The Vatican is wrong Jews do need Jesus

The Vatican Is Wrong: Jews Do Need Jesus

Pope Francis issues statement that Jews don't need to put their faith in Jesus Christ to be forgiven.
Pope Francis issues a statement that Jews don’t need to put their faith in Jesus Christ to be forgiven. (Wikimedia)

An important new statement from the Vatican on the relationship between the Catholic Church, the Jewish people and Jesus Christ makes many praiseworthy points. At the same time, it misunderstands Jesus’ own mission to His Jewish people, thereby undermining fundamental tenets of the New Testament along with the very nature of the apostolic witness.

Issued on the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking document “Nostra Aetate” (“In Our Time”), the new document, titled “The Gifts and Calling of God Are Irrevocable,” rightly reiterates the Catholic Church’s repudiation of replacement theology, also known as supersessionism, the teaching that the church has replaced (or superseded) Israel in God’s plan of salvation. It also reiterates the Church’s repudiation of anti-Semitism, quoting the dictum of Pope Francis that one cannot be both a Christian and an anti-Semite.

In addition, the new statement urges deep respect for Judaism and for the historic connection between the Jewish people and the God of Israel—the God whom Christians worship—also calling on Catholic Christians to learn from Judaism’s interpretation of the Scriptures and to join with the Jewish people in standing for justice and caring for the poor.

All this is tremendously positive, as the Church continues to distance itself from the plagues of anti-Semitism and supersessionism, plagues that infected both Catholic and Protestant branches of the faith, in some circles until this day. And so it is right to recall the reality of the Holocaust, as this document does, since the Holocaust could hardly have taken place if not for more than a millennium of European, Church-based anti-Semitism.

Most importantly, the new statement states plainly that the Jewish people do not need to put their faith in Jesus Christ to be forgiven, since their faith culminates in the Torah, in contrast with the Christian faith, which culminates in Jesus. Therefore, we are told, there is no need for the Catholic Church to have a specific mission to convert Jews to Christianity, looking forward to the day when, in the mysteries of God, Jews and Christians will serve God together, shoulder to shoulder.

Not surprisingly, this statement has been hailed by Jewish leaders, in particular for its explicit call for the Church not to engage in an intentional, specific outreach to the Jewish people.

From my perspective as a Jewish believer in Jesus who is deeply indebted to my Christian friends who reached out to me as a rebellious, heroin-shooting, LSD-using, 16-year-old, hippie rock drummer, it would have been tragic had they thought not to share the Good News with me because I was Jewish.

To be sure, the new statement does allow for respectful interaction between the faiths and does not prohibit all Christian witness, but the overall sentiment of the statement, as reflected in numerous headlines, is that “Jews do not need Jesus to be saved,” as if they can somehow be included in His salvific act while explicitly rejecting Him as Messiah.

Certainly, I agree that the Church’s goal should not be to convert Jews to Christianity. Rather, the goal should be to help them embrace Jesus-Yeshua as their Messiah, discovering Him to be the one who fulfilled what was written in Moses and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17-20) rather than the one who came to start a new, somewhat foreign religion.

Yet the very fact that Jesus did come as the Jewish Messiah fundamentally contradicts the new Catholic statement. The reasons are both fundamental and significant.

1. Jesus was recognized by His followers as the one spoken of by Moses and the prophets, not as the founder of a new religion (John 1:45) but as the one who was born King of the Jews and died King of the Jews (Matt. 2:1-6; 27:35-37).
Jesus showed His disciples that the Hebrew Scriptures—the Jewish Bible—predicted His death and resurrection (Luke 24:25-27; 24:44-48) and He rebuked the Jewish leadership for not recognizing Him as the Messiah, saying that if they truly believed Moses, they would believe Him (John 5:45-47).

2. If Jesus is not the Messiah of Israel, then He cannot be the Savior of the world. Instead, He should be repudiated as a false prophet, false teacher and false messiah.

Many Jewish leaders today have great respect for the Christian faith, saying that while Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah, He is the Christian Savior, but this cannot be true. If He is not Israel’s Messiah, He cannot be the Savior of the world.

If Judaism, then, is right in rejecting Yeshua as Messiah, there should be no such thing as Christianity, since the essential witness of the New Testament would be false. If the witness of the New Testament is true, then Jews need Jesus as much as Gentiles do.

3. The Jewish rejection of Jesus in the Gospels and Acts is seen as the culmination of Israel’s rejection of Moses and the prophets.

Jesus warned the Jewish crowds that in the future, Gentiles would be sitting at Abraham’s table while many of them—”the sons of the kingdom”—would be cast out (Matt. 8:10-12), and Peter, Stephen, and Paul all stated explicitly that their people’s refusal to recognize Jesus as Messiah was in keeping with their history as recorded in the Old Testament (Acts 3:13-23; 7:51-52; 13:16-41).

4. Jesus warned His followers—all of them Jews—that they would be put out of the synagogue (John 16:3), and so it was incipient Judaism that first rejected “Jewish Christians” more than the reverse.

This pattern begins to unfold in the book of Acts, as the apostles—again, all of them Jewish—were persecuted and threatened by the Jewish leadership (e.g., Acts 4-7), and in each new city where Paul traveled, it was only after his message was rejected by the synagogue that he began to preach to the Gentiles (e.g., Acts 13:41-48).

5. According to Paul, the gospel is to the Jew first (Rom. 1:16; this echoes Jesus’ words in Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8) and judgment is also for the Jew first (Rom. 2:6-11).

It is significant that the new Catholic statement relies primarily on Paul’s teaching in Romans 9-11, choosing overtly not to emphasize the teaching of Hebrews (addressed to Jewish followers of Jesus), which stated that the old covenant system, which was even then “becoming obsolete and growing old” was “ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). This, Hebrews tells us, is because the new and better covenant, prophesied by Jeremiah (31:31-34) and inaugurated by Jesus (Luke 22:17-20), was now in effect (8:7-12; 10:14-18).

Yet it is in Romans 9-11 that Paul spoke of his deep agony because His Jewish people were separated from the Messiah (9:1-3; he did this while affirming God’s ongoing covenant with Israel in 9:4-5); he explained that both in past times and to this moment, it was only the remnant within Israel that was saved (9:6; 11:1-7); he prayed for the salvation of his people (10:1; why do that if the new Catholic statement is true?); he taught that Israel, on a national level, had been hardened but that in the end that hardness would be removed and his people would recognize their Messiah (11:7-27); thus, he explained, at present, the Jewish people are enemies of the gospel, even while still loved by God, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (11:28-29).

Significantly, it is this very verse, Romans 11:29, that inspires the title of the new document, yet it fails to understand what Paul meant when he wrote it. Jews are still loved by God and remain heirs of the divine promises, but outside of Jesus, they are alienated from God. That is why, to the end of his life, Paul engaged in an intentional mission to reach his people with the Good News that the Messiah of Israel had come (Acts 28:16-31).

If we truly love the Jewish people, we should follow his example, both with our tears and with our compassionate and sensitive outreach, recognizing that no other people on earth are so near and yet so far.

Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown.

Billy Graham: ‘My Heart Aches for America’

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Billy Graham: ‘My Heart Aches for America’

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Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).

I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.

Just a few weeks ago in a prominent city in the South, Christian chaplains who serve the police department were ordered to no longer mention the Name of Jesus in prayer. It was reported that during a recent police-sponsored event, the only person allowed to pray was someone who addressed “the being in the room.” Similar scenarios are now commonplace in towns across America. Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone—except God.

Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.

My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance. In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the lone world superpower—wealthy, unconcerned, and self-centered. When the Prophet Jonah finally traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, people heard and repented.

I believe the same thing can happen once again, this time in our nation. It’s something I long for, and my son Franklin recently shared a vision for perhaps the greatest challenge in the history of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association—to launch an outreach called My Hope with Billy Graham that would bring the Gospel into neighborhoods and homes in every corner of America next year.

BGEA has already taken My Hope to more than 50 nations. We’ve worked in close partnership with local churches across each country, and those churches have reported millions of life-changing decisions for Christ. Carrying out a nationwide American version of this evangelistic outreach will be an enormous undertaking, but in my spirit I know God has called us to do this, and I pray He will stir your heart to join us in prayer and support.

Franklin will share more about the project with you as the planning develops. In the meantime, all this year Franklin and his son Will are preaching “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21, ESV) at Crusade events across North America—from Texas to Canada—and God has blessed the work. Already tens of thousands have heard the Gospel, and many have responded, especially young people.

As I write, I am in the middle of a busy summer enjoying visits with many of my grandchildren and other family members, but also working hard on a new book that addresses some dangerous illusions about eternal salvation that are becoming increasingly accepted in many places. I want to point the world to what the Bible says.

Although age and health restrict my mobility and my stamina, not to mention my eyesight and hearing, I am thankful for the days God has given me, and I am humbled by His continued hand of favor on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The Lord draws people to Himself daily through BGEA’s various evangelistic ministries, and I am so deeply grateful.

May God bless you,

Billy Graham

America’s Final Call

 Preface By Mario Murillo:

“Near the end of their lives great men of God seem to be most outside of self and clearly able to tell the counsel of God without regard to reputation.   Steve Hill, David Wilkerson and Kenneth Hagin were from three distinctly different camps of the Body of Christ and yet they all saw the same judgment coming to America.

In the case of Kenneth Hagin the discovery of this vision is even more startling when you consider that he was most identified with prosperity, health and victory.   It is unexpected that he would issue a warning of judgment, persecution and suffering or that he would ever say that America had one last chance.

So the real story here is 2 Corinthians 13:1 “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”  God is telling us we still have a chance but that rampant false doctrine, compromise and deception have all but destroyed our desire to repent and repent we must because time is running out.”  MM  

Kenneth Hagin

America’s Final Call

By Kenneth E. Hagin

As I looked to the west, I saw what appeared to be a tiny dot on the horizon. It was the only moving thing I could see. As I watched, it grew larger and came toward me, taking on shape and form. Soon I could see it was a horse. As it came closer I could see a man upon the horse. He was riding toward me at full speed. As he approached, I could see he held the reins of the horse’s bridle in his right hand, and in his left hand, high above his head, he held a scroll of paper.

When the horseman came to me, he pulled on the reins and stopped. I stood on his right. He passed the scroll from his left hand to his right hand and handed it to me.  As I unrolled the scroll, which was a roll of paper 12 or 14 inches long, he said, “Take and read.” At the top of the page in big, bold, black print were the words “WAR AND DESTRUCTION.” I was struck dumb. He laid his right hand on my head and said, “Read, in the Name of Jesus Christ!”

I began to read what was written on the paper, and as the words instructed me, I looked and saw what I had just read about. First I read about thousands upon thousands of men in uniform. Then I looked and saw these men marching, wave after wave of soldiers marching as to war. I looked in the direction they were going, and as far as I could see there were thousands of men marching.

I turned to read the scroll again, and then looked and saw what I had just read about. I saw many women —old women with snowy white hair, middle-aged women, young women, and teenagers. Some of the younger ones held babies in their arms. All of the women were bowed together in sorrow and were weeping profusely. Those who did not carry babies held their hands on their stomachs as they bowed over and wept. Tears flowed from their eyes like water.

I looked at the scroll again, and again I looked to see what I had read about. I saw the skyline of a large city. Looking closer, I saw the skyscrapers were burned-out hulls. Portions of the city lay in ruins. It was not written that just one city would be destroyed, burned, and in ruins, but that there would be many such cities.

 America’s Last Call

The scroll was written in the first person, and seemed as if Jesus Himself were speaking. I read, “America is receiving her last call. Some nations already have received their last call and never will receive another.”

Then, in larger print it said, “THE TIME OF THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND This statement was repeated four or five times. Jesus also said this was the last great revival. He went on to say, “All the gifts of the Spirit will be in operation in the Church in these last days, and the Church will do greater things than even the Early Church did. It will have greater power, signs, and wonders than were recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.”

I Believe in Visions we have seen and experienced many healings, but we will now behold amazing miracles that have not been seen before. Jesus continued, “More and more miracles will be performed in the last days which are just ahead, for it is time for the gift of the working of miracles to be more in prominence. We now have entered into the era of the miraculous.

“Many of my own people will not accept the moving of my Spirit, and will turn back and will not be ready to meet Me at my coming. Many will be deceived by false prophets and miracles of satanic origin. But follow the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and Me, and you will not be deceived. I am gathering my own together and am preparing them, for the time is short.”

There were several other exhortations to watchfulness, to awaken and pray, and not to be deceived. Then I read, “As it was in the days of Noah, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be. As I spoke to Noah and said, ‘For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth

‘ [Gen. 7:4], so today I am speaking and giving America her last warning and call to repentance, and the time that is left is comparable to the last seven days of Noah’s time.”

‘Judgment Is Coming.’ “Warn this generation, as did Noah his generation, for judgment is about to fall. And these sayings shall be fulfilled filled shortly, for I am coming soon.” Jesus repeated, “This is the last revival. I am preparing my people for my coming. Judgment is coming, but I will call my people away, even unto Myself, before the worst shall come. But be thou faithful; watch and pray, for the time of the end of all things is at hand.”

Pope Francis Is A Leftist And Must Be Called Out

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Pope Francis Is A Leftist And Must Be Called Out

Pope Francis has associated with revolutionaries and ideologies that destroy human life and living conditions. The right response is not silence.

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 Don’t pick a political fight with Pope Francis? The title of Rachel Lu’s recent essay and the timidity behind it reminds me of a old Jewish joke.

Max and Moishe are being escorted to the execution chamber in a Nazi prison. In a sudden gesture of defiance, Max raises his arm and gives the guards his middle finger. Horrified, Moishe pulls his arm down and blurts, “Please, Max, don’t make waves.”

Just so all the reflexive excuses for Pope Francis’ dismaying behavior and increasingly obvious ideological bent. Lu forgets there exists such a thing as a loyal opposition. She cites criticism of Francis as evidence of a “war.” A Republican war at that. Doing so, she strays into the same reductive trap set by the mainstream media that she wants conservatives to avoid.

Under the tutelage of a pope who ascribes to himself an omnicompetency in geopolitical and scientific matters, the Catholic Church is at risk of a death walk of its own. Its descent into a left-leaning political entity is underway while we circle the wagons and measure our tones. It is a serious matter when a pope confuses political and ideological symbols for religious ones.

Civil society has an immense stake in that confusion. And the stakes are raised when papal preferences, masked in a Christian idiom, align themselves with ideological agendas (e.g. radical environmentalism) that impinge on democratic freedoms and the sanctity of the individual. Throughout the history of the Church, there has been tension between Peter and Caesar, between the Church and the state. Francis, raised in Argentina during the apogee of Peronism, gives every evidence of tilting toward the state.

Let’s Talk About Pope Francis Associating with Marxists

Since Lu refers to my January 5 article in First Things, let us go back to that for a moment. “Francis and Political Illusion” included a photo of the pope standing between two environmental activists and holding an anti-fracking T-shirt. Effort was made by papal apologists to dismiss the image as nothing more than a visual equivalent to Francis’ off-the-cuff malapropisms—a genial Francis being courteous to some activists.

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No, it was not. And these were not just any activists. The older of the two men in the photo is Fernando Solanas, an Argentine film director, avowed propagandist, and politician. A key player in Buenos Aires, he ran for president of Argentina on the Socialist ticket in 2007 and stood for the senate last year. In the 1960s, he co-founded the influential, radical film collective Grupo Cine Liberación (The Liberation Film Group) with Octavio Gettino, Both were Marxists and supporters of Juan Perón at the time.

Together with Gettino, Solanas also founded Tercer Cine (Third Cinema), a title referencing the Third Word. Prominent in the 1970s and 1980s, it was a movement—a school—opposed to neocolonialism and capitalism. It issued a manifesto, “Documentary Is Never Neutral” that opened with the words of Frantz Fanon: “…we must discuss; we must invent.” In the obligatory style of left-wing manifestos, it included quotations from Mao, from Che Guevara’s handbook “Guerilla Warfare,” and anti-colonial, and pro-Cuba tracts. It rails against “bourgeois values,” “surplus value cinema” and “the lords of the world film market, the great majority of whom were from the United States.”

Gettino died two years ago; Solanas is carrying the torch.

Solanas and Gomez were eager for the pope to declare major environmental missteps ‘crimes against humanity.’

That meeting between Francis and Solanas, on November 11, 2013, had been scheduled for months. It was the culmination of a Vatican conference on “environmental crimes” with Argentine activists. Federal prosecutor Gustavo Gomez participated. When discussions ended, Francis’ invited Solanas and Gomez into his apartment for a private audience and closing photo-op. A cameraman and sound technician accompanied. There was nothing casual about it.

Solanas and Gomez were eager for the pope to declare major environmental missteps “crimes against humanity.” No definition was given of what constituted a crime or distinguishes it from an accident. Instead, the men praised Francis’ slogan for his upcoming campaign: “We must pray for children who receive dirty bread their parents give them.”

The film ran while the pope sorted through the T-shirts and held them up to the camera: “Say No to Fracking” and “Water Is Worth More than Gold.” That done, image-conscious Francis selected the wall he wanted to pose against while he delivered a homilette. It is a disquieting, rambling bit of stagecraft.

The Hashtag Papacy

In the course of it, Francis has condemned 46 percent youth unemployment in an unnamed European country but appears to have no grasp of the causes of such unemployment. He offers only distaste for the vague “unjust international system” we are living in. That, plus a wave of the hand encompassing Hiroshima, mining, and high-voltage cables is presented in evidence that “we are living the myth of Shiva.”

Francis has condemned 46 percent youth unemployment in an unnamed European country but appears to have no grasp of the causes of such unemployment.

Despite the resurgence of a conquering Islam and the gruesome cleansing of Christians from the Middle East, Francis declares that “the greatest conflict that is rising is the struggle over water.” We must not waste or contaminate water. Toward the end of this strange performance, Francis quotes Zhou Enlai, Mao’s henchman. While an innocuous quotation in itself, Francis’ choice of it signals sympathy with Solanas’ ideological tastes.

It bears mention that the photo-op provided invaluable publicity for Solanas’ La Guerra del Fracking (“The Fracking War”), banned in Argentina by the government. This was a backhanded but unsubtle papal intrusion into Argentine politics. The film, in Italian with English subtitles, runs nine minutes. It can be found here.

Francis is no naïf. He signals his priorities to anyone paying attention. You do not have to be a Republican or a conservative to get the message. In support of his green theology, he plans a speech at the United Nations and a congress of world religious leaders at the Vatican. He is preparing to lend this agenda the magisterial weight of an encyclical. Yet, when innocents are slaughtered in Paris by the same forces that are shedding Christian blood in the Middle East, the most he can muster is a hashtag, #PrayersforParis.

The contrast is telling.

Silence and Appeasement Have Never Been Effective

Lu would have us turn our eyes away. She prefers that conservatives keep mum on papal presumptuousness so as not to inflame the liberal media. In short, she rationalizes silence as a means of appeasing media hounds. It is a fainthearted position that ignores longstanding—and ongoing—evidence of the futility of appeasement.

While deferential observers are measuring their tones, Francis drives ahead with a demagogic program which makes the state the guardian and enforcer all values.

Let us be honest. Conservatives are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. While deferential observers are measuring their tones, Francis drives ahead with a demagogic program which makes the state the guardian and enforcer all values. To suppress challenge to a pope’s political biases or erratic behavior is no favor to the Church. It is little more than a failure of nerve that will earn no reward in the press. Silence is a form of collusion.

Earlier this month, Peter Berger reported in The American Interest that Leonardo Boff is an advisor to the pope on his forthcoming encyclical on climate change. Boff, a former Franciscan priest, is one of the major proponents of Liberation Theology, rejected as radical by both previous pontiffs. In March, 2013, at the time of Francis’ election, Boff told the press that Jorge Bergoglio was more liberal than people supposed. His conservatism as cardinal was due only to pressure from the Vatican. Rorate Caeli recorded Boff’s prediction: “He is now the pope and he can do whatever he wants. Many will be surprised with what Francis will do.”

This past October, Francis took aim at “ideological Catholics,” calling them “a serious illness” within the Church. What is Francis, if not an ideologue?