Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why the Jews Are Not the Enemies of the Church

John Lamont, "Why the Jews Are Not the Enemies of the Church" (Homiletic & Pastoral Review, March 6, 2014):
It is not true, in any sense, that the Jews are the enemies of the Church, and the characterization of them as enemies ... (is) unjust. It is worthwhile explaining why this is so, because (it was) once widely held, and is still found in some circles....

In a recent talk in Canada, Bishop Bernard Fellay, a member of The Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX), stirred controversy by remarking that the Second Vatican Council was looked on favorably by the Jews, Freemasons, and Modernists, who are all enemies of the Church, and that this was a reason for objecting to the council itself. One should not read too much into Bishop Fellay’s remark itself, since it was a brief aside, and since he has never in the past expressed anything more than the basic Christian claims about Jews. The remark should, nonetheless, not have been made, and should now be corrected. It is not true, in any sense, that the Jews are the enemies of the Church, and the characterization of them as enemies is thus unjust. It is worthwhile explaining why this is so, because the belief that the Jews are enemies of Catholics was once widely held, and is still found in some circles. Priests will thus find it helpful to have a fairly comprehensive account of why the belief is wrong.

To show that the Jews are not the enemies of the Church requires an examination that addresses all the principal attacks on Jews that arise in discussion of this question.

One such attack maintains that the Jews are enemies of the Church in virtue of their religious beliefs. The religious beliefs in question are those of Rabbinic Judaism, which has been the dominant form of Jewish religious belief for the past two millennia. Rabbinic Judaism developed as a result of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which removed the center of Jewish religious life. Some replacement for the Temple was required if Jewish religious existence was to continue. In the century or so after the destruction of the Temple, the study and observance of the Jewish Law was developed as this replacement.

The fundamental idea of the new structure of Jewish religion was that, in addition to the written law in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament or the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), Moses received an unwritten law from God on Mt. Sinai, which was passed down by word of mouth through a succession of rabbis. This unwritten law was then supposed to have been committed to writing in the Mishnah—the collection of rabbinic traditions which supplements and systematizes the commandments of the Torah—which was completed around 200 A.D. The Mishnah contains laws on agriculture, festivals, marriage, civil and criminal law, ritual laws, and purifications. It is essentially an attempt to record and perpetuate the religious and legal views held by the scribes and Pharisees prior to the destruction of the Temple, together with inevitable covert extensions of these views. The difficulties of the Mishnah led to the composition of an authoritative commentary on it, the Gemara, completed in the 5th century, which exists in both Palestinian and Babylonian versions. The Mishnah and Gemara together make up the Talmud; the Babylonian version is the one generally used.

The reason why Rabbinic Jews are not enemies of the Church can be put briefly. Such Jews do not seek to convert Christians to Judaism, or to prevent non-Jewish Christians from exercising their faith. They only refuse to become Christians themselves, which does not suffice to make them “enemies” of the Church.

This can be seen by contrasting Rabbinic Jews with Muslims. It is a tenet of Islam that Christianity has been replaced by the message of Mohammed, and that Christians should convert to Islam. It is a duty for Muslims to impose sharia law on the whole of humanity, by force if necessary. (Sharia law, according to Muslims, is a moral code and religious law.) This law systematically discriminates against Christians in a way that is designed to induce them to convert to Islam. This Muslim position does constitute Muslims as “enemies” of the Church, because it commits them to actively working for the destruction of Christianity. This purpose of destruction is what constitutes being an enemy, and it is not present among Rabbinic Jews.

Although this brief explanation suffices to prove its conclusion, it is helpful to expand on it by addressing in detail the various arguments that have been offered for the Jews being the enemies of the Church. The principal arguments are the following.
Lamont takes up the following arguments:
  1. The Scriptures state that the Jews are enemies of the Church.
  2. “The denial of the divinity, and the Messianic status, of Christ is the central idea of Rabbinic Judaism. Since Rabbinic Jews work to deny the divinity of Christ, they work to destroy the Catholic Church, which manifests his divinity.”
  3. “Rabbinic Judaism is not the religion of the Jews of the Old Testament, but is, instead, a new religion that is based on hostility to Christ.”
  4. “The Talmud permits Jews to behave immorally towards Gentiles.”
  5. “Because Rabbinic Jews deny the doctrine of the Trinity, they do not believe in the same God as the Christians.”
  6. “The Talmud is an evil, anti-Christian work.”
Lamont also consideres the different contemporary Jewish groups that are significant for the Church, including:
  1. Believing and practising Rabbinic Jews.
  2. Secular Jews.
  3. Conservative Jews.
  4. The state of Israel.
  5. Jewish organizations involved in relations with the Holy See.
After a detailed discussion of these, Lamont concludes:
Accurate knowledge of the main contemporary Jewish groups ... reveals that it is wrong to describe the Jews as enemies of the Church. That does not mean that there are no Jewish enemies of the Church; to deny that this is the case would be absurd—it would mean that Trotsky or Freud, for example, were not hostile to the Catholic faith. But it does mean that it is false and unjust to describe the Jewish people, or Jewish religious believers, as enemies of the Catholic Church.


Pertinacious Papist said...

I wonder what E. Michael Jones will think of this.

Unknown said...

The Jews still consider themselves 'the Chosen' people of God. They once were, but, the moment when Christ died on the Cross, all of that ended. We can't call them 'separated brethren' as we call protestants. They need to come into the fold of the Catholic Church. They tolerate us, but they need to become one of us.

Christopher Blosser said...

"I wonder what E. Michael Jones will think of this."

What is there to wonder?

Pertinacious Papist said...


John 14:6 and Church teaching are sufficiently clear on that point, but I think Mr. Lamont's point is that there is no more reason to consider them "enemies of the Church," than, say, the Chinese or Germans.

That said, as Mr. Lamont suggests, there are reasons for considering some Jews hostile to Catholicism (he mentions Trotsky and Freud, but you can think of many others). But then, there are self-described Catholics who are probably just as (if not more) hostile, like some of the Call to Action crowd, and many others we could both name.


I've been reading Jones' "Culture Wars" for a few months, and he's a very strange bird. Very bright and widely read, with peculiar hobby horses. There does seem to be a very anti-Jewish sentiment running through his writings, which I find distasteful. But when he addresses the charge directly, one can see that the issue isn't race but revolutionary political positions, with which he links Jews, like Soros.

Anyway, that's another conversation. I was glad to see this piece by my friend, John Lamont.

John Lamont said...

Thanks for linking to my article. I cannot agree that E. Michael Jones is opposed not to Jews as such but to revolutionary political positions. The fact that he does attack Jews on racial grounds along the lines of Hitler does not mean that he is not an anti-Semite, because such grounds are not the only basis for anti-Semitism; if they were, there would have been no such things as anti-Semitism (in the sense of unjust and unreasonable hatred of Jews) before the 19th century, which is when racial anti-Semitism began. Jones is an anti-Semite because he attacks Jews on the basis of false and calumnious descriptions of their religious beliefs, and the even more false and calumnious accusation that Jews are religiously connected to a revolutionary attack on truth and the health of society. He exhibits all the characteristics and techniques of hate-filled conspiracy theorists.

RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Lamont sets the bar for qualifying as an enemy of the HMC way too high. 'Whoever is not for me is against me,' our blessed Lord said. (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23) By that standard, the faithful should warily regard ALL non-Catholics. Whether they threaten us with violence or not, they oppose in some way, shape, or form the Gospel. There are moreover all sorts of psychological means by which one can hinder evangelization or encourage apostasy, greater threats to our efforts at saving the souls for which our Lords 'thirsts' for being insidious than the Mohammedans' open hostility. The Good Friday liturgy's former reference to 'perfidious Jews' used to reflect this spiritual fact, the recognition of which is not only consistent with Christ's admonition to 'Love one's enemies,' but its presupposition.

Anonymous said...

"He exhibits all the characteristics and techniques of hate-filled conspiracy theorists."

"Conspiracy theorist" is an ideological, sophistical weapon used to subvert all narratives that challenge the irrational, fact-eschewing official conspiracy scripts put out by political and media authorities. The fact that Lamont would use this term is telling about intellectual integrity.