Thursday, December 10, 2015

Speaking Of Papal Bull

Just a quick note. I ran across a story earlier today on the newswires that basically boils down to this NPR headline: Catholics Should Not Try To Convert Jews, Vatican Commission Says. Now I generally agree with that as someone who stands in fellowship with the Protestant Reformers and the Anabaptists alike who recognized that Roman Catholicism is an illegitimate form of Christianity that is at odds with the Bible on most critical issues so I don't want anyone to convert to Roman Catholcism. However the reasoning behind this declaration (you can read it here) is so out of whack and I am concerned that Christians who don't know better will read the pronouncement out of the Vatican and assume that we likewise have no need to share the Gospel and call on Jew and Gentile alike to repent and place their faith in Jesus Christ alone. The idea that Jews don't need to turn from Judaism and turn toward Jesus Christ would be completely rejected by the apostles who spent a lot of time doing precisely what the new Vatican document explicitly says they should not do. For example look at this lengthy speech from Paul:
Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it." So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: "Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, 'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.' Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.' "Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, "'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.' And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, "'I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.' Therefore he says also in another psalm, "'You will not let your Holy One see corruption.' For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: "'Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'" As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. (Acts 13:13-43)
I won't take the space to comment at length through this passage but the gist is this. Paul went to a synagogue of the Jews on a Sabbath and told them that only through Jesus could their sins be forgiven. He is preaching that the Jews must convert or perish like anyone else who does not believe in Christ. Keep in mind that Paul was a most zealous Jew before his Damascus road conversion (acts 22:3). This is not unusual or an aberration. Much of the New Testament consists of apostles preaching the need to convert to the Jews. Clearly this document proves without a shadow of doubt that Rome is either clueless or willfully deceptive on the matter of salvation. Not just that but also on the difference between the Old and New Covenant. For example, emphasis mine:
The fourth section focuses on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments and between Old and New Testament. "For the fact that the Old Testament is an integral part of the one Christian Bible, there is a deeply rooted sense of belonging and an intrinsic link between Judaism and Christianity" (n. 28). Certainly, Christians interpret the Old Testament Scriptures differently than the Jews, since the event of Christ is for them a new interpretation key to understanding them. Augustine summarized it this way: "The Old Testament is shown in the New and the New is hidden in." And Pope Gregory the Great defines the Old Testament "prophecy of the New" (cfr. N. 29). Christians basically start from the premise that the arrival of Jesus Christ as the Messiah was already contained in the Old Testament prophecies. In light of this "concord testamentorum" or dell'imprescindibile concord between the two Testaments, it also includes the very special relationship between the Old and New Testament: "The Covenant offered by God to Israel is irrevocable ... The New Covenant does not revocation previous alliances, but brings to completion ... For Christians, the New Covenant in Christ is the culmination of the promises of salvation of the Old Covenant and, to that extent, it is never independent of it. The New Covenant has the basis and foundation for the Old, since he is the God of Israel that tightens the Old Covenant with the people of Israel and makes possible the new covenant in Jesus Christ "(n. 27). It must therefore be borne in mind that there can only be one story of the covenant between God and his people, and God has always renewed his covenant with his people Israel. This framework also enrolled the New Covenant, although it is put in a special relationship with the former: "The New Covenant, for Christians, is neither cancellation nor a replacement, but the fulfillment of the promises of the Alliance "(n. 32).
The error here is obvious to anyone familiar with the New Covenant and especially the writings of the book of Hebrews. The Old Covenant was conditional, if the Jews obeyed it God would bless them. If they did not, He would of course not bless them. We know how that worked out and why the failure to keep their end of the covenant is why there is a new covenant in the first place. Hebrews stands in direct opposition to this notion, particularly in chapter 8:
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain." But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:1-13)
The Old Covenant is obsolete. It is ready to vanish away. It is no longer a valid covenant and indeed has been replaced by an infinitely better covenant. This is basic theology 101 but I am afraid that very few Christians understand this or even realize that it is important. I doubt many would read these words from Rome and realize anything was wrong with it. It is important and in fact is one of the foundation stones that the entire Gospel and Kingdom is built upon. Without a New Covenant there is no once for all forgiveness of sins and we are back to the system of temple worship, the killing of animals and the segregated priesthood (and I am certain there is a connection between this rejection of the New Covenant and the entire Roman priesthood and especially the Papacy). 

Do not be fooled by the flowery words of this declaration out of Rome. The Jew is as in need of Jesus Christ as is the Muslim or the Mormon or the Hindu. We need to grab hold of the New Covenant. We need to be teaching about it all the time and holding fast to the perfect promises it provides. We must call out those who provide a way into the Kingdom that doesn't include being born again. The declaration out of Rome today is blatant, damnable heresy. That may be un-PC to say but the souls of millions are at stake. 

1 comment:

Aussie John said...


" The declaration out of Rome today is blatant, damnable heresy" Succinct and spot on!