Reform Judaism: Framework for "reformation" of the Catholic Church?

I heard from a priest that the church has to change its position on homosexuality.

I was as shocked by that as much as I was bewildered by it. Only now, reading a book called The New Reform Judaism by Rabbi Dana Kaplan do I get an idea of a framework in which such a change in the Catholic Church could ever take place – not only about homosexuality but also about ordination of women, etc.

I haven’t gotten so far as the “new” Reform Judaism yet, but I’ve been reading his history of Reform Judaism which goes back to Germany in the 18th Century. Its basic position says that the Bible is inspired by God, but is not the dictated word of God; it is the word of men. Both the laws and the rituals were written by men – so can be changed and adapted to new knowledge and science and more sensibilities to the equality of women and the whole different understanding of homosexuality that we have today.

In Reform Judaism (Kaplan says) there is yet no established theology, no central authority, and no dogma. One of the philosophical difficulties he discusses is, in this context, what is Judaism? Similarly, if you tossed out Church theology, authority, and dogma, you’d be on your way to accepting homosexuality and a female clergy, etc. but then there would be the parallel difficulty in defining, What is Catholicism?

Notwithstanding the barriers to that sort of change, that would be ONE framework in which such changes could occur in the Church.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, sure. :wink:

In Reform Judaism (Kaplan says) there is yet no established theology, no central authority, and no dogma. One of the philosophical difficulties he discusses is, in this context, what is Judaism? Similarly, if you tossed out Church theology, authority, and dogma, you’d be on your way to accepting homosexuality and a female clergy, etc. but then there would be the parallel difficulty in defining, What is Catholicism?

Sounds like the “emergent Church” movement in Protestantism.

Notwithstanding the barriers to that sort of change, that would be ONE framework in which such changes could occur in the Church.

It’s not going to happen, except in one’s dreams. :stuck_out_tongue: If the Church changes her teaching on homosexuality, then I’m the King of Spain.

The Catholic Church was founded by God and is guided by the Holy Spirit. So, the reason the Catholic Church doesn’t and can’t change any doctrine is because God doesn’t change. “Reform Judaism” is basically Judaism stripped-down to include the customs, culture and racial identity but not the religion.

Anyone who thinks that a reform of the Catholic can be patterned on Reform Judaism knows very little about either the Catholic Church or Judaism!
A good analogy would be to compare Reform Judaism to Episcopalianism. Both seem to follow the latest ethical “fad” in modern society at the expense of traditional morality. Their views on homosexuality are a classic example of how and what they do. They ignore all of the proscriptions of homosexual behavior in the Old Testament, which date back several thousands of years, and which have been accept up into the late 20th century by almost all Christian and Jewish Congregations.
As for the theological validity of Reform Judaism, the State of Isreal barely recognizes Reform Jews as being real Jews, and does not recognize Marriages or Conversions to Judaism if they were done by a Reform Rabbi.

Not entirely a good example - there have been cases where Orthodox conversions in Israel have not been recognized in the UK. You can’t be certain that one Beth Din (Jewish Court) will go along with the decisions of another Beth Din.

Hey we’re Jewish, being awkward is what we do! :smiley:

The only ‘framework’ I can think of would be to subordinate intellect and truth(and so faith) to will(feelings) and praxis(pragmatic actions). Some try to do this in the Church. On such a view we can’t really speak of unchanging revealed truths(the deposit of faith) but only of dynamic encounter with god in our lives. On such a view much of the dogmatic content of the faith needs to be ‘updated’ to reflect our modern lives/relationship with god. Others in this group would go so far as to suggest that many of the ‘dogmatic nonnegotiables’ are in fact social constructs of particular expressions of lived christianity in times past and so can easily be updated to reflect our modern needs/mindsets. Not only can this happen but it should.

Essentially what would need to happen is that the Catholic Church would need to renounce its Tradition and any notion of objective truth and become something similar to a mainline liberal Protestant denomination(like some branches of Anglicanism/Episcopalianism). It is a framework in which such changes could occur.

We already have Reform Catholicism. It’s called the Episcopal Church. :wink:

Yes, it does sound like that. And THAT movement is susceptible to co-optation and manipulation by the most slick-talking demagogues, in the same way that Muslims tend to fall for the fatwas of the most charismatic imams.

The end result of adjusting to such a framework would be to focus on the only constant that was left–ourselves. A recipe for disaster.

In a lot of ways, Reform Judaism is Protestantism w/out Jesus (i.e. you can believe anything you want - even if it goes against tradition- and consider yourself Jewish.)

I agree wholeheartedly with this post.

As a convert, I’d be livid if the Church decided to follow this route because I soundly rejected both Judaism and Protestantism because I found them lacking and unsatisfying.

While I understand that there might be a need for the church to change in the future, why would we look to a faith that rejects Jesus as the Messiah? That makes no sense to me. It also makes no sense that we’d go out of our way to be more “Protestant.” A lot of us joined the Catholic Church, specifically because we reject our Protestant upbringings. :yup:

If people don’t want to accept the teachings of the church, then they are free to leave or not join.

However, I’m sick of people trying to find ways to make the church more acceptable to people who aren’t interested in participating in the life of the Church in the first place.

It’s one thing to have this conversation among ourselves because as practicing Catholics, I assume, that we love the Church and want to see the Church thrive.

It’s another to take seriously the criticisms of people who have no interest in our church, but seem to have all these ideas about why the church is “bad” and needs to change.

Both of these perspectives come from entirely different places and motivations. That matters when we talk about “reforming the church.”

The Church doesn’t have to change it’s position on homosexuality. The Church says that Sodomy is a sin as does the Bible. Homosexuals are free to live as they please, but if they sin just like fornicators and adulterers they must confess and repent their sins.

Instead of Catholicism becoming like Reformed Judaism, Jews should become Catholic. There has always been an open invitation to them since Jesus, the King of the Jews, first came into the world and founded the Catholic Church. And as a matter of fact, the Jews were the first people Jesus came for. If someone reading this is a modern Jew, just because your Jewish ancestors rejected Jesus doesn’t mean that you have to. Catholics would be happy to see you join us. Here are a couple of very helpful links for Jews who are considering becoming Catholic: Association of Hebrew Catholics and Salvation is from the Jews.

Absolutely. Tell people what they want to hear, and manipulation becomes very easy.

To paraphrase Pope Francis, the point of the Church isn’t to make us feel good or easy; it’s to challenge and unsettle us. Or, to quote Chesterton:

Flambeau: “And what is the one spiritual disease?”
Father Brown: “Oh, believing one is quite well.”

:smiley:

If such changes were to occur in the Church, it would no longer be the Church.

One should keep an open mind – but not so open that one’s brain falls out.

Great answer! Now the question is, do we want to go the way of the Episcopal Church which continues to stray further and further from the apostolic faith? Not me.

I’m not familiar with the book by Dana Kaplan but you’ve sparked my interest in reading it. Actually, the so-called new Reform Judaism is veering more toward Conservative Judaism, becoming more orthodox rather than less. Reconstructionist Judaism, on the other hand, may be called the old Reform Judaism and is largely usurping Reform Judaism’s beliefs.

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