Thursday, October 7, 2004

Discussion w. Jeff Culbreath - Summary of Points & Concluding(?) Remarks

I wanted to inform my readers that Jeff Culbreath has posted a response to his blog ("El Camino Real"). In answer, I wanted to revisit some basic points of the last three posts:
  • The Mosaic Covenant is transitory and provisional. It is by its nature limited and insufficient, as St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3: 4-18 and Galations 4: 21-31. By itself it is neither "sufficient nor salvific." On this basic point I belive you and I would be in agreement, as Ratzinger with Fr. Echert.

    We -- being you and I, and all the sources I've pulled into this discussion -- would also be in agreement in our criticism of Reflections on Covenant and Mission (and particular addresses by Cardinal Kasper) in its suggestion that the Church should excempt the Jewish people from evangelization. See this article of mine for further thoughts on this issue.

  • However, according to Ratzinger, in the book of Romans we can find something more than a simple opposition of the Mosaic vs. 'New' Covenant. "[Paul] sees the covenant with Abraham as the real, fundamental, and abiding covenant." God's promise to Abraham, his gift of eternal friendship, applies to the Jews as it does to Christians -- God has not abandoned the Jews as a chosen people; he has not withdrawn his promise to them. The survival of the Jewish people through centuries of displacement and persecution at the hands of secular and Christian authorities, and the establishment of Israel as a nation once again is testament to this fact.

    Paul's recognition of the Jews in Romans 9:4-5, "to whom belong "the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs are the patriarchs, and from them comes Christ according to the flesh" is stated in the present.

  • The proper context for discussing the Jewish-Christian relationship is not one of mutual antagonism -- of setting the Old and New Testaments against each other, of pitting Jews against Christians -- but of looking at both in relation to the covenant of Abraham. The New Covenant is an extension of the covenant with Abraham. In Christ, God's covenant with the Jews is universalized, "opens up to" the gentiles.

  • Ratzinger sees an essential connection between Moses' sprinkling of the blood on the children of Israel at Sinai (binding himself to them as a nation) and Jesus' offering of the cup ("the blood of the covenant") to His disciples.

  • All of the above is developed in detail in Ratzinger's Many Religions, One Covenant. I expect that a further elaboration on the realization of the Mosaic Covenant in the Last Supper can be found in Roy Schoeman's Salvation is from the Jews, which I have not yet had the opportunity to read. I also know Scott Hahn is well versed in scripture and covenant theology.

    (You're talking to a novice with only a bachelor's degree in theology, hence my recommendation of and appeal to more educated and informed sources).

  • Where Fr. Echert is concerned, Church teaching on the Jewish-Christian relationship is a complex topic and as I said earlier, one that is difficult to present in a few brief answers on EWTN's Q&A board.

    If one simply speaks of the opposition between "Old" and "New" Covenants (or Testaments), dismisses the Jews as having rejected the Messiah and God's punishment by the destruction of the temple (giving one the impression, even inadverdently, that God has abandoned them), omitting mention of Nostra Aetate or subsequent teaching by the Church on the Jews -- then, in my opinion, one fails to present the whole of the Church's teaching, which is richer and greater.

  • The Church speaks of an eschatological reunification of Christians and Jews ("Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption.")

    Can the Jews be saved without explicit and formal incorporation into the Church in this life? -- As one of my commentators has noted, this leads to the question of the Church's understanding of extra ecclesiam nulla salus and its rebuke of Fr. Feeney, which is another but not unrelated discussion.

Thank you to Jeff Culbreath (and my various commentators) for this correspondence -- it has been a pleasure and an education. I hope it will also be an incentive for all to research this topic further and learn what the Church has to say.

No comments:

Post a Comment