Friday, February 23, 2007

The Ongoing Role of the Jews in Salvation History

The Conversion of the Jews

Updated 2/23/07


When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice, for the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not fail you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers which he swore to them (Deut 4:30-31).


As we have seen in Section 2 of this essay, the central question addressed by Schoeman in his book is whether there is any place for the Jews, as a distinct ethnic people, in salvation history between the first and second comings of Christ. To this both he and I answer Yes. So does Pope Benedict XVI, the man whom Sungenis dubbed, "one of the best theologians with which the Church has been blessed" (Q&A Question 45, Jan 2007):

In Christ we participate in the same heritage of the Fathers as you, to serve Almighty God "with one accord" (Zep 3: 9), grafted onto the one holy trunk (cf. Is 6:13; Rom 11:16) of the People of God. This makes us Christians aware that, with you, we have the responsibility of cooperating for the good of all peoples, in justice and in peace, in truth and in freedom, in holiness and in love.

In light of this common mission, we cannot but denounce and battle with determination against the hatred and misunderstandings, injustices and violence that continue to sow anxieties in the hearts of men and women of good will. In this context, how can we not be grieved and concerned about the renewed demonstrations of anti-Semitism that are at times reported?" (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Dr. Riccardo di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, January 16, 2006)


And even more powerfully:

Deep down, those vicious criminals, by wiping out this people, wanted to kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide for mankind, principles that are eternally valid. If this people, by its very existence, was a witness to the God who spoke to humanity and took us to himself, then that God finally had to die and power had to belong to man alone - to those men, who thought that by force they had made themselves masters of the world. By destroying Israel, by the Shoah, they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention: faith in the rule of man, the rule of the powerful." (Pope Benedict XVI, Visit to the Auschwitz Camp, May 28, 2006)


This last quote especially shows how, according to the Holy Father, the Jews continue to have a mission today: they stand as a concrete, historical witness to the reality of God and His activity in salvation history. Israel "by its very existence" is "a witness to the God who spoke to humanity," specifically "on Sinai." The Pope says that the Nazis were ultimately trying to "tear up the taproot of the Christian faith", not by attacking the Catholic Church as we might expect, but by attacking the Jewish people.

But to the question of whether the Jews, as an ethnic people, have any special ongoing role in salvation history, Sungenis answers No. He categorically denies that there is any such place for the Jews:

The Jews were once God’s chosen people but those days are over. They were over when Jesus died on the cross, and they have been over for the last 2000 years. The Jews have no special covenant with God; they will receive no special protection from God as they did in the Old Testament; . . . The Jews and Israel are just like any other people or nation today. (Q&A Question 45, Jan 2007)


The Catholic belief in a future conversion of the Jews to Christ runs directly contrary to his assertion, so it is little wonder that he has focused such a lot of effort to try and downplay that belief. But let me state here categorically that I do not believe that the Jewish people have a separate, abiding Covenant with God which is salvific for them. The Catholic Church is indeed the New Israel and salvation for the Jews is on the same basis as for everybody else, through faith and baptism into Jesus Christ under the auspices of the New Covenant alone. The future conversion of the Jews to Christ spoken of by so many Fathers, Doctors, and Popes takes place under the auspices of the New Covenant and their salvation comes through Christ alone.

And yet, as Schoeman has rightly said, the mere fact that the Old Covenant has been fulfilled by the New Covenant does not obliterate any and all special dealings God has with the Jewish people. And one of the most clear examples of this is the testimony of Scripture and Tradition to a future collective conversion of the Jews to Christ.

The Catholic belief of the significant conversion of the Jews to Christ at the end of time is probably the best evidence of God's ongoing care and concern for the Jewish people in the sweep of salvation history after the Cross. And a necessary concomitant to the belief in a future conversion of the Jews to Christ is their continued existence as a distinctive people down through the centuries, despite the shattering of the central rituals of the Jewish religion and the loss of their nation in A. D. 70:

The way that this tiny people, who no longer have any country, no longer any independent existence, but lead their life scattered throughout the world, yet despite this keep their own religion, keep their own identity; 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, this is an absolute riddle. This phenomenon in itself shows us that something else is at work here. . . .

But they always kept their identity. Their faith could never die. And likewise it is still like a goad in the very heart of Christianity, which sprang out of the story of Israel and is inseparably bound up with it. You can see, in this way, that there is something more than mere historical chance at work. The great powers of that period have all disappeared. Ancient Egypt and Babylon and Assyria no longer exist. Israel remains - and shows us something of the steadfastness of God, something indeed of his mystery. (Ratzinger, God and the World [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2000], p. 148)


Of course, if God is going to bring about a significant conversion of the Jewish people to Christ sometime in the future then it is necessary that they remain as a distinctive ethnic group. And this has happened, despite the fact that humanly speaking it is inexplicable. And I think that any Catholic who is open to the evidence will find that belief in a future special conversion of the Jews to Christ, in fulfillment of Rom 11:25-26 (along with Deut 4:30-31; Isa 59; Mic 2:12-13; Hos 3:4-5), is extremely well attested in the Catholic Tradition. Even Fr. Denis Fahey, whom I think nobody will mistake for a shining example of a philosemite, especially in his later writings, speaks of a significant future conversion of the Jewish people as a certainty:

The conversion of the Jewish people to the true Supernatural Messias is, therefore, certain, in spite of the overwhelming evidence of uncompromising hostility to Him on their part at the present time. Their conversion will be a glorious triumph for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It will be a special source of exultation for Her, when Her own people will at last acclaim her divine Son as their King and welcome as their Queen her who is their sister according to the flesh, and who so ardently desires to be their Mother according to the divine life of grace. (Fr. Denis Fahey, The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation, chapter 7; the emphasis is mine here and throughout unless otherwise noted.)


But again, so that we keep straight just exactly who bears the burden of proof in this dispute, let me stress that there is no need for me here to attempt to prove that belief in this future Jewish conversion is an essential part of the deposit of Faith, something that must be definitively held by all the faithful. That would be stating my case too strongly. What I will demonstrate, though, is that there is more than enough evidence to safely permit the Catholic faithful to look forward with hopeful expectation for just such a miraculous occurrence. In fact, the most authoritative witnesses in the Catholic Church—Fathers, Doctors, and Popes—have held this view as a matter of course. That this is neither heretical, nor even dubious, will be demonstrated from the luminous and orthodox Catholic minds which have held it. And if there is indeed to be a future conversion of "all Israel" then obviously the Jews will need to remain as a distinctive people until the end of time. And this demonstrates that Roy Schoeman is perfectly within his bounds to conclude that "the Jews continue to have a role to play in salvation history following Christ" (Salvation is From the Jews, p. 68).

In the interest of space I will not reproduce all the evidence—the reader is strongly encouraged to look at that for himself here, and here (which is the excellent presentation found in Jacob Michael's book Never Revoked by God, pp. 199-220.) Note especially that these witnesses all speak of the conversion of the Jews to Christ as a special, future event. This stands in direct contrast to Bob's contention that the only thing we can look forward to is an ongoing trickle of Jewish converts.

The list of patristic authors compiled by Jacob Michael and Michael Forrest includes: Origen, Tertullian, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Hippolytus, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Hilary of Poitiers, Bl. Theodoret of Cyrus, Pelagius, St. Prosper of Aquitaine, Pope St. Gregory the Great, Victorinus of Petovium, Ambrosiaster, Cassiodorus, Pseudo-Constantius, Diodore, St. Isidore of Seville, St. John Damascene, and the Venerable Bede, for a total of 21 patristic witnesses.

The medieval and modern authors cited by Michael and Forrest include: St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope Innocent III, Pope Martin V, St. Peter Damian, St. Robert Bellarmine, the Glossa Ordinaria, Bl. Pope Pius IX, the Douay-Rheims Bible notes, Suarez, Cornelius a Lapide, Fr. M. J. Lagrange, Fr. Fernand Prat, Fr. Leo Haydock, Fr. Charles J. Callan, Ludwig Ott, and even Fr. Denis Fahey, whom Sungenis has praised so highly in conjunction with various Jewish issues. Fahey adds to this list two more medieval luminaries, St. Anselm and St. Bernard.

Now just to focus our attention on the importance of these witnesses, let's consider that the specific proposition that there will be a future, significant conversion of the Jews to Catholicism is held by at least fourteen Doctors of the Church, nine of whom are in the patristic era. These Doctors are St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Jerome, Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Isidore of Seville, St. John Damascene, Venerable Bede, St. Peter Damian, St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Robert Bellarmine.

As Michael Forrest has pointed out, those of us who have argued the pedigree of dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin could only wish for attestation so strong. With a line-up like that, a faithful Catholic would have to have some pretty compelling reasons to reject the proposition in question.

But contest it Sungenis does. Rather than rehash the copious primary evidence which is already laid out here and here,I will instead examine the means by which Sungenis seeks to dismiss the witness of this venerable throng. In doing so I will uncover still more of his double standards and will show how he readily adopts a thoroughly non-Catholic approach to the evidence, all so that he can deny that there will be special graces given to the Jews in the future. So what reasons does Bob give for rejecting this proposition? Speaking broadly there are seven of them:

1) He argues that there aren't very many witnesses.

2) He argues that they don't hearken back to an apostolic tradition.

3) He argues that the witnesses are "divided".

4) He argues that the witnesses sometimes offer alternative interpretations.

5) He argues that their witness is invalidated because some of them (incorrectly, he contends) speak also of a literal return of Enoch and Elijah in the end times.

6) He argues that they have not provided a "detailed" exegesis of Rom 11 and this invalidates their testimony.

7) He argues that God doesn't do mass conversions.

Let's tackle these one at a time:

1) Sungenis argues that there aren't very many witnesses to this belief:

"Only two Fathers hold out for any future large restoration of faith in Israel" (Sungenis, "The Fathers and the Return of the Jews")

"Only three Fathers hold out for a future and distinct conversion of Jews" ("Judaizers").

[O]f the over one hundred Fathers of note in the patristic era, only a little over half a dozen speak about an anticipated conversion of Jews, and half of them apply it exclusively to the salvation of a remnant during the Church age; another portion see both a remnant saved in the Church age and a more significant portion in the distant future; ("Judaizers")

There seems to be some confusion on Bob's part as to just how many witnesses are arrayed against him. Perhaps it would be better if he would reserve his comments until he's done a more careful study. As it stands, though, Sungenis simply misstates the force of the evidence against him. He has nowhere demonstrated that any Fathers apply the conversion of the Jews exclusively to a remnant in the Church age. As we will see, some Fathers supported complementary views, but a fixture of their belief was this special future conversion of the Jews. Sungenis has never shown that any Father held a view that was limited exclusively to the Church age.

He has also radically downplayed the number of patristic witnesses. There are many more patristic witnesses than his two, three, or half dozen. There are, as we saw above, at least twenty one, including nine Doctors of the Church. Again, space does not permit reproducing the evidence, but the reader can easily convince himself of this by looking at the links provided.

Sungenis also violates his own principles when evaluating the evidence. In one place, when arguing against Scott Hahn, Sungenis lays out one set of guidelines for establishing doctrine based on the patristic witness:

The general rule in basing doctrine on testimony found in the patristics is: the prominent and authoritative Fathers must offer their support, and there must be a consensus among them. (Sungenis, "Do the Fathers Support Scott Hahn's Theory?")


But on a special, future conversion of the Jews to Christ we have many very prominent and authoritative Fathers (again, at least nine Doctors of the Church, from both the East and the West.) Though some include certain details such as the literal coming of Enoch and Elijah, there is a consensus among them on the central point—that there will be such a significant conversion in the end times. Despite such weighty testimony, Sungenis rejects it.

But then when it comes to defending some of his own pet ideas, such as "God's anger and related issues of contingency", he dispenses himself entirely from the rules he himself laid out:

Mr. Michael: . . . I wonder if Ferrara is aware that Robert Sungenis himself interprets certain Scriptural texts in a way that isn't found explicitly in councils or Church Fathers, and in some cases is actually contrary to the Fathers?

R. Sungenis: Name one, Mr. Michael, that is contrary to the Fathers. I can save you the trouble. There aren't any. Not even the issue of God's anger and related issues of contingency, since there is no unanimous consent among them . ("Dialogue between Jacob Michael and Bob Sungenis")


In fact, on Sungenis' idiosyncratic views on God's wrath (see here) Bob's excuse that there is "no unanimous consent" of the Fathers against him actually papers over the glaring problem that the two major Doctors who laid the foundation of Catholic metaphysics and our understanding of such things as God's "wrath," namely, Augustine and Aquinas, are in total disagreement with Bob's theology on this issue. And of course, they're both against him on the Jewish conversion issue too. There seems to be a pattern here.

We also have the strange circumstance of Bob playing up the evidence that the Antichrist will be Jewish and will hail from the tribe of Dan. Michael Forrest clearly and convincingly presented the evidence for this rather bizarre double standard in "Robert Sungenis and the Jews". For example, Bob claims that "the Fathers have much to say" on the possibility that the Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction ("Judaizers"). But the fact is that only a handful of Fathers have anything to say about it; and for his part, he cites exactly one Father (St. Irenaeus) in support of this idea. He proceeds to claim that "the medievals were just as informed" and cites two examples. One of these, St. Bridget of Sweden, says absolutely nothing about the Antichrist being of Jewish extraction, leaving one wondering why Bob would bother to have cited her at all ("Judaizers"). Does he even read the material he deploys against Jews? Similarly, Bob insists that "according to the Fathers" the Antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan. Again, the patristic evidence for this is extremely thin, but Bob accepts it almost without question and presses it on his readers as the view of "the Fathers". Forrest is certainly correct to warn his readers:

[K]eep in mind the very different approach Bob takes on a positive development regarding the Jews as opposed to this very negative one regarding Antichrist: reflexively dismissive of the former and reflexively accepting of the latter. This is the essential point of the entire section: further detailing the breadth and extent of Bob’s deeply negative bias. If something is negative about Jews, Bob exhibits a clear tendency to uncritically believe, defend and further propagate it. If something is positive about Jews, Bob exhibits a clear tendency to automatically reject and discredit it. (RSATJ:3, emphasis his).


When Mark Cameron cited the Catholic Encyclopedia in support of the belief that there would be a significant future conversion of the Jews, Bob waved him off from that source:

R. Sungenis: "Mark, I understand why you might hold this in high esteem, but let me warn you that the Catholic Encyclopedia is not our official authority on these matters. As for the CE's comment on Romans 11:25-26, that is merely the statement of a single person who has no ecclesiastical authority, except to write his opinion." ("Intense Dialogue")


But when it comes to the Antichrist coming from "Jewry", suddenly the Catholic Encyclopedia is a great source; indeed, Bob contends that the Catholic Encyclopedia "predicts" that the Antichrist will be Jewish and even that the same source demonstrates that "Catholic tradition . . . has unofficially declared that the future Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction" (whatever "unofficially declared" means):

(Sungenis): “As we have documented earlier, our Catholic saints and doctors have said the same thing. The 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia predicts that the Antichrist will come from Jewry. The 1936 Catholic Encyclopedia followed this by predicting that a Temple would be built for him in Jerusalem…” ("Neo-Conservatism and the Evangelical/Protestant Connection")

Sungenis: “In fact, . . . Catholic tradition . . . has unofficially declared that the future Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction. As late as 1911 the Catholic Encyclopedia stated it quite plainly ("Politics, Religion, Israel and the Seduction of the Catholic Voter").


Now in his response to Michael Forrest, Sungenis tries to dodge the accusation of a clear double standard in the way he treats positive versus negative evidence on Jewish issues:

I don't consider that the Antichrist will be Jewish as a solid fact of prophecy. I merely mention the fact that some Fathers believed it to be so, and I do so in order to combat people like Michael Forrest who think, or at least previously thought, that such things were out of the realm of possibility for Jews. (MFATJ, p. 41).


This is a typically flimsy response from Sungenis when he is caught in a double standard or faux pas. He downplays the force of his own words and seeks to transfer blame (even if he has to fabricate that blame) to his opponent. The fact is that he has been caught holding a huge double standard with respect to the evidence, downplaying the positive future conversion of the Jewish people to Christ while at the same time playing up the negative, but much flimsier, evidence for the Antichrist being of Jewish extraction. And he simply fabricates the charge that Michael Forrest thinks that it is "out of the realm of possibility" that the Antichrist would be of Jewish extraction. On the contrary, if he had actually bothered to read "Robert Sungenis and the Jews" he would see that Forrest explicitly acknowledges this possibility:

I do not at all dispute the possibility or even likelihood that the Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction from the tribe of Dan and I have researched it only at modest length. It seems plausible and rational. There is a certain symmetry to the expectation (Christ Jewish/Antichrist Jewish). (RSATJ:3).


Bob has accused Forrest again and again of never, ever, (ever!) saying anything negative about Jews. Yet here was a statement from Forrest right in front of his face, agreeing that it is a possibility and even a "likelihood that that Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction". And he misses this entirely and goes on to accuse Forrest of thinking that "such things were out of the realm of possibility for Jews". Sungenis does exactly the same thing with Jacob Michael. On the one hand he repeatedly jeers that Michael won't ever (ever!) say anything negative about the Jews, while on the other he threatens that Abe Foxman and the ADL will be bringing Jacob up on charges of anti-Semitism for suggesting in Never Revoked by God that the Beast of the Apocalypse might be institutional Judaism (see "Christopher Blosser and the Catholic ADL", p. 2). So which is it, Bob?

As it stands, Forrest's accusation that Sungenis reflexively embraces negative views about Jews while downplaying positive ones stands well established, while Sungenis' view that Forrest will never say anything negative about the Jews falls absolutely flat.

2) He argues that they don't hearken back to an apostolic tradition.

First, you’ll notice that Gregory does not cite any earlier patristic witness. In order for a massive conversion of Jews at the end of time to be the abiding view of the Church, there would have had to be an apostolic teaching that such was the case. As it stands, none of the early Fathers speak of such a massive conversion in the distant future, let alone say they received such teaching from the apostles. ("Intense Dialogue")

John Damascene is rather late in the patristic record, and thus he offers little evidence of an apostolic precedent for his view. He certainly doesn’t cite any patristic witness to back up his claims. ("Intense Dialogue")


Now the fact is, as we have already seen, there is patristic evidence (from Origen and Tertullian) that extends back to the early third century. And several of the later Fathers make plain that this belief in a significant conversion of the Jews sometime in the future was a stock belief among Catholics, a part of their faith that was accepted as a matter of course. In the East, St. Cyril of Alexandria says that:

Towards the end of time, Our Lord Jesus Christ will effect the reconciliation of His former persecutor Israel with Himself. Everybody who knows Holy Scripture is aware that, in the course of time, this people will return to the love of Christ by the submission of faith . . . Yes, one day, after the conversion of the Gentiles, Israel will be converted, and the Jews will be astonished at the treasure they will find in Christ." (Commentary on Genesis, Bk. 5; cited at Sungenis and the Jews)


Here, as Michael Forrest notes, "St. Cyril states that this belief is common knowledge for Catholics, not merely his own personal view." (RSATJ:5)

And in the West, St. Augustine says:

It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithful, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in the true Christ, that is, our Christ (City of God, Book XX, Chapter 29).


Again, Forrest notes, "Here Augustine indicates that the idea of the conversion of the Jews is 'a familiar theme' among 'the faithful', once again indicating that this belief was not his own speculation but that it was well-known." (RSATJ:5)

Cassiodorus and Pope St. Gregory the Great both treat this belief as common knowledge among the faithful:

He will not always be angry, nor will He be wroth forever . . . this verse can be applied also to the Jewish people who we know are to be converted at the world’s end. On this Paul says: Blindness in part has happened in Israel, that the fullness of the Gentiles should come in, and so all Israel should be saved. (Explanation of the Psalms; cited at Sungenis and the Jews)


As Jacob Michael says, "What is interesting about Cassiodorus' statement is that he so easily tosses off the statement that 'we know' the Jews 'are to be converted'; he takes this for granted, as though everybody already knows this fact" (Never Revoked, p. 209).

And Pope St. Gregory the Great states:

Peter and John, the ones who loved more than the rest, ran more swiftly than the rest (to the sepulchre). The two ran together but John outran Peter and came first to the sepulcher; but did not presume to enter it. Peter came after him and went in….What does John signify then, if not the synagogue, and Peter, if not the Church?

The synagogue came first to the sepulchre, but did not enter, because although it received the commandments of the law and listened to prophecies of the incarnation and passion, it was unwilling to believe in the one who had died. John saw the linen cloths lying there, but even so he did not enter, because the synagogue know the mysteries of the holy scriptures, yet put off entering by putting its faith in the Lord’s passion.

Then follows: Therefore that disciple who had come first to the sepulcher then entered also. After Peter entered, John also went in. He who had come first entered second. We know, my friends, that at the end of the world even Judea will be brought to faith in the Redeemer. Paul testifies to this by saying: “Until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, and thus all Israel is saved.” (Homily 22 from Forty Gospel Homilies; cited at Sungenis and the Jews)


Again, note that Pope St. Gregory says "We know, my friends . . .", as though this is common knowledge for the faithful, not at all disputed or speculative.

This is also a good place to highlight what I believe is another large double standard in the way Sungenis treats the patristic evidence. He insists, on the one hand, that there is much greater support for geocentrism among the Fathers than for a special future conversion of the Jews:

As I said in one of my earlier rebuttals, the patristic and medieval consensus on geocentrism is about a hundred times stronger than the opinions of the Fathers on a future conversion of the Jews, yet we don’t find Mr. Michael or any of his colleagues endorsing geocentric cosmology, and that in the face of the fact that geocentrism was a true consensus, that is, every Father believed that the sun went around the earth. (Sungenis, Review, p. 13)


Of course, we saw above that Sungenis says that there are something like one hundred significant witnesses in the patristic era. So if we take Sungenis at his word that the consensus for geocentrism is "about a hundred times stronger" than that for a future Jewish conversion, we would only need to find two witnesses in favor of this future conversion to turn his statement into a ridiculous exaggeration. But in fact, we have over twenty. On the other hand, the list provided from Galileo Was Wrong here cites something like twenty seven witnesses. A careful reading that, if one were to apply his hermeneutic of suspicion and deconstruction techniques to the same witnesses that speak of geocentrism, we could whittle them down just as effectively. But Sungenis won't apply his reductionist techniques to beliefs he's in favor of, only to those which he wants to discredit.

Here's a perfect example. In an interview with Jacob Michael on geocentrism, Bob was asked to pick the best one or two patristic quotes he had in support of geocentrism. He picked this one from St. Basil the Great:

There are inquirers into nature who with a great erudition of words give reasons for the immobility of the earth....Do not then be surprised that the world never falls: it occupies the center of the universe, its natural place. By all necessity it is obliged to remain in its place, unless a movement contrary to nature should displace it. If there is anything in this system which might appear probably to you, keep your admiration for the source of such perfect order, on the wisdom of God. (Hexameron, Homily 1, 10, NPNF2 p. 57.) (source)


Now here is the actual quote from NPNF2:

There are inquirers into nature who with a great display of words give reasons for the immobility of the earth. Placed, they say, in the middle of the universe and not being able to incline more to one side than the other because its centre is everywhere the same distance from the surface, it necessarily rests upon itself; since a weight which is everywhere equal cannot lean to either side. It is not, they go on, without reason or by chance that the earth occupies the centre of the universe. It is its natural and necessary position. As the celestial body occupies the higher extremity of space all heavy bodies, they argue, that we may suppose to have fallen from these high regions, will be carried from all directions to the centre, and the point towards which the parts are tending will evidently be the one to which the whole mass will be thrust together. If stones, wood, all terrestrial bodies, fall from above downwards, this must be the proper and natural place of the whole earth. If, on the contrary, a light body is separated from the centre, it is evident that it will ascend towards the higher regions. Thus heavy bodies move from the top to the bottom, and following this reasoning, the bottom is none other than the centre of the world. Do not then be surprised that the world never falls: it occupies the centre of the universe, its natural place. By necessity it is obliged to remain in its place, unless a movement contrary to nature should displace it.(3) If there is anything in this system which might appear probable to you, keep your admiration for the source of such perfect order, for the wisdom of God. (source)


First of all, as an aside, there are some differences in wording, even in the section he quotes on either side of the ellipses. Given Bob's track record when it comes to proper use and attribution of sources, we may be forgiven for wondering if once again he is not citing a primary source here, but an unverified secondary or tertiary source. It at least raises the question: if Bob knows the primary source and it is easily accessible (and St. Basil's Hexameron is viewable on several web sites), why doesn't he just quote the primary source?

But second, read carefully the part he left out with the ellipses. Notice that this is all based on a kind of scientific-philosophical argument. There is no reference to an unbroken patristic tradition. In fact, I have yet to see a patristic citation in support of geocentrism that contains any such appeal to apostolic tradition. Certainly none of the citations cited at ScriptureCatholic.com which purport to be from Bob's book Galileo Was Wrong have any such appeal to apostolic tradition. And in fact, if we applied all of Bob's criteria that he uses to dismiss the testimony of the Fathers in support of a future conversion of the Jews, we would find that list of witnesses for geocentrism likewise decimated.

And what's more, the argument given in the citation by St. Basil above—namely, that the earth is at the center of the universe because it's the heaviest thing in the universe—is simply wrong, as even modern geocentrists would have to agree. Therefore this text, which is the witness that Bob provided when asked for the strongest he could supply, does not provide anything like the support he would want for geocentrism, if we apply his own standards. But, of course, for Bob it is one standard for me and another for thee.

3) Bob frequently argues that the witnesses on a future conversion of the Jews are "uncertain" and "divided":

There are a few Fathers that looked for some ethnic or physical blessing, but by and large, the Fathers are very divided on this issue, and there really is no consensus among them. ("Intense Dialogue")

Be that as it may, the fact remains that there was not a consensus among the Fathers that the Jews would convert to Christ, en masse. Granted, there were more that believed there would be some type of conversion than not, but that is not a consensus, and we are not required to accept it. This is especially true in light of the fact that some Fathers and medievals opposed the possibility of an en masse conversion. (MFATJ, p. 43)


Now to sustain the claim that the Fathers and Doctors are "divided" on an issue, he would have to show where they actually contradict or oppose the idea in question. This Bob has never done. He has never shown a single Father, Doctor, or Pope who denies that there will be a future, significant conversion of the Jews to Christ and I do not believe that any such witness exists. He has never provided the references in which "some Fathers and medievals opposed the possibility of an en masse conversion." Certainly, such denials would be expected if this belief were disputed, since it has been widely known within the Church from very early on. As Michael Forrest has rightly commented:

Bob has on occasion claimed that a couple of the Fathers contradict their own views and as such, we cannot take much of anything substantive from them on this topic. However, to my knowledge, he has never proved and documented these purportedly contradictory views that deny a future unusual conversion of the Jews, either in context or not. It seems likely that if there is anything to his assertions at all, these few Fathers have merely expressed complementary views rather than views that contradict themselves. (RSATJ:5)


And Forrest rightly points out that Sungenis is frequently heedless of the context when he tries to dismiss the testimony of the Fathers. Indeed, I believe that Mark Cameron, in his dialogue with Bob, showed well that Sungenis had ignored essential contextual clues and sometimes cropped quotes to make the Fathers seem as if they were opposing the view, when in fact they were supporting it. For example, Mark catches Bob truncating St. John Chrysostom and putting in ellipses precisely where the quote would prove him wrong:

Mark: . . . I also find that you have shortened the St. John Chrysostom quote in a way that reduces any suggestion of a future conversion . . . You quote Chrysostom as saying: "God's covenant will be fulfilled not when they are circumcised . . . but when they obtain the forgiveness of sins . . . it will certainly come to pass."

But the full quote is this: "God's covenant will be fulfilled not when they are circumcised, nor when they do other deeds of the law, but when they obtain the forgiveness of sins. If this has been promised but has not yet happened in their case, nor have they enjoyed the forgiveness of sins in baptism, it will certainly come to pass." This language of fulfillment of the covenant that "has been promised but has not yet happened in their case" (which you omitted) sounds more like "a distant event in the future."

R. Sungenis: But again, Mark, even this quote is not definitive, since Chrysostom says "IF....this has not yet happened in their case." But the point is that it HAS happened, and continues to happen, as Paul made clear in Romans 11:5, 14, 23, as a remnant of Jews, beginning at Pentecost, were added to the Church, and "some" of the whole nation is saved, and "regrafted" into the olive tree even though the whole nation was cut off. ("Intense Dialogue")


Notice that in his reply Sungenis dodges the fact that Cameron caught him cropping a quote specifically to eliminate the material that ran against his view. Sungenis also insists that:

Instead, many of these same Fathers wrote many essays remarking about the unbelief of the Jews, and how it will continue to the end of time" ("Intense Dialogue").


Many Fathers, he says? Which ones, pray tell? Many essays? If there really were many, it shouldn't be difficult to tell us what they are. But tellingly, he doesn't cite any of them; he merely asserts that they exist. But the days are long past when Bob Sungenis can simply assert something and have the force of his assertion carry any weight. As always, that which is gratuitously asserted may be just as gratuitously denied. And so we see that the impressive positive witness of the Fathers for a future conversion of the Jews to Christ is not in any way "divided".

4) A related but slightly different tack is to argue that the patristic witnesses sometimes offer alternative interpretations; from this he proceeds to essentially dismiss their witness.

They waffle back and forth between a remnant and a larger group; and they waffle back and forth between a spiritual and ethnic restoration. ("Intense Dialogue")


Here Bob attempts to downplay the force of any given patristic testimony with a ploy typically used by non-Catholics, in this case by his use of the phrase "waffle back and forth." If a particular Father or Doctor says something you don't like, find a place where he says something slightly different on the same topic and use that to negate the former meaning. In other words, if Bob can find a place where a given Father gives a spiritual interpretation of a passage which elsewhere he had applied literally to a future conversion of Israel, well then the testimony of that Father can dismissed entirely. Jehovah's Witnesses use this ploy all the time to negate various patristic witnesses to the divinity of our Lord. Protestants use it to try and undermine the testimony of the Fathers to such Catholic distinctives as the Real Presence in the Eucharist and the divine institution of the papacy. It might seem strange to find a putative Catholic apologist utilizing exactly the same tactic. Frankly, to me it stands as one more evidence of an underlying animus on the part of Bob Sungenis toward the Jews. Michael Forrest very rightly pointed out this double standard in "Robert Sungenis and the Jews":

As Bob has previously argued against Protestant apologist James White in regard to the Holy Eucharist, a Father may at times speak only about the spiritual nature or symbolic nature of the Eucharist without simultaneously intending to deny or contradict the physical reality of Christ’s presence.

There are two similarities to the issue at hand. First, St. Paul and the Fathers do certainly speak of “Israel” in the spiritual sense, referring to the Church. That the Church is “Israel” is not in dispute. However, this does not preclude or contradict the more mundane, ethnic meaning of the term which is also used at times. For instance, try to read Romans 11 through while systematically substituting “the Church” for “Israel” and all pronouns that refer to Israel and determine if it makes sense. Second, in regard to the issue of the conversion of the Jews, it is clear that St. Paul did speak of a remnant that continues to be saved even in his day. Yet, this does not preclude or contradict the idea that he also indicated a future, unusual conversion. There is a Catholic “both/and” readily available here. As such, the interpretation would simply be: Jews have and will continue to come into the Church, but in the future, there will also be an unusual, significant restoration of them to Christ. (RSATJ:5)


That certain Fathers express other, complementary interpretations of Romans 11 does not in any way do away with the fact that those very same Fathers also express their belief in a future, significant conversion of the Jews. In many other contexts, Sungenis would be the first to argue that way. But if he desires to deny future spiritual blessings for the Jews, then even non-Catholic argumentation is apparently good enough for him.

5) He argues that their witness is invalidated because some of the Fathers (incorrectly, he contends) speak also of a literal return of Enoch and Elijah.

This argument is easily disposed of. Again, Bob employs a profoundly non-Catholic argument in an attempt to undermine the testimony of the Fathers. Let us acknowledge that certain Fathers and medieval luminaries teach that Enoch and Elijah will return at the end of time. And let us suppose that this turns out to be incorrect (although Bob has not proven that it is.) This does not invalidate the larger fact that they all agree that the Jews will be converted, any more than the fact that a few patristic sources speak of the Blessed Virgin Mary's death while others don't invalidates their testimony with respect to her Assumption.

Similarly, if one looks at the patristic evidence for geocentrism offered by Bob (see here, for example) the Fathers also don't agree on the specifics concerning geocentrism. But we will not find Sungenis discrediting their witness on that account. His standards change radically depending on his topic and the hinge on which they swing most freely these days seems to be any issue involving the Jews.

6) He argues that they have not provided a "detailed" exegesis of Rom 11 and this invalidates their testimony.

You don’t have a "broad consensus," you have merely a half dozen or so citations, many of which are equivocal, all of which offer no exegesis, little of which cite early patristic support for their view, some of which can be taken in a spiritual as well as literal sense, many of which leave out crucial details (e.g., Enoch), all of which have only the obscure passage of Romans 11:25-26 as their Scriptural base ("Intense Dialogue").

[N]ot one of the witnesses ever provide exegesis of the passages, nor cited early patristic support for their interpretation, nor showed that the apostolic tradition demanded their interpretation. ("Intense Dialogue").

Moreover, neither Jerome, Cyril or Chrysostom give a thorough exegesis of the passages in question ("Judaizers").

Gregory offers no exegesis of the crucial phrases in the Romans 11 text (e.g., "fullness of the Gentiles," "so all Israel is saved"). ("Intense Dialogue")

You offered Gregory, but as you can see, he does not offer any patristic support or Scriptural exegesis to back up his view. (ibid.)

Neither Augustine nor Chrysostom "exegeted" Romans 11:25-26. They simply referred to the text. (ibid.)

Since none of them offer a detailed exegesis of the passage; or interact with any of the contextual or grammatical issues at stake, and offer virtually no supporting Scripture with accompanying exegesis to back up their claims, then there is virtually no convincing evidence they have to offer. (ibid.)


Again, this argument is very easily disposed of. Since when can a faithful Catholic flippantly dismiss the testimony of the Fathers of the Church, simply because they don't give a "thorough exegesis of the passages in question"? The fact is, most of them do regularly precisely what he accuses them of doing with regard to the Jews. He says, "Neither Augustine nor Chrysostom "exegeted" Romans 11:25-26. They simply referred to the text." But take any subject you like: baptism, the Eucharist, the papacy, what have you. What the Fathers usually do is "simply refer to the text" without going into any detailed exegesis. And how much of the Summa of St. Thomas contains "thorough exegesis"? Is Bob really going to argue that we can set aside that master work and others like it on the basis of his arbitrary exegetical requirement?

And then let's apply Bob's same criterion to his own pet doctrine, geocentrism. Do the Fathers provide a detailed exegesis of Josh 10:11-14 and other texts normally advanced in support of geocentrism or do they simply refer to the text? At least in the list provided here I find no evidence of detailed exegesis; they simply refer to the various texts. So by his own standards, we should be able to dismiss their testimony on geocentrism as well.

7) He argues that God doesn't do mass conversions.

As Michael Forrest has already pointed out in "Robert Sungenis and the Jews", we have here another of Bob's blatant contradictions. On the one hand he contends that a future significant conversion of the Jewish people isn't going to happen because that's just not the way God works:

Nevertheless, a universal conversion would simply be totally adverse to everything God has ever done with regard to Jews and Gentiles. . . . God simply does not do "universal" conversions. ("Intense Dialogue")


Now of course, Bob is wrongly eliminating such massive (indeed, almost universal) conversions as that of the Aztecs after the advent of our Lady of Guadalupe. And notice how Bob's position changes when the subject is the Russians or even the Aztecs:

But the truth is that if the Church had mentioned 'Russia' in the 1984 consecration, we would have seen millions of Russians embrace the Catholic faith. . . . True followers of Fatima are waiting for the time when Russia will mightily embrace Catholic Christianity and spread her faith all over the world, just as she had previously spread atheism all over the world. ("Dr. Zugibe Responds to Robert Sungenis")


And

Never mind, as Ferrara points out, that the Aztecs were one of the most blood thirsty pagan cultures known to man, and who Juan Diego helped to abolish by converting nine million of them out of their pagan religion. (From: EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong, A review by Robert A. Sungenis, Ph.D.”, p. 19. See here.)



A massive conversion of millions of Russians, in which they "mightily embrace Catholic Christianity and spread [the] faith all over the world" is something Sungenis vigorously defends. And he readily acknowledges the miraculous conversion of the Aztecs by Our Lady of Guadalupe (although giving too much credit to Juan Diego and too little to the Blessed Mother in the process). But a massive conversion of Jews in the end times? No, that's just impossible because "God simply does not do 'universal' conversions."

So we see that none of the methods by which Sungenis seeks to diminish the patristic and medieval support for a future, significant conversion of the Jews are cogent. And this means that the understanding that there will be a future outpouring of grace on this ethnically distinct people, by virtue of God's special favor, is perfectly solid and worthy of Catholic belief.

But now it is important to ask the obvious question: Why does Bob Sungenis advance such limping arguments against the conversion of the Jews? Why would someone fight this hard against this much evidence? Why would someone employ such straw-grasping arguments, unless he really and truly loathed the alternative? And why the loathing? Hasn't he read Tertullian?

[I]t will be fitting for the Christian to rejoice, and not to grieve, at the restoration of Israel, if it be true, (as it is), that the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel. (Tertullian, On Modesty, source)


Again, for all his protests to the contrary, the evidence clearly shows that Bob Sungenis has a fundamental animus toward the Jewish people.

With this foundation in place, then, let's look at yet another charge leveled by Sungenis at Schoeman.

Does Schoeman Say That the Old Covenant "Fulfills" the New Covenant?

It is in the context of this future conversion of the Jews to Christ that we must address yet one more accusation thrown by Bob at Roy Schoeman. Bob has insisted that:

Schoeman believes that “Salvation is from the Jews” because, as he says in his book, the Jews who become saved in the future will “fulfill the New Covenant” by a completion of the Old Covenant, not because Jesus was a Jew. (MFATJ, p. 63)


And elsewhere he writes:

Thus, Schoeman's "alternative" relationship between the Old and New Covenants seems to be a kind of theological ‘reverse osmosis.' The New Covenant is now said to reach its fulfillment only by having the Jews of the Old Covenant return to Christ at the Second Coming. This is certainly a novel teaching and unfortunately it is totally erroneous. The conversion of Jews to the Christian faith is not something the New Covenant has put off into the distant future. Luke 1:67-79, for example, is clear that Christ came at his first coming precisely to save the Jews, and for the express purpose of fulfilling the promises to Abraham and David. Not surprisingly, the first Christians were Jews. Almost ten thousand of them, along with some Gentiles, were saved within a few weeks time (Acts 2:41; 4:4). For those Jews who have accepted His invitation, He has thus saved in the same way for the last two thousand years. ("Judaizers")


Note again that Bob has attributed words to Schoeman which Schoeman never used. Schoeman did not use the word "fulfill" or "fulfillment", but "fruition". He says, "as the Old Covenant was brought to fruition by the New at the First Coming, so will the New Covenant be brought to fruition by the Old, by the return of the Jews at the Second Coming" (Salvation, p. 353). Bob alleges that this somehow shows that Schoeman believes that the Old Covenant "remains in force" after the advent of the New Covenant (Question 16, March 2006). The immediate context completely rules this out, since Schoeman immediately goes on to denounce in no uncertain terms the thesis that there are two separate covenants simultaneously in effect:

[A] new and perhaps even more pernicious error has emerged - that the Old and New Covenants are two "separate but equal" parallel paths to salvation, the one intended for Jews, the other for Gentiles. . . . [I]t is utterly irreconcilable with both the core beliefs of Christianity and with the words of Jesus himself in the New Testament. (Salvation, p. 352f.)


The whole thrust of Schoeman's book shows that the word "fruition" is chosen precisely in reference to an outpouring of God's grace on the Jewish people, resulting in a rich and fruitful harvest of Jewish souls for Christ. Note that it is specifically in reference to "the return of the Jews" that Schoeman posits this bringing to fruition. Schoeman has verified his intention in an e-mail to me:

When I say that the "New Covenant will be brought to fruition by the Old" I am referring to the conversion of the Jews which is to precede the Second Coming (certainly not to the Old Testament sacramental system!). The picture that I present (I think quite clearly) is that the Gospel, having first been offered to the Jews who in general rejected it, then went out to the Gentiles. When the "number of the Gentiles is fulfilled", the Jews will experience some sort of mass conversion and enter the Church, thus completing this phase of salvation history and preparing the way for the Second Coming.

I really don't see how anyone with any honesty or good faith could read what I wrote and come to the conclusions that I am guilty of the heresy that I am accused of! (private e-mail of 26 Jan 2007.)


And this is supported by various patristic authors. Tertullian, quoted above, says "the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel." Origen said, "But as long as Israel persists in unbelief, the fullness of the Lord's portion will not be said to be completed; for the people of Israel are missing from the whole. Yet when the fullness of the Gentiles enters in and Israel comes to salvation through faith in the end time, it will be that that very people which had been first would, in coming last, somehow complete that fullness of the inheritance and portion of God" (Commentary on Romans, 8.8, quoted in J. Cohen, "The Mystery of Israel's Salvation: Romans 11:25-26 in Patristic and Medieval Exegesis", Harvard Theological Review, 98:3 [2005], p. 260). And Pope St. Gregory the Great said, "However, well after the destruction of [Job's] things (property), after the funerals of loved ones, after the misfortune of wounds, after the struggle of battles and of words, he is lifted up by double remuneration . . . the holy Church also . . . receives a double portion of gifts . . . At the end of the world, the hearts of the Jews shall be converted to her." (Moralium Libri, Sive Expositio in Librum B. Job, Cap. X; quoted in Never Revoked by God, p. 202)

We have seen again and again that weighty witnesses have throughout Church history upheld the Catholic belief in a significant conversion of the Jewish people to Christ at some time in the future. It is so significant, in fact, that Ludwig Ott expressly included it as one of the five signs that would herald the second coming of Christ—and the fact that he could do this in a book called Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma only goes to show how common this teaching is. Bob's response to Ott is laughable and should be quoted here:

Ott is saying nothing different than what I have said. If you read my essay carefully, I maintain that "all Israel" will be saved when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. ("Intense Dialogue")


But Ott and Sungenis are most certainly not saying the same thing. Here is what Ott presents in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (page 486):

2) Signs of the Second Coming

b) The Conversion of the Jews

In Romans 11:25-32, St. Paul reveals 'the mystery': When the fullness,
that is, the number ordained by God, of the Gentiles has entered the
kingdom of God 'All Israel' will be converted and saved. There is
question of a morally universal conversion of the Jews.


Bob counters by saying, "Ott offers no exegesis of the text, so we don't know in which direction he is going" (ibid.) But again, this is incorrect. Ott writes "All Israel will be converted and saved" and then "morally universal conversion." (emphasis added) It is clear enough where Ott is going. But he's going where Bob Sungenis doesn't want to go. The only way Bob can attempt to dodge this is by fixating upon and distorting Ott's phrase: "there is question of a morally universal conversion."

Bob attempts to interpret the phrase in this way: "he knows that there are people, such as yourself, who teach there will be a universal conversion, but to Ott that view is at best a 'question.'" (ibid.) But as Forrest already pointed out, Bob ignores the fact that the conversion of the Jews is listed by Ott as a sign that precedes the second coming—and precisely as a sign, it must obviously be unusual, perceptible. Bob's scenario of a continual trickle of Jewish conversions right up to the end would not qualify as a "sign" in any sense of the word. In order to be a sign, it must be something different, something perceptible, something distinct from the status quo and therefore it is completely unreasonable to interpret Ott in such a contrived way.

Ott's "question" is clearly not whether a significant, large-scale conversion will take place in the future, but the extent and nature of it. The issue of "morally universal" raises a legitimate point that has been acknowledged by Forrest, Michael and myself regarding the fact that God never negates man's free will, and as such, this "mass conversion" of "All Israel" would include only those Jews who were willing to embrace the special graces given for their conversion at that time. No one is forced against their will to believe.

Another major witness for a future conversion of the Jews to Christ comes in the form of a statement concerning the Jews which was circulated at the First Vatican Council by the brother priests Augustin and Joseph Lémann. As Fr. Denis Fahey relates:

The two Fathers Lémann, converts from Judaism, drew up a Postulatum to obtain from the Vatican Council in 1870 an appeal full of mercy to the Jewish nation. They secured the signatures of 510 bishops, and all the bishops present at the Council would have willingly signed, only that the Fathers Lémann wished to leave the honour of the greatest number of signatures to the Postulatum for Papal Infallibility. (Fr. Denis Fahey, The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation, chapter 7).


Fr. Fahey goes on to note that:

When the Fathers Lémann were petitioning the Bishops, assembled in Rome for the Vatican Council, for their signatures to the Postulatum Pro Hebræis, many of their Lordships smilingly put the objection that “to work for the conversion of the Jews was to bring on the end of the world.” (ibid.)


As Michael Forrest has pointed out, it is highly significant that the Council Fathers very clearly equated this future Jewish conversion with the end times, marking it as a special future event:

These citations are particularly interesting as Fahey is perceived by many to have had strong negative leanings in regard to Jews. Yet even he believed that it was “certain”, that the Jewish people would eventually undergo an unusual conversion to Christ in the future. Bob has publicly acknowledged reading Fahey’s work and has drawn from him in previous writings, yet he departs from Fahey in this, opting for a more negative interpretation. . . . [The “B” is of special import for the reference to the fathers of Vatican I, many of whom reportedly expressed a reluctance to sign Postulatum Pro Hebræis precisely because “to work for the conversion of the Jews was to bring on the end of the world.” As such, clearly, the idea of an unusual conversion of the Jews in the future was well known to them as well as the eschatological implications of it. (RSATJ:5)


Here is the full text of the Postulatum which was signed by so many of the bishops at Vatican I. While I will concede that this is not a formal act of the Magisterium, it witnesses clearly to the form of the Faith held by the vast majority of the Council Fathers responsible for the promulgation of the dogma of Papal Infallibility. As such, it forms a powerful witness:

The undersigned Fathers of the Council humbly yet urgently beseechingly pray that the Holy Ecumenical Council of the Vatican deign to come to the aid of the unfortunate nation of Israel with an entirely paternal invitation; that is, that it express the wish that, finally exhausted by a wait no less futile than long, the Israelites hasten to recognize the Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ, truly promised to Abraham and announced by Moses; thus completing and crowning, not changing, the Mosaic religion.

On one hand, the undersigned Fathers have the very firm confidence that the holy Council will have compassion on the Israelites, because they are always very dear to God on account of their fathers, and because it is from them that the Christ was born according to the flesh.

On the other hand, the same Fathers share the sweet and intimate hope that this ardent desire of tenderness and honor will be, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, well received by many of the sons of Abraham, because the obstacles which have held them back until now appear to be disappearing more and more, the ancient wall of separation now having fallen.

Would that they then speedily acclaim the Christ, saying “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed be He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Would that they hurl themselves into the arms of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, even now their sister according to the flesh, who wishes likewise to be their mother according to grace as she is ours! (cited in Schoeman, Salvation, pp. 34ff.)


This witness is echoed in our own day by the man of whom Bob said:

[H]e is one of the best theologians with which the Church has been blessed. He understands the issues and he seeks for solutions based on both his theological prowess and the tradition of the Church. He is the most balanced theologian I know of in the midst of the controversy since Vatican II. . . . The Cardinal really knows his Bible, and I am proud to have him as Pope Benedict XVI. (Question 45, Q&A, Jan 2007)


Cardinal Ratzinger asserts his own belief in this future conversion:

It is quite obvious that the Jews have something to do with God and that God has not abandoned them. And that is how the New Testament sees it, too. Paul says to us in the Letter to the Romans: In the end all of Israel will be brought home. (Ratzinger, God and the World [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2000], pp. 148-150; cited at LumenGentleman)


In this section I have established that all attempts by Bob Sungenis to downplay and dismiss the witness of Fathers, Doctors, Popes, and Catholic bishops to a future significant conversion of the Jews have been unsuccessful. The attempt can only be made by employing distinctively non-Catholic modes of argumentation and by suppressing a large body of evidence. Since the belief continues to be supported by such a weighty array of witnesses, it is perfectly legitimate for Schoeman to use this belief as a major plank in his exploration of God's continuing dealings with the Jewish people in the time between our Lord's first and second Comings.

And again we are forced to ask, Why? One may be forgiven for seriously wondering if the very idea of so many Jews joining us in Christ is repugnant to Sungenis. Is this perhaps a variation on the theme of the prodigal son? Is this simply sibling jealousy? There is significant evidence to suggest that this may be precisely the case. For why would anyone, let alone a Catholic apologist, be driven to go to such lengths to discredit the belief backed up by Fathers, Doctors, and Popes that a large group of people will experience a miraculous conversion?

Since Bob cannot legitimately negate the weighty witness of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes, and important modern commentators who are arrayed against him, his only option is to take a different tack. He seeks to take refuge in modern exegetical techniques which, he claims, will undermine or at least call into question the solid mass of Catholic witness down through the centuries.

Does this sound familiar? It ought to. It is a thoroughly modernist argument, but one that Bob has been forced into because the most thoroughly Catholic arguments and approaches will not accomplish his goal.

In my next section, I will show that even here, in his supposed area of greatest expertise, he has made some of the most egregious errors of all, misstating his case, employing still more double standards, ignoring many crucial exegetical details, and running smack into a massive scholarly consensus arrayed solidly against him.

Are Ferrara and Sungenis a "Team"?

Question:

Mr. Michael,

I just read the following Q and A at CAI. Dr. Sungenis disputes that he is a "team" with Chris Ferrara and so I wanted to know why you continue to call them that. See below.

Nick

R. Sungenis: Mr. Ferrara and I are not a "team," and I think people should be able to realize that from the review I gave of his book. I told Ferrara the same thing when he complained about a sentence I wrote in my reivew. I told him that my allegiance is to the Church, not to him, not to traditionalists, nor to anyone else. As for the Jewish issue, Ferrara has not been as vocal on that in recent times, but I remain with it, and I will be writing another critique of Schoeman's book Salvation is from the Jews in the coming months.

Answer:

I'm not exactly sure why this is an issue, but here goes: I don't recall anyone using the word "team" to describe Sungenis' relationship to Ferrara, but nonetheless, the two have most certainly been frequent collaborators in the past.

In Question #75 of his November 2006 Q&A, Sungenis calls Ferrara his "friend and confidant" and "my friend and colleague." Sungenis has gone so far as to call Ferrara the very "best ... prophet of our day" (see Question #53, March 2006). They wrote a "triple feature" together about Scott Hahn (see here) and Sungenis sells Ferrara's tapes at CAI (see here) - which is something he is not doing for anyone else at the moment. Finally, Ferrara has Sungenis answer questions for him at his American Catholic Lawyer's Association (see here).

When you look at Sungenis' persistent attacks on Roy Schoeman, David Moss, et al, and his specific use of the term "Judaizers", it is a little strange to note that Ferrara's book on EWTN features a chapter entitled Promoting the Return of the Judaizers. I haven't read the book myself, but I wouldn't be surprised to see at least some Sungenis-inspired material in there. In fact, if you read Sungenis' review of Ferrara's book, you will find that Ferrara attacks many of the same things Sungenis has been attacking since long before Ferrara's book came out. Perhaps rather predictably, this is one area of the book to which Sungenis gives unqualified and high praise. In fact, Sungenis has acknowledged that he and Ferrara were working together against Schoeman (cf. Mr. Michael and the Jews, "Once I received Mr. Schoeman's book, I read it from cover to cover, and then Mr. Ferrara and I began to notice even more erroneous ideas.")

Somewhat strangely, however, I did notice that back in March 2006, Sungenis had this to say about Ferrara's book:

All I can suggest to you is that ... you read Mr. Ferrara's book. I have read Mr. Ferrara's new book and I plan to write a review on it in the near future. What I can tell you for now, however, is that I consider Christopher Ferrara a prophet of our day, and probably the best I've seen. I have met no one who is able to examine and expose the ongoing deterioration of modern Catholicism as well as Mr. Ferrara has done, including what is presently going on at EWTN. Although EWTN certainly does have some good programming, it needs to heeds [sic] the information Mr. Ferrara put in his book so that it can truely [sic] be the voice of Catholicism in our day. I will have more to say about this in a few weeks. (Question #53, March 2006)

In March of 2006, then, Sungenis says that he has "read Mr. Ferrara's new book" and proceeds to give it superlative recommendations. But then, in June of 2006, he began to back off from that initial positive review:

We will support Mr. Ferrara's book, but when we do so we need to make a few disclaimers when we write the review, because we do not buy into everything the book says ... (Question #15, June 2006)

It would be interesting to find out exactly what happened between March and June of 2006 that caused Sungenis to change his mind, but it would appear that he and Ferrara have had a falling-out.

If you search for the name "Ferrara" on CAI's web site, you'll see that it comes up frequently in a context that suggests partnership and cooperation, so it seems somewhat odd that Sungenis is denying it now and distancing himself from Ferrara. However, if you peruse the Q&A section at CAI a little bit, looking at questions like #75 from November 2006, some answers may suggest themselves.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sources, Schoeman, and the Credibility of Bob Sungenis (Part 2, Section 2)

Bob's Specific Charges Against Schoeman

Heresy is a deliberate, calculated and unequivocal statement to circumvent established dogma. (Sungenis, "Does the Catechism Contain a Heresy?")


Now let's tackle Bob's specific charges against Schoeman. We have already seen that, according to Bob, Schoeman claims that "the New Covenant didn't replace the Old Covenant," (source). Bob contends that Schoeman believes, "that the Old Covenant is still in force, and that the Jews are going to take over Palestine under divine mandate and offer sacrifices in Jerusalem again, and all this in fulfillment, they claim, by the words of Jesus Christ" (source). Schoeman is alleged to claim that "anyone who is opposed to the national policies of Israel is 'of the antichrist.'" (source) And he insists that Schoeman teaches that "the Catholic Church has erred for 2000 years" (source), "since her teaching that the New Covenant superseded the Old Covenant is in error" (source).

Since Sungenis is the one advancing such serious charges, the burden of proof is squarely on him to show that Schoeman is saying exactly what Bob claims and that there is no other way for his words to be taken. Bob alleges that Schoeman has said numerous erroneous and even heretical things, so the burden is entirely on him to show us exactly where he said them. Here are his own standards, as expressed here when he (correctly) defended the Catechism of the Catholic Church against the charge of heresy:

It's ambiguous, but it's not heresy. . . . I'll grant you that your reasoning COULD be a possible interpretation, but the point is that you don't know it IS the interpretation, at least not well enough to levy the charge of heresy. Heresy does not deal with ambiguities. It sanctions direct and provable statements of error. . . . I really don't have to prove anything. George is the one who has to prove something, since he is the one charging the CCC with heresy. . . . Heresy is a deliberate, calculated and unequivocal statement to circumvent established dogma. . . . I simply would not use the word "heresy" at all, . . . "Proximate to heresy" is a juridical term, and when you get into canonical jurisprudence, then you're required to give substantial evidence for the accusation and conviction. If you can't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, you don't have a case. ("Does the Catechism Contain a Heresy?")


Throughout the remainder of this essay, the reader should keep in mind Bob's own standards. According to him:


  • If there is an ambiguity that admits an orthodox interpretation, then it's not heresy.

  • Heresy consists only in "direct and provable statements of error."

  • The burden of proof is entirely on the accuser.

  • Heresy is "deliberate, calculated and unequivocal statement to circumvent established dogma."

  • The accuser is "required to give substantial evidence for the accusation and conviction."

  • And finally, unless he can prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt, the accuser has no case.



And let's anticipate his probable claim that the standards would be different for Schoeman, since Bob was defending an official ecclesiastical document. The answer, of course, is that if Bob actually brought these charges to someone with authority in the Church, rather than arrogating that authority for himself, Schoeman would be treated with exactly these same standards by the Church. From time immemorial she has always sought to put the best possible interpretation on the words of the accused (see, for example, the teaching of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the "Presupposition" to his Spiritual Exercises).

So what does Bob offer to back up his charges against Schoeman? Here is the quote from Schoeman that he provided to me to back up his assertion that Schoeman had said that "the New Covenant didn't replace the Old Covenant" and "the Catholic Church has erred for 2000 years".

We have seen how, at the very outset of Christianity, many held the mistaken belief that one must be a member of the Old Covenant (i.e., be a Jew) to be eligible for participation in the New. This error was quickly corrected, but was soon followed by another known as "supersessionism" - that the Old Covenant had been entirely replaced (or superseded, hence "supersessionism"), made null and void, by the New. This view dominated Christian theology for much of the past two thousand years. It has only recently been definitively rejected by the Church. (Schoeman, Salvation is From the Jews, 352)


Did you find the verbatim phrases "the New Covenant didn't replace the Old Covenant" and "the Catholic Church has erred for 2000 years" anywhere in that paragraph? No, because these are not the words of Roy Schoeman at all. Rather, they are Bob's paraphrase of Schoeman, put forward as Schoeman's own words. We shall see what a difference the paraphrase makes in a moment, but here let me note that this is a common device of Sungenis. Michael Forrest pointed this out in "Robert Sungenis and the Jews":

I believe Bob's primary mistake is that he repeatedly extrapolates to certain conclusions based on what Schoeman has written and treats these extrapolations as Schoeman's own express intentions, which Bob then promptly condemns. (RSATJ:4)


I agree with this assessment. It is seen nowhere more clearly than in Bob's propensity to take his interpretation of what Schoeman is saying and present this as the very ipsissima verba of Schoeman. Here are five examples:

Roy Schoeman can teach the heresy that the New Covenant did not replace the Old Covenant; and mix politics and religion to the point of saying that anyone who is opposed to the national policies of Israel is "of the antichrist," but we won't hear a word of criticism from either Mr. Michael or Mr. Forrest. (MMATJ, p. 1f.)

It's quite ironic to see these men get so fixated on me when, in fact, they give people like Roy Schoeman a free pass to say just about any heretical thing he wants, including such things as "the New Covenant didn't replace the Old Covenant," and the "Catholic Church has erred for 2000 years" and many other ridiculous things about Catholicism and the Jews. ("Christopher Blosser and the Catholic ADL", p. 3)

Schoeman believes that "Salvation is from the Jews" because, as he says in his book, the Jews who become saved in the future will "fulfill the New Covenant" by a completion of the Old Covenant, not because Jesus was a Jew. (MFATJ, p. 63)

Mr. Schoeman's so-called seeking for a "Jewish corporate identity" is nothing but a smoke screen for a much larger agenda he has in mind. ("Theology")


None of the phrases attributed to Schoeman in quotes actually appear in Salvation is from the Jews. Bob objects to me pointing out this false attribution of words to Mr. Schoeman: "No, putting words in quotes is not always 'ipsissima verba,'" ("My Reply", p. 43). How strange to have to tell this self-styled Doctor of Religion that when you assert that somebody said something and you put the words in quotes, it represents a claim that those are the verbatim words of your source. After all, that's why they call them quotation marks, right?

Bob asserts that his opponents "give people like Roy Schoeman a free pass to say just about any heretical thing he wants . . ." ("Blosser ADL", p. 3). But it is more accurate to say that Bob feels free to attribute to Roy Schoeman "just about any heretical thing he wants."

Now if somebody had actually said what Bob has laid out above, I would be the first to agree that these are serious errors. The problem is, Roy Schoeman never said those things. If one reads Schoeman's book with even an ounce of fairness, rather than with the dark suspicion and presumption of guilt with which we have demonstrated Bob reads it, there is no way that reader will come away accusing Schoeman of those things of which Bob accuses him.

Before launching into the full-blown defense of Schoeman, I do want to introduce one witness whom I will call for several times in the defense, namely, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and his book Many Religions, One Covenant (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999.) Bob has given this book absolutely glowing accolades:

This is probably the best book I've read on the subject. As I stated when Cardinal Ratzinger became pope, he is one of the best theologians with which the Church has been blessed. He understands the issues and he seeks for solutions based on both his theological prowess and the tradition of the Church. He is the most balanced theologian I know of in the midst of the controversy since Vatican II.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the covenants of the Bible. The Cardinal also does an excellent job of showing us deep insights into how God bound himself by covenant to die for the sake of the covenant. It is the best treatise I have ever seen written on this topic. The Cardinal really knows his Bible, and I am proud to have him as Pope Benedict XVI. (Q&A Question 45, Jan 2007)


Bob also uses this book to take yet another whack at Roy Schoeman, advancing the Cardinal's book as, "opposing the statements quoted above by Roy Schoeman in his book, Salvation is from the Jews" (ibid.) We shall see.

Which Covenant?

Let's tackle Bob's allegations one at a time, the most serious first. Bob has repeated again and again that Roy Schoeman believes that "the New Covenant didn't replace the Old Covenant." We have already seen that this is not what Schoeman said. Rather, Schoeman said that it is an error to believe, "that the Old Covenant had been entirely replaced . . . made null and void, by the New" (Salvation, p. 352). The key questions here, which Bob apparently did not think to ask, are: 1) Which covenant does Schoeman have in mind? and 2) what does Schoeman mean by "entirely replaced" and "made null and void"?

Of which covenant does Schoeman speak? Bob has based the very heart of his criticism of Schoeman on the assumption that Schoeman is speaking of the Mosaic covenant. All of the magisterial and scriptural ammunition Sungenis brings to bear pertains specifically to the abolition of the Mosaic covenant by the New Covenant (hence Bob's citation of Heb 8:13, 10:8-9, the Council of Florence, Pius XII's Mystici Corporis 29-30.) Bob says, "The contexts of these passages are referring exclusively to the Mosaic law, and thus it was that covenant which was abrogated, abolished, annulled" ("Judaizers").

But what does Schoeman mean by the "Old Covenant"? He makes this plain:

To understand the drive which the Jewish people had, and still have, to maintain their distinct identity separate from the Gentiles, it is necessary to consider the intrinsic difference between the Old Covenant, which God made with the Jews through Abraham, and the New Covenant which came through Jesus. (Salvation, p. 64)


So with respect to the Old Covenant Schoeman does not speak of the Mosaic, but of the Abrahamic covenant. And Bob has on several occasions admitted that a bare assertion that the New Covenant has abolished and rendered the Old Covenant null and void would not apply to the Abrahamic Covenant:

In regards to "revoking," a distinction must be made between the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic covenant. Scripture and Tradition are clear that the Mosaic covenant, which is also called the Old Covenant (2 Cor 3:14), was, indeed, revoked. . . . The Abrahamic covenant, however, is treated differently. It transitions into and becomes the New Covenant. ("Judaizers")

Having said that, we can give credit to Mr. Michael for recognizing that the Abrahamic covenant cannot be revoked, as long as Mr. Michael admits that the Abrahamic covenant is not the "Old Covenant." The reason it is not, nor ever can be, "old" is precisely because it never ceases to exist, since it is guaranteed by a divine oath. ("Review of Never Revoked", p. 6)


Elsewhere Bob has insisted that, "All that remains now is the spiritual element of the Abrahamic covenant . . ." ("Judaizers"). We will see later in this essay if that claim is true. But for now suffice it to say that, even according to Bob himself, if one is speaking of the Abrahamic Covenant it is perfectly correct and orthodox to say that the Old Covenant was not "entirely replaced" or "made null and void" by the New.

What is more, Bob has actually defended Pope John Paul II for using wording that is very similar to that of Schoeman. Commenting on John Paul II's statement about "the Old Covenant never revoked by God", Bob offers this defense:

In his 1980 Mainz speech . . . John Paul II did not specify what covenant he was referring to. It certainly can't be the Mosaic covenant, since Scripture, the Fathers, and the Councils have all said that the Mosaic covenant was abolished. Otherwise, you'll be accusing John Paul II of heresy. ("My Conversation", p. 5).


And elsewhere in the same document Sungenis says:

Scholars consistently distinguish between the Mosaic covenant issued in Exodus 20 from [sic] the Abrahamic covenant issued in Genesis 12-22. The former was Law covenant, the latter was a Promise covenant. Gal 3:19 makes this distinction very clear.

When you use the term "Old Covenant" you need to distinguish which covenant from the Old Testament Scriptures you are talking about. (ibid., p. 9)


So Bob works to vindicate John Paul II from the charge of heresy by arguing that the Holy Father was speaking of the Abrahamic covenant when he speaks of the "Old Covenant". On the other hand, Bob simply assumes that when Schoeman speaks of the "Old Covenant", he means the Mosaic covenant - on this basis he has accused Schoeman repeatedly of heresy. And this even though Schoeman explicitly distinguished what covenant he was talking about, while the Holy Father did not. While I applaud Bob's charity in seeking to harmonize the words of the late Holy Father with the larger Tradition, I wish he would extend that charity to the rest of the Catholic faithful.

What is more, in seemingly stark juxtaposition to Bob's assertions we have the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says that, "The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked" (CCC §121). Notice that when the Catechism says this, he (rightly) defends it. Notice too all that he says about heresy, its definition, and who bears the burden of proof when such an accusation is made:

It's ambiguous, but it's not heresy ... I'll grant you that your reasoning COULD be a possible interpretation, but the point is that you don't know it IS the interpretation, at least not well enough to levy the charge of heresy. Heresy does not deal with ambiguities. It sanctions direct and provable statements of error ... I really don't have to prove anything. George is the one who has to prove something, since he is the one charging the CCC with heresy ... Heresy is a deliberate, calculated and unequivocal statement to circumvent established dogma ... I simply would not use the word "heresy" at all, ... "Proximate to heresy" is a juridical term, and when you get into canonical jurisprudence, then you're required to give substantial evidence for the accusation and conviction. If you can't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, you don't have a case. ("Does the Catechism Contain a Heresy?").


But again, while his defense of the CCC is admirable, has he really applied his own standards to Schoeman and Salvation is From the Jews? Obviously not. For Sungenis it is always one standard for me and another for thee.

Again in seeming contrast to Sungenis, we have Card. Ratzinger's statement that: "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" (Many Religions, p. 62). If that statement had come from Roy Schoeman, Bob Sungenis would be howling to high heaven about heresy (and damn the context!) But when Card. Ratzinger says it, Sungenis goes on to gush that it is "the best book I've read on the subject. . . . I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the covenants of the Bible" (Q&A Question 45, Jan 2007). Certainly, Card. Ratzinger is saying that it is specifically in the institution of the central rite of the New Covenant that this renewal, not abrogation, of the Mosaic covenant occurs - he is not speaking about some kind of independent, ongoing validity of the Mosaic covenant. But then again, neither is Roy Schoeman. I think Card. Ratzinger's citation above makes it clear that he would agree with Schoeman....and not with Sungenis. I am sure he would agree that it is perfectly correct and orthodox to label as an "error" the proposition, "that the Old Covenant had been entirely replaced . . . made null and void, by the New".

In his response to Part 1 of this essay, Bob has pointed out that Schoeman uses the phrase "Old Covenant" in a different way on page 129:

With the destruction of the Second Temple in A.D. 70, the Jewish people lost the ability to perform sacrifices for the atonement of sins. Yet according to Christianity the efficacy of such sacrifices should already have ended at the time of the crucifixion, about forty years earlier. For it was then that the Old Covenant, with its animal sacrifices for the atonement for sins, was replaced by the New Covenant, in which Jesus shed His blood once for all for the atonement of sins. (Salvation, p. 129).


Bob himself notes that Schoeman, "then . . . quotes from Hebrews 9:1 - 10:14 from the American Standard Version, the same passages that I have used numerous times to show that the New Covenant has replace the Old Covenant" ("My Response, p. 43). This is extremely important. Bob has right there admitted seeing that Schoeman in no way contradicts the Church's magisterial teaching that the Mosaic covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant. It was on this point that his whole charge of heresy was based and he has now given the whole point away by acknowledging that Schoeman explicitly upholds the Catholic Church's teaching that the Mosaic covenant is superseded by the New Covenant. And Schoeman has upheld this in e-mail correspondence to me:

When I say that the "New Covenant will be brought to fruition by the Old" I am referring to the conversion of the Jews which is to precede the Second Coming (certainly not to the Old Testament sacramental system!). (private e-mail of 26 Jan 2007; emphasis his).


Bob points out, however, that Schoeman uses the phrase "Old Covenant" on page 352 in a way that might seem incompatible with his use on page 129. I have already stated, it is not my purpose here to declare Schoeman infallible. And Schoeman has always been open to responsible criticism of his book. Rather, it is my purpose to show that Bob Sungenis has been wildly reckless and unjust in publicly denouncing him as a heretic and hyper-Judaizer. So one could just conclude that Schoeman made a mistake here, was imprecise in his language, and this would leave Bob's charge of heresy just as dead in the water.

But let's look a little deeper. The Mosaic covenant is not a separate covenant unto itself; it exists in relation to the already ratified covenant with Abraham. It is a kind of "overlay" to the Abrahamic covenant, if you will. As St. Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians:

This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made . . . (Gal 3:17-19).


The Mosaic Law (covenant) was indeed temporary. And so Schoeman was correct to say on p. 129 that it was replaced by the New Covenant; the "overlay" of the Law was removed. On the other hand, as Sungenis says, the Abrahamic covenant was not "replaced" by the New Covenant but "transitions into and becomes the New Covenant." And so Schoeman is correct to say on p. 352 that the Old Covenant = Abrahamic Covenant had not "been entirely replaced . . . made null and void, by the New". As Sungenis himself admits, scholars refer to both as the "Old Covenant" and so there is nothing wrong with Schoeman doing so.

At most we can say that Mr. Schoeman could been more precise in his use of the phrase "Old Covenant", an observation with which I don't think he would disagree. But let us temper this observation with the fact that even John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church use the phrase with various meanings, though as yet Bob has not leveled charges of heresy against them. Let us also insist that the charitable interpretation of its use on page 352 - an interpretation backed up entirely by the context and by subsequent clarifications from Schoeman himself - is that he speaks there broadly of the Abrahamic covenant and that it is perfectly compatible with Catholic teaching (not to mention Bob's own admissions) to say that the Abrahamic covenant was not "entirely replaced" or "made null and void" by the New Covenant. And let us remember, as we have seen throughout this study, that if imprecision and lapses in accuracy amount to heresy, then Bob Sungenis is an archheretic.

The bottom line is that there are elements of the Old Covenant - and this is actually true whether one speaks of the Abrahamic or the Mosaic - that are taken up into and renewed in the New Covenant. Bob would be right to question the bare phrase that, "the New Covenant didn't replace the Old Covenant", if that is what Schoeman had said. But this is a mere caricature of Schoeman's view, which Bob has wrongly attributed to him. On the other hand, it is perfectly legitimate to say, as Schoeman has, that the New Covenant does not "entirely replace" the Old Covenant and that it does not simply render it "null and void". And this renders Bob's core complaint against Schoeman null and void.

Supersessionism: What is it?

A second major charge against Schoeman is Bob's contention that he says that, "Catholic Church has erred for 2000 years". Now again, these words are found nowhere in Schoeman's book - they are a distorted paraphrase provided by Bob. What Schoeman actually said is this:

We have seen how, at the very outset of Christianity, many held the mistaken belief that one must be a member of the Old Covenant (i.e., be a Jew) to be eligible for participation in the New. This error was quickly corrected, but was soon followed by another known as "supersessionism" - that the Old Covenant had been entirely replaced (or superseded, hence "supersessionism"), made null and void, by the New. This view dominated Christian theology for much of the past two thousand years. It has only recently been definitively rejected by the Church. (Salvation , 352).


He does not say that the "Catholic Church" erred for 2000 years, as Bob alleges. He says this was an error which "dominated Christian theology". This is not, for Schoeman, a matter of a contradicted magisterial teaching. But we must ask what is meant by supersessionism. Let's first establish that supersessionism is not a Catholic word - it appears nowhere in any magisterial documents or in authoritative Catholic theological texts. It is also a word lacking a precise definition (see this article for many of the nuances of the term.) Therefore, it is only fair and reasonable that we determine what Schoeman (not Bob) means by supersessionism before we condemn his rejection of it as heretical.

Schoeman has defined supersessionism as the proposition that "the Old Covenant had been entirely replaced . . . made null and void, by the New." Schoeman calls that position an error; Bob has said that it is heresy to say so. Thus I can only conclude that Bob believes that with respect to ethnic Israel the Old Covenant has been entirely replaced, superseded, made null and void, by the New (even though elsewhere he argues differently.) The practical upshot is that, for him, it is an "illusion" to believe "that the Jews are still 'God’s chosen people.'" (source) He expands on this:

The Jews were once God’s chosen people but those days are over. They were over when Jesus died on the cross, and they have been over for the last 2000 years. The Jews have no special covenant with God; they will receive no special protection from God as they did in the Old Testament; . . . The Jews and Israel are just like any other people or nation today. (Q&A Question 45, Jan 2007)

Bob makes it clear that he rejects that notion that God is going to have anything to do with Jews as an ethnically distinctive people in the future. As such, I think this is a clear statement of what would be deemed, as Card. Avery Dulles has put it, a "crude supersessionism" ("The Covenant With Israel", First Things 157 (November 2005), 16-21; available on-line here) That being said, Sungenis does end that paragraph with a correct statement: "We will all come to God or be judged by God on the same terms - the New Covenant in Jesus Christ." And that is something with which neither I nor Roy Schoeman would disagree. Rather, as he has clarified:

Regarding Supersession, I am not saying that the Church has in no way replaced Israel. All I am saying is that it has not replaced Israel in every way -- that it is an error to claim that the role of the Jews in Salvation History is completely over now, that there is no longer any special role, or quality, to "fleshly" Israel. The Church never taught this, or any other error -- of course the Church cannot err in its official teaching -- but this erroneous view was quite common among many of the members of the Church over a long period. (private e-mail of 26 Jan 2007).


I personally disagree with Schoeman that such a "crude supersessionism" actually dominated Christian theology for the first 19 centuries of Church history. Certainly in Lutheran and Reformed Protestant circles that position has had many proponents. And he is correct to say that, for much of the history of the Catholic Church, commentary by Catholic theologians has tended to emphasize negative aspects of God's relations with the Jews, viz. their hardening (Rom 11:7ff.), rather than focusing on more positive aspects, viz. God's ongoing care for them on account of the patriarchs (Rom 11:25ff.) We both agree, however, that "crude supersessionism" has now been rejected through a reappropriation and reemphasis of those positive elements of God's revelation by the Catholic Church (cf. Nostra Aetate 4, CCC §755 and §839, and locutions of both John Paul II and Benedict XVI.)

That Schoeman means to oppose just such an extreme view is made clear in the context, since he juxtaposes this (crude) supersessionism with the likewise extreme and problematic position of the RCM document, which extrapolates two separate and equally valid covenants, one for Jews and one for Christians. This opposite extreme Schoeman rejects in even stronger terms:

With its rejection, however, a new and perhaps even more pernicious error has emerged - that the Old and New Covenants are two "separate but equal" parallel paths to salvation, the one intended for Jews, the other for Gentiles. This has been presented as though it were the only logical alternative to supersessionism, despite the fact that it is utterly irreconcilable with both the core beliefs of Christianity and with the words of Jesus himself in the New Testament. (Salvation, p. 352f.)


Rejecting these two extremes, Schoeman opts for a via media which I believe harmonizes with the constant stream of Catholic Tradition. Laying aside the technical term "supersessionism", at the heart of this is this fundamental question: Is there some specific aspect of the Old Covenant vis-à-vis ethnic Jews that is subsumed into the New Covenant? Schoeman asks it this way: "Do the Jews continue to have a role to play in salvation history following Christ; that is, between the first and the second coming?" (Salvation, p. 68). Schoeman answers that question in the affirmative. Card. Ratzinger, in the "best book . . . on the subject" according to Bob, also answers that question affirmatively:

The mission of Jesus consists in bringing together the histories of the nations in the community of the history of Abraham, the history of Israel ... This course of events has two aspects to it: the nations can enter into the community of the promises of Israel in entering into the community of the one God, who now becomes and must become the way of all because there is only one God and because his will is therefore truth for all. Conversely, 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. (Many Religions, p. 27)


And:

even if Christians look for the day when Israel will recognize Christ as the Son of God and the rift that separates them will be healed, they should also acknowledge God's providence, which has obviously given Israel a particular mission in this "time of the Gentiles". (Many Religions, p. 104)


In this same book, Card. Ratzinger goes on to explain in more concrete terms what he means by Israel's "mission," contrary to Bob's claim that "Cardinal Ratzinger doesn’t specify what the "particular mission" is except to say in the remaining pages that the Christian faith is the hope of man," and "Scripture knows of only one "particular mission" given to Israel today, and that is that their unbelief has resulted in the Gospel being given to the Gentiles, and that the salvation of the Gentiles will hopefully make some Jews jealous so that they will come to Christ" (Second Look at Palm's Website, p.1):

It is even less possible, in the present compass, to tackle the large question of the common mission of Jews and Christians in the modern world. But I think, the basic task has nevertheless become clearer without my having to do this. Jews and Christians should accept each other in profound inner reconciliation, neither in disregard of their faith nor in denying it, but out of the depth of faith itself. In their mutual reconciliation they should become a force for peace in and for the world. Through their witness to the one God, who cannot be adored apart from unity of love of God and neighbor, they should open the door into the world for this God so that his will may be done and that it may become on earth "as it is in heaven": so that "his kingdom come". (Many Religions, pp. 45-46)


So does Pope John Paul II: "This extraordinary people continues to bear signs of its divine election" (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, cited in Dulles, "Covenant")

So does the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing (CCC §755; emphasis in CCC.)

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." (CCC §839)


Bob Sungenis, on the other hand, says No:

Sungenis: I have further stated in a reply to Mr. Blosser that people like Roy Schoeman teach such things because, I believe, they basically suffer from the illusion that the Jews are still "God's chosen people." As a result, they twist and turn Scripture and Church teaching to make it appear as if the Jews still have some special covenantal relationship with God over and above the rest of the world. Mr. Schoeman's book, Salvation is from the Jews, is little more than a special pleading of divine favoritism toward the Jews, and I will be writing another major critique of his book in the coming weeks. But it is all a fallacy. The Jews were once God's chosen people but those days are over. . . . The Jews and Israel are just like any other people or nation today. We will all come to God or be judged by God on the same terms - the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. Any other teaching is heresy. (Q&A Question 45, Jan 2007)


Well ... he usually answers No. Consistency, we have seen, is not one of Bob's strong suits. In an e-mail exchange with Michael Forrest in 2004 Bob admits that God does indeed continue to work with the Jews as a distinct ethnic people:

----Original Message-----

From: Sungenis@aol.com [mailto:Sungenis@aol.com]

Sent: Monday, April 05, 2004 3:26 PM

To: mwforrest@ifriendly.com

Subject: Answers to your Questions about Romans 11

MF1) Notice, the quote speaks of removing wickedness from Jacob......then right after this he says that they (the Jews) are dear to him "for the sake of the Patriarchs". In other words, he has a continuing concern for the Jews, even when they do not believe.....ergo, "for the sake of the Patriarchs".....which is a genetic identification, not dependent upon their "faith", which relates to the "remnant"/spiritual sonship theme Paul touched upon earlier.

[Sungenis]: I would flatly disagree with you about a so-called "genetic identification not dependent upon their faith" as having any significance. It was Paul who said in Romans 9:6: "For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel." The mention of "for the sake of the Patriarchs" is in answer to the question in Romans 11:1-2 as to whether God was going to ENTIRELY cut off the Jews. The answer is, no, "for the sake of the Patriarchs." For their sake, God will still move among the Jews, but that does not mean that there is going to be some explosive revival. 2000 years of "for the sake of the Patriarchs" has only given us a "remnant" of Jews who have been recipients of God's kindness to the Patriarchs.END

MF2: How can you flatly disagree that St. Paul indicated in vs. 28 that God still cares for the Jews as a genetic people by the phrase "for the sake of the Patriarchs"? What else does this passage mean?...."As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake: but are touching the election, they are most dear for the sake of the fathers." What else can this mean, other than that God has a particular and continuing affection for them because they descend from the patriarchs?

[Sungenis]: I'm sorry. I think I was confused by your use of the word "genetic," as if there was something about being Jewish that attracted God. I think you mean to say "ethnic," not genetic. I do agree that there is an "ethnic" issue, and that God intends on saving Jews as an ethnic race of people. END


But wait a second. In 2004 Bob said that "God intends on saving Jews as an ethnic race of people". But now in 2007 Bob says that, "The Jews are no different than any other group of people on the face of the earth. There are no 'special relationships' with God based on one's ethnic background or heritage." Now let's tease this out a bit. Where would we find any evidence of God making a statement proving that He intends to save Italians as an ethnic race of people? How about the Irish? Ethiopians? The Chinese? It seems that the only ethnic race of people that God has ever singled out for special mention with regard to election is the Jews. And thus Bob's (correct) agreement that "there is an 'ethnic' issue, and that God intends on saving Jews as an ethnic race of people" is flatly contrary to Bob's (incorrect) assertion that "The Jews are no different than any other group of people on the face of the earth. There are no 'special relationships' with God based on one's ethnic background or heritage." Which Bob are you going to believe?

Does Schoeman Support the Practice of Jewish Rituals?

Another big part of Bob's vendetta against Schoeman has been to lump him in with certain other Jewish converts who (he claims) demand to revive various Jewish ritual practices:

Schoeman, Moss, Miesel and others have demanded that they be allowed to practice Jewish rituals of their choosing while at the same time remaining Catholic. Whether this will include a direct promotion of temple sacrifice remains to be seen. Schoeman strongly suggests that it will be so." (MFATJ, p. 24)


Bob alleges that this is all laid out in Schoeman's book plainly and that it's all in the service of the ultimate Judaizing:

Here, the goal of Schoeman’s book is laid out quite plainly for us. It is now very obvious why Schoeman was promoting Jewish rituals. It wasn’t for the purpose of making Jewish converts feel more comfortable when converting to Christianity. It was for the purpose of legitimizing the rebuilding of the Temple where Jewish sacrifices originally took place in the ancient past. Schoeman’s ultimate dream is to have Jewish rituals practiced in Jerusalem the same as they were practiced in the Old Covenant, only this time he wants these practices sanctioned by Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. ("Theology")


In Bob's mind, it's all part of a bigger conspiracy:

Mr. Schoeman's so-called seeking for a "Jewish corporate identity" is nothing but a smoke screen for a much larger agenda he has in mind. ("Theology")


But has Schoeman anywhere "demanded" such a thing? No. Did Schoeman promote Jewish rituals, "for the purpose of making Jewish converts feel more comfortable"? No. Did Schoeman ever give even a hint that it is his "ultimate dream" that Jewish rituals be practiced in Jerusalem with the sanction of our Lord and the Church? No. Has Schoeman ever used the phrase "Jewish corporate identity", let alone promoted such an idea? No again. This is all pure fabrication from Sungenis. In fact, Bob fails to tell his readers that Schoeman explicitly distances himself from this notion of Jewish converts being "allowed to practice Jewish rituals of their choosing while at the same time remaining Catholic":

The first reason for Jews [to wish] to continue as a distinct community within the Church is the belief that God still wishes Jews to follow the Jewish laws and festivals, even after they become Christian. This view, however, must be rejected by Jews who enter the Catholic Church as inconsistent with Church doctrine as well as with a number of passages in the New Testament, including Mark 7:19, Acts 10:15, Corinthians 10:27, and Galatians 5:6. (Salvation, 69)

The fact that the Jews have a special role to play until the Second Coming does not necessarily imply that Jews who convert should avoid "disappearing" into the Church. It is useful to consider the parallel with yeast and bread. For yeast to do any good in making bread, it must be kept separate from the other ingredients until it is time to use it. But at that point in the process one must take some of the yeast away from where it has been kept separate and mix it in with the other ingredients until it becomes indistinguishable from the rest of the dough. Perhaps that is the case with the Jews. God gave them unique qualities which have a needed leavening effect on the entire Church. But for those qualities to have their effect, when God grants the grace of conversion to the Jew, He separates him from the rest of the "yeast" and mixes him in with the "dough"; that is, removes him from the Jewish community and mixes him into the Church. Just as the yeast does not lose its importance in disappearing into the dough but rather achieves it, so might the Jewish charism realize its unique importance in "disappearing" into the Church. (Salvation, 71).


And in a private e-mail to me Schoeman says:

If you permit me, allow me to point out, at least to you, that where [Sungenis] says "Mr. Schoeman’s so-called seeking for a "Jewish corporate identity"", despite the quotes, I don't think I've ever used such a term -- I'm not very enthusiastic about the idea of seeking one. It is one of the areas in which I do not, in fact, agree with all the theology espoused by the AHC and its founder Fr. Friedman. (private e-mail of 5 Feb 2007.)


We will see even more on this in the section on the rebuilding of the Temple. But yet again, Sungenis has attributed thoughts and intentions to Schoeman which are not only false, but are explicitly contradicted by the text of Salvation is From the Jews.

Schoeman Rejects the Reflections on Covenant and Mission Thesis

As we saw in Section 1 of this essay, Bob has accused Schoeman of supporting the thesis of the RCM document, viz. that the Old Covenant and New Covenant remain independently valid, so that salvation for Christians comes through Jesus Christ but salvation for the Jews comes through their participation in the Old Covenant. Bob, in his reply to Section 1 protests that he has acknowledged in at least one place that Schoeman does not hold the RCM thesis. But this is just more one more contradiction that we have see from Sungenis. For he has accused both Roy Schoeman and David Moss of holding that the Old Covenant is still in force, the first of the major problems with the RCM document:

We even have Jewish converts to Catholicism today, like Roy Schoeman and David Moss, who propagate these same sentiments by claiming that the Old Covenant is still in force, and that the Jews are going to take over Palestine under divine mandate and offer sacrifices in Jerusalem again, and all this in fulfillment, they claim, by the words of Jesus Christ. This is total nonsense, and it is one of the most pernicious and nefarious heresies the Church has ever faced. (Q&A Question 18, March 2006)


And elsewhere, as I cited in Section 1, Sungenis has lumped Schoeman and Moss right in with the RCM document with regard to the need for Jews to convert to Christ, the second major flaw in that document:

R. Sungenis: CAI has consistently taught the Church’s traditional teaching: (a) that the Old Covenant has been abolished and there is only one covenant of salvation today, the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, and (b) that the Jews must convert to Christianity in order to be saved.

Below you will see that both these teachings have been confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI in his Wednesday morning address of March 16, 2006. In one of his paragraphs the pope states:

"By their mere existence, the twelve - called from different backgrounds - have become a summons to all Israel to conversion and to allow themselves to be reunited in a new covenant, full and perfect accomplishment of the old."

As we would expect for a message that disagrees with the current consensus among 2002 "Covenant and Missions" authors (e.g., Cardinal Keeler and Jewish rabbis) and various Jewish converts (e.g., Roy Schoeman and David Moss), the only place this address was publicized was L’Osservatore Romano. ("Pope Benedict XVI Says Jews Must Convert to Christianity")


Those are the two main RCM theses that are so problematic and Bob clearly accuses Schoeman of holding both of them. So his complaint that elsewhere he says that Schoeman doesn't support RCM is only evidence of one more contradiction on his part.

The fact is that throughout the book Schoeman states categorically that Jews today are called explicitly to faith in Jesus Christ under the auspices of the New Covenant, which is contrary to both of the RCM's most problematic positions:

There can be no question about whether Jesus "intended" Christianity to be adopted by Jews in place of Judaism; the fact that he did is continually explicit throughout the New Testament. That God wished for the Jews to accept Christ is evident - remember Jesus' weeping over the tragedy that they, by and large, failed to (Matthew 23:37-39): "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" What arrangements God makes to bring Jews to heaven despite their failure to accept Jesus we leave to His mercy, and the understanding of the Church is that such arrangements exist. But that His intention was that they follow Jesus is certain. (Salvation, p. 68)


And he repeats this several times throughout the book:

[I]t is nonsense to maintain that somehow Judaism is right for Jews, and Christianity is right for Christians, and that the truth is dependent on what group one belongs to. (Ibid., 10).

It might seem odd to refer to the entry of Jews into the Catholic Church as "the return of the Jews." It is, however, the natural image for one who sees the Catholic Church as simply the continuation (and fulfillment) of Judaism after the first coming of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. In such a case, it is the Jews who accepted Him and became the first Christians who stayed within the core of Judaism, while those who rejected Him left the mainstream, the fullness of the truth of the religion. This concept is shared, and most beautifully expressed, by St. Paul in his image of the "ingrafting". (Ibid., 317)

[A] new and perhaps even more pernicious error has emerged - that the Old and New Covenants are two "separate but equal" parallel paths to salvation, the one intended for Jews, the other for Gentiles. This has been presented as though it were the only logical alternative to supersessionism, despite the fact that it is utterly irreconcilable with both the core beliefs of Christianity and with the words of Jesus himself in the New Testament. (Ibid., 352-3.)

Evangelization efforts aimed at Jews are most frequently seen by Jews as a threat to their religion and their people, and even compared to the Nazis' attempt to exterminate them. Yet the words of Jesus and the Scriptures themselves make it abundantly clear that God Himself, and certainly Jesus himself, very much wish the Jews to come to him. It was one of his greatest sorrows just before his crucifixion, when he exclaimed, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem... How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" (Matthew 23:37) Not only does God seem to very much want the conversion of the Jews, but his adversary seems to very much want to prevent it (Ibid., 354.)

Of course all disrespect for the freedom of the individual is entirely wrong, as is any disrespect for the religion of Judaism, all the more so since Christians know that Judaism was God's own religion, given to the Jews by Him and followed by Him during His life as a man. Yet at the same time fear of God - that is, the desire to do His will - must always take precedence over fear of human respect, and the greatest service that anyone can do for God, or for an individual, is to bring that individual into deeper knowledge of and fuller communion with God. Jesus himself said that he will not come again "until you [the Jews] say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'"(Matthew 23:39). It is incumbent on us, as his disciples and servants, to do everything we can to hurry that day, when both Jew and Gentile together say the words with which the "Christian" scriptures close: "Come Lord Jesus." (Ibid., 355-6).


Michael Forrest notes that Bob's charge is especially unjust when applied to Schoeman, since Salvation is From the Jews was actually written in part as a critical and negative response to the RCM thesis:

All of this is especially ironic in Schoeman’s case as he wrote his book largely as a refutation of the unfortunate "Reflections on Covenenant [sic] Mission" document that was supportive of the two covenant theory (a document strongly criticized by Moss as well). While Bob seems to almost acknowledge this fact on one occasion, in others he errantly condemns Schoeman (and Moss) as though he is in agreement with RCM (documented above). (RSATJ:4).


So again, the central question raised by Schoeman's book is not whether the Jews have an independent and separate covenant with God. He explicitly rejects that idea. Rather, he asks this: "Do the Jews continue to have a role to play in salvation history following Christ; that is, between the first and the second coming?" (Salvation, p. 68). He answers yes. So does Card. Ratzinger:

Israel still has some way to go. As Christians, we believe that they will in the end be together with us in Christ. But they are not simply done with and left out of God's plans; rather, they still stand within the faithful covenant of God. (God and the World [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2000], pp. 148-150; cited here)

Precisely on account of the dramatic nature of this final tragedy, perhaps, a new vision of the relationship between the Church and Israel has arisen, a sincere intention of overcoming every kind of anti-Jewish attitude and of beginning a constructive dialogue in pursuit of knowledge of one another and of reconciliation. Such a dialogue, in order to be fruitful, has to start with a prayer to our God that he should above all grant to us Christians a greater esteem for this people, the Israelites, a greater love for them, for "to them 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 who is God over all, blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom 9:4-5). And this is true not only with regard to the past; it is also true in the present, "For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable" (Rom 11:29). We will also pray that he may vouchsafe to the sons of Israel a greater knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth, their son, the gift they have made to us. (Ratzinger, Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion. Ignatius, 2005, pp. 272-3; bold emphasis his, italics mine.)


Note well that the Cardinal explicitly supports the idea that the Jews, as a distinct ethnic people, continue to possess a unique relationship with God as conveyed by St. Paul in Rom 9:4-5. Sungenis, on the other hand, has totally rejected any such claim, minimizing Rom 11:29 to mean nothing more than that Jews can still be saved by Christ:

R. Sungenis: Again, we see the same problem. Shawn has failed to see the difference between the Old Covenant as a legal entity and the Old Covenant as a spiritual foundation for the New Covenant. Moreover, Romans 11:29 merely says that the "gifts and calling of God" are "irrevocable," not that the Old Covenant is irrevocable. In fact, there is no statement in the Old or New Testament that says the Old Covenant is irrevocable. The "gifts and calling of God" are irrevocable because "gifts and calling" refer to God’s gift of salvation with which he calls each and every man. The whole context of Romans 11, especially Rm 11:1-2, is about whether God will still give the Jew the opportunity to be saved. The answer comes back: "Yes, they can still be saved, because the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable." ("Dialogue on Old Covenant")


If Bob is going to throw charges of heresy at Roy Schoeman for claiming that the Jews as an ethnic people still have a special place in God's plan of salvation by virtue of God's covenant, then let him extend that charge to Card. Ratzinger as well. Granted, he's already called the Cardinal, "one of the best theologians with which the Church has been blessed" (Q&A Question 45, Jan 2007). But it would not be the first time that he has completely reversed himself if he has found it useful to do so.

To recap, it is entirely the burden of Bob Sungenis to prove his charges against Roy Schoeman according to his own standards:


  • If there is an ambiguity that admits an orthodox interpretation, then it's not heresy.

  • Heresy consists only in "direct and provable statements of error."

  • The burden of proof is entirely on the accuser.

  • Heresy is "deliberate, calculated and unequivocal statement to circumvent established dogma."

  • The accuser is "required to give substantial evidence for the accusation and conviction."

  • And finally, unless he can prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt, the accuser has no case.



Sungenis has failed to meet every one of his own standards. He has fabricated quotes, taken material out context, ignored material in the book that runs directly contrary to his accusations, failed to make even the least effort to resolve any apparent ambiguities, interpreted every apparent weakness in the worst possible light, and arrogated to himself authority he does not possess. I consider it laughable that Bob would actually assert that he is going to bring any of this material before eccesiastical authority. But for my part, I would like to see Sungenis answer to the Church for such behavior. So Bob, please provide me with the parish in which you're registered, your pastor's name, and the name and address of your bishop. Thank you.

In my next section, I will highlight one of the main events Schoeman points to in support of God's ongoing care of and concern for the Jews, the Catholic belief that before the Second Coming of Christ there will be a significant conversion of the Jewish people to Christ.