Culture Wars Feature Article

Is the SSPX Anti-Semitic?

by Robert A. Sungenis, Ph.D.

Today, allegations of anti-semitism are commonplace. Unfortunately, those who most often make the allegations fail to define what they mean by the term. Perhaps they do so unintentionally, believing that the public already has a common understanding. But it could also be a deliberate attempt at demagoguery; a scheme to win the war of words and labels before any shots are fired. I don’t know into which of these two categories Jewish convert Roy Schoeman fits because I don’t know his heart. Nevertheless, his bold and unqualified accusation of anti-semitism against the Society of St. Pius X brings the question of his own views and motives to the fore.

On his website, Mr. Schoeman has weighed in on L’affaire Williamson.  But whereas neither the Vatican nor Bishop Fellay has accused Williamson of anti-Semitism for questioning the extent of Jewish deaths in WWII, Schoeman not only alleges that Williamson is guilty of this crime, he accuses the entire SSPX of being, as he puts it, “virulently anti-Semitic.” Schoeman confirmed his sentiment in a recent EWTN interview where he adds that the SSPX is “violently anti-Semitic” and that its teaching on the Jews “pretends to be Catholic theology, but is really very distasteful.”

On the website, Schoeman cites three articles written by SSPX authors in an attempt to prove his point: 1) The Mystery of the Jewish People in History, 2) The Jews Guilty of Deicide, and 3) What Really is Anti-semitism? He introduces these articles with this accusation:

 

the head of the Society of St. Pius X (or “SSPX)…emphasizing that the Society can only speak authoritatively on matters of ‘faith and morals.’ However, most distressingly, it is precisely in those matters of ‘faith and morals’ in which the Society professes to be authoritative that the Society presents some of its most virulently anti-Semitic teachings. The following articles from its website purport to represent authentic Catholic teaching on the Jewish people.

 

I’ve read the three articles. I can honestly say that I don’t find anything “anti-Semitic.” In fact, there is only one matter that I believe the SSPX treated incorrectly. It is in the article The Jews Guilty of Deicide.[1] So, the logical question is: Why does Roy Schoeman see anti-semitism in places where others do not? Obviously, it is because different definitions are being employed. But in Mr. Schoeman’s case I’m being rather gratuitous since he has never provided his readers with a working definition, for neither his website nor his two books contain one. Conversely, the SSPX has been very forthright. In the article, “What really is Anti-Semitism?”  Rev. Denis Fahey is careful to cite various Catholic magisterial teachings that show the true meaning of anti-Semitism. As we have always known, the definition of anti-Semitism is not criticism of Jewish beliefs and actions, but hatred of the Jewish race regardless of what they believe or do. Here is an excerpt:

 

In the excellent review of my book The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism which appeared in the Jesuit magazine, La Civilta Cattolicá (Rome, March 1947), the reviewer laid special stress on the distinction which I have been making in all books. He wrote as follows:

The author wants a clear distinction to be made between hatred of the Jewish nation, which is Anti-Semitism, and opposition to the Jewish and Masonic naturalism. This opposition on the part of Catholics must be mainly positive by acknowledging, not only individually, but socially, the rights of the supernatural Kingship of Christ and His Church.…

Space does not allow of lengthy quotations from papal documents to show that, on the one hand, the sovereign pontiffs insist that Catholics must stand unflinchingly for the integral rights of Christ the King as contained in the papal encyclicals, while, on the other hand, keeping their minds and hearts free from hatred of Our Lord’s own nation according to the flesh. On the other hand, they must battle for the rights of Christ the King and the supernatural organization of society as laid down in the encyclical Quas Primas, unequivocally proclaiming that the rejection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the True Messias, by His own nation, and the unyielding opposition of that nation to Him, are a fundamental source of disorder and conflict in the world. On the other hand, as members of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Catholics should neither hate the members of that nation in which, through our Blessed Mother, the Lily of Israel, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity assumed human nature, nor deny them their legitimate rights as persons….

Two reasons can be assigned for the fact that Our Lord’s faithful members will often be betrayed by those who should be on the side of Christ the King. Firstly, many Catholic writers speak of papal condemnations of Anti-Semitism without explaining the meaning of the term and never even allude to the documents which insist on the rights of Our Divine Lord, Head of the Mystical Body, Priest and King. Thus, very many are completely ignorant of the duty incumbent on all Catholics of standing positively for Our Lord’s reign in society in opposition to the Jewish naturalism. The result is that numbers of Catholics are so ignorant of Catholic doctrine that they hurl the accusation of Anti-Semitism against those who are battling for the rights of Christ the King thus effectively aiding the enemies of Our Divine Lord.

Secondly, many Catholic writers copy unquestioningly what they read in the naturalistic or anti-supernatural Press and do not distinguish between Anti-Semitism in the correct Catholic sense as explained above, and “Anti-Semitism,” as the Jews understand it. For the Jews, “Anti-Semitism” is anything that is in opposition to the naturalistic Messanic domination of their nation over all the others. Quite logically, the leaders of the Jewish nation hold that to stand for the Rights of Christ the King is to be “Anti-Semitic.” The term “Anti-Semitism,” with all its war-connotation in the minds of the unthinking, is being extended to include any form of opposition to the Jewish nation’s naturalistic aims and any exposure of the methods they adopt to achieve these aims.

 

So what does Mr. Schoeman find so objectionable in these words? We don’t find anything close, for example, to what Martin Luther once wrote: “Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish (Luther’s Works, Vol. 47, “The Christian in Society IV”). In direct contrast to Luther, in The Mystery of the Jewish People in History, the SSPX concludes: “Under pain of sin, Catholics cannot hate the Jewish people, cannot persecute them or prevent them to live, nor disturb them in their private practice of their laws and customs.” In the same article the SSPX says it stands by the Decree of the Holy Office of March 25, 1928, which “condemns hatred against the people formerly chosen by God, that hatred that ordinarily goes by the name of Antisemitism.” Prior to that, the article cites and endorses the Apostolic Constitution, Licet Perfidia Judaeorum, of Pope Innocent III in 1199 AD, which solemnly stated:

They [the Jews] are the living witnesses of the true Faith. The Christian must not exterminate or oppress them…We must not molest them in the exercise of the privileges accorded them…As they seek our help, we accept and take them under our protection; and following our predecessors Callixtus, Eugenius, Alexander, Clement and Celestine, we forbid the forcing of baptism on a Jew, also harming them in any way or taking their goods, etc., or violating their cemeteries and digging up corpses to find money. The punishment for disobedience to these dispositions is excommunication.

Schoeman obviously read the three SSPX articles, but even though they all decry anti-Semitism, he apparently doesn’t accept the claims, preferring to believe that either the SSPX is trying to deceive the public or that it doesn’t understand its own psyche. All in all, Schoeman holds that both the historical Catholic Church and the SSPX have too narrow a view of anti-Semitism. As such, Schoeman’s trigger goes off when the SSPX articles begin to touch upon the negative side of Jewish history. He cringes when the SSPX points out the Catholic Church’s consistent warnings against Jewish power and influence, since these warnings invariably cast a dark shadow upon the Jews at large. He equally recoils when Fr. Fahey sums up the Church’s warnings by concluding that the Jews have designs to dominate the world. In one place Fahey says: “the rejection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the True Messias, by His own nation, and the unyielding opposition of that nation to Him, are a fundamental source of disorder and conflict in the world,” and in another, “For the Jews, ‘Anti-Semitism’ is anything that is in opposition to the naturalistic Messianic domination of their nation over all the others.” Schoeman balks at the suggestion that the Jews are to blame for the world’s troubles. Simply put, if the world believes the Jews are the cause of the trouble, the world will react by turning against the Jews (as they have done in the past); and since the Jews are outnumbered by 500 to 1, it doesn’t bode well for them. This is a legitimate fear, and Schoeman more or less admitted it in his EWTN interview. In answer to a query of why Bishop Williamson questions the holocaust, Schoeman responds: “I think it’s part of an overall kind of a volatile Jewish conspiracy world view….If the holocaust were a hoax…that would mean that this Jewish conspiracy ran the world, and ran the world’s government and ran the world’s press, and was able to pull off this huge hoax that eluded the rest of the world.”

Obviously, descriptions that portray the Jew as a power-hungry, money-grubbing, goy-controlling, Christ-rejecting misanthropist are certainly “distasteful.” This is the image that Schoeman probably sees in the SSPX article, The Mystery of the Jewish People in History, for the authors emphasize that, “The Sacred Scriptures record that the Israelite people had always a nature dominated by great pride and avarice.” Of Jesus’ tirade in Matthew 23, the same authors add: “No one in all the course of history has pronounced more terrible anathemas than those of the Son of God against the perfidious carnality of His own people.” Elsewhere they say: “The Jewish people, once a mystery of goodness, is now changed into a mystery of iniquity. It is no longer Isaac, but Ishmael. No longer Jacob, but Esau.” Or: “Judaism is inimical to all nations in general, and in a special manner to Christian nations.” Or: “All that is not of Christ and for Christ is done in favor of Judaism. It follows from that, that the de-Christianizing of the world runs parallel to its Judaizing.” Or: “In the domain of the material, it is the Jewish people who have the superiority. History tells us [Werner Sombart, Les juifs et la vie économique, Paris, 1923] that the renowned greatness of English and American Capitalism is only a Judaic creation.” Or:

 

The Jews not only monopolized money-changing; the real source of their wealth was usury…they gradually became the bankers and financiers for all classes…Jansen cites that in 1338, Emperor Louis Bavaria allowed the Jews to charge interest rates as high as 32.5%...Germany: 43% for foreigners in the city. At Ratisbon…as high as 86%.

 

The authors conclude with these points:

 

…this people refuses to assimilate itself into the country that gives it hospitality, and lives by Talmudic laws contrary to the common good. The policy of the Catholic Church is to extend liberty to the Jewish people to develop and live within its legitimate laws while guarding Catholics, however, against its domination….If Christians wish to remain free, let them avoid entanglements with the Jewish people. It dominates in every branch of commerce and finance, in philosophy and the universities….Christendom under holy kings and pope knew how to guard against these dangers….To penetrate Christendom, the masses must be captivated and rebellion fomented against its two pillars – Pope and King.

 

And again:

 

The gifted Jewish bankers have created a controlled economy whose ultimate end is the multiplication of money….International Judaism has created international capitalism to gain international wealth….Jews get into posts of influence and submit society to a high degree of corruption in ways of thinking and acting, which leads to a reaction of public opinion against them.

 

The foregoing descriptions are hardly flattering, but what are we to do? Aside from any exaggerated caricatures of the Jew that should immediately be dismissed from our minds, are we to pretend that the Jews, whether on a local or global scale, have never said or done anything against Christ or Christianity for the last 2000 years? Are we to pretend that Jews have never tried to dominate the world and defeat Christianity by accumulating money and political power to promote their anti-Christian and humanistic worldview?  This is the essence of the three SSPX articles. But instead of acknowledging these facts, Schoeman ignores them and puts the blame on the SSPX for bringing them to our attention. The truth is, even the Jews themselves recognize that they strive for and have attained these positions of global power and influence, for the SSPX article also quotes the Jewish newspaper, Jewish World, boasting the following:

 

The great ideal of Judaism is that the whole world should be imbued with Jewish teaching, and that in a universal fraternity of nations – an enlarged Judaism – all separate races and religious should disappear….By their activity in literature and science, by expressing their dominant passion in every branch of public activity, they are gradually pouring into Jewish molds all non-Jewish systems of ideas” (February 9, 1863).

 

How much clearer could it be? If Mr. Schoeman wants us to believe that there is nothing to fear from these self-professed Jewish aspirations to global domination, he must work a little harder than merely labeling the messengers as “anti-Semitic.” Schoeman must deal with the evidence the SSPX brings to the table, but from my experience with Schoeman (who has never answered even one of the numerous e-mails I’ve sent to him or taken up any of the public challenges I have given him), he simply will not discuss these issues or the issues E. Michael Jones raises in The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit. Apparently, it’s more effective to deal with critics by labeling them with derogatory names and never answering their challenges. His stance is especially disheartening when we see that Jewish antagonism against Christ and Christianity, except for very brief interludes, has not appreciably changed since the first century. How could it when we see the head of the Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman, flying to Rome to put pressure on the pope to change Catholic prayers that call for the conversion of the Jews, since he, as the self-appointed spokesman for Judaism, deems such prayers “anti-Semitic”? Does Roy Schoeman ever condemn such acts on his website or in his books? No, in all he has written over the years there is not one word of criticism against anyone Jewish. We do, however, find such things as “The Arab/Nazi Connection” or “The Homosexuality/Nazi Connection” displayed on the homepage of Schoeman’s website, but nothing, for example, about the Israeli army’s continual holocaust against the Palestinians since 1948, and nothing about how Hollywood (which, by the Jews’ own admission, is run by them) promotes homosexuality in television and movies, along with giving us a steady diet of abortion, divorce, adultery, drugs, and every other form of debauchery. If the SSPX were to put a link on their website titled, “The Homosexuality/Jewish Connection” or “The Jewish/Abortion Connection” you can depend upon it that Mark Shea or Sandra Miesel would be writing a scathing article accusing the SSPX of seeing “Reds under the bed” or some other wild conspiracy theory designed to discredit them.

The fact remains, the SSPX has hit a nerve, and Roy Schoeman is trying to deal with it by telling us that we can’t believe what our own eyes are showing us. Not only does Schoeman dismiss the SSPX as anti-Semitic, he also encourages us to dismiss the consistent and numerous edicts from our popes and councils throughout history warning against Jewish designs to undermine the Catholic Church. The SSPX authors inform us that “There are at least 15 papal documents warning the Catholic Church against the dangers presented by the Jewish people.” Just as St. Paul did in the first century when he concluded in 1 Thess 2:14-16: “the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us; they do not please God, and are opposed to everyone, trying to prevent us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved, thus constantly filling up the measure of their sins. But the wrath of God has finally begun to come upon them,” so, in almost in every century thereafter our popes have had to issue dire warnings to the Catholic faithful concerning the Jews. In fact, what we find in Scripture is much harsher than what either the popes or SSPX has said. The inspired authors tell us that the Jews murdered the prophets (Mt 23:35-38); they sinned horrendously (Acts 7:51); they refused their own Messiah (Acts 13:46; John 10:33); they instigated His murder (Jn 19:6-7; Ac 3:17); they are compared with the devil (Jn 8:44); they are called liars and hypocrites (Mt 23:13-32); they incite riots (Acts 13-14); they constantly harass Christians (Gal. 2-3; Col. 2); they are “the synagogue of Satan” (Ap 2:9; 3:9). The Bible is filled with these types of negative descriptions because the Jews made a constant and direct assault on Christianity. In fact, about 75 percent of the New Testament concerns Jewish antagonism against Christ and the Church. Because of that high percentage, one might wonder why the inspired authors paid so much attention to the Jews. One reason is that they are not merely recording historical facts for us, but in the same way that the Old Testament forecasts the future for the New (cf. 1Cor 10:6, 11; Rom 15:14), so the New Testament forecasts what we can expect for the remainder of the Church age—an intense spiritual war between the Jews and Christianity—the precise war that is being fought today.  

Accordingly, Scripture’s characterization of the Jews has not gone unnoticed by many Jewish rabbis and theologians. How many times have we heard Abe Foxman, Rabbi Rosen and many other Jewish rabbis complain that the New Testament is anti-Semitic? Rabbi Michael Signer, a professor emeritus at Notre Dame University, made quite a name for himself teaching that the Gospel of John is anti-semitic, consequently destroying the faith of many of the Catholic college students who took his courses (see Culture Wars, May 2006). What definition of anti-semitism do you think they are all using? We don’t know for sure because, like Roy Schoeman, they never tell us, but we can surmise that the definition secretly holds that anything said or written which puts the Jews in a bad light is anti-Semitic, regardless whether the allegations are true or not.

So we seem to have a dilemma here. If we are not careful about our definition of anti-Semitism,  we will end up calling the Catholic Church and the very word of God anti-Semitic. This is precisely the conclusion which Abe Foxman wishes to plant in your mind. Either that or, thanks to the undermining of Scripture fostered by liberal Catholic scholars who appeal to “historical criticism,” other Jews claim that the New Testament’s anti-Semitism did not originate with the four Evangelists and St. Paul but from second- or third-generation Christians who deliberately added anti-Semitic remarks to the Bible! Take your pick. Either way, the Church and the New Testament are made guilty of anti-Semitism.

In the end, if this war of words and labels is ever to subside and give place to genuine care and concern for each other’s welfare, it is imperative that all interested parties establish the proper definitions before any intellectual discourse takes place, the barriers of which no one should be allowed to cross. We need to come to a happy medium that, on the one hand, will not make Catholics fearful of pointing out worldwide Jewish opposition to Christianity, and, on the other hand, satisfy the Roy Schoemans of the world that neither Catholic doctrine nor Catholic people want to promote “anti-Semitism.” Of course, this is a very difficult task. How can we defend Christianity against Jews who so vociferously reject it without being cast, in some sense, as anti-Jewish? Is it possible to distinguish between Jewish ideological opposition to Christianity and Jewish political, financial and social power that is used to foster that opposition? I think this is the quintessential nature of “the Jewish problem” for the Catholic Church, and that it will never go away. Some have chosen to deal with it by appeasement; others by reproach; others by indifference. We can only hope that all sides will not go to the extreme in their respective approaches, but that each finds and maintains a happy medium of coexistence, as St. Augustine would have us, between the City of God and the City of Man.

 

LET’S PUT THE SHOE ON THE OTHER FOOT

 

In order to reach a happy medium of coexistence, however, I think we need to level the playing field a bit. As such, it would be highly beneficial for Mr. Schoeman to put the shoe on the other foot so that he can feel what it is like to be accused of something of which he would surely object. Since Mr. Schoeman has been rather loose with his definition of anti-Semitism and thereby demonized the SSPX while insulating Jews against their critics, let’s turn the tables on Mr. Schoeman and make an allegation against him without defining the label we use. In Mr. Schoeman’s case, such an allegation is not too difficult to propose. Since Mr. Schoeman accuses the SSPX of being “anti-Semitic,” we could just as easily accuse Mr. Schoeman of being “anti-Catholic.” This is not because Mr. Schoeman does not desire to be a good Catholic (just as the SSPX does not wish to foster hatred of the Jewish people), but simply because, based on his books, articles, and speeches, Roy Schoeman has taught some of the most egregious errors about the Catholic faith that have ever been held by a Jewish convert.

Moreover, Schoeman has not even acknowledged these errors when they were brought to his attention, much less sought to rectify them. I know the charges I make here are serious, but I don’t make them lightly. In fact, I have about as good a witness to these charges as I can find. That witness is a well-qualified Catholic scholar who recently served as a consultant to the Association of Hebrew Catholics (AHC), at least until he resigned over what he concluded, in his own words, was “heresy” being taught by that organization. I speak of none other than Dr. Raymond A. Kevane, the brother of the late Monsignor Eugene Kevane, the latter of which was the founder of AHC.

 

KEVANE

 

Ray Kevane is no ordinary man. He has a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University and a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Lateran University, both in Rome. To put it bluntly, Dr. Kevane has rubbed shoulders with the best and the brightest. He knows his Catholic theology, and he also knows when it is being misrepresented. Recently Ray wrote me a letter stating his grave concerns about the teachings of David Moss and Roy Schoeman. He also gave me a copy of an open letter he wrote to Mr. Moss in 2005 and another letter in 2006, both of which Moss has not answered, except for one short stop-gap letter stating that he would eventually respond. In his letters, Dr. Kevane was very kind to Moss, but he minced no words, even though he was pre-warned by another Jewish convert, Ronda Chervin, that he “should be very careful…not to offend egos.” At one place he wrote:

 

The purpose…of this letter is to explain further the depth of my concern about him [David Moss] and the Hebrew converts who follow him and Mr. Schoeman. As a theologian and a Canon Lawyer, I feel obliged to say very clearly: He and they are promoting Heresy – and I’m not talking about ‘judaizing,’ a word that I believe causes major irritation to Mr. Schoeman, if not to David Moss….With this letter, I submit my resignation as a consultant to the Association of Hebrew Catholics because I am convinced that the organization and its president have entered into a path which will lead to heresy. Of course, you can recant. If you do so, then I will reconsider…

 

Later I will quote more from Ray’s letter, but for now I want to point out the things about Roy Schoeman’s teachings that have upset Kevane. First, as for my own qualifications to make this critique of Schoeman, Dr. Kevane said of me in his letter: “I’ve been impressed with the validity of your Theology since I first read one of your writings, and there are very few ‘theologians’ I feel that way about.” With that endorsement, allow me to proceed.

      In 2007, I wrote an article titled: “Problems in the Theology and Eschatology of Roy Schoeman.” I was vilified by Schoeman’s supporters with the usual epithets of “anti-Semitism” and many other derogatory names, but few, if any, could mount any sustainable objections to my points. (Some of these same points are reiterated by Dr. Kevane in his letters to David Moss). Among them are the following:

 

1.     Schoeman claims that the Jews are “blessed by nature” (Salvation is from the Jews, p. 42). This is racial favoritism, and it is condemned in the New Testament (cf. Col 2:11-16; Eph 2:11-16; Ac 10:34-35; Gal 3:28; 5:1-4; 6:12-16; Rm 2:9-10; 2Co 3:6-14), and also condemned in Catholic magisterial teaching. Schoeman’s promotion of the Jewish race is even more disturbing when he adds that faith itself is not a criterion for divine blessing, for on the same page he says: “…a blessing by nature promised to…the Jewish race, despite their lack of faith in Christ.” Everything in Scripture and Church teaching says just the opposite (cf. Rm 4:1-24; 9:24-32; 10:16-21; Ac 7:1-53; 13:45-48). Dr. Kevane adds that in one of his conversations with David Moss, Moss was quoting Roy Schoeman as saying “‘Jews are an elect people. It is diminished when they become Christian, and that is the reason why Jews don’t convert.’ If you are quoting him accurately, this is an astonishing statement….Mr. Schoeman must believe as a Catholic that when a Jew or anyone converts to Catholicism, he or she becomes part of the People of Election in the New Covenant.”

2.     Schoeman claims that Ishmael was the “illegitimate son” of Abraham (which is false), and concludes from this that present-day Arabs, because they come from Ishmael’s bastard seed, are “doing a good job” of fulfilling the description of people who “have their hand against every man,” and this is “borne out of the fact that in most of the violent conflicts throughout the world…one side is fighting in the name of Islam…as the sons of Ishmael” (Salvation is from the Jews, pp. 301-302). This is another statement of Jewish racism, since Mr. Schoeman caricatures a whole people as evil, and regards them as the world’s troublemakers based on nothing more than their ancestral origins. Is this not the very thing to which Schoeman objected in his EWTN interview when he said that critics of Jews have “an overall kind of a volatile Jewish conspiracy world view….that this Jewish conspiracy ran the world, and ran the world’s government and ran the world’s press”?

3.     Schoeman claims that Jewish converts have been endowed with a special “Jewish charism” from God such that they are analogous to “yeast” that makes bread rise (Salvation is from the Jews, p. 71). This is akin to saying that the Jews are favored above Gentile converts and that the Church cannot be very successful without the Jews. But there is no teaching in the New Testament or the magisterium that says Jews have a special charism from God just because they are Jews. As Dr. Kevane stated in his letters: “Contrary to what Dave Moss seems to believe, Judaism is not the root onto which the Catholic Church is grafted, but Jesus Christ is the root, and Israel is a branch which was broken off (Rom 11:17, 19)….” You created new doctrine, for example, putting an interpretation on Catholic Baptism…e.g. through baptism, Gentiles are ‘grafted on to the root which is Israel’ …. Nostra Aetate says nothing of the kind.”

4.     Schoeman claims that Jewish converts should be allowed to resurrect Jewish festivals, such as the seder meal, and other unspecified Jewish identity markers. (NB: At one time, David Moss considered bringing back the practice of circumcision). This has been expressly forbidden by the Church. According to the Council of Florence, anyone who does so imperils his own salvation (e.g., Council of Florence, Denz. ¶712); and Thomas Aquinas says that those who do so commit mortal sin (Summa Theologica, I, II, Q. 103, Art. 4). Dr. Kevane told the same thing to David Moss: “In almost every century there has been an effort to bring the rites of the Jewish religion into the Catholic Church. Every time it has arisen, it has caused great harm to the Catholic Church before finally being discredited….I have been warned that in arguing against intermingling Jewish rites with Catholic liturgies (I believe some call it ‘judaizing’), I will be accused of being anti-Semitic and racist.”

5.     Schoeman claims that we can look “to the Talmud to examine some of what it has to say about the Messiah” (Salvation is from the Jews, p. 111). But the sad fact is, the “Messiah” of the Talmud is not Jesus Christ, for the Talmud did not believe Jesus was either God or the Messiah. In fact, the Talmud claims Jesus was a false prophet, the bastard child of Mary (who it calls a “whore”), and that Jesus is in hell presently being boiled in human excrement. Let’s make this perfectly clear: The Talmud is looking for another messiah, one who is not Jesus Christ. But instead of pointing out these anti-Christian tenets of the Talmud, Schoeman exonerates the Talmud and spends his time highlighting the immoralities and anti-Christian beliefs in the Koran (Salvation is from the Jews, pp. 299ff).

6.     Schoeman says the Fathers of the Church and Catholic tradition perpetuated an error “for two thousand years” by interpreting the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the “restoration of Israel” as referring to the Catholic Church and not a future nation-state of Israel (Salvation is from the Jews, pp. 303-312, 352-353). But as Dr. Kevane notes in his open letter: “No Catholic can say that the Church has held an erroneous theology for 2000 years and still remain a Catholic.” Vatican II itself affirms that the Church is the “new Israel” (Ad Gentes 1, 5; Lumen Gentium 2, 9). Schoeman’s view is closer to the Protestant Dispensationalists who, like Schoeman, continue to view the Jews as a special race of people above other races, and who will subsequently be blessed far above other races, simply because they are Jews.

7.     Not only does Schoeman claim that Old Testament prophecy predicts a “new Jewish state,” he says it “shall be extremely prosperous” and that the modern-day Israeli army is a God-favored entity such that God will see to it that “Israel will be miraculously militarily strong and able to defend itself” (Salvation is from the Jews, pp. 309-310). Neither the New Testament nor the Catholic Church teaches this type of divinely-blessed military prowess. It appears to be nothing more than political Zionism dressed in religious garb, and it has an uncanny resemblance to the Jews of the first century who wanted the Messiah to be a military leader to destroy the Romans. God is not behind the Israeli army any more than he is behind any other army. This was the same mistake that Menachem Begin, David Ben Gurion and Ariel Sharon made in 1948 when, under the guise that they were the new “Joshuas and Calebs” who were under divine mandate to “slaughter the Amelekites” (these exact words are in their speeches), they began slaughtering the Palestinians, since Israel was said to be divinely destined to retake the land of Canaan.

8.     Schoeman claims that the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Rm 11:25) occurred in 1967, and the sign of its fulfillment was what he deems as the God-blessed six-day surge of the Israeli army against its Arab neighbors in which “Jerusalem…was recaptured by the modern state of Israel in the 1967 war” (p. 306). This is also Jewish racism, as well as a totally distorted and unprecedented interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

9.     Schoeman claims that from 1967 onwards there have been tremendous numbers of Jewish conversions due to the fact that the “time of the Gentiles” is now complete and God is now dealing directly with the Jews (Salvation is from the Jews, pp. 350-351), despite the fact that, out of 6 million Jews in Israel today, only about 6,000 of them are Christians, which numbers are less, proportionately, than the remnant of 7,000 in the time of Elijah when Israel’s population was about the same as it is today (see Rom 11:5-8). In fact, the amount of Jewish Christians in Israel is about 30 times less than Palestinian Christians. All in all, the figures of Jewish conversions that Schoeman gives in his book are highly exaggerated. (Details are available upon request). Interestingly enough, Dr. Kevane notes that Moss and Schoeman also teach that the “Jews are not converting because the Father is not now drawing them to Christ – with individual exceptions – as Jesus Himself said (John 6:44: No man can come unless the Father who sent me draws him). Does Mr. Schoeman have a problem with that statement as did some of the Jews who heard Christ say it and who walked no more with him?”

10. Schoeman claims that those who try to “destroy the nascent State of Israel, well might be part of a diabolical attempt to prevent the Second Coming” (p. 316), thus promoting the idea that the existence and thriving of the nation state of Israel is absolutely necessary for Christ to return. This is a total distortion of Catholic teaching and a total misunderstanding of Scripture. Neither source states that the existence of an Israeli nation state is necessary for Christ to return. This is just another indication that Schoeman sees the Jewish race as the fulcrum upon which the rest of the world turns. As Dr. Kevane notes in his open letter:  “To his credit, David Moss is quoted on the back of Schoeman’s book as follows: ‘Schoeman weaves together fascinating speculations on the ongoing role of the Jews in the light of…the Second Coming.’ ‘Speculations,’ of course, is the correct word, because many of his statements are not grounded in Scripture (except a twisted interpretation of it), and they ignore or falsify the doctrines of the Catholic Church as presented by the Popes and Ecumenical Councils….Jesus Christ is the central figure in the salvific plan and acts of God, not the Jews – not even at the Second Coming – which, regardless of what the Jews do, will come at whatever time God has ordained. The idea that the Second Coming cannot occur unless the Jews accept Christ as the Messiah is an idea which has been pulled out of thin air without any support from Scripture, from Papal pronouncements, or from the Magisterium.”

11. Schoeman claims that the “one day” mentioned in Isaiah 66:8 is prophesying the establishment of the nation state of Israel on precisely one day, namely, May 14, 1948 (Salvation is from the Jews, p. 307). This view not only circumvents the patristic consensus which regards prophecies of “restoring Israel” as referring symbolically to the Catholic Church (e.g., Acts 15:16-18, Ad Gentes 1, 5; Lumen Gentium 2, 9), but also ignores the fact that modern Jewish leaders and the United Nations formed the nation of Israel with absolutely no allegiance to Jesus Christ who is the centerpiece of Isaiah 66’s prophecy! This is further evidence of Schoeman’s erroneous belief that the Jews are “blessed by nature,” a blessing, as we noted above, that he says “would remain with the Jewish race, despite their lack of faith” (p. 42).

12. Schoeman claims in his public lectures and newsletter that the Blessed Virgin Mary “talked” to him and “answered his questions.” This alleged supernatural occurrence should have been immediately brought to his bishop to investigate its authenticity before it was ever broadcast by Schoeman as a true event worthy of praise and a cult following. As far as I know, no such investigation has been made, yet Schoeman consistently uses the alleged apparition to bolster his novel theological and apocalyptic interpretations of Scripture that we see above. As Dr. Kevane notes: “In view of Schoeman’s many ‘speculations’ which are presented as ‘fact,’ and his creation of certain ‘Catholic dogmas,’ these visitations by the Blessed Virgin must be viewed with a good deal of skepticism. In view of what happened at Medjugorje, which was finally identified as fraud, all so-called ‘supernatural occurrences’ must be carefully investigated by the Church before they are given any credibility.”

There is more. In his EWTN interview, Schoeman makes strange claims about his Jewish heritage, as well as proposing an unprecedented connection between Judaism and Christianity, both of which are very disturbing. He states:

 

First, I’m a “Jewish” convert…and see the Catholic Church is nothing but post-messianic Judaism. Obviously, if Jesus was the Jewish messiah, then the Catholic Church is the continuation of Judaism after the Jewish messiah came….I see myself as nothing but a Jew who has come into the fullness and correctness of Judaism, which is the Catholic Church….Every Jew who has entered the Catholic Church doesn’t see it as a conversion. They just see it as a Jew who has been wrong about who the Jewish messiah was, to a Jew who is right…and all the them, including me…thinks this makes you more Jewish, not less Jewish.

 

Where has the Catholic Church, as represented by her magisterium, tradition and official interpretation of Scripture, either past or present, ever taught that “the Catholic Church is nothing but post-messianic Judaism” or the “continuation of Judaism”? Where has it ever taught that Jews who join the Catholic Church are not really converts but have merely come into the “fullness and correctness of Judaism”? There is no such teaching in the Catholic Church, yet Schoeman asserts it as if it is somewhere between common knowledge and dogma.

In the same EWTN interview, Mr. Schoeman claims that Vatican II changed Catholic Church teaching on the Jews. As he puts it: “It was Vatican II, which for the first time, so dogmatically, proclaimed the innocence of the Jewish people, as a people. And it is precisely Vatican II which, up to now, the SSPX has rejected the authority of.” His words are even stronger when in the same interview he caricatured traditional Catholic teaching on the Jews as a “…remnant of medieval, pseudo-Catholic anti-Semitism dressed up in theological garb that some of the traditionalists have kind of incorporated” …. “a vestigial appendage of medieval anti-semitism that still has some root in the kind of right wing segments of the Church.”

When Dr. Kevane saw this statement from Schoeman, he said: “This is vicious. Both Schoeman and Moss indulge in a private kind of interpretation of the Scriptures and of Vatican Council II whose sole purpose is to support their own need to remain Jews. Are they therefore truly Catholics?”  In place of Pope Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity,” it seems to be Mr. Schoeman’s express intent to foster the idea that Catholic doctrine completely changed at Vatican II, at which time the Church decided to give a blanket exoneration to the Jewish people. At best, the concept is highly distorted. As Dr. Kevane told David Moss: “Nowhere in ‘Nostra Aetate’ (The section in Vatican Council II which deals with the relationship with non-Christian religions), is there even a hint that the teaching of the Church has changed.” He is quite correct. Vatican II, although perhaps more emphatically than in the past, merely reiterated the same teaching that Catholic tradition maintained, namely, “neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his passion” (Nostra Aetate 4), for in no official teaching, past or present, have the Jews ever been declared a “deicide people” or blamed, as a race, for the death of Christ. The Catholic Church has consistently taught that it is not the Jews of today who are responsible for the death of Christ, but the Jewish leaders and their followers in 33 AD who instigated his murder. In fact, the New Testament implies that a majority of the Jews were involved in that instigation, even though it is said that they did so in “ignorance” (Acts 3:17).[2] If Mr. Schoeman thinks otherwise, I challenge him to show us one official statement from the Catholic magisterium that says what he claims.

An even more egregious instance in which Mr. Schoeman could be accused of being “anti-Catholic” comes from the assertion in his book, Salvation is from the Jews, in which claims “Vatican II’s Nostra Aetate and Pope John Paul II” taught against the doctrine of “supersessionism – that the Old Covenant had been entirely replaced (or superseded, hence ‘supersessionism’), made null and void, by the New.”  He adds that supersessionism “dominated Christian theology for much of the past two thousand years” and that during this whole span of time the traditional teaching was “erroneous” (page 352). For the record, this is the same claim that the ADL and a number of Jewish leaders make about Nostra Aetate and John Paul II. But is it correct? Culture Wars published an article in January 2008: The Old Covenant: Revoked or Not Revoked? It contains conclusive evidence that the Catholic Church has solemnly taught in its tradition, in Vatican II, and in the teaching of John Paul II, that the Old Covenant has, indeed, been superseded by the New Covenant. This fact was more or less confirmed for the world when the United States bishops, by an official vote of 231 to 14 on August 5, 2008, decided to remove an erroneous sentence from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, which stated on page 131: “Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them.” But if we accept Mr. Schoeman’s thesis, we would have to conclude that Nostra Aetate and John Paul II “changed” the “two thousand” year-old Catholic doctrine on the Old Covenant. If that is the case, then the Catholic Church just shot itself in the foot, for it has proven, once and for all, that its traditional teaching and its official doctrinal statements are worthless. They can be overturned at any time by any future pope or council. So either Mr. Schoeman is wrong about Nostra Aetate or the Catholic Church has been wrong for 2000 years about its own identity. Dr. Kevane saw the same error in Moss and Schoeman’s teachings. He writes:

 

Not too long ago (March 2005), in a public statement on EWTN, Dave Moss rejected the idea that the Church replaced the people of Israel. He clearly identified the latter idea as an ‘erroneous theology’ that was taught for 2000 years by the Catholic Church. He further stated that the Church no longer teaches that the people of Israel are superseded. They are an eternal people with an irrevocable calling. How can any individual declare that the Catholic Church (“…whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven…”) has taught erroneous theology for 2000 years. Surely, intended that way or not, this has to be the height of arrogance. Both statements are heretical. The ‘irrevocable calling’ the Jews have is the same as it is for the rest of us – to save their eternal souls.

 

To show why I raise the allegation that Moss and Schoeman could be considered “anti-Catholic” for these teachings, Dr. Kevane adds: “In one stroke he [Moss] denied the Scriptures as inspired by God, the infallibility of the Pope and the Ecumenical Councils, and the fact of Tradition…No Catholic can say that the Church has held an erroneous theology for 2000 years and still remain Catholic.” After he made this statement, Dr. Kevane went on to list all the Scriptural, Magisterial and Traditional teaching against the “Old Covenant is not revoked” assertions of Moss and Schoeman.

Incidentally, we might wonder why EWTN makes no censorship of Moss and Schoeman’s erroneous statements. I don’t know the precise reason, but I do know the leadership at EWTN and I believe much of this laxity is due to EWTN’s shortage of academically qualified personnel to sort out these theological issues, in combination with either being overly enamored with Jewish converts or afraid to disagree with them for fear of being accused of anti-Semitism, especially such programs as The Journey Home. To say the least, I was shocked to find out when I signed up for Internet television (DTV) that the “Description” for EWTN was the following: “EWTN is a live religious channel that focuses on Christianity and Judaism.” For a secular television programmer to notice that EWTN promotes Judaism along with Christianity certainly raises suspicions as to where this professed Catholic station is heading. Knowing Mother Angelica as I do, I believe she would be appalled at the DTV description of EWTN, and equally appalled at the Judaistic programming EWTN now offers.

Let’s pose another case in which Mr. Schoeman has made errors in his Catholic teaching. As I have been saying for quite some time, just the mere title of his book, “Salvation is from the Jews,” is cause for alarm, for the simple fact that, after Jesus died and rose, salvation no longer came from the Jews, but Schoeman treats Jesus’ statement as if it is an ongoing reality. When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman in John 4:22 and said “Salvation is of the Jews” he was on the Old Testament side of the cross, and thus Jerusalem was still the place in which God could be found for salvation, even as the Queen of Sheba traveled to Jerusalem to hear the gospel from Solomon and thereby saved her soul (Matt 12:42). But after Jesus rose, salvation came from the Catholic Church, not the Jews. Unfortunately, there is no such disclaimer mentioned in Mr. Schoeman’s book. Dr. Kevane agrees:

 

Dave Moss apparently aligns himself with Roy Schoeman who makes the identical points in his book “Salvation is from the Jews.” What he has written does not stand up to the scrutiny of Catholic theology. It flies in the face of the definitive statements of the Church. The title of the book is a heretical statement. It interprets what Christ Himself said, using it as an invalid support of his thesis. Christ made that statement to the Samaritan woman before he died on the Cross, at a time when, indeed, salvation was from the Jews. However, once he died on the Cross, salvation came uniquely from Jesus Christ Himself. This is a twisting of the Scriptures in order to support an erroneous doctrine….In his Preface to the book, Schoeman says (p. 9): ‘If there is one theological issue that both Jews and Christians should be able to agree on, it is that salvation is from the Jews….And Christians…have no choice but to believe that…since those are the very words that Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well.’ On the contrary, I couldn’t disagree strongly enough.

 

In fact, based on his view of John 4:22, Schoeman proposes a thesis never before suggested, much less taught in Catholic history. Whereas traditional teaching has said that the Old Covenant is fulfilled or brought to fruition by the New, Schoeman reverses this and says that “the New Covenant will be brought to fruition by the Old” (Salvation is from the Jews, p. 353). He posits this novel idea because it coincides with his book title, “Salvation is from the Jews.” Schoeman holds that the Jewish Old Covenant somehow integrates with the New Covenant and allows salvation to come to the last of earth’s Jews just before Christ’s return. The Church has never taught this type of mixing and matching of the Old and New Covenants. If and when the Jews are saved, it is only because of the New Covenant and has absolutely nothing to do with the Old Covenant. Scripture calls it “old” (2Cor 3:14) precisely because it became aged and decrepit and finally breathed its last breath at the cross of Christ. This is the exact description of its demise given to us by the Hebrew writer: “When he [Jeremiah in Jr. 31:31-33] speaks of a ‘new’ covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing” (Heb. 8:13, NAB). In other words, the Old Covenant had already grown old in Jeremiah’s day (circa 600 BC) because the Jews had so badly abused it, and it finally “disappeared” when Christ began the New Covenant (see also Heb. 7:18; 10:9; Col. 2:14-15; Eph. 2:14-15).

The confusion between the Old and New covenants is bad enough, but in his book Schoeman also gives us three distinctly different views of the Old Covenant. On page 129 he tells us it has been revoked. On page 352 he tells us it is not revoked (and makes erroneous use of Nostra Aetate and John Paul II to back up his claim), and on the next page, 353, he tells us that New Covenant will be fulfilled by the Old Covenant. The Catholic Church has only taught one of these, the one that appears on page 129.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Now, I point out all these theological errors in the teachings of Roy Schoeman only to make one specific point in this article. Let’s say I were an unyielding theological stickler and chose to work with an arbitrary definition of what it is to be “anti-Catholic.” Let’s say I was also quite disturbed by all the false concepts and inordinate confusion Schoeman has perpetuated among thousands of Catholics. Could I not accuse Mr. Schoeman of the same thing he has accused the SSPX, that is, that his teaching “pretends to be Catholic theology, but is really very distasteful,” and from that assessment also conclude that Mr. Schoeman is “anti-Catholic,” just as he, without a working definition, has accused the SSPX of being “anti-Semitic”? In fact, I could use Mr. Schoeman’s own words that he used against the SSPX and merely cross out references to the SSPX and replace them with the words “Jewish converts” or “David Moss and Roy Schoeman” as follows:

 

…the head of the Society of St. Pius X (or “SSPX) Jewish convert movement…emphasizing that the Society Jewish converts can only speak authoritatively on matters of ‘faith and morals.’ However, most distressingly, it is precisely in those matters of ‘faith and morals’ in which the Society Jewish converts profess to be authoritative that the Society David Moss and Roy Schoeman present some of its most virulently anti-Semitic anti-Catholic teachings. The following articles from its their websites purport to represent authentic Catholic teaching on the Jewish people and the Catholic faith.

 

In fact, in light of all the errors Mr. Schoeman has taught, he seems much more deserving of the label “anti-Catholic” than the SSPX is deserving of the label “anti-Semitic.” But in order to confirm my conclusion, I would also have to know whether Schoeman’s errors are deliberate or inadvertent. Could his erroneous teachings merely be slips of the theological pen, or perhaps poor education in Catholic theology? But they could also be deliberate attempts to undermine Catholic doctrine and promote Jewish thought. Perhaps Schoeman is just posing as a convert to Catholicism. Perhaps he has a secret hatred for Catholics who criticize Jewish history and ideas. Perhaps, perhaps. The truth is, “perhaps” is not good enough for me to make a final and comprehensive judgment that labels Mr. Schoeman as an “anti-Catholic.” Dr. Kevane seems to agree. He writes:

 

Let me digress a moment to say that in the first pages of his book, Mr. Schoeman clearly is trying to be a true Catholic. The same must be said for Dave Moss. And for that I salute them. But Mr. Schoeman trips himself up, unfortunately, by endeavoring to make a theological statement when he is clearly not a Catholic theologian. That he is a Jewish theologian – perhaps. But he should be applying Catholic theology in order to reach an acceptable Catholic conclusion….From these considerations, it would appear that none (or very few) of the converted Catholic Hebrews have undertaken an exhaustive study of Catholic theology. There are too many superficialities in their writings and statements.

 

By the same token, I must insist that it is not right for Mr. Schoeman to accuse the SSPX of anti-Semitism (or any Catholic who criticizes Jewish religion, politics or social mores), not only because he is making conclusions without a working definition of anti-Semitism, he simply doesn’t know the hearts and motives of his critics. Accusing someone of anti-Semitism is very serious business, because the accuser is essentially concluding that he knows the heart of the person and has the authority to declare him to be in mortal sin, and perhaps excommunicated. Does Mr. Schoeman, a very young convert to the Catholic faith, want to carry that heavy burden? One of the men he accuses, Fr. Denis Fahey, was one of the most devout Catholic priests of the past century, long before the SSPX had their troubles with Vatican II and the illicit 1988 consecrations. Fr. Fahey sought earnestly to define anti-Semitism only so that Catholics would not be hampered by arbitrary accusations from Jews who were using the label to stigmatize Catholics from teaching the Catholic faith and pointing out the anti-Christian tenets in Jewish teachings and practices. But unlike Fr. Fahey, whether deliberately or inadvertently, Mr. Schoeman has not given us a working definition of anti-Semitism. Since he hasn’t, then he is only adding to the confusion he has already perpetuated among Catholics. Consequently, he is raising a generation of Catholics who, on little more than a hunch, will think nothing of accusing someone of the mortal sin of anti-Semitism. But without proper definitions, the allegations become mere aspersions; and even more serious, those aspersions turn into the mortal sin of bearing false witness. Unfortunately, the unwritten definition of anti-Semitism with which Mr. Schoeman seems to be working, and the definition that is most popular among Jewish rabbis and political pundits today is: Anything negative said about the Jews, whether it is true or not, is, ipso facto, anti-Semitism. This must stop, and Catholics must take the lead in teaching the world the true nature of anti-Semitism. Last but not least, new converts such as Roy Schoeman and David Moss should spend a number of years learning the Catholic faith before they are given a platform to teach it. CW

 

Robert A. Sungenis, Ph.D. is president of The Bellarmine Report, formerly Catholic Apologetics International.


This article was published in the July/August 2009 issue of Culture Wars magazine.


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Index of SSPX articles from Fidelity and Culture Wars Magazines

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Footnotes

[1] The SSPX article correctly concludes that it was because of the “insistence of the Jews” that Christ was put to death, since Scripture is clear that Pilate sought to release Christ (Mt 27:24; Jn 19:6-7; Lk 23:22-24). The SSPX is also correct in saying: “Surely it cannot be that there is a collective guilt of the Jewish race for the sin of deicide. For only those individuals are responsible for the sin who knowingly and willingly brought it about. Jews of today are manifestly not responsible for that sin.” But I believe the SSPX is wrong in concluding, based only on Matt. 27:25, that a “curse” came upon all Jews because their first century ancestors were guilty of deicide. The words of Matt 27:25 are merely from an unidentified bystander, not a direct curse that God put on the Jews because they murdered Christ.  The New Testament specifies no such “curse” on the Jews. Although the SSPX is correct in saying that the Jews continue to have a “hardhearted rebelliousness of a people that has refused the time of its visitation,” this is not due to a curse for deicide, but to the same rebellion the Jews have perpetuated since their Old Testament history (cf. Mt 23:35-37; Rm 11:5-10; Acts 7:39-53; 1Cor 10:1-12; Heb 3-4). The rebellion merely continues into the New Testament and it eventually led them to murder Christ. I believe the SSPX is also incorrect in saying that the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate is wrong to say that “the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.” St. Paul makes it quite clear in Rm 11:1-2 that the Jews are “not rejected,” otherwise they could not be saved today (and Paul uses his own salvation as proof); Moreover, the Jews are still “beloved” due to God’s promise to the patriarchs (Rm 11:28). I believe the SSPX is also wrong to say that Nostra Aetate gave “acceptation of Judaism as a legitimate religion,” for Nostra Aetate never uses the word “legitimate” in connection with either Judaism, Islam, Buddhism or any other religion. It merely recognizes their existence and says that “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions” which “often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.”

[2] Please note, however, that the use of “ignorance” in Acts 3:17 does not mean that the Jews were morally guiltless for the death of Christ. The distinction of committing a sin in “ignorance” (Greek: kata agnoian) originates from Old Testament law which distinguished between sins done without full knowledge from sins committed with full knowledge. Those who committed the latter sin were executed without any forgiveness (e.g., Nm 15:27-29 and Nm 15:30-31). Accordingly, on the Day of Atonement, only sins committed in ignorance were forgiven (see Heb. 9:7), which assumes that those who committed sins with full knowledge were either already executed or would never be forgiven. But when the person who committed his sin with less than full knowledge becomes aware of his sin, he must offer sacrifices to atone for it (e.g., Lv 4:27).  In the end, sinning in “ignorance” does not mean one is guiltless, but that one can be forgiven for their sins. Peter assures the Jews that they are indeed guilty for having Christ put to death (see Acts 3:13-15: “…Jesus, the one you delivered up and disowned in the presence of Pilate when he had decided to release him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you but put to death the Prince of life....”) and then tells them to repent of this and other sins in verse 19: “Repent therefore and return that your sins may be wiped away…”


 

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