Friday, November 08, 2013

Pope Francis, the rabbis, and new church

Krista Dalton, in What the Pope and the Ancient Rabbis Have in Common:
On another occasion it happened that a certain non-Jew came before Shammai and said to him, “I will convert to Judaism, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Shammai chased him away with the builder’s tool that was in his hand. He came before Hillel and said to him, “Convert me.” Hillel said to him, “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn it.” Bavli Shabbat 31a

This classic rabbinic tale paints an engaging portrait of two religious perspectives. Shammai, notorious for a strict use of the law, could not abide the non-Jew’s impertinence by suggesting the Torah could be taught in such a short timespan as standing upon one foot. Hillel, on the other hand, considers carefully the non-Jew’s request and in one breath invites the non-Jew into the group, while also pointing the non-Jew to further study under the canopy of community.

I am struck by the similarities of this rabbinic tale with the recent acclamation of Pope Francis, who seems to minimize long standing doctrines and focus on a more social justice message. As Pope Francis’ fame enraptures media and writes headlines, the Christian community at large is spun on its head. What does the Pope mean to minimize doctrine? To reconsider longstanding statues of clerical celibacy, homosexuality, and divorce? Many ask, “What will be left of the Catholic Church?”

As scholars and pastors alike contemplate the rise of the “Nones,” Pope Francis responds, saying that doctrines cannot be the forefront of the Christian message.
The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently” (A Big Heart Open to God).

......Could it be that Pope Francis is taking cue from the trend in American Jewish circles?

Could a Christianity exist that minimizes doctrine and focuses more on being a people, including those who do not believe in God?  I believe Pope Francis is heeding the call to expand the boundaries of the Church, and hitting upon the central message of Jesus—to care for the people in our world...  full article

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!