The Roman Catholic (RC) Church according to some ‘extreme’ Protestant groups like the Seventh-day Adventists, view the Papacy and the RC Church as a woman that rides the beast as described in the new testament (NT). Historicist interpreters of the NT commonly used the phrase “Whore of Babylon” to refer to the woman as the Roman Catholic Church. Reformation writers from Martin Luther (1483–1546) (who wrote On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church), John Calvin (1509–1564), and John Knox (1510–1572) taught this association.
Ellen G. White’s book ‘The Great Controversy’ states that “Spiritual Babylon” would have worldwide influence, affecting “all nations”, that Imperial Roman Empire could not meet the criteria for prophetic fulfillment, as she wrote that it only had influence in the Old World. Like many reformation-era Protestant leaders, her writings also describe the Catholic Church as a fallen church, and it plays a nefarious eschatological role as the antagonist against God’s true church and that the pope is the Antichrist.
All of the above is just part of the heady cocktail of ideas and interpretations which have flooded the Christian theological world for centuries. One only has to be an observer over a period of time to take stock of the many ‘curved balls’ that current events have thrown which see amazing theological gymnastics performed on previously established end time doctrines being re-jigged. Like the fashion industry if one waits long enough you may witness the ‘resurrection’ of previously established end time doctrines coming back into vogue!
The waters are indeed muddy especially if one notes that Martin Luther in his branding of the RC church as ‘anti-christ’ still promotes burning of Jews in their synagogues and other horrible things included in his tract “The Jews and their lies”. All the more amazing when we see to today the so called messianic Jewish movement getting all friendly with Rome:
Messianic ‘Rabbi’ Dr. Mark Kinzer has engaged in ‘unsanctioned’ talks with the Roman Catholics!! A book has been written by Mark which has glowing approbations by Mark’s newly found chums in the RC church. Unsanctioned? Yeah right……. and we were all born yesterday!!
The Bigger Picture
Nostra aetate (Latin: In our Time) is the Declaration on the Relation of the RC Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council. The efforts of Nostra aetate no doubt include a unique program which occurred on May 4-7 2015 at Domus Galilaeae, the Catholic center for study and prayer in the Galilee. The program included rabbis, cardinals, bishops and priests who met together, prayed together, discussed theology together, sang, danced and feasted together, and recited the Shema together. They cried together as they attended a church orchestra performance of The Suffering of the Innocents[*], commemorating the Holocaust, with the intertwined parallel theme of Mary crying as Jesus suffered and was killed.
The Goals of Domus Galilaeae in their own words are:
The center “Domus Galilaeae” is a place where Christians, and above all, seminarians and presbyters, will be able to have a direct contact with the living tradition of Israel, following the footsteps of, Origen, and St. Jerome as well as many other Fathers of Church who returned to their Hebrew roots to understand the meaning of prayer, of feasts, and Hebrew liturgies, which were the daily food of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In stark contrast let me quote some of these Church Fathers:
Justin Martyr – Dialogue with Trypho (Between 138A.D. and 161 A.D.)
We too, would observe your circumcision of the flesh, your Sabbath days, and in a word, all you festivals, if we were not aware of the reason why they were imposed upon you, namely, because of your sins and the hardness of heart.
The custom of circumcising the flesh, handed down from Abraham, was given to you as a distinguishing mark, to set you off from other nations and from us Christians. The purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and you cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. Your circumcision of the flesh is the only mark by which you can certainly be distinguished from other men…as I stated before it was by reason of your sins and the sins of your fathers that, among other precepts, God imposed upon you the observence of the sabbath as a mark.
Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.) – An ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed to the early formation of Christian doctrines.
We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.
St. Augustine (c. 354-430 A.D.), Confessions, 12.14
How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!
The presence in Israel of many of the best scriptures scholars and prestigious biblical schools, allows “Domus Galilaeae” to be the ideal place to promote a recovery of scriptural studies as the witness of the living presence of God.
The ex Catholic priest Martin Luther (1543) in the tractate titled “On The Jews and Their Lies”
“their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.”
From the above we can firmly see that the Church fathers vehemently hated the Jewish people and clearly believed at the very best the Church was a replacement of the “Israel” of God [the Jews] and at the worst, as history bears witness, also includes the attempts of the Jews’ wholesale annihilation which is both physical and spiritual.
Under the rubric of many agendas merging into an effort to be politically correct and gain popular appeal we have a classical example of how the waters are getting more muddy:
No, Rabbi Riskin: Reform and Conservative Movements are a danger
By Rabbi Avraham Gordimer
Rabbi Gordimer is a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a member of the New York Bar. His writings on Jewish topics are published widely.
It is sometimes hard to believe what we are reading, as things are turned upside down in an effort to be politically correct and gain popular appeal. Orthodox Judaism has never sought to be politically correct – on the contrary, it has stood its guns no matter what direction the winds are blowing. Unfortunately, with the case of Modern Orthodox rabbis who have crossed the line into Open Orthodoxy, it has become almost commonplace to read the unbelievable, things that would never have been expressed were Rabbi Soloveitchik zt”l, the Torah luminary of American Modern Orthodoxy, still with us. Sometimes, shocking ideas are articulated in direct contravention of his views, with the excuse that “times have changed.” Since when has that well worn excuse been used in Orthodoxy?
This, much as it hurts to write it, seems to be the case when it comes to rabbinic superstar, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, who seems to be on a much publicized collision course with tradition. There was the “Rabbi Jesus Video” (which Rabbi Riskin later said did not represent his views, due to the video’s poor editing), his promoting the chanting of Megillath Ruth by a woman at the main minyan of a synagogue under his jurisdiction, and other ideas that fly in the face of Orthodox tradition. A once modern rabbinic icon who did much to bring people closer to Torah, Rabbi Riskin has in his later years adopted positions that fly in the face of normative Torah understanding. (Please also see the later portion of this linked article regarding Rabbi Riskin’s involvement with Christian ministries.)
Although one could have otherwise, perhaps favorably interpreted Rabbi Riskin’s hair-raising idea in his recent public pronouncement on Arutz Sheva that the Reform and Conservative movements are partners in Jewish outreach to have been intended to express the demarcation between acceptance of Reform and Conservative Jews themselves and unequivocal opposition to their leaders and their interpretations of Judaism, a view held by respected rabbinic authorities, that is clearly not what Rabbi Riskin said. Rather, Rabbi Riskin stated: “They’re not tearing Jews away but bringing them closer… That may have been true at the beginning of the Reform Movement, but it’s very different now – they’re trying to bring Jews closer. Not to the wholeness, the fullness of Orthodox Judaism that I love and that I know, but nevertheless they’re trying to bring Jews closer.” In other words, it is the leadership of the Reform and Conservative movements whom Rabbi Riskin praises!
This leadership is bringing Jews closer to what? Intermarriage? Christmas trees and menorahs in the living room? A total departure from normative halakhic Judaism?
Let us look at that greatest danger to the continuity of the Jewish people, not the just as important continuity of its halakhic framework. On a factual level, not only are most Reform Jews (and non-Orthodox Jews in general) intermarried today, and not only does the head of the Reform movement extol intermarriage, but there has been serious discussion within the Reform movement to permit its rabbis to themselves be intermarried. The Reconstructionist movement has gone further, formally allowing its rabbis to be intermarried, and a large plurality of rabbis in the Conservative movement favor the performance of intermarriages. In fact, the Conservative movement’s USY youth group now permits its leadership to interdate
To endorse these movements as positive and as forces for bringing Jews closer to Judaism is downright wrong and even farcical. Although these groups may espouse some type of Jewish identity, they embody and encourage assimilation and the abandonment of Jewish tradition and commitment. And it is happening before our eyes.
Theologically, the Reform and Conservative (as well as the Reconstructionist) movements reject the Singular Divine Authorship of the Torah and the other Cardinal Principles of Faith, and they have disavowed the binding nature of halakha.
It is therefore not only incorrect to refer to these groups as partners in bringing Jews closer to Judaism, but it is dangerous, as such a statement empowers and validates groups which threaten the very integrity and future of authentic Judaism in every manner.
There is no need for elaboration, as the issue is not subtle or nuanced; endorsing the heterodox movements is tantamount to endorsing the dismantling and destruction of traditional Judaism.
Many of my friends were immensely impacted by Rabbi Riskin in a most positive way during his early tenure in the United States, as he energetically established Torah institutions of the highest caliber. My friends miss the old Rabbi Riskin. We all wish that he would return.
The views expressed in this article are solely the author’s opinion and do not represent any organizations.
The mystery of Babylon for me as an Orthodox Jew is how we can join with so many falsehoods under one umbrella of political correctness gone wild. I watch in amazement that so many Orthodox Jews including our leaders are intoxicated with Babylon and the ‘wine of her adulteries’. The intoxication sees our leaders accepting financial incentives from missionary organizations which exposes our people to the falsehoods of many different forms of idolatry and perversions. How on earth did we decide to allow the erection of such a monstrous idol as Domus Galilaeae in our land? How and why do we tolerate missionaries in our land who have the sole intention of converting us to Jesus/ Yeshua under the devious guise of ‘loving and blessing Israel’? The intoxication sees our leaders embarrassingly running towards idolatry and perversion to openly embrace those who would destroy us both physically and spiritually. G-d help us!