Feast of Saint Apollinaris, the Apologist, Jan. 8, 2011
Often one finds in the literature, newspapers and publications of extreme traditionalists, the idea that the Jews do not worship the one true God. For example, in an interview with Fr. Franz Schmidberger, former Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) and current District Superior for Germany, he states, ". . . we regret the visit (of the Holy Father) to the Roman synagogue and especially the statement of the Pope that we and the Jews pray to the same God. We Christians worship the most holy Trinity and adore our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father. The Jews of today, in contrast, do not accept either of these fundamental truths of our holy religion. Since there is no other God than the most holy Trinity, no other Lord than Jesus Christ, we do not worship the same God as the Jews". (Fr. Franz Schmidberger FSSPX in an interview with Benjamin Greschner, Editor-in-Chief of "Kathnews", Feb. 2010)
The argument presented is that if you do not believe in the Holy Trinity and Jesus Christ as the Son of God, then neither can you believe in God. The words of Our Blessed Lord, however, prove that this reasoning is false, when, at the Last Supper, He says to His Apostles: "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (Jn. 14, 1).
Saint Paul as well affirms that Christians and Jews believe in the "same God", when, the Apostle, addressing the "men of Israel", "rising up, and with his hand bespeaking silence, said: Ye men of Israel, and you that fear God, give ear. The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they were sojourners in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought them out from thence. . . This same God hath fulfilled to our children, raising up Jesus, as in the second psalm also is written: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee." (Acts 13, 16, 17, 33).
In the Acts of the Apostles we read: "And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common. Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as every one had need. And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they took their meat with gladness and simplicity of heart." (Acts 2, 44-46). Why would these early Christians enter a place of idolatry?
In fact we read in numerous passages of the New Testament about the Apostles and their disciples entering and praying in the Temple: "And it came to pass, when I (Paul) was come again to Jerusalem, and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance" (Acts 22, 17) What God was he praying to in the temple?
Again: "Then Paul took the men, and the next day being purified with them, entered into the temple, giving notice of the accomplishment of the days of purification, until an oblation should be offered for every one of them." (Acts 21, 26) Would Saint Paul participate in an idolatrous rite?
And again: "Now Peter and John went up into the temple at the ninth hour of prayer. . . And he leaping up, stood, and walked, and went in with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God" (Acts 3, 1, 8-9).
"There are yet but twelve days, since I went up to adore in Jerusalem: And neither in the temple did they find me disputing with any man. . . (Acts 24, 11-12). Was Saint Paul "adoring" a false god?
If, according to Fr. Schmidberger, "we do not worship the same God as the Jews", and we certainly worship the true God, then that would mean that the Jews worship a false god, and they would therefore be idolaters, an accusation that is not made of them by the Apostles.
In fact, Saint Paul speaks of idolatry and the worship of false gods, but in relation to the Gentiles, not the Jews, such as in this passage: "For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things" (Rm. 1, 22, 23). And again: "Now whilst Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him, seeing the city wholly given to idolatry" (Acts 17, 16). Then Saint Paul, the text tells us, went where they worshipped the one true God: "He disputed, therefore, in the synagogue with the Jews, and with them that served God" (Acts 17, 17). That God that they "served" would have to be the true God, not a false god .
A witness on this point from the Church's Liturgy can be seen in the prayers recited on Good Friday for the various categories of people. There is a prayer for the Conversion of the Jews, which is not the prayer for the "Conversion of the infidels", namely, that they might leave their idols and be converted to the true and living God.
Nor can this position of radical traditionalists be supported by tradition, as can be seen from this statement of the early apologist Saint Justin Martyr in his "Dialogue with Trypho", the Jew: "'Trypho', I began, 'There never will be, nor has there ever been from eternity, any other God except Him who created and formed the universe. Furthermore, we do not claim that our God is different from yours, for He is the God who, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, led your forefathers out of the land of Egypt. Nor have we ever placed our trust in any other (for, indeed, there is no other), but only in Him whom you also have trusted, the God of Abraham and of isaac and of Jacob'" (Ch. 11).
This idea, promoted by many traditionalists not in union with Rome, contradicts, moreover, the teaching of Saint Paul who tells us in his Letter to the Romans that knowledge of the one true God can be arrived at by the natural reason of man without any knowledge of revealed mysteries such as the Trinity: ". . . that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal power also, and divinity" (Rm. 1, 19-20) Contradicting Saint Paul on this point would also make the strange and novel opinion in opposition to the teaching of the First Vatican Council which declares: "If anyone says that the one, true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema".
In one way or another all of these following Scriptural passages contradict the idea that the Jews do not worship the one true God:
Our Blessed Lady speaking to Saint Elizabeth: "As He (God) spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever." (Lk. 2, 55). The Virgin Mary's God (after the Incarnation) was the same God who spoke to "our (the Jews') fathers". Our Blessed Mother spoke those words after she knew about the Holy Trinity from these words of the Angel Gabriel to her: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Lk. 2, 35).
Our Blessed Lord said: "When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand." (Mt. 24, 15) Our Blessed Lord is prophesying about an event that would not take place until long after Christianity is spread. It would not be an abomination of the holy place if, already long before that, they were worshiping a false god there.
Our Blessed Lord certainly knew the Mystery of the Trinity, and yet nevertheless went up, on the Jewish Feasts, to the Temple (cf: Jn. 5; 7; 10) to honor the true God: "And His parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the Pasch. And when He (Jesus) was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast; and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and His parents knew it not" (Lk. 2, 41-43). Our Lord certainly would not go up to a place of idolatry, where a false god was being worshiped.
Our Blessed Lord said that: "Two men went up to the temple to pray" (Lk. 18, 10). Were they praying to a false god? And if it were a false god, why did one of those men go "home justified" (Lk. 18, 14).
Our Lord threw out the vendors from the Temple, saying "My house is a house of prayer" (Lk. 19, 46). Christ here is calling the Temple, His house.
The God worshiped in the Temple was the true God. It was the worship that became unacceptable to that true God that was there worshiped. Saint Paul teaches that it is possible to know the one true God and yet not worship Him as He ought to be worshiped: " . . . when they knew God, they have not glorified Him as God. . . " (Rm. 1, 21).
Saint Peter speaking to the "men of Israel": "But Peter seeing, made answer to the people: Ye men of Israel, why wonder you at this? or why look you upon us, as if by our strength or power we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus, whom you indeed delivered up and denied before the face of Pilate, when he judged He should be released." (Acts 3, 12-13).
Once again: "But Peter and the apostles answering, said: We ought to obey God, rather than men. The God of our fathers hath raised up Jesus, whom you put to death, hanging Him upon a tree." (Acts 5, 29-30).
Saint Paul addresses those in the synagogue, not as worshipers of a false god, but as men who believe in the one true God: ". . . you that fear God, give ear" (Acts 13, 16).
For thousands of years God guided the Hebrew people and "took them by the hand" (Jer. 31, 32; Heb. 8, 9), keeping worship of the one true God alive upon the earth while He prepared the chosen people to receive in the "fulness of time" the Saviour and, with Christ, the fulness of His self-revelation. What Judaism is, is defined, not by human writings or rabbinical opinions, but by God Himself in divine Revelation. For someone now to try to re-define the true subject of Jewish worship as anything other than what God revealed to Abraham and Moses is to substitute himself for the Divine Word and the Divine Plan.
The Word of God which "In the beginning. . . was with God and was God. . . and was made flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn. 1, 1, 14) is Christ who was mysteriously present in the Old Testament (cf.: 1 Cor. 10, 4). The life and teachings of Christ are inextricably bound up with the God revealed in the Old Testament: The God who revealed Himself to Moses, as Our Blessed Lord affirmed is "The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Mt. 22, 32; Mk. 12, 26; Lk. 20, 37). As divine, Christ came to the Jews, but as human, He came from the Jews: "salvation is from the Jews" (Jn. 4, 22), as Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well when He said to her: "You adore that which you know not: we adore that which we know" (Jn. 4, 22). Because Jesus "was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel" (Mt. 15, 24), who already knew who God was, belief in God is always assumed. In order to be saved, they must believe that Jesus came forth from God: "For the Father Himself loveth you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God" (Jn. 16, 27). Christ came to the Jews, from the Jews, and for the Jews, but as the Father sent Him, He would send His Apostles to the rest of the world: "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you" (Jn. 20, 21).
Saint John the Baptist sends all Jews to Christ with the question: "Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another?" (Mt. 11, 3; Lk. 7, 19-20). Why would the Baptist have that question asked of Jesus if, in fact, he had already witnessed the trinitarian theophany when he baptized the Lord in the river Jordan, and had already seen the Holy Spirit, as a dove descend upon Christ? Saint John the Baptist obtained from the Lord the answer that is of primary importance, not only to himself, but to all Jews: "Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me" (Mt. 11, 4-6; Lk. 7, 22-23). "Scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke" (Acts 1, 16) (cf.: Isaias 35, 5, 6; 61, 1; 8, 14, 15).
Our Blessed Lord says to all Jews, what He said to His Apostles: "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (Jn. 14, 1). Evangelization of the Jews, following the example of Christ, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, the Apostles, the Fathers, and the early Church, is carried out by the explanation of their own Scriptures. "For with much vigour he (Saint Paul) convinced the Jews openly, shewing by the Scriptures, that Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 18, 28).
When conversion of Jews is attempted by accusing them of worshiping a false god, the way to Christ is taken away from them. Jews do not need to believe in a new God, they need to obey the God that they already believe in. Radical traditionalists rather than basing themselves on the Scriptures, engage themselves in "vain disputes" over extra-biblical Jewish writings such as the Talmud.
The only thing that matters is the Word of God, Holy Scriptures. Extra-biblical Jewish writings, are irrelevant. There were rabbinical writings and customs at the time of Christ, but Our Blessed Lord uses only Scripture. In fact Our Blessed Lord explicitly rejects some non-Scriptural ideas held by the Jews of His day: "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the ancients? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But He answering, said to them: Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for your tradition? For God said: Honour thy father and mother: And: He that shall curse father or mother, let him die the death. But you say: Whosoever shall say to father or mother, The gift whatsoever proceedeth from me, shall profit thee. And he shall not honour his father or his mother: and you have made void the commandment of God for your tradition." (Mt. 15, 2-6).
We have numerous examples of Saint Paul: "They came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul, according to his custom, went in unto them; and for three sabbath days he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." (Acts 17, 1-2).
And again: "But the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea. Who, when they were come thither, went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, who received the word with all eagerness, daily searching the Scriptures, whether these things were so." (Acts. 17, 10-11).
The greatest and self-standing proof of Christ's divinity is His resurrection from the dead, and yet, on that very day, Our Blessed Lord took time to explain to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus the fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures: "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures, the things that were concerning Him" (Lk. 24, 27).
Radical traditionalists have repeatedly attacked the Holy Father and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, for entering synagogues, even though the Apostles often went into synagogues: "And Paul, according to his custom, went in (to the Synagogue) unto them" (Acts 17, 2). "Paul and they that were with him . . . came to Antioch in Pisidia: and entering into the synagogue on the sabbath day, they sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying: Ye men, brethren, if you have any word of exhortation to make to the people, speak" (Acts 13, 13-12; 17, 1-2;17, 10-11 ).
Our Blessed Lord gave detailed instructions regarding how His disciples were to evangelize, telling them what they should do and what they should not do (cf: Mt. 10; Mk. 6; Lk. 9; 10). The Lord, however, did not forbid them to enter into synagogues, and, in fact, foretold that they would enter them: "They will put you out of the synagogues" (Jn. 16, 2).
Those who hold that the Jews don't have the true God, try to put "the triune God" in opposition to Monotheism. It is however a misunderstanding of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, which is "one God in three Persons", as we know from the Nicene Creed, the first article of which is: "I believe in one God". Even with inspired divinely revealed knowledge of the Trinity, the Apostles continue to talk of "the one God". Monotheism remains true for Christians. The three Persons in one God is a completion of God's revelation which in no way negates the prior revelation. Besides being a Scriptural and theological error, the accusation of idolatry on the part of the Jews, is a logical error as well, namely, that the more defined somehow contradicts the less defined. On the contrary, the revelation of the Trinity in no way changes the logically precedent truth of the one God. That there would have to be a God Creator of the visible universe, and that there could only be one God are philosophical truths that can be arrived at by reason. That the one God, in the singularity of His nature and essence, can exist in three distinct Persons, is a mystery revealed by Christ. The idea that failure to believe this trinitarian mystery means that that one God, before justly worshiped, must now be a different god, is a logical fallacy.
The truth of our first article of Faith, namely, the existence of one God and only one God, will always remain the unshakable witness of the Old Testament. Christ came to prove that He came forth from the same God that the Jewish people already believed in. Maintaining that the Jews believe in a false god, undermines Christ's proof of divine origin.
On what proof do those who accuse the Jews of worshiping a false god base themselves? Some, in fact, refer to the phrase in the Apocalypse: "the synagogue of Satan". A "synagogue", in its general meaning, is an assembly or a gathering. Saint John does not refer here to the Jewish place of worship since he explicitly denies (twice actually) that he is talking about Jews: "Behold, I will bring of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie" (Ap. 3, 9; 2, 9). This is not to deny that, in the first years of Christianity, Jewish Christians were, in fact, sometimes persecuted by their very co-nationals, but even under the interpretation that Saint John is referring to an actual Jewish synagogue, it is, nevertheless, a particular synagogue, not all the holy places of worship that devout and observing Jews continued to frequent according to their Law.
Sometimes they make reference to Christ's accusations of unbelief to Pharisees. The rebuke however in made to particular Jews, while other Jews are praised: the "woman, who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years: and she was bowed together, neither could she look upwards at all" (Lk. 13, 11), is healed by Our Blessed Lord and called: "this daughter of Abraham" (Lk. 13, 16). Of Zacheus, Jesus said: "This day is salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham" (Lk. 19, 9).
The Gospel verse sometimes cited is: "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also" (1Jn. 2, 22). Our Blessed Lord, however, is not speaking here about believe in God, but about having God, that is to say, the possession of God through supernatural Grace. There is only one way to the Father and divine Life, and that is through the Son, Jesus Christ, the Word of God. It is only through Christ, the only begotten Son of God, that we can obtain access to the Father. It is only in Jesus, that we can have a sharing in the life of God Himself. All mankind, as Saint Paul teaches, can know of God and believe in God, but that does not, wash away sin, open the gates of Heaven, or give sanctifying Grace.
The question we are examining here should not be confused with the question of who is ultimately saved; nor are we talking about the beliefs of this or that Jew, no more than we could vouch for the beliefs of this or that Catholic, many of whom, no doubt, hold heterodox views. We are talking about the faith of Judaism as defined by God Himself in the Old Testament, just as we pray in the Holy Mass that God "look not upon our sins, but upon the faith of Thy Church".
In summary, the belief that the Jews do not worship the one true God is an idea abhorrent to the Word of God, just as much to the New Testament as to the Old Testament.
Feast of Saint Apollinaris, the Apologist, Jan. 8, 2011
The God of the Jews (II).
Feast of Saint Paul, the Hermit, Jan. 15, 2011
Against all those who deny that the Jews worship the One True God
Those saying that the Jews do not believe in the One True God "maketh God a liar" (1 Jn. 5, 10), because it was God Himself who told Moses that He was.
Moreover the denial by a Jew that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, implicitly affirms at the same time, belief in God.
Man the creature always has the obligation to recognize and worship God his Creator, and that was so before God called Abraham, and before the Son of God came to open for man the gates to supernatural Life. The duty to recognize and worship God is independent of the gratuitous gift of Supernatural Life. Our Blessed Lord tells us: He who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, who hath sent Him . . . he who heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath life everlasting . . . For as the Father hath life in Himself, so He hath given the Son also to have life in Himself . . . This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He hath sent" (Jn. 5, 23-24, 26). There is no other way to the divine Life of the heavenly Father, except through the Son. As Saint John explains it: "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also. . . . And this is the promise which He hath promised us, life everlasting" (1 Jn. 23, 25). The meaning of these words is not, as some are claiming, that the Jews, who do not honour the Son, therefore do not believe in God.
"No man hath seen God at any time" (1 Jn. 4, 12), as Saint John tells us in his first epistle. The Jews, however, have heard God. As Our Blessed Lord affirms, God "spoke to Moses: 'Have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?'" (Mt. 22, 31, 32).
In the Gospel of Saint Luke we read: "And Mary said: . . . my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. . . He hath received Israel His servant, . . .as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever" (2, 46, 47, 54, 55).
Because no man has ever seen "God", the making of images and likenesses of God was strictly forbidden to the Hebrews (Ex. 20, 4; Lev. 19, 4; Dt. 4, 15-20; 5, 8). God revealed Himself by His voice, that is to say by His Word.
Who is God? If you ask a Jew, he will respond: He who spoke to Moses: "We know that God spoke to Moses" (Jn. 9, 29). The God who revealed Himself to Moses is the God in whom Jews believe. The God that spoke to Moses is in fact the true God and the only God. One who says that the God in whom the Jews believe is not the one true God, "maketh God a liar" (1 Jn. 5, 10), because it was Almighty God Himself who told Moses: "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Ex. 3, 6). The Jews can not be in error about who talked to Moses, because it was God Himself who reveals it, when He "said to Moses: I AM WHO AM" (Ex. 3, 14); "And God said again to Moses: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me to you: This is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations" (Ex. 3, 15). This is the "witness" or the "testimony of God" Himself. "I AM WHO AM", is, indeed, as Saint Augustine tells us, the proper name of God.
Those who believe that it was God who spoke to Moses and gave to him the 10 Commandments (the very first of which is that there is only one God), are considered Monotheists, as opposed to polytheists, those who believe in many gods.
The opinion of those, such as members of the SSPX, and writers of the Remnant and Catholic Family News, who insist that Jews believe in a false god because they do not accept the mystery of the Holy Trinity or that Jesus is the Son of God, contradicts the explicit words Our Blessed Lord spoke to His Apostles on the night of the Last Supper: "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (Jn. 14, 1). These writers confuse the covenant with the God of the covenant. There is a new covenant, but there is not a new God. It is, as Saint Paul affirms, the "same God" (Acts 13, 33).
When the Holy Father tells us that: "Christians and Jews. . . pray to the same Lord" (Jan. 17, 2010), the Pope is doing no more than re-affirming the teaching of Saint Paul. Those who attack the Vicar of Christ for this statement boast of being "traditional", and yet traditional Catholic teaching tells us that it is presumptuous and rash (temerarious) to do so.
Belief in Holy Scripture means above all belief in the One who reveals, and only indirectly in what is revealed, that is to say, the content of the revelation. We believe God because "It is impossible for God to lie" (Heb. 6, 18).
The error of these writers can be seen by the story of Jesus and "the woman of Samaria". The Samaritans were a mixed population of Israelites and other foreign peoples. They did not accept all of the Jewish Scriptures, but they did accept some of the Holy Scriptures, and some believed in, and awaited the coming of the Messias (Jn. 4, 25). Some of them as we know from the prophets even pretended to worship both the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which they considered as their own local God (2 Kg. 17, 25-28), as well as various pagan gods of other nations. Nevertheless there were Samaritans who followed the precept of Monotheism (2 Cr. 30, 1; 34, 6, 9; 35, 18; 2 Kg. 23, 15-19), as we see in the case of the Samaritan leper who returns, neither to the mountain of the Samaritans, nor to Jerusalem, but to Christ to "give glory to God" (Lk. 17, 18), thus fulfilling the prophecy of Our Blessed Lord: "the hour cometh, when you shall, neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father . . . But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. (Jn. 4, 21). This can be seen as well in the story of "the Good Samaritan" (Lk. 10), in whom the Fathers of the Church see a figure of Christ Himself. Nor can we forget that when Jews said to Jesus: "Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" Our Blessed Lord denied that He had a devil, but did not deny that He was a Samaritan: indeed He was "the Good Samaritan" (Jn 8, 48-49)!
The Samaritan women questioning, said to Jesus:
"Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children,
and his cattle? . . . Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say, that at Jerusalem is the place where
men must adore. Jesus saith to her: Woman, believe Me, that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on
this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father. You adore that which you know not: we adore that
which we know; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers
shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore Him. God is
Spirit; and they that adore Him, must adore Him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith to Him: I know
that the Messias cometh (who is called Christ); therefore, when He is come, He will tell us all things.
Jesus saith to her: I am He, who am speaking with thee" (Jn. 4, 12, 21- 26).
Even though the Samaritan woman did not know that which she adored, Christ acknowledged that it was, in fact, God who was adored on that mountain. Those who deny that the Jews adore the one true God, insist that without God's revelation of His divine trinitarian nature, it must not be Him who is adored. This novel opinion contradicts the teaching of the early Church as can be seen from the testimony of Saint Justin Martyr, himself a Samaritan born around the beginning of the second century: "We do not claim, St. Justin tells Trypho, the Jew, "that our God is different from yours" (Dialogue with Trypho; ch 11).
One believes in the One revealing, or, in "the name" of the Revealer:
"He that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (Jn. 3, 18). "Just Father, the world hath not known Thee; but I have known Thee: and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have made known Thy name to them, and will make it known. . . ." (Jn. 17, 25-26). "All they that love Thy name shall glory in Thee" (Ps. 5, 12). "And let them trust in Thee who know Thy name: for Thou hast not forsaken them that seek Thee, O Lord" (Ps. 9, 11). "We will rejoice in Thy salvation; and in the name of our God we shall be exalted" (Ps. 19, 6). "I shall declare Thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the church shall I praise Thee" (Ps. 21, 23). "SAVE me, O God, by Thy name" (Ps. 53, 3).
The first article of our Faith: "I believe in one God", which we received from the revelation of God in the Old Testament, and is the belief of Jews, always remains intact according to the teaching of Our Blessed Lord: "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (Jn. 14, 1). "Now this is eternal life: That they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" (Jn. 17, 3). "A man who have spoken the truth to you, which I have heard of God" (Jn. 8, 40). This teaching was, in fact, always maintained by the Apostles: Saints Peter, Paul, John, James, and Jude, as we see from their verbal formulations: "Therefore", Saint Peter proclaims, "let all the house of Israel know most certainly, that God hath made both Lord and Christ, this same Jesus, whom you have crucified" (Acts 2, 36). "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1, 17). "before God and our Father" (1 Thes. 3, 13). "according to the grace of our God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thes. 1, 12). "Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God and our Father" (2 Thes. 2, 16). "according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus our hope" (1 Tim. 1, 1). "I charge thee before God, and Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 5, 21; 6, 13; 2 Tim. 4, 1). "And may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great pastor of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the blood of the everlasting testament" (Heb. 13, 20). "James the servant of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jam. 1, 1). "that in all things God may be honoured through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 4, 11). "Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Pet. 1, 2). "To the only God our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Jud. 1, 25). "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him" (Ap. 1, 1).
When you condition belief in the one true God on acceptance of the revealed mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation (as do those who deny that Jews belief in the true God), then you destroy the self-standing integrity of the first article of our Faith: "I believe in one God.
As we read in the Letter to the Hebrews quoting the Psalm of David: "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, If, TODAY, you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb. 3, 7). If it were a different God, it would be a different voice. It is not the voice that changes, it is the heart. The Apostles don't exhort the Jews to change their God, they exhorted them to listen to His voice. If, indeed, the Jews, when they recite their Psalms, were praying to a false god, they would not be exhorted to heed the voice of that false god.
Saint Paul affirms that the Jews remain loved by God: "They are most dear" (Rm. 11, 28). How could the Jews remain "most dear" to the God, if they didn't even worship Him, but rather a false god?
Saint Paul compares the Gentiles to wild olive branches that must be grafted onto the root of the good olive tree, and Jews are compared to natural branches that have broken off from the root of the good olive tree: "If the root be holy, so are the branches" (Rm. 11, 16). When, nevertheless, Jews convert to Christ, it will be easier, because they are natural branches to be grafted "into their own olive tree" (Rm. 11). This could not be true, if, by worship of a false god, they had become no better than the Gentiles.
One day "early in the morning", Our Blessed Lord came into the Temple, "and all the people came to Him, and sitting down He taught them" (Jn. 8, 2). Pharisees were there accusing Jesus and questioning Him. At one point, the Gospel tells us that Jesus said to them: "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof" (Jn. 8, 23-24, 44). Now many who deny that the Jews worship the true God, quote these words of Our Blessed Lord in proof of their opinion. They say that Jesus addressed these words to the Jews in general. This is not the case because on the same occasion, Saint John tells us that: "When (Jesus) spoke these things, many believed in Him" (Jn. 8, 30). The Fathers of the Church recognize that Jesus spoke these words not to all the Jews in general, and, indeed, not even to all the Jews present there that day in the Temple, but to the Pharisees to whom Our Blessed Lord said. "You seek to kill Me" (Jn. 8, 37); and who, in fact, shortly after, on that very day, "took up stones to cast at Him" (Jn. 8, 59).
Those, however, who deny Jewish belief in the true God, would say that it is meant for all non-believing Jews because Jesus said: "You shall die in your sins. For if you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sin" (Jn. 8, 24). "If you believe not", Jesus says, "that I am He", namely, the Christ, the Messias. Our Blessed Lord proves to the Pharisees by David's words, in Psalm 109, that the Christ will be the Son of God: "Jesus saith to them: How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying: The Lord said to my Lord. . . . If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son?" (Mt. 22, 43-45). The Christ, whom the Pharisees admit is the son of David, is called by David "Lord", implying that He is the Son of God. Thus those who do not believe that Jesus is the Messias, the Son of God, shall die in their sin. This failure of Jews to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, nevertheless, implies belief in God. For one who does not believe in God, obviously does not believe He can have a son!
Because Jesus is the only way to eternal Life, to the Heavenly Father, according as He proclaimed: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me" (Jn. 14, 6), in order to be saved we must believe that He, the Son of God, came forth from God the Father. The lack of this belief, however, does not imply the denial of God. If denial of Jesus entailed denial of God, then Peter would have denied, as an atheist, belief in God, even though Our Blessed Lord knew that Peter loved Him, as the Prince of the Apostles professed to Jesus: "Lord, Thou knowest all things: Thou knowest that I love Thee" (Jn. 21, 17).
On that day in the Temple Our Blessed Lord came to the Pharisees and spoke to them, even answering their questions. Jesus performed miracles among them, and, in fact, on that very occasion demonstrated His divine knowledge, writing on the ground their sins (according to the common understanding), when they wanted to stone an adulteress. Notwithstanding all this, "they hated" Him.
The teaching of Our Blessed Lord on this is very important:
"If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse
for their sin. He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also. If I had not done among them the works
that no other man hath done, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated
both Me and My Father. But that the word may be fulfilled which is written in their law: They
hated Me without cause" (Jn. 15, 22-25).
As we see here, Our Blessed Lord speaks of hatred, and, in fact, of extreme hatred lacking even a cause. As to love and hate one person differs from another as "star differeth from star" (1 Cor. 15, 41).
There are many, of course, who are of a different persuasion than Christians. Some, however, not at peace in their heart with their own beliefs, attempt to take away the faith of believers. The consequences of the denial and rejection of Christ are tremendous, but frightful beyond measure is the fate of all those who actively work to destroy belief in Christ.
The awesome drama of eternal salvation is declared by Saint John: "Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father, and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also" (1 Jn. 2, 22-23). It is not, however, correct to say: this certain man is by religion a Jew, therefore, he has denied that "Jesus is the Christ".
"Father" and "Son" mutually imply each other. Unless there is a "father" there is no "son", and unless there is a "son", there is no "father". It is, as Saint Paul teaches, only when we have a "father", that we are an "heir": "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law: That He might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God" (Gal. 4, 4-7).
Feast of Saint Paul, the Hermit, Jan. 15, 2011
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