Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Friday, May 8, 2009

The theological elephant in the room

This article in The Guardian by Rabbi Jonathan Romain discusses a point that is always there and never discussed: the influence of Christian theology and culture on policy toward Israel. Perhaps it is not quite as he says, but one can't help wondering if the Church insistence on internationalization of Jerusalem, for example, is not related to the curse of Eusebius, according to which Jews are forbidden from rebuilding that city because they rejected Christ. It is certainly strange that the subject of internationalization was never raised when Jerusalem was under Muslim sovereignty. It is a pity that the issue has been raised by a Jew and a rabbi, rather than by a Christian. Comments on the article in the Guardian were not kind.
The pope's Jewish dilemma
As he prepares to visit Israel, Pope Benedict faces an age-old dilemma over his church's relationship with Judaism
 Jonathan Romain, Friday 8 May 2009 08.00 BST

If you want to test how well Catholics know their faith, ask them what name their religious calendar gives to 1st January. When they reply, "New Year's Day", tell them they are wrong and that if they look it up in the lectionary, they will find it says "Feast of Circumcision".*  Why? Because 1st January is eight days after 25th December (the birth of Jesus) and like all Jewish males he was circumcised on the eighth day as commanded in Genesis.
Most Catholics – and indeed most Christians – are startled to think of their Lord being circumcised, but it indicates beyond all argument the Jewish origins of Jesus and the strong links between the two faiths.
This could have led to Judaism and Christianity having an amicable relationship over the centuries, but unfortunately it took a very different, and bloody, path for much of the last 2000 years. It was not until 1962 that a religious revolution occurred through Vatican II. Suddenly, Jews were no longer deviants, but brothers. Interfaith dialogue replaced conversion attempts. But amid this rapprochement, there was still one major stumbling block: the Vatican refused to recognise the state of Israel and exchange ambassadors.
Astonishingly, it took another 32 years before this occurred. The reason – which Benedict XVI will have to wrestle with on his travels over the next week – is that the rebirth of Israel presents a serious religious problem for Christianity. Traditional doctrine stated that the Jews had been forsaken by God, had been superseded by the church, and were sent into exile to wander the earth in a state of humiliation until they accepted the truth of the Gospels.
The re-establishment of a Jewish national homeland is a theological slap in the face for that notion. Moreover, if rejecting Jesus no longer results in eternal damnation, does that mean that accepting Jesus does not carry eternal rewards either? What message does it give Christians (and potential Christians) about reward and punishment?
There is another problem facing the pope. Vatican II may indeed have sought to develop a new theology, trying to cast away old assumptions about Christian supremacy and Jewish sinfulness, but it is undermined every day when believers read the text of the Gospels declaring that Jews are damned or that one can only come to the father through the son. Unless a new Vatican II version of the New Testament is printed, with difficult passages omitted or explained away, there will always be a huge gulf between what the scriptures teach and what the modern church claims to teach.
It is this underlying tension that has never been properly addressed but which periodically surfaces in other guises – such as controversy over the proposed canonisation of the war-time Pope, Pius VI, or the reinstatement of the Tridentine mass, or the furore surrounding reconciliation with the Lefebvrist bishops. On the Catholic side, it is seen as claiming back aspects of the true faith; on the Jewish side, it is seen as sliding back to rejection of the Jews.
This is the real conundrum that faces Benedict XVI on his visit to Israel, which begins on Monday – should he be loyal to the Gospels which claim that only acceptance of Christ can bring the messianic age, or should he endorse Vatican II which acknowledges that Jews (and members of other faiths) can find the kingdom of God via a different route? Should he look inwards or outwards, backwards or forwards? At the heart of the Pope's trip this week lies an unanswered religious mystery more powerful than anything Dan Brown can conjure up.
*The name has been changed since the 1960s in the Roman Catholic rite, but the meaning is the same, and the name persists in some other Catholic and Protestant churches.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by

Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israël in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog

Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Isfake lobby

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory