"Like" One Under the Law

Should Catholic Jews (and Messianic Jews) keep the Torah? How should Catholic Jews relate to rabbinical authority?

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Ariel
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Post by Ariel » Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:26 pm

hi Hadassah,

Just out of curiosity, are you Jewish?
Hadassah wrote:Please understand that I uphold the privileged place of Israel in the plan of God and treasure the foundation on which Christianity is built and the origins from which the Church continues to draw.
How would you propose, then, for this "privileged place of Israel in the plan of God" to be expressed if the conversion of the Jews would practically effect to their assimilation with no binding, practical obligation to their special covenant with God (except for maybe a bit of cosmetic folklore that they might retain?)

PS: no worries about the quotes, my comment was mostly directed at Athol who outdid you by far with lengthy quotes. :wink:
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” C.S. Lewis

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Post by Ariel » Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:38 pm

Hadassah wrote: How is it, then, that Peter is (in Paul's words) "not living like a Jew"?
I'm not sure what exactly Paul meant, but as Athol says I very much doubt that it means that Peter was sitting down having some pork chops with the gentiles.

Keep in mind the decision of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15):

"19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality,from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."

What is James saying here? When he says that Gentiles should not be burdened with commandments that were never intended for them in the first place, is he not assuming a distinction between them and the Jewish believers? James' concessions are explicitly given to the gentiles - and the underlying assumption is that these concessions are not granted for Jewish believers - otherwise James could have just plainly said that the Torah was not binding on anyone anymore! On the contrary, he even affirms that Moses is still "read in the synagogues every Sabbath" - and what is the value of reading without doing?
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” C.S. Lewis

Hadassah
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Post by Hadassah » Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:04 pm

Yes, I do acknowlede that the verdict of the Council is only for the Gentiles and so that's something we have to think about. However, if we are true to the text, we also have to ackowledge that the message that Peter hears is in very personal terms!

(Acts 10:13ff) A voice said to him, "Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat." But Peter said, "Certainly not, sir. For never have I eaten anything profane and unclean." The voice spoke to him again, a second time, "What God has made clean, you are not to call profane."

Peter, you slaughter and you eat. He even objects on the grounds that he has never violated dietary laws! And the response comes back... Three times...

I think it's worth at least thinking about why God put this message in such personal terms for Peter, a Jew who is Torah-observant. Why not something along the lines of, "Peter, let these Gentiles eat as they want to. It's not a problem for them." That's not the way it reads and I don't think we can ignore that.

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Peter's Dream

Post by Richard » Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:34 pm

Hi Hadassah,

I don't think you can learn much about the observance of the commandments Jesus requires of the Jew from Peter's dream.
Peter never communicates this message to the other apostles, and, in all likelihood, for a very good reason: he himself, does not interpret it as permitting forbidden foods, but rather, as permitting a forbidden contact between people: [28] and he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
In any case, the vision is ambiguous. If Jesus had meant to teach him that forbidden foods are permitted, the vision should have presented him with only those animals which are forbidden to eat. Since they included all kinds of animals, they gave him the option of killing and eating the kosher animals among them.

It is unthinkable that Biblical prohibitions that stand at the very center of Jewish religious life would be abrogated by an ambiguous message communicated in a waking dream. And if Peter had presented his dream as a message from Jesus suspending the laws of kashrut to the Jerusalem community they would have rejected it for good reason, indeed, for the same reason that the Church rejects revelations to individuals: it contradicted the word of G-d in the Bible. The issue of eating forbidden meats was to remain a real one for Christians for a long time. There is even a passage in the Didache which encourages abstinence from unkosher meats: “But concerning meat, bear that which thou art able to do. But keep with care from things sacrificed to idols, for it is the worship of the infernal deities.” [Didache 6:3, ca. 50-120

All the best,
Richard

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Re: Peter's Dream

Post by Hadassah » Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:08 pm

Only have time for some quick commentary right now....

Can't learn much from it? It's Sacred Scripture. This has to be held in tension with all the rest of it. I'm saying that it has to be considered.
Peter never communicates this message to the other apostles
He does, in fact, communicate it word for word in chapter 11.
he himself, does not interpret it as permitting forbidden foods, but rather, as permitting a forbidden contact between people: [28] and he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
I think you are correct that it is a two-fold message. But he clearly does interpret it as relating it to food at some point, because eventually, it leads to the verdict of the Council which is related to food (albeit for the Gentiles).
Since they included all kinds of animals, they gave him the option of killing and eating the kosher animals among them.
Then Peter should have had no objection to the "Slaughter and eat." command. Why does he react saying, but nothing unclean heas ever touched my lips? He should have just shrugged it off.
And if Peter had presented his dream as a message from Jesus suspending the laws of kashrut to the Jerusalem community they would have rejected it for good reason, indeed, for the same reason that the Church rejects revelations to individuals: it contradicted the word of G-d in the Bible.
I started on this, but will have to come back to it later. If you are Catholic, I would say this. Peter is not a random individual. Just recall, that Christ has given him the keys and the power to bind and loose in these words (Mt. 16:19): "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

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Post by Athol » Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:13 pm

Dear Hadassah and all,

Just to let you know I probably won't be around for a couple of weeks as I am going to Ireland early Thursday morning and won't be using the internet until I get to the US.

Cheers Athol
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Hadassah
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Welcome...

Post by Hadassah » Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:55 pm

Welcome, in advance to the U.S.!!! Your travel will give me some time :-). Busy weeks ahead. Safe travels.

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Article by Ian H. Henderson

Post by Ariel » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:43 am

Richard just emailed me a link to an interesting article on legalism and anti-nomianism called Law and Unlaw by Ian H. Henderson which I though was relevant to the discussion here.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” C.S. Lewis

Hadassah
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Early Church Instruction

Post by Hadassah » Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:56 pm

Thanks Richard and Ariel.

Does anyone know whether any of the documents of the very early Church (perhaps the Didache or a similar item) talk about a difference in how to instruct Jewish vs. Gentile/pagan converts to Christianity regarding Torah observance? For example, "ensure that Jewish converts know that they are still bound to observances as they have been laid out for the Jewish people, but remind Gentiles that they are not bound by certain aspects (e.g. circumcision, dietary laws, etc). I can do the research at some point, but I thought if anyone knows of something...

Monica and Augustine, pray for us...

Hadassah
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Re: Peter's Dream

Post by Hadassah » Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:13 pm

The issue of eating forbidden meats was to remain a real one for Christians for a long time. There is even a passage in the Didache which encourages abstinence from unkosher meats: “But concerning meat, bear that which thou art able to do. But keep with care from things sacrificed to idols, for it is the worship of the infernal deities.” [Didache 6:3, ca. 50-120]
Strictly speaking, in the context of the Didiache, is not food sacrificed to idols a different thing from what is unkosher?

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Post by Ariel » Thu Sep 04, 2008 11:42 am

hi Hadassah,

re. your question about early church documents attesting differences in Jewish/Gentile believers and Torah observance - Justin Martyr talks about it somewhat in his dialogue with Trypho. His opinion regarding Torah observance is tolerant but not exactly positive.

The truth is that all Church Fathers were Gentiles, and almost none of them could really appreciate the richness of Torah from experience. They all judged it "from the outside," so to say, as a legalistic burden rather than a joyful consecration to God in every aspect of life.

I personally consider that the growing greater appreciation of Torah is a recent development of doctrine: the seed is there in the NT but it was never really developed in the history of the Church.

Why the common negative view of the Torah? Because Paul devoted much of his energy to drive home two points:

1) Gentiles are not obligated to submit to the Torah
2) Jews are not SAVED by the Torah

Paul's strong rhetoric in addressing the two above points sometimes gives the impression that he intends to discard the Torah as obsolete. But this cannot be true in the light of several NT passages (Mt 5:17-20, Acts 16:1-3; Acts 21:17-26; Rom 3:1-2; 7:12, 16; 9:4-5; 1 Ti 1:8).

Ariel
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” C.S. Lewis

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Holy Spirit and Church

Post by Hadassah » Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:58 am

Ariel wrote:...the seed is there in the NT but it was never really developed in the history of the Church.
Respectfully and honestly... Why do you think that the Holy Spirit would allow this? It is baffling to me that the Church, guided in all truth by the Holy Spirit, regardless of the personal prejudices which might have been present in individuals, has completely missed for so long a time a critical requirement (if you are correct) for Jews who embrace Catholicism. Such an integral part of the covenant for the Jews and the Holy Spirit allows the Church for more of her history than not to simply ignore it? Why would the Holy Spirit allow that to happen?

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Post by Athol » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:46 pm

The Holy Spirit blows where he wills. There is a time for every season- the last 2000 years have been the special time of mercy for the Gentiles- this is drawing to a close- and so a new stage in salvation history is beginning which will see the ingrafting of the Jews as prophecied by Paul.

Cheers from the Ring of Kerry
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Post by Gerat Tzedek » Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:12 am

Gerat Tzedek wrote:
Ariel wrote:Yes, I would generally tend to agree with Athol, though I might formulate it a bit differently. I do believe that one of the main reasons for the 'failure' of the Church to bring Christ to the Jewish people was that this would have caused their assimilation and practical dissolution of their Jewish identity.
The argument that Jews have avoided conversion because conversion meant leaving their community and full assimilation into another seems reasonable. However, it is not true, and I will give you two proofs why it is not the case.

The first proof is the massive assimilation of Jews into the secular world. So Jews are obviously not immune to giving up their beliefs or assimilating. It's specifically YOUR religion that is unattractive to us.

The second proof is that Protestant Christianity came to this same conclusion decades ago and has already marketed Messianic Judaism as a result. The results are in and are not at all what Protestants hoped. The number of Jewish converts to Christianity is as dismal as ever. On the other hand, the Messianic movement has attracted GENTILES like flies. The movement is literally bursting at the seems with gentiles -- it should change its name to Messianic Gentilism. The problem is that many of these gentiles have a true afinity for Judaism, but soon find what many Jews notice -- that Messianic Judaism really is NOT a Judaism. They leave and many of them end up having valid halachic conversions to Judaism.

My guess is that if you truly get your Hebrew-Catholic movement going, you will similarly find gentile Catholics expressing interest, and then leaving for Judaism. And indeed when I was in the Yahoo group for Hebrew Catholics, before my conversion to Judaism, the overwhelming number of people there were NOT NOT NOT halachically Jewish, but were gentiles.

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Post by Athol » Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:14 pm

Dear Tzedek,

Some of what you say is true especially with certain types of Messianic Jews. However some groups that were more "Jewish" liturgically and in practice had more Jews and less Gentiles in their Messianic synagogue in my experience. As for the Hebrew Catholics in the yahoo group they are the ones that are more comfortable with discussing their Jewish and Catholic identity on the internet (which of course interests many people non- Jewish Catholics)- many other Jews in the Catholic church are more hidden and secretive as they may have hurts from the past or not wanting family and others to learn of their identity. Of course there are many thousands of Catholics who are halakically Jewish according to Orthodox Judaism but these people have ceased to identify as Jewish as they have been Catholic for 3 or 4 generations. Some of them are becoming interested in their Jewish heritage. For me it is the spirituality of being a Jewish Catholic that most appeals to me- I would not feel fulfilled with just a Gentile Catholic spirituality and identity nor a purely Orthodox Jewish one (though Breslov is the most appealing to me). I love Rebbe Nachman and I love St John of the Cross. Each person must choose their own spiritual path and journey and I respect that but feel there is a real gap for those such as myself and our aim is to create our own community for those drawn to this way not in order to actively missionise Jews especially by pushy agressive means, which seems to be the purpose of many of these Messianic groups. The personal encounter and relationship with the eucharistic Jesus and his mother is worth all the struggle and misunderstanding from both Catholics and Jews. I also have a love for Torah and mitzvot which in fact enables me to love the Torah observant Mary, Jesus and Joseph even more. Others see it differently and I certainly respect their search to live out the truth as they believe it to be. I hope they pray for me as I pray for them in our unique journeys to the Ultimate Truth.
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