The Problem With Ecumenics, Pt. 2
In my previous article I wrote to you about a new document prepared by the Catholic Church’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. I noted that while there were some positive features of the document, it is in fact hopelessly schizophrenic on two incredibly vital topics: the authority of Scripture, and salvation. Not only did the Commission set up a dichotomy regarding salvation that does not exist in Scripture, but it also ignores Scripture’s clear teaching on the subject—with direct and dire ramifications for the Jewish people. Here is where we pick up the discussion.
How Many Paths?
The authors assert most correctly, “From the Christian confession… there can be only one path to salvation,” and “There cannot be two ways of salvation, therefore, since Christ is also the Redeemer of the Jews in addition to the Gentiles” (emphasis mine).
Good so far.
But then, apparently oblivious to the self-contradictory nature of the theology they are attempting to create, the Commission asserts exactly the opposite, saying, “however, it does not in any way follow that the Jews are excluded from God’s salvation because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God.”
So, according to the Commission, there is only one path to salvation—not two—and that path is through the Messiah Yeshua; however, Jews are excluded from this requirement. They may still receive “God’s salvation” even if they fail to believe in Yeshua—again, according to the Commission.
“But,” the Commission inquires—and rightfully so—“how [can] that [be] possible without confessing Christ explicitly”? My question, exactly! How can two statements that completely contradict each other and have no basis in Scripture still be true?
In the words of the Commission, it is simply “an unfathomable divine mystery.”
By some unexplained, mystical means (which the Commission cannot understand, and which God has apparently failed to mention), Jews and Gentiles will someday be united as one massive ecumenical blob—the Jews saved without Yeshua.
Redefining and Rejecting Evangelism
This fallacious theological construct sets up the remainder of the Commission’s document, as well as the Catholic doctrine that allows non-Messianic Jews to be even mildly tolerant of Jewish-Catholic relations. As the Commission tells it, what the Jews find most offensive is the subject of institutional “mission to the Jews” (as opposed to personal evangelism). In perhaps the most notable section of the document, the authors attempt to both renounce and preserve sharing Yeshua with Jewish people with an almost incomprehensible double-speak.
The “mission to the Jews”—an activity which MJMI would be considered to regularly pursue—is a “sensitive matter for Jews,” so says the Commission, because it threatens “the very existence of the Jewish people.” The Commission, however, admits that evangelism is fundamental to the faith. How, then, do they resolve this tension? According to the document, Catholics are therefore directed “to view evangelisation to Jews, who believe in the one [and the same] God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views.”
At first glance, I would agree with this statement. Jews are indeed different from all other people-groups on the face of the earth (see Romans 9:4-5). Nevertheless, the Commission’s purpose in treating Jews differently is not to restore them to their Messiah, but to excuse them from accepting Him—a necessary requirement for ecumenical cooperation. But how can this in any way, shape, or form be viewed as “evangelisation to Jews”—personal or otherwise?
In its most condemning language for organizations such as MJMI, the Commission concludes, “In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews.” This “principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission” says that Jews must not be singled out, either as individuals, or as a people group, for a concerted effort to share the Messiah with them.
Proclaiming Yeshua—The Only Way
While it may be a nice idea that we should avoid offending or making Jewish people feel uncomfortable, the reality is that “Messiah crucified [is] a stumbling block to Jews” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Yeshua—not Judaism—is the only means of salvation, even for Israel, whom God has not forgotten. As the Messiah Himself teaches us, “no one knows… who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Luke 10:22). Yeshua also says to the Jews, “If God were your Father, you would love Me” (John 8:42). And ultimately, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
Though the covenants and calling of Israel are irrevocable, the truth is that non-Messianic Jews remain broken-off branches who need Yeshua in order to be grafted in again to the Father (see Romans 11).
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