Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Salvation and the Jews

Roy Schoeman, Salvation is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2003), $16.95, 392 pp., Paper.

Reviewed by E. Michael Jones, Ph.D.
Culture Wars Magazine

Roy H. Schoeman was born and raised a Jew in New York, the child of parents who escaped from Hitler. He studied Judaism under three prominent rabbis, considered joining a Hasidic community in Israel, but eventually ended up in Cambridge, where after an exceptional performance at MIT and Harvard, he was asked to join that faculty of the Harvard Business School.

Then he began to have visions. One day while walking along the beach between Truro and Provincetown on Cape Cod, he "fell into heaven." He had a mystical encounter with an anonymous God. After encountering God, he longed to know his name. "Let me know your name—" he wrote, "I don't mind if you are Buddha and I have to become a Buddhist; I don't mind if your are Apollo, and I have to become a roman pagan. I don't mind if you are Krishna, and I have to became a Hindu; as long as your are not Christ and I have to become a Christian!"

Schoeman's ancestral and instinctive Jewish animus against Christ did not leave him even when he encountered Christ in a vision—at least no immediately anyway. Browsing through a bookstore in Cambridge during the 1980s, Schoeman came across The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila, finding "great spiritual nourishment within" but no particular incentive to become a Christian. One year to the day after his first religious experience on Cape Cod, Schoeman had a dream during which he encountered the Blessed Virgin. After a brief encounter with a Protestant church (whose minister denigrated the Blessed Virgin), Schoeman started attending Mass and was baptized shortly thereafter.

Salvation Is from the Jews is his attempt to explain why it didn't seem strange for a Jew whose animus against Christ was ancestral, visceral and palpable to become a Catholic. The change was a conversion but it was not a change into something new; it was the Jew becoming what he was supposed to be from the beginning. Schoeman could not see this at the time not because Christ was anything different than what he always was, namely, the Jewish Messiah, but because of what the Jews had become in the centuries since their leaders rejected Christ, namely, not the religion of Moses but an anti-Christian ideology. "It might seem odd," Schoeman writes,

"to refer to the entry of Jews into the Catholic Church as "the return of the Jew." 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. . . ." (p. 317).

Other Jews feel the same way; in fact, the feeling is all but universal among contemporary Jewish converts:

"Almost every Jew who enters the Catholic church feels deeply the sense of "return' that St. Paul captures in his image of the olive branch being grafted back on to its original, natural root—that they are in no way leaving Judaism but rather coming into its fullness. As Rosalind Moss, a well-known contemporary Jewish-Catholic evangelist put it, becoming Catholic is 'the most Jewish thing a person can do'" (p. 323).

Schoeman's book is an attempt to explain why this is the case. To start with the most obvious, Jesus was the Messiah. He came exclusively, as he made clear to the Samaritan woman, for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As Schoeman makes clear, Jewish rejection of Christ was understandable because the track record of the Jews in following Moses was not good either. They were forever falling into sin, idolatry and apostasy.

The situation at the time of Christ's first coming was no different. The overwhelming majority of Jews didn't just ignore Christ, they actively sought his death, crying "Crucify him" and, even more chillingly, may "His blood be on us and on our children" (Matt 27:25). Just as the faith of the Jews was preserved by a "faithful remnant" during the course of Jewish history before the coming of Christ, so only a faithful remnant of Jews recognized Christ as the Messiah when he finally arrived to deliver them.

In confronting His rejection at the hands of his own people, Christ makes clear that the Jews rejection of Him entails more than it seems. By rejecting Christ, the Jews also rejected Moses, in other words, their entire religion as well. "Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father;" Christ told the Jews who rejected him, "it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, who will you believe my words?" [John 5:24-27].

At this point we are getting into an area of special profundity (everything having to do with the Jews is profound at some point or another). To say that things changed with the coming of Christ is banal enough, but to specify how they changed is something else again. The arrival of Christ created a radical disjunction in history, one that has plagued any discussion of the Jews ever since. Put briefly, with the arrival of Christ Israel became the Catholic Church, i.e., the assembly of those Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah.

Since in rejecting Christ, the Jews rejected Moses as well, they were in some sense of the word, no longer Jews, i.e., followers of Moses. The Jews who accepted Christ as the Messiah were the heirs of Moses. One of those Jews was Peter, upon whom the Church was based. Those who entered the Church were now the real followers of Moses, even if they were Gentiles, i.e., from outside the preferred ethnic group of the Chosen People. This raises an interesting question in turn: If then those who follow Christ are the real followers of Moses, who then are the group of people who claim to be the Jews?

Revelations 3:9 answers that question by calling "those who call themselves Jews but are liars" the "synagogue of Satan." In other words, the group which was called by God to prepare the way for the Messiah, rejected the Messiah and in doing that, became over the course of the ensuing centuries, a group that defined itself as anti-Christian. God did not reject the Jews; the Jews rejected God.

Schoeman deals with the first half of the equation but not the second. Since the Catholic Church is now Israel, Jews can only find their completion as Jews by becoming Catholics. This much is in Schoeman's book. The converse of that statement, however, does not get expressed. The Jews who reject Christ now prepare the way for the coming of the anti-Christ every bit as much as the faithful Jews prepared the way for the coming of the real Christ. The Jews, because of their favored position and because of their rejection of Christ, now have a special role to play in the mystery of iniquity and its history on earth.

If salvation comes from the Jews who prepared the way for Christ and accepted him when he came, what comes from the Jews who rejected Christ? The answer is clear: what comes from this group is the opposite of salvation, namely, the work of Satan culminating in the arrival of the Antichrist. The answer is not only clear; there is no other possible answer to this question.

Schoeman is a sincere convert. He is no marrano or converso, someone who converted for material gain. Indeed, the idea of a Jew converting to Catholicism in this day and age— when Jews are at the peak (or on the downward slope) of their cultural power in America and the position of the Church, largely as a result of the former instance of cultural influence, has never been lower—is ludicrous. Sincerity, however, does not equal profundity, and Schoeman's book is, in many ways, deeply flawed by the cultural conformity which his conversion belied.

To give just one instance of cultural conformity in an age dominated by Jewish cultural influence, Schoeman jumps from 70 AD on page 134 to 1943 on page 135 without giving any sense that something might have happened in between. What happened was precisely the Jewish participation in iniquity which their pertinacious and ongoing rejection of Christ made a necessity. Jewish Messianic hopes were dashed at the time of the Simon bar Kokhba rebellion in 135 AD only to percolate to the surface once again in transmuted form, in the form of Messianic politics and a more and more successful war against those who turned Europe into a civilization (not without its faults) based on the Gospel. We have already described the Puritan-Jewish alliance of the 16th and 17th centuries on these pages. The English Puritans were judaizers, which meant that they, like Annas and Caiphas before them, rejected the cross and all that it stood for as the model for a Christian society.

Messianic politics has been a recipe for disaster ever since, and the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews was a reaction to Jewish Messianism (in the form of Bolshevism) every bit as much as the Chmielnicki pogroms flowed from the excesses of the Jewish tax farmers in the Ukraine. By jumping over 1900 years of Jewish history, Schoeman gives us what might be called the New Yorker's view of history, a deliberately foreshortened view of the world that pretends there is nothing between the Hudson river and California, or, in this instance, between the destruction of the Temple and Auschwitz.

What intervened was a large historical segment of the mystery of iniquity and, in particular, Jewish participation in it. As I said before, the logic is inescapable given the premises Schoeman correctly articulates in his book. If salvation comes from the Jews who faithfully awaited Christ's coming and accepted him when he came, then what came from the Jews who rejected Christ at the time of his coming and in the ensuing centuries turned Judaism from the religion of Moses into an anti-Christian ideology? If we want an answer to that question, we need to peer into the large chunk of Jewish history which Schoeman omits from his book.

Even during this period of time, the history of the Jews has been illuminated by a line of converts to Catholicism that stretches—if one did the research—all the way back to St. Peter. Schoeman lists a number of them in his book. He mentions the Lemann brothers, Alfonse Ratisbonne, St. Edith Stein, Eugenio Zolli, formerly chief Rabbi of Rome, Charlie Rich, Arthur Klyber, and David Moss. He could have mentioned many others.

But he could also have mentioned the counter-tradition as well: Karl Marx, who wrote poetry dedicating himself to Satan as a young man, Sigmund Freud, about whom Paul Vitz (taking the lead of David Bakan) says much the same thing, Leon Trotsky, Wilhelm Reich, "Alex Portnoy." The implication is clear in Schoeman's book, even if he is reluctant to state it explicitly. Salvation history can be seen as being two sets of Jews marching along parallel tracks toward "the end of history." On the one hand, one can discern, just as one could during the time of Jesus and the era of history leading up to that time, a "faithful remnant" of Jews "almost invisible within a larger sea of largely unfaithful humanity" but also largely invisible within the larger sea of unfaithful Jews, accepting the Messiah just as faithfully as their forbears waited for him, doing his will, and bringing about the coming of his kingdom.

But, according to the economy of salvation, the "faithful remnant" has its counterpart in the mystery of iniquity. Just as a small remnant of faithful Jews brought the Catholic Church into being after Christ's death and resurrection, so too a small number of Jews brought "the synagogue of Satan" into existence at around the same time. The "synagogue of Satan," as its name implies, has as its purpose not preparing the world for the second coming of Christ but rather preparing the world for the coming of the Antichrist. Because of their rejection of Christ, the Jews who comprise the synagogue of Satan will have a special role to play in that event.

Schoeman, who studied the Talmud as a Jew, does a good job of showing how that book (or collection of Books) written from around 200 to 600 AD. transformed Judaism from the religion of Moses into the ideology of the anti-Christ, even though as in other parts of this book, he refuses to draw the conclusions which his evidence demands. The Talmud is not an explication of the Torah as much as it is a usurpation of the Torah. The Talmud permits what the Torah forbids. The observant Jew is told, according to Schoeman, to "be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes [i.e., the Talmud] than in the words of the Torah" (Erubin, 21b). Like Caiphas who spoke more truly than he knew when he said that it was better for one man to die than for the people to perish, the Talmud admits the central role of Jesus in salvation history in a number of significant if indirect ways. In order to ensure that the Temple sacrifice had been successful in expiating the sins of the Jews, the priests and rabbis would watch to make sure that a scarlet thread had turned white. Schoeman cites the Talmudic verse from Rosh Hashanah 31b, "For forty years before the destruction of the Temple the thread of scarlet never turned white but it remained red." According to Schoeman, the Talmud itself "unwittingly confirms" that the Temple sacrifices failed 40 years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD (i.e., at the time when Christ died and the veil covering the Holy of Holies was rent in two) when it "recounts that from that time on. . . the scarlet threat never again turned white." According to the Talmud, the Temple was destroyed "because therein prevailed hatred without a cause." From his vantage point as a Catholic, Schoeman can now see that the Talmud was referring in some mysterious way to Christ's own words in John 15:18-25: "They hated me without a cause." The Talmud, in other words, "is exhibiting a gift of prophecy, stating a profound truth that unknowingly confirms Jesus' identity as the Messiah, although unaware of that fact." Although suppressing that fact might have been a better formulation, but the point is clear enough.

Augustine formulated the same truth in his own way: "Even those who set themselves up against you," he wrote in the Confessions, "do but copy you in a perverse way." The Talmud in this regard spends less time unknowingly proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and more time in blaspheming him. Schoeman again tiptoes around this sensitive issue, stating merely that many of the references to Jesus are "pejorative," and that "for many centuries such blasphemy was a criminal offense." He mentions the fact that "passages that appear to refer to Jesus describe Him as illegitimate (Sandhedrin 106a)" but fails to say that the complete verse he cites refers to Christ, the Bastard (Kallah 51A) as the offspring of a Jewish whore and a Roman soldier (Sanhedrin 106A) who is now in hell in boiling excrement (Gittin 57A). But does cite the obvious corollary to that blasphemy, namely, that the Talmud "confirms" the "basics of Jesus' historical existence, which is more than some Jews (and tragically some "Christians" too) are willing to admit to."

As a result of the Talmud behavior which flowed from "Scripture" of this sort, the Jew became known in the Middle Ages as a blasphemer and a corrupter of morals. In Spain this sort of behavior led first to the mistaken program of forced conversions and then, when that failed, to the expulsion of the Jews from the country in 1492; in Poland where Jewish influence went unchecked, it led to the chain of events which began with the Chmielnicki pogroms in 1648 and culminated in the dismemberment of the country in 1795.

The Holocaust is the latest excuse for continuing the tradition of Jewish blasphemy. Schoeman gives example after example from the writing of Elie Wiesel. According to Wiesel's theology, the Jewish survivors of the concentration camps "had every reason in the world to deny God, to deny anything sacred, to oppose all promises and abort all signs of hope, they had every reason in the world to become ferocious nihilists, anarchists, carriers of fear and nightmare." That is, of course, a fair description of Jewish influence on American culture in the period following the Holocaust, but Schoeman has nothing to say about that. He simply gives Wiesel's blasphemy more credit than it deserves. Wiesel, perhaps because he has appeared so frequently on Oprah Winfrey, considers himself "to be stronger than the Almighty, to whom my life had been tied for so long." As a result, he dedicates himself to a life according to which, "each of my shouts will tarnish your glory, each of my gestures will negate You and will treat me as You have negated me." Referring to Sarah, a 12-year-old girl who died in one of the camps, Wiesel becomes even more imperious in his impiety: "whoever enters Sarah's world and doesn't' invent new gods and new religions deserves death and destruction." To his credit, Schoeman is a bit taken aback by Wiesel's blasphemy—"one must ask, is the 'god' in whom Elie Wiesel places his faith the God of the Jewish people, or the Jewish people themselves." Or is it Elie Wiesel. What Schoeman fails to see is that Jews like Wiesel have been inventing new gods all along, ever since they rejected the real God who came to save them as their Messiah. Schoeman can't see either Wiesel or the tradition he represents for what they really are. "For his standard fee of $25,000 (plus chauffeured limousine)," Finkelstein tells us, "Wiesel lectures that the "secret" of Auschwitz's "truth lies in silence." In this regard, Norman Finkelstein's reading of Wiesel is more accurate, even though Finkelstein does not have the theological insights that Catholic theology can bring to the issue. Edith Stein, who is full of theological insights felt that the Holocaust was "the fulfillment of the curse which my people have called down upon themselves!" Claude Lanzmann's had Jews saying much the same thing in his movie Shoah.

Elie Wiesel is only the latest incarnation of the role of blasphemer which the Jews who rejected Christ have been playing throughout the period of history omitted from Schoeman's book. Fifth Monarchy Men, dispensationalists, Christian Zionists and other Englishmen (or Americans from that religious tradition) liked to speculate about the Second Coming based on their reading of the books of Daniel and Revelation. They like to equate the fall of the fourth monarchy mentioned in Daniel with the fall of Rome, which they then go on to equate with the papacy. Applying Okham's razor to the same feverish sort of speculation (always a risky business), one comes up with a different calculus of salvation history. If Rome fell at some time between Alaric's sacking of Rome in 410 or the unhappy reign of Romulus Augustulus roughly a century and a half later, then the true fifth monarchy or millennium corresponded to the thousand-year long rise of Catholic Europe. Europe as a cultural, intellectual and psychic entity was forged during this period of time, something the European Union seems determined to omit from its constitution.

At the end of that thousand year reign, in the early decades of the 16th century, the forces of anti-Christ—Jews, Protestants, and Turks—gained enough of a following among Europe's disaffected (Muenster's population quadrupled in 1533 as hordes of rebellious Catholic monks and nuns swarmed to the Westphalian communist Utopia to celebrate the communality of wives and property) to mount a significant pan-cultural offensive against the Catholic political and social order which had been established during the Middle Ages.

Another word for that offensive is the modern era, an age dedicated to usury, appetite and impiety, an age which became progressively more violent and destructive as Europe moved farther and farther from its Catholic roots. That violence reached a culmination of sorts in the 20th century, when Europe's fratricidal war, World War I, paved the way for the Jewish/Bolshevist takeover of Russia and large segments of Eastern Europe, which in turn set up the mechanism of reaction against that reign of terror, namely, National Socialism under Hitler. That in turn led to the creation of the state of Israel, and the rise to power of the Jewish media elites in the United States, which in turn led, after over 50 years of antagonizing Islam to 9/11 and the current spate of never-ending wars in the Middle East. So it looks more and more like Armageddon every day now. The outline of human history seems to be taking on a more and more biblical configuration with each passing day, something which had not gone unnoticed by the descendants of the Fifth Monarchy Men in our day.

Schoeman claims with some justification from Catholic theology that the end of history will be characterized by the conversion of the Jews. "St. Paul," he writes, "suggested in his Letter to the Romans that the last days will see the widespread conversion of the Jews. This has led many to consider the current wave of Jewish conversion and ask whether it might be the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy." Schoeman cites Romans 11:25 "until the full number of Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved" as well as the Catholic Catechism which foresees widespread conversion of the Jews at the end of time: "The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by 'all Israel,' for a 'hardening has come upon part of Israel' in their 'unbelief' toward Jesus (Rom 11:20-26, Mt. 23:39).

The Holocaust, in this regard, is the preliminary to the Second Coming just as the slaughter of innocents was the preliminary to the first. He also claims that "Jerusalem will return again to Jewish hands shortly before the Second coming" and cites the events of the 1967 war as well as the creation of the state of Israel as fulfilling that prophecy. Another sign that the end is near is that "Jews will be gathered to Israel from around the entire world" as prophesied in Ezekiel 36:22 although he admits that passage is "often taken in a spiritual sense as fulfilled at the first coming of Christ." He even sees some indication that the ten lost tribes have been found. The government of Israel has granted the "right of return" to 600 members of a tribe residing on the Indian-Burmese border "on the presumption that they are in fact the lost tribe of Manassah."

Schoeman clearly sees his own conversion in this light, i.e., as a manifestation that the conversion of the Jews which is to herald the Second Coming is at hand. "If," he reasons, "it was the Jews' rejection of Jesus that brought about the salvation of the Gentiles—"the reconciliation of the world"—and. . . if such a great blessing was the result of the Jews rejecting Jesus, how great must the blessing be that will come about as a result of their accepting Him"?

We can only hope that he is right, primarily because the other scenario, the one involving the synagogue of Satan in the last days is too frightening to contemplate. Israeli submarines with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles are now cruising the world's oceans. The late Moishe Dayan said that Israel would have to behave like a mad dog so that the rest of world would leave it alone. The contemporary Synagogue of Satan, whether in America or Israel, now poses the greatest threat to world peace. It's as if those two groups of Jews which we have already mentioned—the "faithful remnant" and the vanguard of the revolutionary movement —are both sensing that the end of history may be near (the fall of communism was a false start in this regard), and that both groups are increasing their tempo as they head toward the finish line. Schoeman's conversion is one manifestation of the signs of the times. The other is—take your pick—Paul Wolfowitz's plan to march through the middle east; George Bush's recent over the top messianic speeches in England, or Ariel Sharon showing up at the Temple Mount and inaugurating the intifada. Let's hope that Schoeman is right.CW

E. Michael Jones, Ph.D. is the editor of Culture Wars.

This review was published in the February, 2004 issue of Culture Wars.


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