Friday, 16 November 2007

Partial truth?

I was teaching yesterday about the Church's teaching about other religions. We acknowledge that other beliefs (not 'faiths' except in the case of Judaism) contain partial truth. We must admit that those things they have in common with us are true, or else we will be denying some of the truths of our own true faith.

However, I was amused to read about this Hindu wedding ceremony, which seems to contain no elements of truth. Not least that the bride clearly did not give her willing consent.

On how many counts is this neither a valid nor sacramental union?

6 comments:

Dorothy said...

It is understandable and right that we should wish to speak kindly of the followers of other religions, and to acknowledge the elements of truth which their religions contain. Leaving aside social pressures, sincere believers are drawn to their faiths because human beings are naturally drawn to the truth, and to the good.

This applies also to questions of morality. For example, pleasure is a good, created by God to give joy in serving His purposes in all the aspects of life. When a person sins, he is attracted to a good which has been misapplied, or distorted - sometimes horribly so.

What used to be called - in more robust days - false religions, attract adherents because of the element of truth they preach; the falsehood is embraced without realising it, because it is wrapped in those elements of truth and goodness. And the more truth can be blended into the mixture, the more attractive error seems.

Miguel José Ernst-Sandoval said...

"We acknowledge that other beliefs (not 'faiths' except in the case of Judaism) contain partial truth."

But Judaism is no longer a faith. It has been fulfilled.

Even most non-Orthodox Jews would agree that modern Judaism is no longer a faith as it is a religious philosophy...

The Holy Office said...

Miguel,

Interesting points. I do not know a great deal about modern Judaism, but presumably Orthodox Jews still believe in the promises made to Abraham, in the message of the prophets ...

That their promises have, in fact, been fulfilled, does not mean that their religion is somehow defunct. Rather, their drama as the chosen race continues, overshadowed by their failure to embrace Christ the Redeemer.

The Catechism calls Judaism a faith. Paras 839-40 state:

'839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."

The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People, "the first to hear the Word of God." The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews "belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ", "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."

840 And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.'

Thanks

R

Miguel José Ernst-Sandoval said...

But then this begs several questions: Should Jews convert to Christianity? Most modernists say no, most traditionalists say yes. I posed this question to my parish priest and he stated, in no uncertain terms, that it is the duty of Catholics to bring ALL of God's children into the warm embrace of Holy Mother Church.

If your answer to the above question is no, then what should we say to non-Christians interested in converting? Do they have two religions to pick from?

What about the version of the Talmud, that has blasphemies against our Lord and our Lady, used by certain Orthodox Jewish communities? Is this the sort of religion that is not defunct? Is our Lord in Hell boiling in a cauldron of excrement? Is this too God's religion?

The wording in the catechism is fine (if not a bit vague). The interpretations of it that one often hears borders on the heretical.

The Holy Office said...

Dear Miguel

I would certainly say that Jews should become Christians:

negatively, their religion does not possess salvific efficacy (as St Paul very clearly taught);

or to put a positive reason,, their expectations are fulfilled in Christianity, and therefore they should become proud Jewish Christians.

I suppose the indulgent attitude towards the Jews found in the catechism is based on the supposition of their invincible ignorance (as well as our debt to Judaism).

If they truly cannot see that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, then they are not damned. They should remain Jews. And in remaining Jews they remain in the religion through which God plotted his magnificent salvific work. It is a moot point whether in doing so they remain in God's covenant.

As Cardinal Dulles says in 'The Jews and the Covenant' in First Things (Nov 2005), a Jewish convert to Christianity might do a good thing in retaining some Jewish practices even once a Christian - St Paul even allowed Timothy to be circumcised. One would not say the same of, say, a Muslim convert to Christianity.

I hope I'm not a modernist - I doubt I am since I'm all for praying for the 'perfidious (i.e. faithless) Jews'.

God bless you my fellow Blogger - oremus pro invicem

Miguel José Ernst-Sandoval said...

"their expectations are fulfilled in Christianity, and therefore they should become proud Jewish Christians."

I am in complete agreement, however, I am often surprised to hear Jews who say that "Jewish" is not an ethnicity. For this I usually refer them to Belloc's wonderfully balanced book "The Jews". After that I usually suggest that perhaps they could say they are "Hebrew" since it is now a living language. Most seem to accept that, albeit reluctantly. LOL.

"I suppose the indulgent attitude towards the Jews found in the catechism is based on the supposition of their invincible ignorance (as well as our debt to Judaism)."

That's a good way of putting it, but it is rather vague and often leads to confusion and the attitude that we need not work for their conversion.

"...a Jewish convert to Christianity might do a good thing in retaining some Jewish practices even once a Christian... One would not say the same of, say, a Muslim convert to Christianity."

I'll agree with you on the first point, but why not the Muslims as well? The church has always been accepting of cultural customs that do not go against the faith, or if they do the Church "baptizes" them if possible. As well, many (if not most) Muslim practices are simply a copying of early Byzantine Christianity.