Enter your email address to receive updates by email:

subscribe in a reader like my facebook page follow me on twitter Image Map
Podcast Message Line: 512-222-3389
Logos Catholic Bible Software

« New Galactica Tonight | Main | Limbo In Limbo? »

October 09, 2006

Comments

Seamus

Isn't there a . . . problem, in that some of the Muslims who do show up at dialogue meetings aren't representative of mainstream Islam?

Yes, that can be a problem.

In fact, it's a recurrent problem with almost all ecumenical dialogue. The people who are most likely to sign up for such projects (often on the Catholic side, too) are the ones who are most motivated to paper over the differences between religions.

A classic example was the outpout of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC); if you read their documents, you'd be tempted to think that all the big issues had been worked out, and that there no longer was any meaningful difference between Anglicanism and Catholicism. Unfortunately, it turned out that those working on the documents weren't really very representative of the true positions of either communion.

Seamus

italics off

(The should have turned off after the second paragraph above.)

Jeb Protestant

I've never quite understood the need for all this dialogue.

First, as Cardinal Dulles points out, the representatives tend to be rather liberal. If you look at the Jews are involved in dialogue -- the ADL and World Jewish Congress are big players -- few of them can be considered believers in any traditional form of Judaism.

Second, the claim that we need more "understanding among religions" strikes me as misplaced. For example, to the extent that Christians don't understand Muhammadanism, all one has to do is read the Koran and a few representative books. If you do that you will probably have a greater knowledge of Islam than the average Muhammadan. And how will religious conflict stop if we better understand Islam?

Third, do non-believers really want to "dialogue"? Much of the concern of Jews has been the recognition of Israel and an agreement not to try to convert Jews to Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church has pretty much agreed not to prostyletize Jews and the US Bishops a few years ago came with their notorius "Reflections" document which put Judaism on an equal (if not superior) level with Christianity. No doubt this the goal of Muhammadans.

DJ

Jeb: Your right in one sense. God will do what God will do in his own time. But until then, I don't think its wise for us to do nothing. I don't think you'll disagree that God tends to bring fruit regardless of our intentions and choices.

SDG

the US Bishops a few years ago came with their notorius "Reflections" document which put Judaism on an equal (if not superior) level with Christianity.

Jeb, are you really unaware that "the US Bishops" did no such thing, or are you just being divisive?

As I recall, our last discussion ended with you claiming Spong as as an example of those who "claim to support the Trinity," and dismissing me as "incorrect" for saying otherwise, when in fact your own source showed that I was right and you were wrong.

Please make a greater effort to treat the facts responsibly, instead of forcing them to support your preconceived opinions.

Jeb Protestant

SDG,

I am well aware that 2002's Reflection on Covenant and Mission was not an official document of the US Bishops (as a whole). However, it was issued by "The Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs." This is an official group of the USCCB, headed at the time by Cardinal Keeler.

And the document does put Judaism on the same level of Christianity:

"According to Roman Catholic teaching, both the Church and the Jewish people abide in covenant with God. We both therefore have missions before God to undertake in the world. The Church believes that the mission of the Jewish people is not restricted to their historical role as the people of whom Jesus was born "according to the flesh" (Rom 9:5) and from whom the Church’s apostles came. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger recently wrote, "God’s providence … has obviously given Israel a particular mission in this ‘time of the Gentiles.’"23 However, only the Jewish people themselves can articulate their mission "in the light of their own religious experience.""

"Rabbinic Judaism, which developed after the destruction of the Temple, must also be 'of God.'"


Certainly the document didn't say anything that Eugene Fisher hasn't been saying for years. Here are a couple advisors to this group who assert that Paul and the author Hebrews were made theological errors --

http://www.americamagazine.org/gettext.cfm?textID=2545&articleTypeID=1&issueID=408

SDG

I am well aware that 2002's Reflection on Covenant and Mission was not an official document of the US Bishops (as a whole). However, it was issued by "The Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs." This is an official group of the USCCB, headed at the time by Cardinal Keeler.

Not so.

As Cardinal Dulles clarifies, "Contrary to the initial report issued by the U.S.C.C.B. Communications Office, the statement did not come from the conference or any of its committees. It arose out of a consultation between scholars named by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the National Council of Synagogues. Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore, the Catholic co-chairman of the dialogue group, explained on Aug. 16 that the document was unofficial and was published with the purpose of encouraging serious reflection on the issues in both the Catholic and Jewish communities."

So not only did "the US Bishops" not "come up" with this document -- as you originally claimed -- but your modified claim that the document was "issued by the Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, an official group of the USCCB" is also incorrect.

You also imply wrongly, by acknowledging that the document is "not an official document of the US Bishops (as a whole)," that it is "an official document" of some subset of the US bishops. In fact, it's not an official document -- period.

And the document does put Judaism on the same level of Christianity

That is an oversimplification.

I agree that the document is crap; or, as Cardinal Dulles more diplomatically put it, that it "does not forthrightly present what I take to be the Christian position on the meaning of Christ for Judaism."

However, the quotes you cite do not justify the interpretive statement that precedes them. It simply is not logically correct that to say "we both have missions before God" or even "only the Jewish people themselves can articulate their mission" necesariy equates Judaism and Christianity.

Not, again, that the document isn't crap, because it is. But we must be honest even when dealing with crap.

Spong's theology, for example.

Jeb Protestant

SDG,

But obviously the USCCB appointed "scholars" who represent the opinions of the bishops for this dialogue. So even if it is unofficial, it represents the views of the bishops. As I pointed out, their big spokesman for Jewish-Catholic dialogue, Eugene Fisher, has said the same things for years. And I quoted three theologians who took issue with Dulles. They are "members of the Advisory Committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations for the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs." They also claim that the teaching of Paul and Hebrews must be "set aside."

Judaism and Christianity are certainly equated in this document. Take this quote from Cardinal Kasper:

"As Cardinal Kasper noted, 'God’s grace, which is the grace of Jesus Christ according to our faith, is available to all. Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, i.e. the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises.'"

So at least as far as Jews go, Judaism is salvific, just like Christianity. (Note that Kasper isn't limiting his statements to Jews who believe in Jesus.)

If I have misread this document, then even Catholic Answers has:

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0210fr.asp

Jordan Potter

Since this discussion is related somewhat to the controversy over the Pope's Regensburg lecture, I just wanted to say that the text of that lecture is now available at the Vatican website with footnotes. Regarding the controversy over his quoting Emperor Manuel II, the relevant footnotes are these:

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”[3]

[3]Controversy VII, 2 c: Khoury, pp. 142-143; Förstel, vol. I, VII. Dialog 1.5, pp. 240-241. In the Muslim world, this quotation has unfortunately been taken as an expression of my personal position, thus arousing understandable indignation. I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Qur’an, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion. In quoting the text of the Emperor Manuel II, I intended solely to draw out the essential relationship between faith and reason. On this point I am in agreement with Manuel II, but without endorsing his polemic.

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.[5]

[5] It was purely for the sake of this statement that I quoted the dialogue between Manuel and his Persian interlocutor. In this statement the theme of my subsequent reflections emerges.

SDG

But obviously the USCCB appointed "scholars" who represent the opinions of the bishops for this dialogue. So even if it is unofficial, it represents the views of the bishops.

That's crazy talk. Look at the committee of scholars appointed by Paul VI to investigate contraception. They recommended approving it.

The Church likes to hear from scholars who have all kinds of opinions, in order to be in the best position to make a definitive statement. But it is the Church that speaks authoritatively, not scholars, even scholars appointed by bishops.

Notice, BTW, how you backtrack without admitting error: First the document is "put out" by "the US Bishops"; then you admit that it is "not an official document of the US Bishops (as a whole)" (thus implying that it is an official document of a subset thereof), but was "issued by the Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs"; now you claim that it at least "represents the views of the bishops."

Jeb, you seem to want to believe the worst, to put the worst possible construction on the circumstances. I can correct your inaccurate statements one by one, but they may be only a symptom of a deeper problem.

As I pointed out, their big spokesman for Jewish-Catholic dialogue, Eugene Fisher, has said the same things for years.

You said that, yes. It might even be true.

You seem to know more about what Fisher has said than I do. Whether your assessment of Fisher is more accurate than the statements you've made that I do know something about, I can't say. Without documentation, I have no idea.

Whether the bishops are much more familiar with what Fisher is saying, and whether they agree or don't agree with his views, is yet another question I don't know the answer to. Would it be irresponsible to have a spokesman whose views you haven't paid enough attention to? Yes. Is there a difference between irresponsibility and false teaching? Yes.

And I quoted three theologians who took issue with Dulles.

No, you didn't. You pasted a link to an article (without even making it hyper). Not the same thing as providing a quote. Anyway, they're flies buzzing around an elephant.

They also claim that the teaching of Paul and Hebrews must be "set aside."

It will be a cold day in hell before the Catholic Church signs on to that view.

Judaism and Christianity are certainly equated in this document. Take this quote from Cardinal Kasper:

"As Cardinal Kasper noted, 'God’s grace, which is the grace of Jesus Christ according to our faith, is available to all. Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, i.e. the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises.'"

So at least as far as Jews go, Judaism is salvific, just like Christianity.

Saying that "as far as Jews go, Judaism is salvific, just like Christianity" may be crap, but it's not the same as equating Judaism to Christianity. Your statement is just too far-reaching to justify.

If I have misread this document, then even Catholic Answers has:

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0210fr.asp

Or else you've misread Karl's piece just like you misread the document, since as critical of the document as Karl is, I don't see that he claims that it equates Judaism and Christianity.

Jeb Protestant

Well here is Mr. Keating:

"Issued in August by the American bishops' Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Committee in cooperation with the National Council of Synagogues"

So he views it as a document of the bishops, or one of their subgroups.

Here is Keating again:

"The basic error in 'Reflections on Covenant and Mission' is this notion that the permanence of God's covenant with the Jews implies that they do not need Christ to be saved, that their covenant is sufficient and the Christian covenant superfluous-for them. From this false premise comes the conclusion that, while it is proper to evangelize people of other faiths or of no faith, Jews need not (and should not) be evangelized because they have their own path to heaven, one that does not include Christ."

Actually, my original language was that it puts "Judaism on an equal (if not superior) level with Christianity." That's true. If, as Mr. Keating says, "they have their own path" and "should not be evangelized" then clearly Judaism is just as good for them as Christianity.

A few years ago Cardinal O'Connor went on TV and said God would smile on a Catholic kid who converted to Judaism; the Bishops chief spokesman on these questions, Eugene Fisher, explicitly says that the Jews don't need to convert; Cardinal Keeler approves of this document; Kasper takes the seem position; etc. but even though bishops have this exalted authority in the Roman Catholic Church, none of this matters.

Here is the statement by three theologians (they are members of what appears to be an advisory committee to the bishops):

http://www.americamagazine.org/gettext.cfm?textID=2545&articleTypeID=1&issueID=408

"In contrast, we argue that official Catholic teaching today has, in the Biblical Commission’s 1993 formulation, 'gone its own way' and 'set aside' the opinion of the author of Hebrews about Israel’s covenant. As Reflections notes, Pope John Paul II has on many occasions declared that Jews are 'the people of God of the Old Covenant, never revoked by God,' 'the present-day people of the covenant concluded with Moses,' and 'partners in a covenant of eternal love which was never revoked.'

"The magisterium can explicitly contradict an idea of an individual New Testament author because the Catholic tradition is one of commentary, not of sola scriptura (Scripture alone). The author of Hebrews, convinced that he was living in the final stages of human history, could argue that the Old Covenant had yielded to the New. Two millennia later, however, in a church whose pope has prayed for God’s forgiveness for the sins of Christians against Jews, such an assertion is unacceptable."

And Paul apparently was mistaken about the timing of Jesus' return:

"Similarly, Paul’s words in Romans 11 cannot be actualized today without considering his conviction that Christ would quickly return to judge the living and the dead. Paul considered Jews who did not recognize Christ to be branches temporarily broken off to make room for the Gentile branches (Rom. 11:17-24). He believed these broken branches were irrevocably (11:29) destined to be regrafted because “all Israel will be saved” (11:25-26). Until that eschatological day dawned, however, Jews who did not accept Jesus’ Lordship were dead branches, detached from God’s unfolding plans."

"Paul could have imagined this temporary state of affairs in his eschatological enthusiasm. But another understanding of Judaism has developed in our time. The Vatican’s 1985 Notes speaks of 'the permanence of Israel' as 'accompanied by a continuous spiritual fecundity' over the ages."

Your appeal to Paul VI is mistaken. Paul rejected the advice that he received.

ben5

The link does not work. It goes to a typepad login screen.

Jeb Protestant

Google "boys dulles reflections covenant"

SDG

So he views it as a document of the bishops, or one of their subgroups.

Yes, Jeb, apparently Karl made a mistake on that point (although again I see you try to equivocate between "the bishops" and "one of their subgroups").

Actually, my original language was that it puts "Judaism on an equal (if not superior) level with Christianity." That's true. If, as Mr. Keating says, "they have their own path" and "should not be evangelized" then clearly Judaism is just as good for them as Christianity.

Wrong again.

From the (false) premise that Jews "have their own path" and "should not be evangelized," it does not follow that Judaism is "on an equal (if not superior) level with Christianity."

Even if God didn't want everyone to walk the same path, it would not follow that all paths are equal. In principle, it could be that God wills some to walk a greater path and others to walk a lesser path.

Not everyone is called to celibacy, but it doesn't follow that celibacy and marriage are equal. God doesn't want women to be priests, but it doesn't follow that the clerical and lay states are equal.

Here is the statement by three theologians

They're wacky, but it doesn't matter. "It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God" (Dominus Iesus). The faith of the Church will not change.

Your appeal to Paul VI is mistaken. Paul rejected the advice that he received.

DUH!! That's kind of my whole point!

You're the one who suggested that the opinions of commissioned scholars must be indicative of the opinions of the authorities who commissioned them.

I'm saying that the fact that a USCCB commission appointed certain scholars to explore a given subject doesn't establish that the opinions of the scholars mirror those of the bishops, just as the fact that Paul VI appointed certain scholars to explore the subject of contraception means that the scholars' opinions on contraception mirrored those of the pope.

No kidding, Paul VI rejected the commission's findings. And I haven't seen the USCCB, or even the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, signing off on this crapy document either. SO, just because the scholars said it, it doesn't mean the Church agrees.

Incidentally, Jeb, it begins to look more and more as if you are just incapable of admitting a mistake.

Jeb Protestant

SDG,

Based on everything I've read, I think the majority of US Catholic Bishops would be in substantial agreement with the ideas expressed in "Reflections on Covenant and Mission." Do you agree?

Martin

SDG,

Based on everything I've read, I think the majority of US Catholic Bishops would be in substantial agreement with the ideas expressed in "Reflections on Covenant and Mission." Do you agree?


I'll put words in SDG's "mouth". FIRST, you must concede the main point. You are wrong. The paper is not an official document of the USCCB or of a committee, or of a subcommittee but of a consultative body of no particular significance.

THEN you can pass on to a discussion speculating on whether the bishops would buy into it or not. But at this time you are basically blowing smoke trying to cover a misstatement.

Brother Cadfael

Based on everything I've read, I think the majority of US Catholic Bishops would be in substantial agreement with the ideas expressed in "Reflections on Covenant and Mission." Do you agree?

I believe that a majority of US Catholic Bishops would substantially disagree with the nuttiest ideas expressed in Reflections. And an even larger majority would be in substantial agreement that the remainder of the document is poorly written.

Jeb Protestant

Jordan,

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

"I hope that the reader of my text can see immediately that this sentence does not express my personal view of the Qur’an, for which I have the respect due to the holy book of a great religion."

The pope spoke the truth the first time. Islam has nothing to offer except slavery, tyranny and evil. The Koran is a false book of a false religion.

Karl

Avery Cardinal Dulles is an incredible man. He gave an excellent and profound speech at Thomas Aquinas College I think it was last year. His family story and pedigree and contribution(s) to the United States are amazing. Cardinal Dulles as a theologian is excellent.

Let me start out by stating I do recognize the inherent and historical problems of Islam. I also recognize the practical problems in this day and age especially after 9-11 and even more recent irrational and violent actions by many Muslims especially against the Pope. These historical problems go deep from the Battle of Tours to the Battle of Vienna. There is inherent violence in the origins of Islam distinguished from Christianity and the necessary link to government that is not inherently present in Christianity.

However, there are parallels and common ground and positive aspects of Islam which should be recognized and at least at times emphasized.

While there is certain, even mutually exclusive, differences theologically (The obvious and very important Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption among others)--there are also theological similarities which should be discussed.

1. The name for God in Arabic is Allah--this is the name you would hear at a Eastern Orthodox (Christian)Divine Liturgy in Syria or other country or Novus Ordo "Latin" Rite mass in an Arabic speaking country. There are obvious differences in the Islamic conception of God (Again, no Trinity, no Incarnation) but that does not mean they are worshipping a different God as God is the object of worship even if the subjective nature of those worshipping Him do not fully understand the Mystery of God.
Muslims believe in
a) One God (Monotheism), distinguished from Pagan Polytheism, and Pantheism
b) God with attributes the same as Orthodox Jews and Christianity (including Protestant Christianity) e.g. Omniprescent, Omnipotent etc
c) Even Pope John Paul II in his encyclical (while noting the lack of redemptive concept) notes that some of the most beautiful "adjectives" are in Islamic literary discreptions (like Al-Raheem), the Most Merciful, the Most Just etc.
d) The respect for the Name of God (one of the Ten Commandments) Muslims will not throw away a piece of paper with the Arabic script of Allah on it similiar to the Orthodox writing God as G-d.
e) This "Allah" is recognized as the God of Abraham obviously with the permutation (perhaps historically innaccurate but are there serious theological problems from a Christian sense?) of Abraham, Ishmael.... and not Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as said in the Judeo Christian World.
f) Similiar theological explanations of God as a non physical entity (distinguished from ancient paganism and current Mormonism)
g) God as all powerful and not a dualistic God as was present (is present as Parsee/Zoarasianism is still present although greatly diminished and obviously no longer the state religion of Persia)in Persia and Zoarastian and other Dualistic thinking prevalent in the Middle East.
h) God as a non physical entity (mentioned above and distinguished from some pagans and Mormons) but described as Male for analagous purposes and not as a Female.
i) God as a Creator is present in Islam borrowing verses from the Old Testament and having philosophical concepts from Judaism and Christianity including Creation ex nilhio (something even Aristotle did not have) as distinguished from Hinduism, Buddhism and certainly secular scientific devotees.
The above points are to demonstrate that the God of Christianity and the God of Islam are the same--clearly noting the differences in the ttwo religions, and from a Catholic perspective (which I believe to be absolute truth) the Islamic perspective is in error--but not complete error with elements of the truth. The God of Islam (understanding some difference(s) among sects) is not a pagan, polytheistic, pantheistic, feminist, overly literal physical, dualistic, or deistic God but a God similiar to the theology of Catholic Christianity.

2. The genetic (through Ishmael as son and Hagar as Mother) and spiritual fatherhood of Abraham and some (clearly flawed) concept of Covenant.

3. A belief in a Holy Book (even if not the right, true or same book) but a sense of "People of the Book" (transliterated Al-Kitabee) and a respect for the Old and New Testaments and a (again flawed) analogy to Christ as the logos (there is a concept in Islam that the Quran as "the Word" pre-existed" time and Creation clearly they erroneously equate the Logos (Christ) to the Quran (a/the Sacred text))
This also has a sense of a Phonetic alphabet (some interesting thought on ingluitinive languages and development) and a written alphabet and a sense of literacy.

4. Prayer: Many of the prayer concepts, including the bows--are borrowed from Eastern Christianity. The actual prayer (absent the part about Mohammad being the prophet and understanding that it is essential and not to sound unrealistic or trite) is theological correct God is God, God is great. The ritual purification and washing before prayer is borrowed from Jews as well as some Desert monks.
It is "Praise" to God, "Thanksgiving" to God, asking God for "Forgiveness", and supplication.
The prayer concepts are similiar.
Again there are also differences.

5. Both religions have pilgrimage (but both also have sects that disaprove the Saudi Wahabees (except for Meccas and Medinah but no honoring of tombs and saints) and the/or at least some Protestants) and honoring tombs, saints etc.

6. Giving alms to the poor (Zakat) and the Christian concept of tithing (actually Old Testament) and charity. Clearly analogous.

7. While there are contradictory, and clearly violent obvious and inherent texts of the Quran--there are also qoutes calling for tolerance, not to convert by force, and respect for Jews and Christians as people of the Book (al-Kitabee).
A Christian monk according to the Quranic hagiography supposedly saw some mark and predicted the greatness of Mohammad and this is why some (recognizing that some are brutally killing Christians in Iraq and Sudan etc) Muslims honor Christian monks to this day even though there is not a per se clerical class and not a monastic practice (although some analagous class with Sufis) The point being is that verses of mutual respect, love, tolerance, a special place for Christians and Jews can be taken and emphasized at least for the purposes of dialogue and interaction in this world.

8. An ethical system that borrows the 10 Commandments, some teachings of Jesus and has prohibitions on killing, stealing, adultery and restraints on sexuality (also understanding it is easier to divorce, there is serial polygamy and harems practiced, and the allowing of 4 wives at one time (common to the era and region)) However, the sharing of an anti secular worldview.

9. The sharing of the same "mythology(ies)" (meant in a different sense than a fake story) of Adam and Eve, Moses, Noah, Jesus and Mary.
The Honoring of Jesus, and Mary (the Shrine in Ephesus has script from the Quran in the sanctuary and has Muslim pilgrims honoring Mary)
Jesus actually has a higher place of honor than Mohammad among some Sufi sects and the Alowites who politically run Syria (although their religion like the Druze appears to be a pre-Islamic syncretic religion with Gnostic and Babylonian roots)

10. Similiar eschatalogy, Muslims actually believe that Jesus comes back (2nd coming) and He is the Judge (although not the incarnation of God and did not die on the Cross for our sins) and they also believe in a physical ressurrection from the dead.

There are also MANY differences and MANY problems some of which are very bad and acute.
There are also positive contributions to world development by Muslims (a post for another day) in the realms of Math (algebra which helped Newton create Calculus a basis for a lot of modern developments), astronomy, concept of the Unversity (the idea of the "Chair" is Muslim) University of Cairo, Medicine (some from the Aristotelean Jew Maimonodes), different political developments such as the more (relatively) millet system, Christian and Jewish viziers, Jews thriving in Muslim lands for many centuries compared to Christian land(s) etc. Again, another topic.

I am sure I will get a lot of discussion about how "it" is not the same God and how screwed up Islam is (inherently)(and thus there is no solution except to create the Urban the II society or to emulate the courage of the bastard son of Charles V) I know I disagree with our gracious host Jimmy Akin on this point. But I hope it is ground for discussion and there is an engagement with my points.

Dominus Vobiscum,
Karl

Jeb Protestant

Karl,

But the similiarities you point out are generally superficial. For example, Muhammadans understand the atrributes of God quite differently than Christians. Or concerning moral issues, Islam tends to be rather tolerant of homosexuality. And of course Moslems have a religious duty to persecute Christians and kill non-believers in the name of "Allah."

And one could come up up with large list of similarities with false religions such as Judaism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormonism.

The teaching of Muhammadanism is so far removed from Christianity that "Allah" is a false god and in no sense the God of the Bible.

SDG

Based on everything I've read, I think the majority of US Catholic Bishops would be in substantial agreement with the ideas expressed in "Reflections on Covenant and Mission." Do you agree?

Based on everything you've read, Jeb? Where? In America magazine? What basis do you have for such speculation? I for one am not remotely in a position to speculate about what the majority of US bishops would say, and I can't imagine you are either.

What I am in a position to speak to is the fact that the document was yanked from the USCCB website not long after it was posted, a clear indication that the powers that be consider it not reflective of Catholic belief. That should tell you where this document stands vis-a-vis Church teaching.

But that doesn't seem to be the sort of fact you're interested in. You seem to be more interested in any stick to beat the Church with. Facts that don't fit that program are simply discarded as irrelevant.

Jeb, your participation in this thread has been one long string of falsehoods, distortions and strategic withdrawals:

  1. The US Bishops came up with a document that puts Judaism at the same level as Christianity -- or higher.

  2. Of course I understand it's not an official document of the US Bishops -- as a whole -- but it was issued by the Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs -- and it does put Judaism and Christianity on the same level.

  3. Well, the USCCB appointed these scholars.

  4. So obviously the scholars represent the bishops' opinions.

  5. Well, the document does say that Judaism is just as good for Jews as Christianity.

  6. Which justifies my original claim that "Judaism on an equal (if not superior) level with Christianity."

  7. Even Karl Keating views it as a document of the bishops (or one of their subgroups).

  8. Well, anyway, the majority of US bishops would agree with the document.

Jeb, not one of these statements is completely truthful. Not one. And several of them are just plain wrong. Not even a little bit wrong. Dead wrong.

I've refuted most of them (I missed #3 at the time -- it is not true that "the USCCB appointed" the scholars -- THAT would be what the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs did. Actions of the part cannot be imputed to the whole).

But rather than admit error, you snipe, misrepresent, leap all over the map, and, when all else fails, change the subject (Muslims worship a false god!).

Jeb, I'm beginning to be reminded of a passage in C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves in which he described a confrontation with a young interlocutor:

...I had been addressing an undergraduate society and some discussion (very properly) followed my paper, a young man with an expression as tense as that of a rodent so dealt with me that I had to say, "Look, sir. Twice in the last five minutes you have as good as called me a liar. If you cannot discuss a question of criticism without that kind of thing I must leave." I expected he would do one of two things; lose his temper and redouble his insults, or else blush and apologize. The startling thing is that he did neither. No new perturbation was added to the habitual malaise of his expression. He did not repeat the Lie Direct; but apart from that he went on just as before. One had come up against an iron curtain. He was forearmed against the risk of any strictly personal relation, ether friendly or hostile, with such as me. Behind this, almost certainly there lies a circle of the Titanic sort--self-dubbed Knights Templar perpetually in arms to defend a critical Baphomet. We--who are they to them--do not exist as persons at all. We are specimens; specimens of various Age Groups, Types, Climates of Opinion, or Interests, to be exterminated. Deprived of one Weapon, they coolly take up another. They are not, in the ordinary human sense, meeting us at all; they are merely doing a job of work--spraying (I have heard one use that image) insecticide...

Before you conclude that dialogue is overrated, Jeb, you might try it sometime.

Jeb Protestant

SDG,

Nothing that you said proves that I am in error. This document came out under the letterhead of the "The Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs." It was approved of by Cardinal Keeler, who heads the group. As far as I'm concerned, that makes it the teaching of this group. Not even Keating bought your line about how it the document isn't reflective the teaching of this group.

The other points I made were simply to confirm the fact that this represents the teaching of the bishops. You don't deny that their theological advisors take this position, that their chief spokesman Eugene Fisher has said the same thing as the Reflections document for years, that Kasper takes this view, that the universally revered Cardinal O'Connor said it was no big deal if a Catholic converted to Judiasm, etc. You simply ignore this evidence because it puts the statement in perspective. I bet you would say that we shouldn't look poorly on a bishop who shuffled around a priest who raped children. I mean, how dare we blame Law and his ilk for the corrupt actions of a few priests.

SDG

Nothing that you said proves that I am in error.

If you can still maintain that at this point, Jeb, you've never been wrong in your life and never will be.

This document came out under the letterhead of the "The Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs." It was approved of by Cardinal Keeler, who heads the group. As far as I'm concerned, that makes it the teaching of this group.

But as far as Cardinal Keeler is concerned, it doesn't.

You say the document's letterhead and co-chair approval "makes it the teaching of this group." But Cardinal Keeler characterized the document as "unofficial" (i.e., not a teaching document) and said that it was published to "encourage serious reflection" -- not to establish "teaching." In other words, it's a "Think about it" document, not a "We believe" document.

It is not a teaching document. It was not voted on or approved by the committee. It does not carry the approval of the committee. It does not set forth the "teaching" of any body. Period. Deal with it.

Oh, and it did "encourage reflection" -- and the fruit of that reflection was that the document was yanked from the bishops' website.

Somehow I doubt that USCCB takes lightly the yanking of documents from its website. To do so is an embarrassment to the USCCB, not to mention the authors of the document. The document would not have been yanked unless the document itself were deemed more embarrassing than yanking it -- i.e., unless the document itself were deemed seriously problematic, and its presence on the USCCb site deemed an embarrassment, even a scandal.

The other points I made were simply to confirm the fact that this represents the teaching of the bishops.

Except that, tragically, you can't produce a single teaching document to support this "teaching." And the fact that the document setting forth this "teaching" was yanked from the USCCB website. If the majority of bishops supported the teaching, in all likelihood the document would not have come down.

Not even Keating bought your line about how it the document isn't reflective the teaching of this group.

Another obviously false claim. Clearly Karl was relying on the erroneous press release mentioned by Dulles, and didn't realize that it was in error. He didn't "not buy" it -- he wasn't aware of it in the first place. Had Karl seen Dulles's piece and realized the press release was in error, he wouldn't have written that. If he saw it now, he would retract the statement.

Do you really mean to suggest, Jeb, that Karl was aware that Dulles (or anyone else) had pointed out that the press release was wrong, and that he said to himself, "That's nonsense, obviously it is a statement of the Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs"? What else can you possibly mean by saying that Karl "didn't buy" this "line"?

Would you care to put the question to Karl, Jeb? How about if I call Karl and ask him if he was aware of the point at issue, or -- more to the point -- ask him if, having been made aware of it, he still stands by his statement -- a statement made in a subordinate clause in a minor "Frontsipiece" essay? If Karl says you are wrong, will you admit it then?

Of course that shouldn't be necessary. Anyone can look at Karl's piece and Dulles' piece and see the truth of it. Apparently, you prefer not to. This is childish, like a schoolboy seizing on a headmaster's misstatement and saying "The professor said, it must be true!"

You don't deny that their theological advisors take this position, that their chief spokesman Eugene Fisher has said the same thing as the Reflections document for years, that Kasper takes this view, that the universally revered Cardinal O'Connor said it was no big deal if a Catholic converted to Judiasm, etc.

There are many things I'm in no position to deny, for the simple reason that I have no specific knowledge about them. I've invited you to produce documentation; so far you haven't.

You simply ignore this evidence because it puts the statement in perspective.

I'm sorry, you gave evidence? I guess in your universe, saying "Whether your statements are accurate or not, I have no idea without documentation" = "ignoring the evidence."

I bet you would say that we shouldn't look poorly on a bishop who shuffled around a priest who raped children. I mean, how dare we blame Law and his ilk for the corrupt actions of a few priests.

Yes, I bet that you would bet that. It fits your pattern of leaping to wild and uncharitable assumptions about people you disagree with.

SDG

Jeb,

While we're on the subject of whether you've been proved wrong or can admit when you make a mistake, any further comment on our last exchange?

SDG: John Spong does not say he believes in the Trinity or the Incarnation.

Jeb: You are incorrect about Spong. I did a search and, guess what, he claims to be a "trinitarian."

SDG: On the contrary, Jeb, I am correct, as your own source confirms: In the same sentence you reference, he says "I could never say that God is a Trinity," which confirms what I said: "John Spong does not say he believes in the Trinity."

Jeb: I realize what Spong said. I went on to say: "Do you know that they often claim to support the Trinity and Incarnation but mean something totally different from what you and I mean (Spong as an example)?"

For the record, here is the Spong quote from your source: "though I am a Trinitarian, I could never say that God is a Trinity because I don't think a human being can ever tell anybody what God is like."

Any defense of your claim "You are incorrect about Spong" (not claiming to believe in the Trinity), or your citing of "Spong as an example" of those who "claim to support the Trinity"?

Three little words, Jeb: "I was wrong."

Jeb Protestant

SDG,

This is getting tiring, but once more let's go back to the Spong quote, he says he is a "trinitarian." In other words, he claims to believe in the Trinity (that's what a trinitarian believes). Then he says "I could never say God is a Trinity because I don't think a human being can ever tell anybody what God is like." So while he claims to believe in the Trinity he won't SAY that God is a Trinity because you can't tell someone else what to believe about God. That's a good example of liberal double speak, don't you think?

SDG

This is getting tiring, but once more let's go back to the Spong quote, he says he is a "trinitarian." In other words, he claims to believe in the Trinity (that's what a trinitarian believes).

This is where you go wrong, Jeb.

You are correct in accusing Spong of "liberal double speak," but not correct in equating Spong's claim to "be a Trinitarian" with claiming to "believe in the Trinity."

"I am a Trinitarian but I don't believe in the Trinity" is definitely liberal double-speak, but it does not mean what you say it means, "I believe in the Trinity but I won't say I believe in the Trinity."

What it means is: "I am a 'Trinitarian' in some fudged sense that does not involve believing in the actual Trinity." This is nonsense, but still it's what he means.

The equivocation is not the term "Trinity," but "Trinitarian." Spong is being straightforward in his use of "Trinity" -- he says, openly and correctly, that he doesn't believe in it, and he means what he says, and "Trinity" means "Trinity."

That is the truthful, straightforward part of his statement, and it means that I am right to say that Spong does not claim to believe in the Trinity, and you are wrong to say that I am incorrect about that, and to say that Spong does claim to believe in the Trinity.

OTOH, he is being false and equivocal in his use of "Trinitarian," a term he claims for himself while emptying it of its meaning.

We cannot untangle Spong's liberal double-speak in the way you suggest, by saying "In spite of what you say, you do claim to believe in the Trinity, because you call yourself a Trinitarian."

The correct way to untangle Spong's liberal double-speak is to say, "Since you openly and correctly deny believing in the Trinity, you are incorrect to claim the title of 'Trinitarian.'"

Capice?

Spong is way outside Orthodox theology

Realist

I thought part of the new Rule 1 was to say your piece and leave?

Violators? Jeb with ten comments, SDG with eight.

Both make a strong case though for putting Abraham on the myth pile where he belongs. Now we just need to de-embellish the OT, NT and Koran- What might be left after that you ask? The Twelve Commandments, The Crucifixion and the Beatitudes would make the list. Anything else?

The comments to this entry are closed.

January 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31