The church the fulfillment of Judaism?

Hello
On a previous post someone said
“Catholicism, properly understood, is a fulfillment of Judaism.”

What does the church mean by this?

I would say Jesus is the fulfillment of Judaism because:

  1. He is the messiah of Judaism who was an observant Jew, spoke in a Jewish context and preached primarily to the Jews.
  2. Jesus’ teachings are on a reform of Torah observance emphasizing compassion over legalism, inclusion over purity and critiquing hypocrisy and idolatry. But not abolishing Torah observance.
  3. Jesus sees himself as a atoning sacrifice using parallels of the sacrificial system.

The wider Christian church in contrast (some far worse than others) is throughly gentile and has abandoned the roots of Judaism. Protestantism in general teaches cheap grace or easy justification and looses the value of observing the law. I do believe we are saved (from hell after death) by God alone. But what of sanctification?
The Catholic Church is much stronger in this regard in taking seriously the call to moral and devotional obedience. They uplift saints as examples of a holy life, foster prayer centered rule of life and recognize the role of disciplines prayer as a service of the church to the world, they don’t dismiss sin and transgressions and sweep them under the rug.
So if any church were to fulfill Judiasm it would certainty not be the evangelicals nor the mainline Protestants.

Another thing you all can help me with is clarifying what true “Judiasm” should be? It’s not the historical sacrificial system of the 2nd temple. That was corrupt and it’s gone anyways. It’s not the modern Rabbinical system of either Reform which maintains the customs but removes the authority of observance and it’s not Orthodox which follow the legal opinions of man (The Rabbis, the Talmud) as if they were God’s commands. Rabbinical Judaism of course reject Jesus but they have more progress towards his teachings on compassion but they aren’t there yet. Jesus would still have a lot to criticize.
I think we are called to Jesus’ Judiasm but that seems to have disappeared as an institution. Clearly we are called to follow the God of Israel though, so how do we follow that call?

Any help? Thanks -Fred

Judaism does not believe that the Messiah or anyone else is a fulfillment of the religion. Indeed there is no fulfillment of Judaism and there is no such thing as “Jesus’ Judaism.” If anything, when the Messiah comes, according to the Jewish way of thinking, the study of Torah will be intensified, not fulfilled. This renewal of Torah study is the manner in which Jews interpret the “New Covenant.” That is, the Mosaic Covenant, which is everlasting, will be RENEWED during the Messianic era by the Messiah. This is also the teaching of so-called Nazarene Jews, who believe Jesus to be the Messiah but do not believe He is (the Son of) G-d.

Another important point is that the Torah Law is not merely a collection of legalistic rituals, but instead, within and beyond the ritualistic observances, the Law contains essential moral principles for ALL humanity, not only the Jews. The details of the Ten Commandments are specified within the Five Books of the Torah, and, as we know, G-d is in the details.

I wonder how this thread ‘fits’ the Sacred Scripture forum?

I always appreciate reading your comments. I have learned much about Judaism from your posts,

Mary.

Meltzerboy,

Thanks for the response. Do you mind I send you a private message? I really don’t want to discuss my reasons for accepting Jesus as the messiah here. I was taking it as a given assumption of the discussion.

I also feel really bad about the label “messanic Jew” when see by an actual Jew. I want to apologize in public for the so called messanic Jews that either use pseudo-Judiasm as a front for conversion (the Jews for Jesus folks) or those that steal Jewish traditions out of context and without proper respect; Evangelicals who have taken a class I Hebrew. I hope you can help me find a more authentic and respectful way to present my perspective.

Shalom -Fred

Sure you can PM me, Fred, and we can talk more. Your perspective is your perspective, and you are entitled to it. There is no need to apologize; and I know the label “Messianic Jew” carries with it a variety of beliefs. I am simply presenting the more mainstream Jewish perspective on the issue.

Yes. But He also showed that God had established Israel for a message that transcended the Jewish people - it was universal for all. So the children of Abraham are a spiritual lineage, not merely physical.

  1. Jesus’ teachings are on a reform of Torah observance emphasizing compassion over legalism, inclusion over purity and critiquing hypocrisy and idolatry. But not abolishing Torah observance.

Yes to the first sentence. On the second, Jesus teaches and the core/root of the Torah which the natural moral law. Various practices He taught were given by God for a time. To build the people, bind them together, prove and discipline them. This was done through the centuries to preserve God’s message to Abraham and to await a spiritual growth and evolution (so to speak) in readiness for the teachings of Jesus to come into the world. The Catholic Church does preserve many of the same (feast days, fast days, sacred music, vestments, incense, candles, iconography as with the cherubim on the arc, liturgical prayer of the psalms – much more). The apostles prayed in the temple and synagogues and much of Catholic practice simply evolved from that.

  1. Jesus sees himself as a atoning sacrifice using parallels of the sacrificial system.

Yes, and with this the Temple sacrifices ended. The blood of animals no longer had atoning power once the blood of Jesus was offered (and is still offered perpetually in the Catholic sacrifice of the Mass).

The wider Christian church in contrast (some far worse than others) is throughly gentile and has abandoned the roots of Judaism. Protestantism in general teaches cheap grace or easy justification and looses the value of observing the law. I do believe we are saved (from hell after death) by God alone. But what of sanctification?
The Catholic Church is much stronger in this regard in taking seriously the call to moral and devotional obedience. They uplift saints as examples of a holy life, foster prayer centered rule of life and recognize the role of disciplines prayer as a service of the church to the world, they don’t dismiss sin and transgressions and sweep them under the rug.
So if any church were to fulfill Judiasm it would certainty not be the evangelicals nor the mainline Protestants.

I think you’re right here. Protestantism actually cut itself off from Christian and therefore Jewish roots and created a simplified version of the faith. Catholicism preserves the historical roots that Jesus taught – all of the first Christian churches were started by Jewish-Christian apostles and there was even controversies about how much of Torah observance was required. St. Peter had a divine revelation teaching about the lifting of prohibitions of certain foods. With Jesus, God ushered in a time of greater mercy, grace and freedom – after (what we might think of) as centuries of penitential life under the Torah ritual.

Another thing you all can help me with is clarifying what true “Judiasm” should be? It’s not the historical sacrificial system of the 2nd temple. That was corrupt and it’s gone anyways. It’s not the modern Rabbinical system of either Reform which maintains the customs but removes the authority of observance and it’s not Orthodox which follow the legal opinions of man (The Rabbis, the Talmud) as if they were God’s commands. Rabbinical Judaism of course reject Jesus but they have more progress towards his teachings on compassion but they aren’t there yet. Jesus would still have a lot to criticize.
I think we are called to Jesus’ Judiasm but that seems to have disappeared as an institution. Clearly we are called to follow the God of Israel though, so how do we follow that call?

I think you’ve offered a very significant problem here with excellent insights into the various factors. It really does work exactly as you pointed out.

Roy Schoeman salvationisfromthejews.com/ and the Association of Hebrew Catholics (they work together and independently) are two tremendous resources you can reach out to for more information. They have superb knowledge. The history of Jewish-convert Catholics is fascinating and filled with remarkable, saintly people who everybody really should know more about.

But as for true Judaism, the Catholic Faith has understood itself as the New Israel or the New Jerusalem. We are all Jews in a sense, and yet as St. Paul teaches, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

1 Like

A couple of other points, Fred. One is that the Talmud is the codified Oral Law, which is believed by some Jews (especially the Orthodox) to have been given to Moses together with the Torah (Written Law). The rabbis subsequently interpreted some of its teaching to apply it to modern times; however, all of these additions MUST conform to written Torah teaching.

Another important point is that animal blood sacrifices of the Temple were NEVER considered the most important form of atonement in Judaism. Rather, prayer and good deeds (alms-giving, for example) were much preferred even in those times. Moreover, blood atonement was only used (with one exception) for unintentional sins, not for intentional sins.

Right, I know that the litmus tear for any prophet/messiah is that they can’t contradict the written Torah. Jesus sure does things (healing on the sabbath, skipping ritual hand washing, and symbolically drinking blood) that on the surface appear to contradict the Torah and he does this on purpose. I’m surprised none of his disciples walk out during the last supper! Of course, if we believe he is the messiah, there is a deeper reason behind these apparent contradictions. Sure makes it tough question to wrestle with.

You make a good point about sacrifices though. I just finished rereading Leviticus. Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for all sin is a big stretch. He does set this up in his teachings, but you’re right that sacrifices are not the main means of atonement. Rather it is repentance and repaying 120% or 700% (depending) and reforming your ways. That’s why “the law only serves to condemn” thinking is non-sense. Would G-d damn generations of His faithful people, observant of His Laws, so that a bunch of evangelicals can feel holy and “justified” after one bible study? Absolutely not! Rather it is G-d alone who saves and He doesn’t confide in us on His methods. Rather we are to have faith and obey his commandments. Bonhoeffer is awsome here. Obeying without faith is empty legalism, faith without obeying is not faith at all.

Jesus did speak about the event in 1 Sam 21:6 where David and his men ate the bread of the temple. He also said to judge Him by His works. It was a message that transcended the legal restrictions and that was part of the message itself. I think the earliest Jewish-Christian disciples could see that there was a higher law, and that “no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him”.
That was the challenge that Jesus offered the Jewish teachers. Basically:
“You see me doing things that surpass anything that the prophets did. But your first response is to question me about precepts of the law.” You mentioned one such, “healing on the sabbath”. For a non-Jew like myself, it’s strange and Jesus points to the absurdity. On a day set apart for God, it was illegal to heal a person. But beyond that, Jesus’ healing was not what a doctor would do, but just communicating the power of grace. But then to see this as a violation of the Torah, is as Jesus says, putting the focus on the the wrong thing. His remark in Luke 14 “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” is similar. He was pointing to the necessary double-standards that come from a life regulated by laws. Necessary because it is not possible to have laws which can resolve all of the conflicting situations of life.

That’s why “the law only serves to condemn” thinking is non-sense. Would G-d damn generations of His faithful people, observant of His Laws,

I think the point is that the “law condemns” because nobody can be fully observant of it (at least with regards to the Talmud). And perhaps that idea is that the law was meant to humble people and show that we fall short of perfect observance. Jesus pointed out that when a person feels that since he does observe the law perfectlyl (if it was possible), this is not necessarily an indication of righteousness.

so that a bunch of evangelicals can feel holy and “justified” after one bible study?

The evangelical approach is an extreme reaction to what was perceived as the legalisms of Catholicism. Stripping away all of the external observances of Catholicism left them with just a single prayer of belief (acknowledging Jesus as personal savior) and then the doctrine of once-saved-always-saved which removed any need for atonement or even recognition of sin, which is the idea of predestination taken to an extreme.

Bonhoeffer is awsome here. Obeying without faith is empty legalism, faith without obeying is not faith at all.

That’s the perennial Catholic teaching (from St. James and St. Paul) - faith without works is dead. (This is why Luther wanted to get rid of the book of James). And works absent faith are useless.

1 Like

Just getting back to your original question:

Yes. Judiasm is a faith that originated from God and was directed by God all along its path. The people of Israel would not simply create their own laws or future plans. They looked to prophets to teach and lead with revelations. If no prophet arose, they had to wait. So, even rebuilding the temple would require some divine command to do so, and some prophet to validate what God’s plan was.

It’s not the modern Rabbinical system of either Reform which maintains the customs but removes the authority of observance and it’s not Orthodox which follow the legal opinions of man (The Rabbis, the Talmud) as if they were God’s commands.

As you say, Reform seems to have adopted some of Jesus’ approaches and teachings, without recognizing His authority. It is very significant to see how observances are dropped or made optional, more as a cultural aspect than required by faith. This is a slippery slope for people who eventually abandon the faith entirely.

The Orthodox, however, I think would say they are your answer to what True Judiasm is. But it’s a similar problem as the Rabinnical system where there really is no divine mandate for their authority and no sense of movement or progress towards a future state (which would need to be given by a prophet).

I think we are called to Jesus’ Judiasm but that seems to have disappeared as an institution. Clearly we are called to follow the God of Israel though, so how do we follow that call?

Any help? Thanks -Fred

This is something the apostles struggled with and there is the famous conflict between Sts. Peter and Paul over ritual observance and circumcision and association with Gentiles.
This recent thread here on CAF discusses St. Paul’s seeming internal-conflict on this where he wanted to show that he was totally observant to the Torah but that is hard to reconcile with his teachings:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=14737052#post14737052

From the Catholic perspective, we believe that Jesus founded one, visible Church with divine authority to teach (via Pope and Magisterium). Believing in Jesus (for us) is believing in His Church as authoritative in His name.

When people say that Jesus fulfilled Judaism, it’s not meant that he brought it to a stopping point. It sees the old Jewish law as a stepping stone in man’s spiritual development, as not the end in itself but as something directed towards bringing man to a greater end. That it was given to man in its childhood to help prepare it for adulthood, so to speak. So when people do say that Jesus fulfilled the law, it’s meant that he brought about its purpose, what it was really meant for. The Law in itself didn’t go away, it was internalized.

It’s kind of like how a child might not be ready to understand the full complexity of a situation, so you give him a simplified explanation when he’s young to ingrain in him certain understandings and practices that will prepare him for the full truth later. Not as a matter of misleading the child, but because he wasn’t at the time capable of truly understanding earlier. In a sense, the idea of ritual purity and impurity was to help mankind understand true spiritual impurity, that nothing that goes into a man makes him unclean, but only what is inside can make you unclean. (This is certainly not a total summary, just a quick, simplified example. I also don’t mean to imply that Judaism is only about rituals and had no sense of a broader context and internalization of those laws, either. And certainly, men developed much between the giving of the Law at Sinai down to the Exile and beyond. This is just a quick bullet point).

The Church, in a way still has its Torah. But it’s not scripture by itself, or simply a set of laws. It’s the Logos, the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ, who all of the old laws prepared the Jewish people to accept. And it’s not just about the man, but about following him in the way we live our lives: the internalization of the law, the picking up of our own crosses and following him.

The Church is the new kingdom of Israel restablished. It is the Body of Christ. It’s teachings, which are “do whatever he (Jesus) tells you,” and its guidance on those teachings, is part of the fulfilled law that Christians follow.

With regard to what you wrote, I have three points concerning the Law. One is that the meaning of certain verses in the Torah is so challenging–based as they are on the context of the surrounding verses in the particular book, its language and style of writing, and the practices of ancient culture–that pious Jews, rabbis, and Hebrew scholars can and do literally spend their whole lives trying to understand their meaning or multiple meanings, with the aid of the Oral Law (Talmud) and sometimes the writings of the Kabbalah. And even then, divergent views sometimes emerge. To me, this kind of complex writing does not seem to be something that G-d gave to Moses and the Jewish people during the latter’s “childhood” period of development.

The second point, which is related to the first, is that Hebrew scholars generally acknowledge that tricky passages in the Hebrew Scriptures usually have both surface and profound meanings. I would add that even less tricky passages can be interpreted on at least two levels, if not more.

Finally, G-d repeatedly proclaims throughout the Law that His commandments are not subject to time but rather are eternal and should be maintained by the people from generation to generation unto eternity. How can such quite definitive language on the part of G-d Himself be regarded as a temporary developmental stage which will evolve into something fuller later on, unless G-d was deceiving us or just joking?

Just wondering what your perspective is from: Conservative, Reform, Orthodox?
Thanks

In the Catholic view, some of this is explained through a distinction between eternal commandments and those that were meant for a time.
The unchangeable, eternal commands would be the 10 Commandments and as Jesus taught, “the two great commandments” - love of God and love of neighbor.
Jesus also pointed to the conflict between Deuteronomy 24’s teaching permitting divorce and the teaching in Genesis on what God has joined. We might look at how God forbade the Israelites from having a king and then later permitting.

Is God deceiving or joking? Well, Jeremiah thought that (Jer 20:7) at least momentarily but some of what might seem to be clear and definitive can be interpreted from different perspectives. God writes straight with crooked lines.
Was God lying when he told Abraham that he wanted Isaac to be sacrificed?
It’s a challenge for all of us when discerning God’s will.
But our task is to use both the external word (which is limited to human interpretation) and the inner conscience that God speaks to.
It may seem that God is saying “go over to that mountain”, meaning “ok, he wants us at the mountain”. But then when we get there He says “now turn left and go to that village”. We might get a little upset about that. “Hey, why didn’t you say that the first time”?

But part is the adventure and risks of Faith.

Catholics suffer from a lack of this quite often since our ritual and legal lives are fairly well structured and you can “play it safe” just staying with the boundaries. That can be fine to an extent but it can also be cowardice and lack of faith.

God sometimes stretches us, beyond what seems prudent or reasonable (Abraham’s sacrifice again) and that can be frightening because we find (a very reasonable) safety and comfort within the law.

I’m a mixed breed, a mongrel, so to speak LOL. When a child, I was raised in a Conservative home and attended an Orthodox synagogue. Today I identify as a Reform Jew with Conservative leanings.

:thumbsup:

Agreed! If sacrifices are not the main means of atonement then why would we need an atoning sacrifice for all sin?

One important aspect of Christ’s sacrifice was his total giving of self in love of God and man, even though he had no need to do this. In that way it serves as a model for all, but it also is redeeming in how it differed from Adam’s sin of personal pride. In Adam, man disobeyed to try to become gods. In Christ, the God humbled Himself to man to redeem man, and the God-man gave up all pride to unite men to God.

And while animal sacrifices were not the be all, end all in Jewish understanding, and it would be crude to reduce them to that, they aren’t to be swept under the rug, either. And neither is Christ’s sacrifice just a bloody sacrifice that allows us to all walk free. It’s by conforming ourselves to Christ, of repenting our sins, of ibedience to God’s will, of enduring our personal sufferings and offering them up to God that we are saved. So yes, Christ’s offering was a true sacrifice, and there is atonement in that itself, but it’s more than that.

outreachjudaism.org/original-sin

outreachjudaism.org/jesus-death-atone-for-sin

I’m aware of these perspectives. That does not make them right, or change the fact that, especially in the one if sacrifice, it’s attacking a strawman, or at least, a non-Catholic conception.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.