Cardinal Koch on why Jews are excluded from the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20; i.e., the Christian mission to convert members of other religions
Jesus spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
26 May 2016 | by James Roberts | The Tablet
The Vatican’s man promoting Christian unity talks to James Roberts …
Before going to Cambridge to meet Cardinal Kurt Koch – the man with the Christian unity brief at the Vatican – I was hoping that a few sparks would fly across the Fens, as we touched on some of the hottest topics in the Church.
This was the man who, speaking in Germany last November, six days after the Islamist attacks in Paris claimed 130 lives, described the so-called Islamic State as a “satanic terrorist organisation”. Earlier in 2015, before the Synod on the Family, amid calls for church reforms that took account of the realities of contemporary life, he recalled that at the time of the Third Reich, some “German Christians” adjusted their faith to the “reality” of a passing world view: National Socialism. There can be no “third realities” of the Revelation next to Holy Scripture and the magisterium, he said.
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Koch was in Cambridge to represent the Catholic Church at the laying of the foundation stone for the Woolf Institute’s grand new building in the grounds of Westminster College. The institute is dedicated to dialogue between Jews, Christians and Muslims and the stone displays a quote in English, Hebrew and Arabic from Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “A threefold cord is not quickly broken”.
He was also taking part in a conference timed to coincide with the ceremony. In December last year, 50 years after the publication of the Second Vatican Council document, Nostra Aetate, which transformed Christian-Jewish relations at a stroke, the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews issued a new document, “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable”.
The theological centrepiece of this document, which is being discussed in Cambridge by leading Jewish and Christian thinkers, is the affirmation that Jews can be saved while not believing in Christ. “There is only one God, the God of Israel, revealed in Jesus Christ. How salvation will be possible without a belief in Jesus Christ is a divine mystery that cannot be resolved by human beings; but that Jews are part of God’s salvation is beyond theological discussion,” is how Cardinal Koch puts it.
Commenting on the document after its release, Philip Cunningham, director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations, at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, says: “Dialogue between Catholics and Jews is an exchange of their different experiences of God.”
I asked Cardinal Koch: “How are these experiences of God different?” “First of all,” he says, “we have a common experience because the God we believe in in the New Testament is not another God. He is revealed in the Old Testament. But it’s clear in the history we have a different experience with the person of Jesus. But we cannot underline only the difference. First of all we must see the common heritage.”
Edward Kessler, director of the Woolf Institute, developed the point. He said the Cambridge meeting itself has demonstrated there is a shared “intimacy” in the experience of Catholics and Jews in terms of their experience of the divine – and Koch agrees.
The Commission for Religious Relations document points out that Christian-Jewish dialogue is not “inter” religious but “intra” religious, that is, a conversation within one religion. St John Paul II affirmed Jews as “our elder brothers”. I asked the cardinal what this means.
“Relations with Jews are not like those with other religions,” he said. “We have dialogue with other religions but with Judaism this is part of Christian unity. Christians cannot understand themselves without the relationship with the Jewish people. We must see that the Christian tradition has influenced the development of human rights – we have this clear Christian and Jewish tradition in human rights.” …
[More by His Eminence on other of the “hottest topics in the Church” at thetablet.co.uk/features/2/8433/difficult-dialogue ]