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 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")


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.