Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Jew in Catholic Theology

Mr. Sobrino had an intersting post and comments in 'The War and a Teaching Moment for Catholics.' The folowing was a submission for comments that was not accepted, from Commonweal:

the Gospel of John portrays Jesus telling his disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If Jewish covenantal life with God has never been invalidated, however, do Jews need baptism to be in a saving relationship with God? On the other hand, if Christians do not seek to convert the Jews, hasn’t a fundamental Christian teaching been jettisoned, namely, that Christ is essential for everyone’s salvation?

The answers to such questions depend on how (the recent encyclical) Nostra aetate is interpreted. And some recent interpretations show how pivotal that declaration remains. In a November 2005 essay in First Things, Cardinal Avery Dulles offered a minimalist reading of Nostra aetate, claiming that the council “left open the question whether the Old Covenant remains in force today.”

There are several problems with this assertion. True, the declaration did not explicitly use the word “covenant” to characterize the enduring relationship between God and the Jewish people. Yet by rendering Romans 9:4-5 in the present tense (“to them belong the covenants”) and by invoking Romans 11:28-29 (“the Jews remain very dear to God, for the sake of the patriarchs, since God does not take back the gifts he bestowed or the choice he made”), Nostra aetate clearly affirmed the special relationship between the people of Israel and the God revealed in the Bible. This affirmation was later echoed by Pope John Paul II, who unequivocally and repeatedly stated that there exists “a covenant of eternal love, never revoked by God” between God and the Jewish people. More recently still, Pope Benedict has observed that “the favor of the God of the Covenant has always accompanied” the Jewish people, from biblical times to the present day, “giving them the strength to overcome trials.”

Two lines of registration are required at Commonweal to read the whole July 14th article, one of the best at this Catholic lay magazine.

Update: Mr. Sobrino this from Ignatius Loyola, Jesuit founder, in his Aug 15 blog:

At another point in the book, an Italian cardinal is quoted as comparing Escrivá to Saint Ignatius Loyola: as the Spaniard Loyola was the saint who implemented the Council of Trent, so the other Spaniard Escrivá was the saint who implemented the true vision of Vatican II (Allen, p. 17). (By the way, before reading this quote from a cardinal, I had written much the same thing earlier in this blog.) Here is what Loyola himself said about the possibility of being Jewish: "I would consider it a special thing to be united to Christ, our Lord, and to Our Lady, the glorious Virgin Mary, with ties of blood!" (quoted in Roy H. Schoeman, Salvation is from the Jews, Ignatius Press, 2003, p. 341).

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