To Matthew and David:
Thank you and we agree with your other observations. Matthew, your last observation that the Gentiles have been grafted onto the Olive Tree, Israel, seems particularly important in understanding the dynamic - the organic continuity of salvation history. It’s also helpful to note that St. Paul describes the olive tree as “their own” (in reference to the Jews) and that they “belong to it by nature” even though they may be currently “cut off” from it. As the Holy Father has written in regard to this dynamic (while then-Cardinal Ratzinger): “this means that all nations, without the abolishment of the special mission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the Chosen People; they become People of God with Israel through adherence to the will of God and through acceptance of the Davidic kingdom” and in reference to the Gentiles he continued, “we must…ask what this view of the historical Jesus means for the existence of those who know themselves to be grafted through him onto the ‘olive tree Israel’, the children of Abraham.” (Many Religions, One Covenant; p. 27-28, 32). You might also be interested in this longer piece we wrote last year about the relationship among Christians, Jews and God:
To Doug Lawrence:
As stated at the beginning of our article, we focused narrowly on what the Church teaches about the Jewish people in regard to two specific issues that were raised as the result of the recent Middle East synod. 1) Are the Jewish people still “chosen,” maintaining a special relationship with God? And 2) If so, does this therefore mean that they are already in a salvific covenant with him such that they have no need of Christ and his Church? The answer to the first question is yes, the answer to the second is no. Your points go beyond the scope of our article. We weren’t interested in assessing the authority structure within Judaism, subjective political issues or the morality of Jews either individually or corporately. You might also find the article I mentioned to Matthew and David T worthwhile.
To Stephen Dalton:
Your personal interpretation of selective Scripture passages doesn’t comport with what the Church has taught, what the current Pope has written and what Pius IX and the Fathers of the First Vatican Council believed about the status of the relationship between the Jewish people and God. As we illustrated, the Church has interpreted Romans 11:28-29 to mean that the Jewish people at large are still chosen - they are still dear to God for the sake of the Patriarchs, even though they have not accepted the Gospel. The fact that some Evangelicals seem to erroneously believe that being “chosen” or special to God provides some sort of automatic justification for any and all political or military decisions made by Israel isn’t really relevant. (For a related article, read:
Also, there’s no conflict between the documents we quoted and what Christ said in Matthew 21:43. First, having a special relationship with God because of their forefathers does not equate with being “saved”, having earthly guardianship over the Kingdom of God, having justification for any and all political/military activities or even being particularly virtuous/righteous, for that matter - these are two separate issues (see the comment to Mary, below, for more on that). Second, Christ did not say that the Kingdom of God would be taken away from “the physical people known as the Jews,” as you stated. “The Kingdom of God” was “taken from” those to whom Christ was speaking at that time - the current Jewish religious leadership (and presumably those who followed their example). The very next verse reads: “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, THEY KNEW THAT HE WAS SPEAKING ABOUT THEM” (v. 25; v. 24 is generally considered to be of doubtful authenticity). In the context leading up to Matthew 21:43, the “elders”, “chief priests” and “scribes” were expressly singled out more than once as being in focus (vv. 15-16; v 23) - not the entire “physical people known as the Jews”, without distinction. Speaking to his Jewish audience in Jerusalem, Jesus said that “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering THE KINGDOM OF GOD before you [the chief priests, elders, scribes]” (vv 31-32). Certainly, these were Jewish tax collectors and prostitutes and they are presented as “entering the Kingdom of God,” so the Kingdom of God was obviously not taken away from them.
Instead of the current Jewish leadership at the time, The Kingdom of God was entrusted by the Jewish Mashiac to 12 new Jews with a Jew named Kepha leading the way and a Jewess by the name of Mary as spiritual Mother and Mediatrix. These Jews and their followers regularly received the flesh and blood of the Jewish God-man including the Gentiles (the wild olive shoots) who were eventually grafted onto the cultivated olive tree, Israel (Romans 11:17, 24). As such, it’s going too far to say that the Kingdom of God was taken away from “the physical people known as the Jews.” And regardless, again, that is not the same question as to whether the Jewish people still have a special relationship with God because of their forefathers - even when they have not accepted the Gospel. St. Paul and the Church have made clear that they do retain such a special relationship, yet that relationship is not salvific in and of itself. It is inferior (in the theological sense) to the relationship that any baptized Catholic (Jew or Gentile) has with God and, normatively speaking, it needs to be fulfilled through full incorporation into the New Covenant by baptism in order to be salvific.
The Catholic Church is Israel, in the fullest, spiritual sense of the term. The Church is the new People of God. But this is not to say that Israel according to the flesh - the Jewish people - have been reduced to irrelevancy. God still has an abiding interesting in and concern for them *as a people* and they still have a unique place in His plans. Just to be clear, this does not mean that Jews are more loved than non-Jews. It just means that they are unique; the have played and continue to play a unique role. A first-born (Exodus 4:22) is unique, but not necessarily more loved.
So, there is a Catholic “both/and” here, rather than an “either/or”. As the Holy Father has written (then-Cardinal Ratzinger):
“This means that all nations, without the abolishment of the special mission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the Chosen People; they become People of God with Israel through adherence to the will of God and through acceptance of the Davidic kingdom” (Many Religions, One Covenant, p. 28).
“We also know that while history still runs its course even this standing at the door fulfills a mission, one that is important for the world. In that way [the Jewish] people still has a special place in God’s plans” (God and the World, p. 150).
“Hand in hand with this belief goes the other, that Israel still has a mission to accomplish today” (Ibid, p. 149).
“They are still Israel, the way the Jews are still Jews and are still a people, even during the two thousand years when they had no country” (Ibid., p. 148).
“If such a dialogue is to be fruitful, it must begin with a prayer to our God, first of all that he might grant to us Christians a greater esteem and love for that people, the people of Israel, to whom belong ‘the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs are the patriarchs, and from them comes Christ according to the flesh, he who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen’ (Romans 9:4–5), and this not only in the past, but still today, ‘for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable’ (Romans 11:29)” (Cardinal Ratzinger, “The Heritage of Abraham,” L’Osservatore Romano, Dec. 29, 2000).
“It is in God’s hands, of course, just in what way, when and how the reuniting of Jews and Gentiles, the reunification of God’s people, will be achieved” (Ibid, p. 150, emphasis added).
We covered this in greater depth in the following article: http://www.cuf.org/laywitness/LWonline/ja09forrest.asp
Additionally, your interpretation of the salvation of “all Israel” (Romans 11:25-26) doesn’t comport with the teaching of the Church Fathers, saints, scholars and magisterium. See: http://www.sungenisandthejews.com/Addenda_and_Bio.html and https://sites.google.com/site/sungenisandthejews/sungenis-and-romans-11#_Toc253851357
What you stated doesn’t contradict what we wrote. In fact, your statement about the Old Covenant being a “preparation for the arrival of Jesus Christ” almost precisely echoes one of the magisterial quotes we provided in our brief article. But we would suggest a fine-tuning to better align with the Church’s choice of terminology. The Church seems to prefer words that emphasize the organic continuity between the covenants, not ones that could be taken to imply a discontinuity or rupture in God’s plan of salvation (which would be theologically problematic). As the Holy Father has written (then-Cardinal Ratzinger): “With regard to the issue of the nature of the covenant, it is important to note that the Last Supper sees itself as making a covenant: it is the prolongation of the Sinai covenant, which is not abrogated but renewed. Here renewal of the covenant, which from earliest times was doubtless an essential element of Israel’s liturgy, attains its highest form possible.” (Many Religions, One Covenant; p. 62) And the Vatican document on the implementation of Nostra Aetate states, “When commenting on biblical texts, emphasis will be laid on the continuity of our faith with that of the earlier Covenant . . . ” There is one over-arching covenant that has experienced more than one iteration. The Mosaic Covenant was the penultimate iteration of that covenant, leading to the ultimate fulfillment of all the covenants: the New, universal and definitive Covenant in Christ Jesus.
Also, the question of the relationship between the Jewish people and God is not exactly the same as the question of the status of the Mosaic Covenant. The Church teaches that the Mosaic Covenant has been fulfilled and superseded by the New and eternal Covenant in Christ and we provided some quotes from the magisterium illustrating that. But the special *relationship* between Israel and God - God’s gracious choice of Israel - predates the Mosaic Covenant and is rooted in the calling of Abraham (see Exodus 4:22; Isaiah 49:1,3; Isaiah 51:1,2; Deuteronomy 7:7). The calling was *not* because of Israel’s righteousness in the first place; therefore, neither does Israel’s lack of righteousness nullify the call. And according to the other statements we provided from the magisterium, Benedict XVI, Pius IX and the the Fathers of Vatican I, that special relationship between God and the Jewish people perdures in the New Covenant - it was not terminated. The Jewish people at large, God’s “first-born” (Exodus 4:22) are still chosen - they are still dear to God for the sake of the Patriarchs, even though they have not accepted the Gospel. However, normatively speaking, that “special relationship” needs to be fulfilled through full incorporation into the New Covenant (baptism) in order to be salvific. All salvation comes from Christ by means of His Church. There is only one economy of salvation, not two. (Dominus Iesus, 12) Eventually, the Jews will be restored as a people alongside their Gentile brethren (Romans 11:25-26). See: http://www.sungenisandthejews.com/Addenda_and_Bio.html and https://sites.google.com/site/sungenisandthejews/sungenis-and-romans-11#_Toc253851357
You might want to read the article we provided above as this current article at NCRegister covers only two narrow aspects of the question: http://www.cuf.org/laywitness/LWonline/ja09forrest.asp