Wednesday, 10 February 2016
Wrapping up Phan's Post-Supersessionist Christology
Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity's Sacred Obligation,
Ed. Mary C. Boys, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002
Chapter 11, "Jesus as the Universal Saviour" (pp. 127-137)
Over the past ten posts we have seen Peter Phan, a Roman Catholic priest and theologian - at the time of his writing, serving at Georgetown University in the USA - propose a significant alteration in vocabulary and principle in order to make the historic claims of Christianity more paletable to other religions, Judaism in particular. What the steps in the development of his ideas show is that it is impossible to find accomodation with other religions without denying much of the past understandings of the church, let alone the themes and texts of the Bible.
Although the book itself has attracted praise from Jewish theologians working in the interfaith field, it is difficult to see how mainstream Judaism will feel comfortable being equated with the other world religions or feel that is is a price worth paying for academic relationship with a self-neutered Christianity that is prepared to compromise to such an extent - something that Jewish orthodoxy will not themselves countenance.
In the Christian world, while it is certainly my hope that the church will learn to see Judaism anew, to recognise the unbreakable and irrevocable nature of G-d's covenants with His ancient people and to adjust their often polemical tone and thoughts to a recognition that "G-d will finish the good work that He has begun in you" applies just as much to the Jewish people as it does to individual Christians, I cannot see this essay being taken as a viable template for a way forward that demonstrates integrity. It is necessary to talk, of course, but this must be done on the basis of respect both for self and each other, not abnegation of self in the interests of political correctness.