, who was the first man, and they accepted some other prophets who featured in the Hebrew Bible, such as Seth and Noah. Above all they revered John the Baptist. But they rejected Abraham and had their own holy books that were quite separate from the Bible or the Koran.”
It would be interesting if Fr Bede Rowe would explain what leads him to describe the Mandaeans as Abrahamic.

Matamoros said...

An interesting article on present day Judaism: The younger religion