I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Mark Kinzer and Nostra Aetate: A Hebrew Catholic Viewpoint

I am presently reading Mark Kinzer's new book on Nostra Aetate 4. Kinzer is a leading American Messianic Jewish Rabbi and theologian. I think the book is important for all those interested in the Hebrew Catholic and Messianic Jewish movements. His analysis of Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate 4 is very insightful and how they connect and don't connect is an important area of further theological exploration and speculation. We have only started on the theological journey of understanding the role of Jewish believers in the Body of Christ, which is the Church, in the light of the development of doctrine on the role of the Jews in  recent magisterial teaching. 

I think Kinzer makes a very important and valid point about Jewish identity and Torah observance of Jewish believers in Jesus. Lumen Gentium 9 speaks about  the Church being the people make up of Jews and Gentiles, united in one in the Spirit through the blood of the Messiah. Kinzer then draws our attention that this renewed messianic people of God are to be made up of Jews and Gentiles.  Kinzer then refers us to the writings and teachings of Cardinal Lustiger who speaks of the full Catholicity of the original Church containing both Jews as the church from the circumcision and Gentiles as the church from the nations, as two corporate environments in the one Body of the Messiah. Kinzer states: 

"If the Body of Christ is an eschatogically renewed and expanded form of genealogical-Israel, rather than a separate entity created by God ex nihilo and only prefigured by the Israel of the old covenant, then one would expect that the presence of Jews in her midst would be an essential component of her identity. Along with Mary the daughter of Zion, and the apostles, these Jews would serve as an extension of the Jewish identity of the risen Jesus in the heart of the Church...The Jewish members of the Church are a prophetic sign of the church's historical continuity with " the people of the Old Covenant, never revoked by God"....The "people of God" will not reach their destined fullness till the Jewish people- as a corporate reality- and the ecclesia come together as one flock with one shepherd...The presence of the gentiles in this people is essential to its universal vocation: however, the presence of Jews is just as essential..."

Rabbi Mark Kinzer then challenges us with these questions:

"...Is it sufficient for these Jewish members of the Church to be hidden like leaven in her universally expanding dough? Should their identity as Jews not be treasured, celebrated, and visibly expressed? And is it sufficient for these Jewish members of the Church to live dispersed among their gentile brothers and sisters, isolated from one another and without any distinctive corporate identity among themselves? Is the ecclesia ex circumcisione an invisible community of unrelated individuals, or is it called to be a manifest social reality, like the universal ecclesia of which it is part?..."

These concerns of Rabbi Kinzer is one of the main reasons it would seem that he has not formally entered the Catholic Church. Father Elias Friedman the founder of the Association of Hebrew Catholics was also concerned with this idea of the Jews in the Church having a judicially approved corporate identity in the Church. This was why Friedman opposed any forms of active evangelisation that targeted Jewish people at this stage of salvation history. It is a point of great frustration for many Catholic Jews that it is very difficult at present to live out fully their Jewish vocation or election in the Church. The best we can manage is to, in a limited way, become more observant of some of our Jewish traditions and customs as a form of private devotion. This is a great first step but the communal aspect of our election and calling as Israelites can never be fully satisfied in a gentile dominated environment of faith.

I look forward to reading the rest of Rabbi Kinzer's insightful book "Searching Her Own Mystery: Nostra Aetate, the Jewish people, and the identity of the Church". This is a book every Catholic theologian should read and contemplate. Cardinal Schonborn of Austria writes the foreword to this book and also asks the Catholic reader: "Will we hear the essential question he [Kinzer] raises, he and the movement of Messianic Jews in whose name he speaks?" 


Ariela Wege said...

Dear Brother Athol,
Just a comment about the women point of view.
It is quite a sign when you wear a tallit and don the tephilin. But what sign can a woman wear or do? Should she shave her head and don a wig?
Wear a giant star of David? All that I have left is teaching the Old Testament to the RCIA class and to "Adult formation" scripture study. Sometime I can prepare the priest in how to pronounce certain words such as today's Gospel about the deaf and dumb man. Should be hepatakh...
God bless! Ariela

Catholic Jew said...

Dear Ariela,

The woman is at the centre of a traditional Jewish observant home and has her own rituals as part of that. One doesn't have to shave their head but wearing a tichel is rather a lovely way to express one's Jewishness and spirituality and is very elegant too. Lighting the Shabbas and festival candles is also a lovely custom that means alot spiritually to many Jewish women. However doing these things just as a private devotion in the present set up of the Church is different to having a corporate space/place recreated for the Jews in the Church. I think of when a group of us Hebrew Catholics were gathered together at David's and at your place when I was in the US and how enriching it was to be together. There is something unique and special about being with other Hebrew Catholics and sharing rituals and customs as well as ideas together. However the details of such a corporate Jewish life in the church would be something worked out together with the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we journey along. Of course the experiences of those living already a private Jewish and familial devotional life would be a wonderful resource to bring to the table.