Kinda have a heavy question. If there is only salvation through Jesus and the Jewish people reject him, who are they worshiping at there synagogue? Who where they worshiping in the Old Testament? If Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecy and he said there was no salvation except through him does this make the Jewish religion a false religion ? Was it a true religion in the Old Testament and became false in the New Testament. If you read the Church Fathers, writings of the saints, early Popes there was a lot of anti Jewish statements. So if a Jewish person rejects Jesus, and Jesus said there is no salvation except through him, who are they worshiping? Does God still hear them?
They are worshiping God. They merely have a more incomplete knowledge of Him than we do, or evan a partially inaccurate understanding of Him if they specifically believe God to be non-Trinitarian and/or accept some of the funky ideas of Kabbalah.
The Jewish religion was a true, revealed religion before and during the time of Christ. Today Christianity is the fulfillment of that religion as far as its faith and purpose go, but modern non-Christian Judaism still contains much that is true and good. I think it would be a gross exaggeration and oversimplification to call it a “false religion”, though it’s true that it materially lacks something essential.
While all salvation is through some kind of faith in Christ, it’s also true that no one goes to hell except by their own free choice. It’s theoretically possible for a Jew, or any other non-Christian, to be honestly doing their best to serve and love God and seek forgiveness for their sins. We could very much hope for the salvation of such a person. How often Jews or other non-Christians are actually in this position and how often they are actually morally culpible for their rejection of Christ is impossible to say.
Does God hear the prayers of the Jews? Of course He does. He perceives everything. What is God’s reponse to those prayers? It seems to me that would depend on the situation, as it does when Christians pray too.
Take a look at the Catechism here: scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm, especially sections 839-848. This should explain the Church’s teaching.
It is not so much false, as incomplete. The role of Judaism was to prepare the way for Christ. Once the New Covenant is revealed, Judaism has no further role in the plan of salvation.
It is important to remember that no one was ever saved through Judaism. The righteous of the Old Testament were in Limbo until Jesus descended after his death to preach to them and bring salvation. If any of them rejected Jesus, they were damned, not saved.
Salvation comes only through Christ. So, a righteous Jew is saved the same way a righteous pagan is; through obedience of the natural law, and acceptance of Jesus at some point prior to their death (excepting the invincibly ignorant).
This just came out of the Vatican, but it had been said before.
The Christian Church is naturally obligated to perceive its evangelization task in respect of the Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to the nations. In concrete terms this means that–in contrast to several fundamentalist and evangelical movements–the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews …The in-principle rejection of an institutional mission to the Jews does not on the other hand exclude that Christians bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, but they should do so in an unassuming and humble manner, particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah.**
In essence, the Catholic Church is not out to convert the Jews and does not condone anyone trying to do so. She accepts them as they are. On the other hand, this does not mean that Christians cannot give witness to their faith, even among Jews, as long as we are polite and not condescending. If they ask us to back off, we back off. Jews do not proselytize, nor do we tolerate proselytism very well.
Br. JR, FFV
I do not see how you get that from the Vatican quote you cited. The Church does not have institutions for the purpose of converting Jews. It does not follow that individual Catholics should not pray and work towards the conversion of Jews.
Personally, as a covert from Judaism myself, I am very grateful to anyone who has ever prayed for the conversion of Jews. Those prayers very well may have benefited me.
Nothing wrong with praying for the conversion of Jews and nothing wrong with sharing your faith. We’re talking about proselytism here. There is a difference.
The reason I know this is because I’m Franciscan. This has been the Franciscan position for centuries, which was approved by Pope Gregory IX and he explicitly gave custody of Jerusalem and other parts of Palestine to the Franciscans, because Francis had promised the Sultan that if he allowed the Catholics to enter the Holy Land to visit the sacred places, we would not try to convert the Jews and Muslims. Pope Gregory upheld that promised
It has been repeated by several popes over the centuries, every time the issue of proselytizing to the Jews comes up. Finally, Bl. John Paul decided to make it an rule of the Church and to assign a commission to deal with Judaism and to offer guidance to the rest of the Catholic world on this question. Those who deal directly with the Jewish people can get guidance from the Commission. This is not necessary, if you the Jewish people or person that you’re dealing with is a colleague or a neighbor. It is necessary if you’re going to enter a Jewish community and set up a Catholic ministry. Then you have to follow the guidelines of no proselytizing. Then you’re an institution of the Catholic Church, not a private citizen.
Hope that makes it clearer.
Br. JR, FFV
This would’ve been strange news to St. Vincent Ferrer who did much travel to preach to, and convert Jews. He baptized thousands.
This is not clear to me. I do not understand what you are saying that proselytism is or what makes it different from sharing one’s faith. I read your post several times without gaining clarity.
As I said, this comes up every couple of hundred years. However, I have to say this about St. Vincent Ferrer. He traveled and preached. But if one looks at his story, he did not push Christianity on the Jewish people as the Spaniards did on the indigenous people in South America. Vincent was as the Cardinal says, very humble and very polite. He was the type of man who invited curious people to approach him, because he was non-threatening.
This has happened with the Franciscans in Palestine as well. I should know, that’s how I came into Catholicism. They’re very gentle, friendly and very open about their faith. They don’t start to whisper and a Jew walks by. They invite everyone to their feasts and special celebrations. Their schools are open to Christians, Jews and Muslims and the friars are wonderful with all of the kids and their families. Over the centuries they have made many converts. Their manner and their presence triggers your curiosity.
I truly wanted to know what made these men tick. Instead of giving me the Gospels, they gave me a book about St. Francis of Assisi. I fell in love with Francis. I began to ask for more and more books. It was through Francis that I understood Jesus Christ, then I started with the Gospels and the catechism. By the time I was 18, I was Catholic.
I think this is why Bl. John Paul created this rule, to monitor the approach. The big concern, if you read the statement, is that Catholics not do what Protestants do, set out to snare the Jews into becoming Catholic. It has nothing to do with sharing the faith. It’s about how that’s done.
As the document says, since the Shoah, Catholics have to be even more gentle in their approach and show greater respect for Jews and Judaism. Many Jews are very skittish of Christians, especially Jews in the East.
Br. JR, FFV
I tried doing some googling to figure out what was going on with the word “proselytism” and found this in Wikipedia:
“Today, the connotations of proselytizing are often negative and the word is commonly used to describe attempts to force people to convert; however, this article will be using it in the more neutral meaning of attempting to convert.”
Br. Jay’s comments make sense if he is using the negative meaning. It is wrong to force people to convert. But I do not see anything wrong with doing the neutral meaning. Why wouldn’t we want Jews to come to salvation in Christ?
When we (theologians and hierarchy) say proselytism, think about the Mormons or JHWs who knock on your door. Think about the Protestant tent meetings to get new converts. This about publications like Watchtower.
Proselytizing is planned or organized campaign to sway someone or to sway a group. This is not allowed in the Catholic Church.
Witnessing to your faith is allowed. For example, the Franciscans take care of all of the holy places in the Holy Land, have done so since 1219. They have never set out with a plan to covert Jews or Muslims.
However, they hold their processions on the streets of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. They invite the local people to every major Christian celebration. They wear their habits everywhere. The only thing that they never wear is a crucifix, because St.Francis prohibited it. But who else dresses like Franciscans? It’s not like a friar can blend into a crowd of Jews and Muslims.
They have schools, clinics and emergency services for families and children of all three faith groups. They make it quite clear that they do this out of Christian charity, not because they’re social workers.
All of that is witnessing to one’s faith. When someone is curious and asks, you respond with kindness and patience. That’s how I came in. The Franciscans were wonderful to me. They never said, “You should become a Catholic.” I said to myself, “I want what they have.” I started to ask questions and to read everything that they lent me and here I am, a Hebrew Catholic and the upcoming superior general of my community. There is Edith Stein and today there is Rosiland Moss and Brother Bob Fishman. These are all very famous Hebrew Catholics who converted because their contact with good holy Catholics triggered their interest.
That’s the difference between witnessing and proselytizing.
Br. JR, FFV
I’m not sure how your responses answer the OPs questions. Nobody has even implied forced conversion.
Alfred Minor answered the OPs question quite adequately. I’m trying to explain the Church’s policy on proselytizing to the Jews and why it came about. The Church accepts Judaism as a real religion and recognizes that the the God of Christianity is the God of Abraham. That has not changed. The difference is our understanding of the nature of God is complete, while the Jewish understanding is limited. However, that does not mean that we set up campaigns and institutions to convert Jews. The Church prohibits this. We can certainly answer questions and explain our faith to any Jew who is interested in listening. We simply cannot enter a Jewish community for the expressed purpose of converting them. That’s what the Church does not allow. We’re bound to obey that rule.
Br. JR, FFV
Thank you for all the reply’s!
And regarding the Hebrew people salvation, don’t forget what St. Paul said in the letter to the Romans chapter 11:
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Of course not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is God’s response to him? “I have left for myself seven thousand men who have not knelt to Baal.” So also at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if by grace, it is no longer because of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? What Israel was seeking it did not attain, but the elect attained it; the rest were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of deep sleep, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day.” And David says: “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes grow dim so that they may not see, and keep their backs bent forever.”
Hence I ask, did they stumble so as to fall? Of course not! But through their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is enrichment for the world, and if their diminished number is enrichment for the Gentiles, how much more their full number. Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you. Indeed you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is so. They were broken off because of unbelief, but you are there because of faith. So do not become haughty, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, [perhaps] he will not spare you either. See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. And they also, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated one, how much more will they who belong to it by nature be grafted back into their own olive tree.
I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not become wise [in] your own estimation: a hardening has come upon Israel in part, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in, and thus all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come out of Zion, he will turn away godlessness from Jacob; and this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.” In respect to the gospel, they are enemies on your account; but in respect to election, they are beloved because of the patriarchs. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may [now] receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given him anything that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Roman 11, NAB)
Based on St. Paul words, the Jews do not believe in Jesus so that we, gentiles, may be saved. So that we may be grafted to the olive tree of Israel as branches. God do not reject the old trunk and grooming a new one, we are not replacing Israel’s descendants but we are made heir along with the Jews by grafting us to the trunk of Israel.
But their unbelieve will persists, until the day come when the number of gentiles are full, and then the whole Israel will be grafted back to their roots, and we will become one tree, one church, without separation, and the whole salvation history will become complete.
They still have a big big big role to come, God indeed is faithful to his covenant.
This is what the Catechism say and became the base for Pope Benedict new prayer for the Jews on Good Friday EF celebration.
Isn’t it because they already are in a Covenant with God that we shouldn’t prosletyse Jews either?
As a result Jews who convert to Catholicism are free to practice the traditions of the Jewish faith alongside Catholic rituals because Catholicism is an extension of Judaism.
They are our elder brother in faith.
This is the mystery to which the Church refers to when she says that something is going to happen when the Lord returns that’s going to bring the Jews into the Christian faith. Therefore, there is no need to shove it down their throats. Just go on about living the Christian life and giving witness to Jews and others by the way we live. We don’t have to preach to them. This does not mean that we don’t answer questions or invite them to anything Christian.
It means that the Church prohibits and will not endorse as Catholic any organized attempt to convert the Jews. Let’s say that you got a band of missionaries together and set out to convert the Jews to Catholicism, the Church would be the first to pull the rug from under you by declaring that you have no right to use the Catholic name to embark on such a mission, because she does not endorse such missions.
On the other hand, there are many Carmelites and Franciscans in the Middle East who live and work among Jews. The Church certainly endorses their presence as long as they do not create formal programs to convert Jews. For this reason, the pope created the Custody of the Holy Land and put it under the direction of the Franciscans of the Observance. He governs over them and they govern over all the Catholics there to ensure fidelity to the Catholic mission there, which is strictly to care for the holy sites and to minister to Christians. The Catholic presence in the Jewish world has always been very closely guarded.
When people use St. Vincent Ferrer, they don’t always know the conditions under which Vincent ministered to the Jews and Muslims. The Spanish had tried to bully the Jews and Muslims living in Spain to convert. This was not an uncommon practice among Spaniards. Finally, Vicent was sent by the Crown to the Jews and Muslims. But instead of bullying them, he was very kind to them and he took care of them. He even worked some miracles among them. They were fascinated by this holy man who triggered their curiosity. They voluntarily came to Vincent to hear his message. That’s how he succeeded in converting so many Jews and Muslims, including St. Teresa of Avila’s paternal ancestors. Vincent had no campaign and avoided every form of proselytism. His preaching was through charity and love. The catechesis came along with good example and kindness. What the Spaniards had going is what the Church today refuses to allow, an orchestrated plan to convert Jews.
Br. JR, FFV
From the basic Jewish perspective, redemption from sin by means of moral behavior as well as prayerful atonement is much more important than personal salvation in an afterlife. The moral concern of every Jew should be to better the lives of all people by their own behaviors toward them. The message is not all that different from that of Jesus. The idea of individual salvation evolved in the teaching of Judaism, particularly as believed by the Pharisees rather than the Sadducees or most other sects. To this day, Judaism, in keeping with Pharisaic tradition, prefers to leave the afterlife to G-d and not be overly concerned or speculative about it in the present earthly life. At the same time, Judaism differs from both Hinduism and Buddhism in that there is no notion of self or materialistic illusion, drive to divest oneself of human needs, or belief in a return to a universal godhead. The self is important and holy in Judaism even while personal salvation is not the goal.
The Jewish religion is definitely not a false religion, the Jewish faith is the root of our faith. Yeshua was a practicing Jew. Your statement highlighted above ignores Church Teachings that the Jews are Gods chosen people through eternity and will come to Christ in time, this is a mystery. Also, the Church teaches that there are those who may be saved who are not Christian. Only God decides who will enter Heaven.