Catholic Bishops see Interfaith Dialogue as Invitation to Evangelize Jews

Jewish-Catholic relations have once again hit a stumbling block. It seems Catholic bishops deem interfaith dialogue with Jewish groups as an evangelizing opportunity - a chance to “invite” Jews to become Catholic.

This new document appears to be a dramatic shift in position from the 2002 Reflections on Covenant and Mission statement, which downplayed any attempts by the Catholic church to target Jews for conversion.

This latest rift is one of a number of incidents that may mark a new (old?) and darker era in Jewish –Catholic relations.

Back in March we reported that Conversion Mania was becoming something of a pandemic among world-wide churches, and that the Catholic church was no exception. Pope Benedict's restoration of the Tridentine rite - a prayer for the conversion of Jews resulted in threats to boycott a key Vatican event and Jewish leaders and Chief Rabbis accused Pope Benedict of wiping out 50 years of dialogue.

Jewish Israel officially launched in May with a general overview of the problematic areas in Vatican-Israel relations. At this time, it’s worth reviewing the full report.

Jewish Israel also reported on a mysterious, still unsubstantiated, claim by Rabbi Metzger that, “the Catholic Church will cease all missionary activity among Jews… Rabbi Yona Metzger thanked the pope for his announcement, calling it an "historic agreement and, "for us, an immensely important message. “
There’s been deadly silence on that “good news”, and no historic agreement has surfaced.

At any rate, this recent brouhaha over the U.S Catholic Bishops’ Declaration once again validates Rav Yoseph B. Solveitchik’s halachic stance against interfaith theological dialogue which he issued in 1964 - establishing the standard which the vast majority of Torah observant rabbis hold by today.

It was encouraging to see such a unified stance taken by the American Jewish community against evangelizing. An ADL Letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was signed by
• the American Jewish Committee
• the Anti-Defamation League
• the National Council of Synagogues
• the Orthodox Union and
• the Rabbinical Council of America.

Jewish Israel is curious as to why a similar unified front by Diaspora and Israeli leaders cannot be forged to combat the plague of missionary activity currently taking place in Israel – thanks to our “best friends”, the evangelical Christians.

We would like to remind Abe Foxman that the ADL played an instrumental role in helping to defeat Israeli government attempts at drafting counter-missionary legislation in 1998. Perhaps Mr. Foxman and the ADL are up to correcting past mistakes on this issue.

Eight months ago, Jewish Israel managed to enlighten the Orthodox Union on the situation in Israel, resulting in the OU withdrawing (for a rework and reassessment) the resolution entitled “Working in Coalition with Evangelical Christians” which was scheduled for a vote and approval at their annual convention in Jerusalem.

The unified response by all sectors of the American Jewish community to the evangelical aspirations of the Catholic church heartened Jewish Israel, and further validated the position we took last week in our response to Isi Liebler’s latest ode to evangelicals. We suggested to Isi that,

“Rather than lapse into a predicable rant about those liberal Jews who have “embraced postmodernism” or dismiss concerned Orthodox Jews as being “ill-informed” , Leibler should recognize the natural aversion to our “unconditionally” embracing evangelical Christians as a healthy, unifying trend – and as a survival instinct among all of our people. After all, the one common denominator among all Jews –secular, religious, and all shades in between, is that we don’t believe in Jesus as a lord or savior.

As long as evangelicals evangelize, the Jewish people will have to be vigilant and monitor the relationship carefully. To take a critical look at Israel’s relationship with fundamentalist Christians is neither “misguided”, nor “churlish”. It’s simply being responsible and Jewish. It’s regrettable that such a sensible stance over this formidable challenge makes Jewish leaders terribly uncomfortable.”

Taking the gloves off and confronting the Catholic church over a shift in their evangelizing stance is a step in the right direction, but Jewish leaders will have to wake-up and realize that it’s the evangelical churches and their messianic proxies which pose the far more formidable threat to the Jewish faith and to the spiritual continuity of the Jewish people.

“Save me from the hand of my brother…” ( Vayishlach 32:12)

UPDATE: Jewish Leaders Welcome Removal of Conversionary Language from Ameri...

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Comment by ellen on August 24, 2009 at 11:03pm
Thanks Sharbano! I had no idea that A7 had posted the show.

I do agree that those Christians who take their evangelizing seriously will not take a simple "no" for an answer. For example "jews for jesus" has as their slogan "Making the messiahship of jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people"
Comment by Sharbano on August 24, 2009 at 7:27pm
I see A7 Finally put up that audio of Ellen's.

I was listening to Tovia Singer and David Solomon and I think David made the point quite well when he used the term, "Spiritual Terrorism". The muslims say that the Jews have No claim to the Temple mount and never have. Well, Xtianity has done the same, only on a spiritual level. The xtian will say that Jews no longer have a claim to "knowledge" of Torah and it is Only they who have the knowledge. So, the muslims lay claim to the Temple and Xtians lay claim to Torah.

I have heard a few of the xtians speak as if they would just tell their good news and the Jew isn't interested than that will end the conversation. According to one xtian it surely doesn't seem to be the case. Some excerpts:

"The Jew may have to hear the gospel over many years, and have arguments over and over with Christians. The Jew may have to hear what the bible prophecies say about the end times"

"God knows whether the Jew has had ample opportunity before that Jew's life here on earth is over. By the way, this is the same for everyone, not just the Jew."

"If God knows that the Jew, or whoever, has had ample opportunity of the Holy Spirit's striving with that person, but has rejected Jesus for "whatever reason", then that person is going to end up in the lake of fire. I don't know if that means the person's soul is annilated as though they never existed or not. But I can say this, today is the day of Salvation"

We can conclude from this that the more the Xtian says they love the Jew the MORE they will persist in their relentless pursuit of Jewish conversion. I have the conclusion, therefore, the More that a Xtian says they love the Jews the more they should be shunned.

I have heard that Xtian organizations have been involved in helping Jews with Aliyah. Come to find out, from a link via one of Ellen's links, that Xtians have to be concerned mostly with those Jews who are in Israel. For those Jews who are in the Diaspora there's not as much a concern. Evidently this is why so many efforts in Eretz Yisrael.
Comment by ShoshanaTunk on August 23, 2009 at 11:33pm
I think Yehuda HaCohen of 'TheStruggle' on Arutz Sheva had the right approach when he advised Jews not to trust Christians not to evangelize. I will never trust them until they have at least become members of the Noachide Nations. I shall 'suspect' them until they understand the Torah and the words of the G-d of Israel.

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