Covenant Confusion

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Covenant Confusion

Post by TruthSeeker » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:09 pm

First, let me say that I truly am worried about representations made on this website. Not only because it represents itself as being “catholic” which may be misleading people from the truth of the faith and into mortal sin, but from a more foundational premise – many claims here amount to calling God a liar. I present a detailed, open discussion, in good faith with the hopes of eliciting responses to these concerns.

To start, I have surmised that there is a grave confusion regarding covenant theology presented throughout this website, and so I thought I would open up a discussion on the covenant topic.

First, the Church, through Scripture and Tradition, has consistently taught that the Old, Mosaic, Covenant has been superseded and revoked. It has been nailed to the cross.
The book of Hebrews uses some very technical Greek terminology to get the point across. Hebrews 7:18 says: “On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness, for the law made nothing perfect.” The phrase “set aside” is from the Greek “aphetesis,” which also means “to annul” or “to remove.” When something is annulled it means it does not exist as a legal and binding entity any longer.

Similarly, Hebrew 8:13 says: “In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete.”

Hebrews 10:8-9 says: “...these are offered according to the law, then he added, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.” The word “abolish” is from the Greek “anaireo,” which also means “to abrogate,” or even “to kill.”

The contexts of these passages are referring exclusively to the Mosaic law, and thus it was that covenant which was abrogated, abolished, annulled. The practices under the Mosaic law have ceased according to God. Now, what about continuing the “culture” of these practices?

Importantly, to which I see directly contrary statements in your mission statements, The Council of Florence made it crystal clear that the Mosaic covenant practices must cease:

It firmly believes, professes, and teaches that the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future, although they were suited to the divine worship at that time, after our Lord's coming had been signified by them, ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; and that whoever, even after the passion, placed hope in these matters of the law and submitted himself to them as necessary for salvation, as if faith in Christ could not save without them, sinned mortally. Yet it does not deny that after the passion of Christ up to the promulgation of the Gospel they could have been observed until they were believed to be in no way necessary for salvation; but after the promulgation of the Gospel it asserts that they cannot be observed without the loss of eternal salvation. All, therefore, who after that time observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless someday they recover from these errors. (Denzinger 712)


So, we see that the Mosaic covenant has been superseded, as Pope John Paul II said “the period marked by the promise made to Abraham and by the Law mediated by Moses has now reached its climax, in the sense that Christ fulfils the divine promise and supersedes the old law.” Redemptoris Mater, ft. 2.
This distinction between covenants is very important: Abrahamic fulfilment and Mosaic supersession. Pope John Paul II elaborated in Dives in Misericordia, ft. 52:
This covenant was, on God’s part, a gift and a grace for Israel. Nevertheless, since, in harmony with the covenant entered into, God had made a commitment to respect it, hesed also acquired in a certain sense a legal content. The juridical commitment on God’s part ceased to oblige whenever Israel broke the covenant and did not respect its conditions. But precisely at this point, hesed, in ceasing to be a juridical obligation, revealed its deeper aspect: it showed itself as what it was at the beginning, that is, as love that gives, love more powerful than betrayal, grace stronger than sin.
. . .
Therefore Israel, although burdened with guilt for having broken the covenant, cannot lay claim to God’s hesed on the basis of (legal) justice; yet it can and must go on hoping and trusting to obtain it, since the God of the covenant is really “responsible for his love.” The fruits of this love are forgiveness and restoration to grace, the reestablishment of the interior covenant.

This interior covenant is, of Course, the system of Grace through Jesus Christ. Some on this website seem to be arguing that there is still another eternal covenant in existence, made with a specific racial group, a covenant that relates spiritually and temporally related to the physical world. That just isn’t the case.

Yes, the Abrahamic covenant transitions into and becomes the New Covenant. But how is this possible given the old law usurpation we just documented? Because the Abrahamic covenant was not initiated when Abraham was a Jew, but a Gentile. One way of looking at this is to think of the Christian Covenant as the first and final covenant. This is St. Paul’s main argument against the Jews who claim Abraham as their sole and exclusive father. Paul writes in Romans 4:10-11:

10 How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received circumcision as a sign or seal of the righteousness which he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them...”

The above event is recorded for us in Genesis 15:6 in the famous words: “And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.” In other words, Abraham was credited with righteousness when he was a Gentile, for only when circumcision was instituted did the Jewish nation begin to exist, and that did not occur until Genesis 17. St. Paul reiterates this same truth in Galatians 3:6-8:

6 Thus Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ 7 So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations [Gentiles] be blessed.’

CONTINUED-

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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by TruthSeeker » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:19 pm

CONTINUATION:

Although the Gentile component of the Abraham covenant continues into the salvation of the New Covenant, the Jewish element of the Abrahamic covenant (e.g., circumcision) was abolished, forever. It’s annulment began when the curtain of the Temple was torn in two by God Himself (Mt 27:51), which annulment was ratified at the first Christian council when St. Peter declared that circumcision would no longer be regarded as a requirement for God’s favor (Acts 15:1-12). All that remains now is the spiritual element of the Abrahamic covenant, and the difference between the spiritual promises and the physical promises introduces another crucial distinction.

God gave two kinds of promises to Abraham. For lack of better terminology, we will call them: (a) physical promises made to the circumcised (the Jews); and (b) spiritual promises made to all of mankind. As we noted earlier, the first physical promises concerned the acquisition of earthly borders for Abraham’s Jewish descendants, as we note, for example, in Genesis 15:18-21:

On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.’

But Abraham himself never received any of these physical promises. Hebrews 11:39 says: “And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised.” This is the same reason that Genesis 15:18 does not say says “to you and your descendants,” but “to your descendants,” a very crucial distinction. Abraham’s descendants were given their divine promises, for this is recorded quite definitively over one thousand years of Israel’s history.

In Joshua 21:43-45, 1 Kings 8:56 and Nehemiah 9:7-8, we can see that God fulfilled all the physical promises concerning the giving of land to the Jews. There is no remaining covenant to be fulfilled temporally with physical land. He owes no specific race anything beyond what is given to all men. And what a better Kingdom! Thus, any claims that Jewish people of today, or any people for that matter, are entitled to any land by divine right are totally erroneous. Those who do so are making God a liar, for God has clearly stated that He already fulfilled those promises by a divine oath.

The spiritual promises to Abraham regarding salvation, however, have not been completely fulfilled, and thus they are prefaced by the clause: “to you and your descendants.” Among these are the promises in Genesis 13:15; 17:7-8; 22:17-18. These passages indicate Abraham and his descendants will eventually receive the promise of dwelling place, but it is not a piece of land on this sin-cursed earth. Rather, as St. Paul tells us in various places, Abraham’s inheritance will be a heavenly city that he will receive after he is raised from the dead:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go... For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8,10)

If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:15-16)

And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Hebrew 11:39-40)


Teaching otherwise dangerously sets a distinction between races, a distinction which God has eliminated with the system of Grace. The New Israel, the New People, the New Chosen are past racial distinctions, for partialities are eliminated. There truly is no more Jew or Greek, for all are one in Christ Jesus, thanks be to God!

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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by Ariel » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:12 pm

Our entire website is dedicated to answering the very problematic positions exposed in the last two posts. "TruthSeeker," you claim that the points we make on our website
amount to calling God a liar
but actually you are the one calling God a liar by espousing classical, obsolete and disastrous supersessionism, the same theology that been the fuel of anti-semitism throughout the ages in threatening the very fabric of Jewish identity as a people, and thereby completely closing the doors of the Church to Jews who may otherwise be drawn to their Messiah.

Since our website constantly and repeatedly addresses your claims, there is not point in rehashing all of them here. So just a few points:
the Church, through Scripture and Tradition, has consistently taught that the Old, Mosaic, Covenant has been superseded and revoked
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Mt 5:17)

The passages from the Epistle to the Hebrews you quote use strong rhetorical language to underline the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old, in face of the problem of some Hebrew-Christians who wanted to leave Christianity and return to Judaism. Yes, the New Covenant has superseded some aspects of the old (most notably the sacrificial system). But this doesn't mean that it has abolished God's election, gifts and calling to the Jewish people, or the customs by which they still celebrate the great works that God accomplished in their history.
the Mosaic law... was abrogated, abolished, annulled.
"You see, brother [Paul], how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; they are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs.... We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them...Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you but that you yourself live in observance of the law." (Acts 21:20-24)

As for quoting the disciplinary decisions of the medieval Council of Florence as if they had any authority today: notice that only ultra-traditionalists, usually of an anti-semitic bent, are the ones who refer to these antiquated decrees today. When was the last time you hear the Pope or the Holy See refer to them as authoritative? I reprint here what I wrote elsewhere in response to similar anti-semitic replacement theology espoused by Robert Sungenis:
The decisions of the Council of Florence (1438-45) concerning the Jews were ecclesiastical disciplinary decisions that were conditioned by their time. They do not pertain to Catholic doctrine and are not binding today, much less infallible. If Sungenis insists on the validity of the decrees of this council, then he must also advocate that Jews be compelled to listen to Christian sermons under pain of severe penalties. He must forbid Jews to employ Christians and prohibit Christians from eating with Jews or even having extended conversation with them. Sungenis should also insist that Jews not be given any public offices or admitted to any academic degrees. He should underline that they are to be "compelled, under severe penalties, to wear some garment whereby they can be clearly distinguished from Christians." Moreover, Sungenis should insist that Jews be "made to dwell in areas, in the cities and towns, which are apart from the dwellings of Christians and as far distant as possible from churches." These embarrassing examples suffice to show that to appeal today to the (non-infallible) disciplinary decrees of the Council of Florence is ludicrous. If anything, Catholics today should adopt an attitude of humble repentance in regard to these discriminating and humiliating practices that Christians inflicted upon Jews in the past
“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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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by Ariel » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:18 pm

There truly is no more Jew or Greek, for all are one in Christ Jesus, thanks be to God!
As written elsewhere:

The New Testament goal of the divine economy is indeed the "One New Man" - Jew and Gentile united in faith and Sacraments in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. But if "the distinction of Jew and Gentile no longer exists"[34] because the scriptures say that there is "neither Jew nor Greek," then it follows that the New Covenant has somehow also rendered man and woman androgynous, since the same verse states that there is "neither male nor female" (Gal. 3:27-28). In reality, just as male and female are indeed one before Christ but retain their distinct roles, so are Jews and Gentiles now equal before God while yet retaining their distinctiveness within the plan of salvation. The restoration of Israel, then, is not an end in itself that would place the Jews in a somehow privileged position versus the Gentiles. But neither can it be a mere transitional phase preceding her dissolution into the Church since, as we have seen, their very survival and existence was to remain a witness to all nations until the end of time (Jer. 31:35-37). God's preservation of Israel, then, is for His own honor and cause in the world.
“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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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by TruthSeeker » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:37 pm

Dear Ariel:
Thank you for your reply, I know this is such a sensitive topic and I’m glad you are open to discussing it in good faith and love. Let me address a few of your replies.
First some general comments. There is no Catholic Church if there isn’t “classical” teaching. So, I submit that to arrive at your positions you first must deviate from infallible Church teaching and destroy all Church authority. The covenant subject matter is not one which can be taught infallibly, and then changed. These teachings are dogmatic and just like teaching on the Real Presence, the Immaculate Conception, etc. they cannot become “obsolete”.
“Disastrous” human thought or action based on a Church teaching does not condemn the teaching, only the false thought or actions. The same could be argued about indulgences. Therefore, it is imperative to condemn the actions, not the teaching. Unless, it is the teaching itself that you claim is problematic-which appears to be the case. The truth is that you can’t be Christian and practice any other religion. You have to leave everything behind, spiritually. Just like St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Stephen, etc.
Much of your reply hits the heart of the problem. But let’s focus on the major one that you raise: has the New Covenant abolished God’s election, gifts and calling to the Jewish people?
The short answer is “yes!”, as to the Jewish people as a people, but “no” to gifts and calling to Jews as members of mankind. That is what is meant by “there is no more Jew or Greek”, not that ethnicity or cultural differences disappear, but spiritual or reasoning relations with God or Logos disappear. There is no racial or genetic component to election. You are arguing against John Paul II, and the entirety of Church history, when you deny his words “Christ fulfils the divine promise [to Abraham] and supersedes the old law [Mosaic Law]” and “Israel . . .having broken the covenant, cannot lay claim to God’s hesed on the basis of (legal) justice”. See my original post for full quotes. This could not be more clear. The covenant was broken and the law no longer honors God. Law assumed into the New Covenant is not Mosaic law.
St. Peter also could not be more clear when speaking to the Church, including to racial Jews of course: 9But you are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises" of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were "no people" but now you are God's people; you "had not received mercy" but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
But these arguments have been the same for two thousand years, and I know you have heard them all before. Justin Martyr made these arguments in the middle of the second century, and the Church has never faltered. The gifts and callings of Romans 11 are irrevocable, not the old covenant. Those gifts and callings are from the Gospel, as God is faithful and continues to offer His gifts and callings to the group that already broke a covenant with Him. Now that is true Mercy. Yes, God loves the Jews, but not as Jews – as men made in the Imago Dei, with the potential to become united with Him as adopted sons. Teaching otherwise gives men an excuse to reject Christ, outside of whom there is no other salvation.
To summarize, it would be theologically honest to have a disclaimer on your website stating: “the following is traditional, Magisterial teaching, but we present arguments on this website why these teachings may be problematic.
1. The Sinai/Mosaic Covenant has been superseded by the New Covenant in Christ.
2. The salvific dimension of the Abrahmic Covenant is eternal and is both founded and fulfilled in Christ.
3. As superseeded and abrogated, the Mosaic Law and other Covenants are not Salvific.
4. The salvific dimension of the Abrahmic Covenant and the New Covenant in Christ are one in the same.
5. Christ fulfills the divine promise to Abraham and supersedes the old Mosaic Law.
6. The temporal Covenant promising the land of Canaan has been completely fulfilled.

Readers then would not be misled.

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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by Ariel » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:22 am

You falsely assume that your own supersessionist interpretation of salvation history is equivalent to “infallible Church teaching” – but this is far from the truth. The fact that you refer to obsolete disciplinary decrees from the medieval Council of Florence and ignore everything the Magisterium has said about Jews and Judaism in the last 50 years already says a lot.

What do you say about the fact that Cardinal Schoenborn, the editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, holds the view that the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel represents the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy? Oh... but you probably have a better understanding of Catholic doctrine than he does.

I do not reject anything John Paul II has said: yes, the Mosaic Law is not enough and Jews need Christ to be justified. We can well accept that the New Covenant supersedes the Old, of course, in the sense that it "fulfills" it without "abolishing" it (as Jesus said).

On the other hand, when you say:
has the New Covenant abolished God’s election, gifts and calling to the Jewish people?
The short answer is “yes!”, as to the Jewish people as a people, but “no” to gifts and calling to Jews as members of mankind.
This statement could not be a clearer proof that you are the one who rejects the clear teaching of Scripture and of the Church (most notably expressed in Nostra Aetate) about the enduring nature of God's covenant with the Jewish people.

It is precisely people like you who in your arrogant rejection of the beauty and richness of Jewish tradition and culture close the door shut to the Jews' potential encounter with grace and entrance in the Church.

How would you like it if someone told you that yes, you can be saved, but in order to be saved you must renounce everything you hold dear that is part of your American identity, traditions and customs. Moreover, you must renounce your American passport and citizenship, and you no longer have a right to your own nation. It seems to me that this is exactly what you are advocating in your arrogant rejection of Judaism - no, in fact it is worse because the traditions and homeland that they hold dear are not just part of their history and heritage, but were given to them by God Himself.

The fact that such arrogance and contempt for the Jews and rejection of their election have been around for 2,000 years does not make them right. This has nothing to do with "traditional, magisterial teaching" but rather with sin.

You would do well to do a prayerful study of Romans 11, and especially Paul's analogy of the olive tree and his warning to Gentile Christians who arrogantly boast their superiority over the natural branches that have been cut off, the unbelieving Jews, having forgotten that
it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. (Rom 11:18)
End of discussion.
“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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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by TruthSeeker » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:22 pm

Ariel, I am sorry you ended the discussion. Please accept one last response to your latest comments. You obviously do not like the Council of Florence, so let’s try this amalgamation:
“The Church is the new people of God, yet the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or cursed” (Nostra Aetate, 4) for “Christ instituted this new covenant, the new testament, that is to say, in His Blood, calling together a people made up of Jew and Gentile, making them one, not according to the flesh but in the Spirit. This was to be the new People of God.” (Lumen Gentium 9) “The Apostles were the first budding forth of the New Israel, and at the same time the beginning of the sacred hierarchy.” (Ad Gentes, 1,5) “From the moment of Christ’s coming, the expectation of the People of God has to be directed to the eschatological Kingdom which is coming and to which he must lead ‘the new Israel’.” (Mulieris Dignitatem, VI, 20, John Paul II)

Christians simply are the new spiritual Israel. There is no other spiritual Israel, meaning there is no Divine aspect to the nation of Israel (beyond the Divine Providence associated with any nation.) Unless you accept the Old Law as being completely fulfilled in Christ, then you will always be hanging on to the shadows of old and miss the light of the New. All converts at some point in history have forgone the aspects of their culture that were contrary to the Faith. That is what conversion, turning, is. I understand your sentimentalities, but we are all called to leave those aspects of our culture behind. For example, you must leave behind the spiritual ties to ceremonies which simply existed as types. You refuse to accept that the Mosaic Covenant was abolished, yet the Church has always held so. Take Pope Benedict XIV in his Encyclical Ex Quo:

"The first consideration is that the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law were abrogated by the coming of Christ and that they can no longer be observed without sin after the promulgation of the Gospel. . . . “Similarly, we profess that the legalities of the Old Testament, the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law, the rites, sacrifices, and sacraments have ceased at the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ; they cannot be observed without sin after the promulgation of the Gospel.”

The preceding words are from the Profession of Orthodox Faith which Pope Urban VIII required of Orientals, as published in 1642 by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. They are in harmony with the teaching of Saint Thomas (Summa 1, 2, quest. 103, art. 4, to 3rd). Moreover this teaching is confirmed by ancient documents.

63. The second consideration is that although the ceremonial precepts of the old Law have come to an end with the promulgation of the Gospel, and the new Law does not contain any precept which distinguishes between clean and unclean foods, nevertheless the Church of Christ has the power of renewing the obligation to observe some of the old precepts for just and serious reasons, despite their abrogation by the new Law. However, precepts whose main function was to foreshadow the coming Messiah should not be restored, for example, circumcision and the sacrifice of animals, as Vasquez aptly remarks in 1, 2, Divi Thomae, vol. 2, disp. 182, chap. 9, sect. ex quibus omnibus. "


St. Thomas, quoting St. Augustine, elaborates on the problematic nature of celebrating these abrogated (that means abolished) ceremonies:

“Consequently, just as it would be a mortal sin now for anyone, in making a profession of faith, to say that Christ is yet to be born, which the fathers of old said devoutly and truthfully; so too it would be a mortal sin now to observe those ceremonies which the fathers of old fulfilled with devotion and fidelity. Such is the teaching Augustine (Contra Faust. xix, 16), who says: "It is no longer promised that He shall be born, shall suffer and rise again, truths of which their sacraments were a kind of image: but it is declared that He is already born, has suffered and risen again; of which our sacraments, in which Christians share, are the actual representation." Summa Theologica, I II Q 103, 4.

The fulfillment is the abrogation, because practicing the old denies that very fulfillment. That is why advocating that one can hold a belief contrary to the faith, whatever the heresy, while seeking their conversion is very problematic. Specifically to the Mosaic shadows, holding to those ceremonies effectively denies Christ, and there is salvation in no one else. Acts 4:12. As the Council of Constantinople III stated:

"These things, therefore, having been determined by us with all caution and diligence, we declare that no one is permitted to introduce, or to describe, or to compare, or to study, or otherwise to teach another faith. But whoever presumes to compare or to introduce or to teach or to pass on another creed to those wishing to turn from the belief of the Gentiles or of the Jews or from any heresy whatsoever to the acknowledgement of truth, or who (presumes) to introduce a novel doctrine or an invention of discourse to the subversion of those things which now have been determined by us, (we declare) these, whether they are bishops or clerics, to be excommunicated, bishops indeed from the bishopric, but priests from the priesthood; but if they are monks or laymen, to be anathematized. ( Denz. 293)

Proclaim the Truth and the Spirit will work with you Ariel, not to placate a racial divide, but to bring these lost sheep to the fold.

May God bless you greatly.

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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by Ariel » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:20 pm

yes, proclaim the truth indeed. You seem to be more interested in obscure medieval disciplinary decrees which at their worst are good illustrations of medieval Christian antisemitism, or at best were conditioned by their time in an atmosphere of Jewish-Christian polemics, hostility, and haughty triumphalistic Christian supersessionism.

You are free to remain in the Middle Ages with Benedict XIV, I prefer to follow the path set by Benedict XVI. With all respect for the sources you quoted, when was the last time a modern pontiff referred to them as authoritative? Please do not waste more of our time here on this forum and go cut yourself off from your own roots in some other setting.
“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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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by Athol » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:01 am

Firstly the Old Covenant has never been revoked according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see 121). If it has never been revoked then we must ask what the term translated as abrogation means in these old documents. What abrogation does it refer to? This should be obvious but people seem to be blinded by their own anti Jewish prejudices. The only abrogations that Scripture speaks about (in Acts) is the abrogation of the Gentiles needing to become Jews and observe the Torah as Jews do. This has nothing to do with Jewish observance of the Torah which in Acts 21 confirms the Gentile abrogation but the continued Jewish observance of circumcision and the Jewish customs. Of course Jews who embrace the New Covenant now observe not with the old intention as if Jesus hadn't come, died and resurrected but they observe Torah with the new heart intention that Jesus proclaimed in the Beatitudes. One group of the Pharisees (from the House of Shammai) saw Torah observance in the light of salvation (that only a Torah observant Jew could be saved and enter the World to Come) whereas the House of Hillel (of which orthodox Judaism is a descendant) saw salvation in the light of the coming Messiah and the observance of Torah as a means to sanctification (holiness). The other abrogation that is alluded to in Acts and Paul is the 18 gezerot enacted by the Shammaites to enforce a stricter than the Torah separation of Jews and Gentiles- these are the decrees which Christ nailed to his cross breaking down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles. Orthodox Judaism also abrogated or annulled them in a Jewish Rabbinic gathering after 70 AD in which a voice from heaven spoke and told the Rabbis that where the teachings of Beth Shammai clashed with those of Beth Hillel then Hillel must take authority.

With the first coming of the Messiah as suffering priest and victim the priestly and sacrificial ceremonial laws reached a fulfilment which meant they were transformed (not revoked or abolished) into the priestly and sacrificial ceremonies of the New Sacrifice of the New Covenant.

When we read past documents of the Church we must always read them with the idea of the development of doctrine and in humble obedience to the Magisterium. If one listens to the interview with Cardinal Burke who is the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (and thus the highest judicial authority under the Pope in the Church) we see he has no problem with Hebrew Catholic observances of the Torah when done in the light of Christ.
Adore Wisdom

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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by Athol » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:58 am

It is without doubt that the Church has always sought to protect the infallible teaching that we are saved by faith in Messiah not by Torah observances. In order to protect that infallible teaching there have been fallible disciplinary policies and even theological opinions of what that means. That this question is still open for discussion is demonstrated by these comments of Cardinal Dulles: "The Second Vatican Council, while providing a solid and traditional framework for discussing Jewish-Christian relations, did not attempt to settle all questions. In particular, it left open the question whether the Old Covenant remains in force today. Are there two covenants, one for Jews and one for Christians? If so, are the two related as phases of a single developing covenant, a single saving plan of God? May Jews who embrace Christianity continue to adhere to Jewish covenantal practices?" A theological opinion by a Pope does not make it infallible as Pope Benedict XVI has clearly demonstrated. For example Pope Sixtus IV was a great believer in the theological opinion that Mary was immaculately conceived. However in his time this was not an infallible teaching but a theological opinion (even if the Pope of the time held to it) so all Catholics were still able to discuss or disagree with it until it was formerly declared infallible in 1854.
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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by TruthSeeker » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:29 pm

Dear Athol: I think you will find that the section 121 on page 131 of the Catechism was removed because it was flat-out wrong. The US Bishops voted it out because the Old Covenant was revoked. They replaced that sentence with: "To the Jewish people, whom God first chose to hear his word, 'belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ.'" (Rom 9:4-5; cf. CCC, No. 839)

Which is historically correct, but does not pull those blessings of old into the new. Christ tore the curtain, eliminating all racial divide among men. Remember not all those of the seed of Abraham are of Abraham? The gifts and callings of the Gospel are now available to all, including those in the group who rejected God repeatedly under the Old Covenant.

As Augustine said: "It is no longer promised that He shall be born, shall suffer and rise again, truths of which their sacraments were a kind of image: but it is declared that He is already born, has suffered and risen again; of which our sacraments, in which Christians share, are the actual representation."

I find it ironic that Ariel continues to profer that my support is antiquated, yet it all comes after the establishment of your rudiments and laws which were implemented because of transgressions.

Thank you for responding, and may God be with you.

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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by Athol » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:06 pm

You are confusing the Catechism of the Catholic Church with the American Catechism. It is article 121 in CCC. The one you are referring to in the American Catechism which said that the mosaic covenant was eternally valid for jews was removed not because it was wrong but because some people were misunderstanding it and following a dual covenant theology. The bishops spokesmen at the time of the removal stressed that it was not being removed because it was untrue just that it needed to be explained in more detail which wasn't appropriate for the nature of the Catechism. The problem is that the average Catholic doesn't understand the difference between sanctification and salvation which led some to see this statement as affirming dual covenant theology. see http://timglass.wordpress.com/2008/08/1 ... -with-god/
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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by Athol » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:23 pm

i should also think that the statement in the American Catechism could also be wrongly read that the Torah was only valid for the jews and not the Gentiles. This would be a wrong inference as the Torah is eternally valid for both Jew and Gentile. They relate to it differently as the Gentiles have been abrogated or dispensed from observing in the manner that is appropriate for a Jew while at the same time sharing with the Jews in the Torah inheritance of Israel. You might like to read Cardinal lustiger on this. http://www.catholicsforisrael.com/de/ar ... ish-church
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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by TruthSeeker » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:50 pm

Athol - yes, I was intermixing the American and CCC. But the issue is interrelated. I believe you are overstepping your interpreation by concluding the 121 of the CCC means the Mosaic Covenant was not revoked. It doesn't say that. Read it again, and then read the numerous other sections in the CCC that identify what we would call the Old Testament by the term "Old Covenant". It is clear elsewhere of the Mosaic Covenant was revoked - Para 1963, 66 Also, Read 122 and 123 and you will see that it is focusing on the value derived from the inspired text of the Old Testament. It definately is ambiguous, but it is clear it is teaching against Marcionism. The Old Testament has value, not that the Mosaic Covenat is still valid.

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Re: Covenant Confusion

Post by Athol » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:23 am

This comment about the Old covenant never being revoked was put in the Catechism to confirm that the statement of JPII on this topic was not just his personal opinion but the authentic teaching of the Church's magisterium. The details of what this means is open to theological discussion and speculation. John paul II stated this permanent reality of the Jewish people in a remarkable theological formula, in his allocution to the Jewish community of Germany at Mainz, on November 17, 1980: "... the people of God of the Old Covenant, which has never been revoked." Both JPII and BXVI have taught that the Judaism has a continuing role to play in God's plan of salvation during the time of the Gentiles as well as its crucial role in the end times when the whole economy of salvation awaits the ingrafting of the Jews and Judaism into the Church which will lead to a spiritual resurrection of the dead (romans 11).
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