April 21, 2005

Tuesday the Rabbi Wrote Mishegas

I expanded yesterday's post on Benedict XVI and Rabbi Michael Lerner into today's AmSpec column.

(Yes, I know I'm not the first to use a Rabbi Small Mysteries reference as a title. But I threw in some Yiddish.)

Posted by John Tabin at April 21, 2005 12:56 AM

In the American Spectator column I read "...Christians don't normally make a habit of instructing us on what sort of postmortem nastiness they believe we have in store." Postmortem nastiness? Surely you you cannot mean hell? The Catholic Church has condemned that belief, and I doubt you will find many Protestants who hold it (although I admit that I once argued with one who did, I understand he was atypical -- also very young).

Posted by: Anthony Regan at April 21, 2005 05:25 PM

Terrific column on the Pope and "rabbi" Lerner, John!

Posted by: Ronald Coleman at April 21, 2005 06:24 PM

Anthony: Christians believe you go to Heaven only with Jesus. The implication seems pretty cut and dried. The Catholic loophole for non-Christians, if I understand correctly, is the possibility that "there may be people who are united to Christ while not being aware of it," but many Christians reject that view. When I wrote that passage I was actually consciously following the pattern of nice line in this piece by evangelical Christian journalist Matt Labash, where he writes of a Jewish interlocutor:

We clearly communicate an uncomfortable truth, but a truth nonetheless, which brings us to mutual understanding... Norm understands that I believe that Messiah-wise, he is waiting for a train that has already left the station. And that when the Messiah comes round again, it's not going to be to conduct nerf-bat interfaith dialogues. I understand that Norm believes that I believe in Santa Claus, albeit, one with nail-prints in His hands.

Posted by: John Tabin at April 21, 2005 08:24 PM

John, salvation must be more than a matter of a loophole or a mere possibility. So I checked the Catechism and find "Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved." So that's Catholic doctrine, as it must be, or else the Church would be agreeing with Calvin, and that cannot be. We must disagree for now about the nature of God, but we all of us, Jews and Christians, know that God is just.

Posted by: Anthony Regan at April 24, 2005 04:44 PM

This, in Lerner's mind, is "a slippery slope toward anti-Semitism and a return to the chauvinistic and triumphalist views that led the Church, when it had the power to do so, to develop its infamous crusades and inquisitions."

I`d like to point out that Thomas Madden debunks much of this in his books on the Crusades and the Inquisition. Read his commentary in NRO here and here.

John, when I was a young lad in Catholic school they taught us that anyone who truly sought God could attain Heaven. This doctrine is called Baptism by Desire; in essence, the God-fearing man of any faith or background can be saved because had their circumstances been different they would have accepted the salvation offered through Christ`s sacrifice. Thus, a New Guinea animist, a Moslem, a Zoarastrian, etc. can still find themselves in Heaven if they really do seek God. This is where Catholic and Protestant teaching divurge; everybody can get in according to the Catholic Church.

That was a great article!

Posted by: Tim Birdnow at April 24, 2005 06:43 PM

Shoot, my hyperlinks didn`t work. To read the article on the Crusades go to http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-madden110201.shtml and to read the article on the Inquisition go to http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/madden200406181026.asp.

Posted by: Tim Birdnow at April 24, 2005 06:46 PM