Friday, April 06, 2007
IS RECONCILIATION A POSSIBILITY ?
Much has been made since Vatican II of the effort to reconcile the Roman Catholic faith with the Jewish and Islamic faiths. And well it might be given that we all share some significant beliefs.
That effort has caused its own problems within Roman Catholicism. I'm thinking here specifically of "Reflections on Covenant and Mission" and the retort to the contentions of that document contained in "Dominus Iesus". How can we be what we claim--a faith based in Tradition--while at the same time reversing the 2000 year teaching of Roman Catholicism? That is a task that no leadership has been able to accomplish so far, and the attempts are causing serious divisions within the Church.
The task would be more easily accomplished if we were clear about what we are trying to reconcile. In looking at Judaism, I am coming to the conclusion that we are not clear at all.
From the Catholic perspective, Judaism is Biblical, is based on what we find in our own Old Testament, is in unity with Catholicism up to the birth of Christ after which it diverges. What I seem to be finding within Judaism, however, is that this is not the case. Our cosmology diverges significantly within some segments of Judaism, though apparently not within all segments; and defining which segments are in unity with Catholic cosmology and which segments have a significantly different cosmology is complicated by the desire to hide or gloss over that fact contained within some sectors of the Jewish community.
Perhaps I am wrong, but that is the conclusion I have come to as of today. Where do we go from here?
An interesting article appeared in The Jewish Press a couple of days ago. The article poses the question "Liberal or Biblical Christians?" and proceeds to ask whether Judaism has been well-served by its alignment with liberal Christianity, while suggesting that an alignment with Biblical Christianity would better serve the Jewish community. Well, yes and no. The answer would depend upon which portion of the Jewish community is answering the question.
Certainly liberal, or esoteric, or Kabbalistic Judaism is much better served by liberal Christianity. Theosophy, which is the heart of liberal Christianity (the Liberal Catholic Church) is a restatement of the doctrines of the Kabbalah. I could even go so far as to say that it is Kabbalistic Judaism, though I am sure that will offend some here who strongly disagree. I am also persuaded that Kabblistic Judaism is at the center of New Age. So it is highly unlikely that Roman Catholics can find common ground with Kabbalistic Judaism and still remain faithful to Roman Catholicism as we know it.
At the same time it is not difficult to understand, while thinking from this perspective, the evidence of New Age that is found all over Roman Catholicism. While popes have promoted interreligious dialogue with Judaism, seeing our common Old Testament, other Roman Catholic dialoguers have found the Kabbalah and embraced it, believing they were doing what the popes have requested, and becoming New Agers in the process.
Can this be sorted out into something with which we can proceed? Today I have some serious doubts that it can. In fact today my view of American Catholicism is that it is little more than a burned out shell, set on fire by the priestly sexual abuse scandal, laid on the tinder of 40 years of heretical teachings within.
There are a few Roman Catholic lights in the priesthood who stand out, but these few are faced with the task of balancing the heavy weight of heresy and its promoters on the opposite side of the scale. I am not hopeful that Roman Catholicism in America can recover within my lifetime. While there is no doubt that the Church will exist until Christ returns, there is also ample evidence down through history of nations that have abandoned it and have fought against it. I believe that is where America stands in 2007--a nation opposed to the Roman Catholic Church, with the fiercest opposition coming from within the Church itself.